Sunday Brunch – Butternut Squash Waffles and Omelets

I had about 1/2 cup of butternut squash purée (fondly called butternut “squish” by the little voice in my head) left over from an earlier meal and I have been wanting to make waffles.  I had good luck with the savory pumpkin waffles last Fall and Kirsten at Farm Fresh Feasts had made these yummy looking butternut squash waffles recently for inspiration.

The New York Times Cook Book has a Basic Waffle Recipe that I started from.  This is not the base recipe I had used for these waffles, and I was not going to beat egg whites by hand today — too many other things to do…

That crisper full of greens also compelled me to make omelets and we had a heck of a breakfast this morning!

Butternut Squash Waffles

Lots of dirty dishes today.  :)

Lots of dirty dishes today. 🙂

  • 2 c. flour
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 T. sugar

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium-large bowl.

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butternut squash purée
  • 3 T. shortening, melted

Separate the egg whites into one bowl and the egg yolks in a larger bowl.  Beat the egg yolks, then add the milk, squash squish and shortening and mix until combined.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix by hand until all dry ingredients are moistened.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff, but not too dry.  Gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter.

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Heat and oil waffle iron and cook waffles according to your manufacturer’s instructions.  Today was the first time my waffles didn’t get stuck and need to be partially destroyed to free them from the waffle iron, so it must finally be seasoned just right.

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Since my omelets weren’t ready and we all like to eat at the same time, I kept the waffles warm by heating the oven to 200° and placing the waffles on baking racks (they didn’t get soggy this way!).

Omelets

The filling is the most important part.

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 med. shallot, chopped
  • 2 c. mushrooms, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • 1/2 t. mixed spices (including sea salt, pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and fennel)
  • 4 c, mixed greens, rinsed and stemmed

    Mixed Weeds - I mean Greens  :)

    Mixed Weeds – I mean Greens 🙂

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan, then cook shallots and mushrooms and spices over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have released their liquids.  Add greens, mix and then cover and cook until greens are wilted.  Set aside to fill the omelets.

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk (maybe)
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese

I am VERY casual about the egg side of making omelets.  Since there were only two of us this morning, I beat 5 eggs then added a couple of “glugs” of milk.  I heated a non-stick pan over low-medium heat and coated with cooking spray.  I poured abut half the eggs mixture into the pan and as it set, I roll the pan around gently, raising the edges of the omelet to allow still liquid egg to get under the setting egg.  When the omelet is lightly browned on the bottom and only a little egg is not set on what will be the inside, I coat the inner omelet with about 1/4 c. of shredded cheese and put half the filling mixture on one side of the omelet.

If I have been patient enough to let the bottom of the omelet get slightly brown, I don’t usually have any problem turning the empty side of the omelet up over the filled side.  Using my spatula, I hold it down a moment until the two sides set together, sprinkle with a little more cheese on top and violá, a lovely omelet!  Unfortunately for my husband, I wasn’t patient enough today and his omelet ripped when I flipped the empty side over, but I held it together until it generally set the right shape, covered the tear with cheese and it tasted the same anyway.

I did a much better job with my omelet.  🙂

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We topped the waffles with salted caramel apple butter I made before Thanksgiving, which made this meal feel like a CSA brunch of champions.

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Winter CSA Box 5 – Its all about the greens

Good thing I have learned lots of ways to use greens, because we got A LOAD of them this week.

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The box included swiss chard, collard greens, beets (with greens), turnips (with greens), a bag of mixed cooking greens, a winter squash, shallots, and dried thyme.

I  combined the swiss chard and the collard greens in one cooked side dish along with potatoes and a smoked roast my husband had cooked.

They accused me of pandering because I cooked the greens with bacon this time.  No crazy spices or fruit, just something I knew they couldn’t resist.  I admit it.  I was pandering.  We have a lot of greens to consume, I wanted to get started without any complaints.

Greens with Bacon & Onions

  • 2 slices bacon, cut into half inch slices
  • 1/2 c. chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 t. minced garlic
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • 2 lbs. greens, stemmed and rinsed

Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a deep pan, like a dutch oven.  I used my cast iron chicken frying pan.  When the bacon is crispy, set it aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Add the onion to the dutch oven and cook until the onion is browned, then add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant.

Then add the thyme and greens, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the greens are wilted.  I am always shocked at how a huge bundle of greens cooks down to such a small quantity.

Yummm.

Yummm.

I also have to add a funny note about the mixed cooking greens we’ve been getting with our winter CSA.  My husband was unpacking them one day and commented that he thought they look like weeds; he is pretty sure he saw something in there that looked like knapweed.

