Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

Okay, lately this has become a cooking blog ... my apologies ...

I came across some wonderful recipes via Pintrest this weekend ... oh Pinterest, I love you and hate you all at once! Everything on the page looked good and an hour later I was still clicking through it lost in the land of Pinterest. But last night I gave one of the recipes a try. And it was soooooo good. It's pretty much fool-proof too as in the rush to get this ready along with the main meal (I did it as a side dish as my family is kinda skiddish with anything new ... especially Chinese dishes that I make) I totally goofed up the directions by forgetting the egg until after I browned the chicken ... well I just scrambled them and threw them it in the oven dish on the chicken, gave it a stir and then added the Sweet and Sour sauce and it still turned out dandy! Crazy. --And since it is baked and not fried, it's gotta be somewhat healthy, right?

Anyway, thought I would share. There is also a Fried Rice recipe with it, although the one I posted a few days ago was so good I'm not going to depart from that one   ;-)

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

The chicken coating:

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
salt + pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

The sweet and sour sauce:

3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

       Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse your chicken breasts in water and then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs.  Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix all of your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken. Bake for one hour and during the baking process you will need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes.  


Fried Rice                                                                                             

3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best!)
3 tbs sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce

      On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  Add the peas/carrots mix, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour your eggs on the other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated!   **You could really play around with this rice too! Try adding some diced ham, or green onion :) Yum!  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Paracord Bracelet Project

Brayden recently wanted to buy one of those ever-so-cool paracord bracelets when we were on a trip. It seemed a little spendy (especially since I've seen several gotta-have-bracelets of his lately stewn carelessly throughout the house.) But, I did think it would be a great opportunity for a hands-on project in learning some knot tie-ing skills without the project being something like the macramé plant hanger I made when I was  his age. (Which still hangs in my mom's house by the way.)

Googling for the directions for free online and buying an inexpensive pack of a few clips and some paracord on ebay was super! Waiting for the misrouted delivery of the package was NOT so great. Luckily with all the snow we've had lately we were still able to hit a day that it made a great snow-day project.

I made a quick trip to the barn for a scrap piece of 2x4 wood, snagged some electrical wire clips from when we built the house (ha!) and my pink hammer and we were off!

Serious fun and seriously easy. Easton (age 7) and Nolan (age 4) also made one for themselves! Oh yes and one for dad. Hopefully they won't find themselves in an actual emergency where they might actually need these like Rambo. But what a fun boy project! It would be great for a summer activity as well. (Oh yes, for girls too ...)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Final Tournament: A Weekend in Chicago

Brayden's hockey tournament this weekend was the last of the season! And that was a lucky thing since it started on Friday afternoon (meaning we took all the kids out of school so we could travel to Chicago) and lasted all the way through Sunday. (lucky in the sense that it was the final one because it took about all the hockey out of me!)

It was also Easton's last tournament of the season on Sunday ONLY ... but in a different arena in a different town in a different state! So, Jeff and Easton left us in the big, windy city Saturday night (insert not so happy Valerie face here) and traveled to their destination so we could play Brayden's Championship Game Sunday morning and they could play Easton's 3 on 3 half ice tournament at the same time. Thankfully all went well, the driving was easy-peasy, Brayden's team got the Championship WIN and Easton did very well too ... AND we all made it back to the Cedar Rapids Arena within minutes of each other (after a 4+ hour drive for us and an hour and a half for them) to watch Jeff play HIS hockey game (whew! Exhausting weekend.) I close my eyes and all I see is hockey.
I'm amazed at how well the younger brothers deal with the travel so often. I was in LOVE with the Blue Line Bar and Grill attached to this arena as they had overstuffed chairs and a fireplace where I sat between games and thawed (ha!) and did some sewing and bracelets. The boys played on the air hockey machine next to me ... and even though it was broken, they made a game of spinning the air hockey paddles as tops. (so resourceful!)

This photo is NOT sideways. Easton mastered climbing the arena wall sideways. Crazy kid.

Easton and Nolan both loved the mini-hockey game they had in the game area.

This is a photo of the kid I thought Brayden might have his first fight with. :-o  
He would NOT get out of Brayden's face and seemed to WANT to instigate a fight! I had more than one parent come across the arena to me during the game and mention how they couldn't believe how Brayden was taking it so well and that it would not be long and Number 28 would be on his back on the ice (it happened by the way ... but not because of Brayden thankfully!) I don't condone fighting (I might have in this case though.) It was good that we whipped them 6+ to 1 in the second game (they stopped keeping score after 6) and also beat them 4 to 2 in the Championship Game.

Recognize this logo and the little spin on it? Starbucks and Hockey Moms go so well together.

 This is a photo of the fancy lamp in the lobby of our upscale hotel that we stayed at. They had TONS of rules including no running, yelling, jumping or plain-old splashing in the pool. Oh yes, and if they caught you going to the pool shoeless it was back to the room for you. It was made clear that there would be little tolerence away from the rules. Imagine our shock and horror when Nolan came off the elevator after checking into the hotel for a mere 10 minutes and decided to give this lamp a bear hug thinking that it was a solid stone column ... um ... it was a translucent plastic covered stick with light bulbs and as it crashed to the floor and everybody came running from the desk I wanted to cry. Jeff was quick to get to recovery of the lamp (that still has a slight bend to the shade) and I went to giving Nolan a firm talking to!

Random photo of Brayden at a face off ... (he's the white helmet at the top of the photo)

And what would a trip to a Hockey Tournament be without going to a hockey shop. My job is usually occupying the kids and keeping them away from things like this--rows and rows of hockey sticks most at $250.00 a PIECE all leaning against each other ready to be knocked over. 
(Thankfully we avoided that!)

And finally THIS was my favorite find ... because Jeff and my first date ... was at the hockey rink
I really should have seen all this hockey coming LONG ago ;-)

The family

The family