Friday, February 11, 2011

Surprise Your Valentine-Make Your Own Take Out

As you know from my previous post, My Top 5 Rachael Ray Cookbooks, I love that Rachael Ray's cookbooks feature "make your own take out" recipes.  We love to cook and it is a great family activity, since the kids like to join in on the fun too.  Around here, and I am not exaggerating, there is no good place to get take out.  So we either have to drive quite a distance or make our own.  Luckily, we have found a few recipes to make our own Chinese food feast.  Not only is this a money saver, but also a great way to make sure the food is healthy and fresh.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes.  With just the five of us, we usually make two of the items, but last week, we made all these and easily fed 6 adults and 5 children. Even better, all the recipes use a lot of similar ingredients, which means you can cut once for two or three different dishes and save time getting dinner ready.

Spicy Shrimp Noodle Bowl (by Rachael Ray): This is one of the easiest recipes I have made and has lots of flavor.  I will say that the recipe calls for 2t. of crushed red pepper flakes, but we do not use that much, or the kids wouldn't eat it.  Your personal choice on how much to add.  The link will  bring you to the recipe and a photo of the dish.

Sesame-Soy Noodles (by Rachael Ray, Just In Time): I couldn't find the link on Food TV for this recipe, but it is a favorite of my children.  It is part of the chicken stir fry recipe (listed below), but we make this all the time as an easy side dish for many different meals.
1 lb. spaghetti
1/3 c. soy sauce (the recipe calls for Tamari, but we have also made it with regular soy sauce and it was fine)
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. toasted sesame seeds

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the spaghetti and cook it al dente.
Place the tamari and sesame oil in a bowl and add the hot pasta.  Toss to coat the pasta, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Ginger-Garlic Chicken Stir Fry (by Rachael Ray, Just in Time):  This is another great recipe and is meant to be served over the sesame-soy noodles I listed above.
3T. vegetable oil
3/4 lb. chicken, cut into thin strips
2 inch piece of garlic, peeled & grated
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 or 12 shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 small head or 1/2 large head of napa cabbage, shredded
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 t. coarse black pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until the oil ripples.  Add the chicken and stir fry until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic, shitakes, cabbage and scallions and stir fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Season the stir fry with salt and lots of black pepper and turn off the heat.

Moo Shu Vegetables (Culinary Arts Institute, Gourmet Meals in Minutes):  This is one of the easiest recipes I have and it is always a popular dish when we have people over for dinner.  Also, it calls for Moo Shu pancakes.  No stores in our area sell these, so we just use the small taco sized tortillas.
3T. peanut oil
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. ginger, minced
1 T. scallions, minced
1 red pepper, cut in 1-2 inch strips
4 celery stalks, cut in 1-2 inch strips
4 carrots, cut 1-2 inch strips
1/2 head napa cabbage, chiffonade
2 T. hoisin sauce
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1 egg, beaten
16 moo shu pancakes

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger and scallion.  Stir fry until aromatic.  Add the red pepper, celery, carrots and cabbage.  Stir fry until tender, approximately 2 minutes. 
Stir in the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. 
Make a well in the middle of the vegetables, pour in the egg and let it set for 30 seconds.  Then, break it up into the vegetables.
Serve with moo shu pancakes (we use the small tortillas).

Finally the last item we always make is our own egg rolls.  This sounds like it would be difficult, but honestly, it isn't!  My husband makes up his own recipe, so it changes every time we make them.  But if you are looking for a recipe, there is always one on the egg roll wrapper package (you can find these in the produce section usually). 

The great thing with all these recipes is you can adjust them to meet your taste, whether you choose different vegetables or to make it spicier or milder.  When you make your own take out, you are in charge of the flavors and also the freshness of the ingredients.  Besides, if you get everyone involved in the kitchen cooking, it is great family and friend fun!

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