So we have started calling them “mixed weeds” instead of mixed greens.  🙂

Also, please go look at what others are cooking with their CSA veggies at Heather’s InHerChucksparty.

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Quiche Quatastrophe – and redemption

I had leeks.  I really like leeks.   A quiche seemed like a wonderful weekend brunch idea that would use my leeks.  This was also an opportunity to try and improve my pie crust skills.

We started with Bonnie’s Pie Crust from Recipes Happen.  I like the fact that this has whole wheat flour in addition to regular flour.  The pie crust worked well and we (I) were (was?) able to place the crust in the springform pan without incident.  The switch between singular and plural is because my daughter was helping periodically, but may not wish to take credit or be blamed for everything that happens later.  

It all started innocently enough.  We chopped leeks, onions,  ham and sundried tomatoes for the filling.  We had pre-baked our pie crust (375° for 25-30 minutes, removing pie weights at about 20 minutes), which looked perfect.

ASIDE:  In a previous pie crust adventure, I tried to empty the pie weights by turning the pie crust over to pour them out.  Unfortunately, the pie crust fell out of the pan as well – thus necessitating starting over with a new crust.  But that was months ago!

This time, I put parchment paper on the crust before adding the pie weights, and easily lifted the paper out after baking.   Crust catastrophe averted  – or so I thought…

Quiche Filling

  • 2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg

(I use the 1% organic milk from Costco.  It tastes like milk with higher fat content and substitutes well for whole milk in lots of recipes).

Whisk the above ingredients in a bowl.

  • 2 med. leeks, chopped into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. chopped dried tomatoes

Saute leeks and tomatoes in butter until soft.

Looking good!

Looking good!

  • 1 c. cheese, grated
  • 4 oz. ham, diced

Sprinkle the cheese,  ham and vegetables evenly over the bottom of the still warm pie crust.  The recipe I was getting suggestions from wanted Gruyère cheese, but my grocery store was out that day.  I think we substituted gouda. We like our fancy cheeses.  🙂

Cheese girl at work again!  :)

Cheese girl at work again! 🙂

Note the use of “we” – my daughter is still with me here…

Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet.  This is VERY important. Pour the custard mixture into the crust.  The top of the custard should be below the top of the crust.

At this point, there was a little bit of leaking around the bottom of the spingform pan, but that usually stops once the custard sets while baking, so I didn’t worry.

Bake Quiche at 375° until a knife inserted about 1 inch from the edge comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  The center is still jiggly, but set.  The center firms up while the quiche cools to room temperature.

After the quiche had been baking for about 15 minutes, I HAD to peek and good thing I did!

Empty quiche.  :(

Empty quiche. 😦

There was still some custard in the quiche, but not enough to even pretend it could be breakfast.  What to do?

Rescued!

Rescued!

Not wanting to waste my lovely leeks, I scooped out the remaining filling and put it in a bowl.

See how that “I” came back…..  I am so alone  at this point.

I mixed up a new batch of custard.

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Cheese girl took pity on me, came back and rolled a new pie crust for me.

Check out my new rolling pin!

Check out my new rolling pin!

We repeated all the above steps, with no leakage this time.

Breakfast was finally ready at about noon.  My fifteen year old survived by eating the destroyed pie crust until the real breakfast was ready.

With the spring form pan, I’m not sure if it matters if the center is up or down, but for good measure I turned it over for the re-quiche.

There are no photos of the finished product because we were so hungry no one had the strength left to lift the iPhone and take a picture.  :\

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Roasted Broccoli with Fresh Cranberries

I still have some fresh cranberries and have been seeing some yummy looking brussel sprouts with cranberries and nuts recipes online that inspired me.  Facing dinner, a hungry family and my crisper, we made some adjustments…

Preheat oven to 375°.

  • 2 large broccoli crowns, cut into 1″ pieces ( I sliced the stems and used them also)
  • 1 T. peanut oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh cranberries, halved

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Toss broccoli, cranberries and oil in a bowl, then spread on a pizza pan and roast for 28 minutes.  Broccoli will still be somewhat firm.

I love the bright colors in this dish!  :)

I love the bright colors in this dish! 🙂

Sprinkle over roasted broccoli:

  • 1/2 c. pine nuts

and roast for an additional  4-5 minutes.

Place roast broccoli mixture in a serving bowl and toss with

  • 1 t. honey

The sweetness of the honey helps counteract the tartness of the fresh cranberries.

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In the future, I would toast the pine nuts separately before adding them.  They didn’t quite reach the crispness I wanted and I wasn’t willing to risk burning the broccoli to roast longer.

However, it was an easy and attractive vegetable dish to accompany our grilled chicken breasts and rice.  We ate it all and they were asking for more.  🙂  That’s a win in my book!

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My new Mexican Cookbook – Part 3: Rice with Seafood (and veggies, of course)

I promise this is the last post about my new cookbook for a while.  But it was all one meal that took hours to cook and I HAVE to get these blog posts out of my system….

The original recipe was called Green Rice with Crayfish.  I didn’t have green rice or crayfish, so I really had no business making this dish; but it worked out.  🙂

Rice:

  • 2.5 c. rice (I used a brown and sprouted rice blend from Costco)

Soak rice in hot water to cover for 15 minutes.  Then drain and rinse in a mesh sieve until the water runs clear.

  • 2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 T. minced garlic
  • 1/4 onion, chopped into 4 piecesIMG_1017

In a large skillet, heat the oil (Ugh!  THAT is a lot of oil!  No one claimed these dishes were healthy…).  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and the large onion chunks and fry until golden.

Add the rinsed and drained rice to the skillet and fry until brown, stirring frequently.  When the rice is brown, strain the rice and return the rice and vegetables to the skillet.

(Note:  The oil I strained from the rice here,  I used in the refried black beans recipe in Part 2).

In the food processor, pureé:

This smells wonderful!

This smells wonderful!

  • 3 t. minced garlic
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 poblano chilies, seeded, deveined and chopped

Add the pureé to the skillet with the rice and cook “until fat begins to rise to the top.”  I had never heard such an instruction, but at some point the oil did begin to float on top…

Add:

  • 3.5 c. water
  • 1 lb. frozen seafood blend of mussels, scallops, shrimp and calamari

The seafood just happened to be what I had on hand  The original recipe called for 8 red snapper, 2 lbs. clams and 8 large crayfish.  Feel free to experiment.

After adding the seafood, adjust seasonings as desired and cover, cooking over low heat for an additional 45 minutes.  Then remove from heat and let stand for 25 minutes while the rice continues to absorb the water.

Rice with Seafood

Rice with Seafood

I probably should have garnished it with something green, but by now it was 10 PM and we were starving!

The kids were gone, so it was just my husband and I – he got lots of flooring laid while I cooked. 🙂

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The rice was not oily (surprise!) and was  moist; I could have experimented with the flavors more.

The mellowness of the rice dish and the beans was a nice counterpoint to the tangy-ness of the creole squash.

When the kids came home and had leftovers, my daughter didn’t care for the beans (I think it was the goat cheese) and my son was not fond of the tangy-ness of the squash.  They both liked the rice, but we adults hadn’t left them much in the way of seafood.  They wouldn’t have liked it anyway…. 😉

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My new Mexican Cookbook – Part 2: Refried Black Beans, Veracruz style

I decided to try this recipe at about 3pm, which is too late to soak my beans for 24 hours… 😦

Previously, I have had good luck quick-soaking black eyed peas in warm water, so I decided to try it with my black beans.

Quick Soaking Beans

Rinse and sort the beans, then add to a large pot and fill with water to about 1-1.5″ above the level of the beans.  I put the pot in a low setting on the electric stove and let it sit there for about 2 1/2 hours.  My kitchen has a gas cooktop also, but the gas is too hot even on the lowest setting.

You don’t want it to boil and may need to add water as the beans swell.    After two and a half hours, the beans were still a little firm.  Two and half hours isn’t super fast, but way better than 24!

IMG_1014Refried Black Beans

Step 1 was making Beans Cooked in a Pot (it sounds better in  Spanish Frijoles de Olla)

  • 1 lb. black beans, soaked and rinsed
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1onion, quartered

Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil and add the beans, onion and garlic.  Let this simmer for 1.5 hours.  Add salt to taste after 1 hour.

When the beans are cooked, blend one cup of beans in a blender or food processor with a little of the cooking water.  Add the pureé back to the beans in the pot.  Dish number one complete.

Part 2

I made that because it is the first ingredient in this

  • Beans Cooked in a Pot
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, then add the onion, cooking until the onion is dark brown.  Add the beans a cup at a time, mashing as you add them.  I used my potato masher.

Onions, dark brown.  Check.  :)

Onions, dark brown. Check. 🙂

Beans, mashed.

Beans, mashed.

The cookbook had one more day and additional steps in there,  but I wanted dinner tonight, not next week.

I garnished with crumbled goat cheese and a squeeze of lime juice.

 

Refried beans in one long afternoon, is better than three days.  And they were flavorful.  Much better than my last attempt.  I may be getting better at this.  🙂

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My New Mexican Cookbook – Part 1: Creole Squash

During his career, my husband has  worked with many Hispanic gentlemen.  He frequently raves about the wonderful Mexican food they bring to work or that he has enjoyed in their homes.

My repertoire of Mexican food is limited to the standard US versions of tacos and enchiladas, quesadillas and guacamole from a mix.  All good, mind you, but not rave-worthy.  I had been looking for a cookbook to teach me more authentic Mexican food, and I found one at a used bookstore when we visited my sister for Thanksgiving.

I’ve been looking forward to cooking some of the recipes, but flipping through this cookbook, I am afraid I may have gotten myself in too deep.  The recipes include long lists of ingredients, many of which I have never heard of.  And while I am not afraid of lengthy preparations (remember the refried beans and the pumpkin ravioli), almost every recipe seems to involve multi-day preparations, or making this dish as an ingredient for that dish….

The first meal was definitely going to be a weekend project.  Trying to use food I had on hand, I gave myself permission to bastardize with abandon  – meanwhile we are still laying floor in the living room…

With a four day weekend for New Year’s, I settled on three dishes, Creole Pumpkin, Refried Black Beans Veracruz Style, and Green Rice with Crayfish.  My pantry did not hold crayfish, but I did have half a bag of frozen mixed seafood (mussels, shrimp, scallops and calamari).  I didn’t have pumpkin either, but I do have butternut squash and the orange “not a pumpkin” squash.  You see how this is going to go… 🙂

The Creole Pumpkin recipe called for pumpkin and some other squash and a third vegetable (I think) that I didn’t have and don’t even know what they are. Although if I went to Fiesta Foods, they probably have it and fairly inexpensive to boot.

Creole Squash

First, there is a Vinagrette.

  • 1 c. chopped sweet onionIMG_1013
  • 1.5 t. minced garlic
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1.5 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. white vinegar

Combine above ingredients in a medium bowl.

  • 1.5 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 T. olive oil

Slowly drizzling oils into the vinegar mixture, while whisking.  Both hands are busy here, so don’t whisk too vigorously or the bowl will move.  🙂  Chill this for at least three hours.

Squash

Mystery Squash

Mystery Squash

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in 3/4″ dice
  • 1 other squash, peeled and cut in 3/4″ dice

Place a large pot of water on to boil.  I let it heat up while prepping the squashes. (Squashi?)

Separately, boil each squash until tender, but not falling apart.  We don’t want squishy squash.  🙂

I totally mis-timed how long it would take to boil the squash.  It took about 10 minutes for each type, and I still had at least an hour of other cooking ahead of me for the other dishes.  I heated the oven to about 200° and put the prepared squash  in a casserole pan until we were ready to eat.

Pour the vinagrette over the squash and gently combine.  Garnish with sliced green onions,  feta cheese and chipolte chilies if desired.

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The squash was tender and had a nice tartness from the vinagrette.  I will definitely make this again.

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Winter CSA Box 4 – Finally, a use for all those radishes! Smoked Turkey

Christmas Chaos

Christmas Chaos

In addition to being ridiculously busy at work, we replaced the carpet in two rooms with hardwood floors – at Christmas.  What were we thinking?!  The computer lives in the dining room, which was the first room to get new floors.  While we worked there, the computer was torn apart and piled in the living room, with all our other stuff…  Thus, my complete radio silence for the past two weeks.

We’ve had Box 4 for a while now, but since I don’t get Box 5 until January 9th, I figure I’m still on track.  🙂

Box 4 was filled with great stuff:  Bok choy, potatoes, cooking greens, spinach salad  greens, cranberries, fresh sage, daikon radishes, popcorn, and a funny little orange squash that was not a pumpkin….

I simmered the cranberries until they burst and added them to apple crisp.

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The bok choy was chopped and added to a frittata I served with cooked spinach (with garlic and pine nuts) as Christmas brunch.

We used the potatoes in breakfast potatoes.  The squash in a new Mexican squash recipe.

I’m saving the sage and haven’t tried to pop the popcorn yet, but my husband came up with a great use for the radishes.

A few years ago, I bought my husband a smoker for Christmas and he has gotten quite talented.  He smokes fish, brisket, hams …and turkeys.  We bought a 20 lb. turkey for Christmas and he filled the cavity of the bird with chopped onions, celery, and lots of radishes while it smoked overnight.

The next morning, after the turkey was finished, I pulled the cooked vegetables from the bird, chopped them smaller and incorporated them into my stuffing – which we always bake separately from the bird anyway.

The smoking process cooked the vegetables, mellowed the radishes, and added a smokey flavor to the stuffing.

The turkey was moist and smokey, the stuffing was flavorful.

The leftover turkey has made great sandwiches too.  My son just decided the sandwich pickles are really good and I need to make more.  My husband packed me a turkey sandwich for lunch that used the cranberry jelly, with turkey, lettuce and onions that was heavenly.

But I am most pleased at finally having a bulk use for radishes.  That was the best Christmas gift ever!  🙂

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Apple pie with ugly apples

The apples that have come with the winter CSA boxes are not attractive.  But since I  already paid for them, we will be eating them.

Ugly Apples

Ugly Apples

We had extra pie crust after the beef and bok choy pie, so instead of apple crisp, we decided to go old school and make pie.

I have yet to find a classic pie crust recipe that works for me.  My next cooking mission is to solve that problem.  First, I am going to try the Foolproof Pie Crust recipe recommended by Bonnie at Recipes Happen.  No matter how long I have chilled/frozen my dough, it falls apart, gets sticky and I end up pressing in into the pie pan like shortbread and filling the pie from there.  It isn’t pretty, but it works…..

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Preheat oven to 500°.  Using your favorite pie crust, roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pan.  I have no advice to offer here.   We did decide to bake this pie in an 8-9″ cast iron frying pan though.

For the filling:

  • 5-6 medium sized apples (peeled, cored and quartered)   I really hate peeling apples….

Place the apples in a bowl and toss with,

  • 1 t. lemon juice, and
  • lemon zest from 1 lemonIMG_0920

In a separate bowl, combine:

  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. allspice
  • 1/4 t. salt

When those are combined, toss with the apples, then pour all into the pie plate.

Because I had used some of the dough to top the beef and bok choy pie, I didn’t have enough dough to make a full top crust.  I rolled it out and cut it into slices, then my daughter wove it into a lattice of sorts.

IMG_0922She said she wanted it to look like a “failed something cool, instead of just a failed something”  🙂

She then brushed our lattice crust with

  • 1 beaten egg white, and sprinkled it with
  • 1 T. unrefined sugar

We put the pie on a cookie sheet and reduced the oven temp. to 425°.  Let that bake until the crust is golden brown, rotating the pie as necessary to prevent uneven browning.

The final result is presentable...

The final result is presentable…

When finished baking, place the pie on a rack and allow to cool.  We left it overnight and had pie for breakfast! It may not be pretty, what with the ugly apples and failed pie crust, but it tasted great! And the cast iron pan made the crust nice and crispy.

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Cooking the Recipes of Others – Beef and Bok Choy Pie and General Tso’s Chicken

Sometimes recipes online don’t work as well as advertised.  I won’t describe those.  But lately, I have had very good luck trying other’s recipes to use up my CSA vegetables.

First, I tried Kirsten’s Beef and Bok Choy pie from Farm Fresh Feasts.  Originally, I was going to make Sheperd’s Pie, but I needed to use lots of bok choy, and this hid it in a way I hoped the kid’s wouldn’t whine about too much.

Pie Filling

Pie Filling before bok choy

The filling was colorful and flavorful.

My pie crust was not attractive.  I have regular pie crust problems.  I think that is why I like the walnut pie crust so much.  But I am working on that….

Not much for leftovers...

Not much for leftovers…

The kids absolutely LOVED it! Kirsten said this is one of her family’s favorites and I have to agree.

We will definitely be making this again.

Thank you for sharing Kirsten!  🙂

The other recipe we really enjoyed was Patrick’s General Tso’s Chicken from Foodie Friday on Brown Paper Tickets.  I don’t think I have ever tried General Tso’s Chicken, not in a Chinese restaurant even, not even in China.  But it sounded yummy and I had most of the right ingredients…

Crazy looking greens.

Crazy looking greens.

I substituted cooking greens for the broccoli, but with great results.

Breading the chicken bits with cornstarch before deep frying made a colossal mess in the kitchen.  I fried the chicken bits in a cast iron dutch oven in only about 1 inch of  hot shortening and turned them with tongs.

IMG_0940Again, the meal was colorful and a little spicy.  The family loved it the first night, and as leftovers – even though the chicken wasn’t as crispy after being re-heated.

This recipe also had the advantage of allowing me to pull out the wok I have had since my college days. 🙂

And I have now successfully used all my greens and my peppers.

Thank you Patrick.  This is a new favorite as well.

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