Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicken Stir-Fry with Snow Peas

Chicken Stir-Fry with Snow Peas

"How did you make that chicken??"  Joe insisted on knowing.  He couldn't stop talking about how tender and juicy and perfectly cooked it was.  I had just thrown some ingredients in the fridge together as a stir-fry, and he loved it.  "Is it dark-meat chicken?  Thighs?"  No.  "Then what did you do to it?"

I had fun drawing out the suspense.  I had just taken chicken breasts, cut them up, and marinated them for a few minutes in soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine vinegar, and a bit of baking soda.  A later conversation with my mother revealed that restaurants use the baking soda to tenderize beef, not chicken; egg white is used for chicken.  Whatever, Mom, it works.  No, you won't taste the baking soda, and I wouldn't be worried about consuming it -- it's in baked goods all the time.  Worth noting: I like this brand of oyster sauce because it has no MSG.

Kind of worth noting: I have childhood memories of my mom seating me in front of piles of snow peas and having me peel off that tendril at the top and down the side.  It annoyed me as a kid, especially since I hated vegetables until college, but I smile to think of it now.

Chicken pieces
My other guess as to why the chicken turned out so well is that I always try not to overcook meat.  I think people get so afraid of undercooking meat that they dry it out and toughen it, and I cooked the chicken just until it was done.

Chicken Stir-Fry Plate
Throw in some garlic and slightly crunchy snow peas, and you've got a delicious and healthy dinner.  And a Joe who won't stop eating the chicken when you try to photograph a blog post.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Got the Versatile Blogger Award

I'm flattered that Brandi, Leslie, and Amanda of Three Fabulous Mommies thought of this blog when passing on “The Versatile Blogger” award.  Thanks to the three of you for following What About Second Breakfast?  Be sure to check out Three Fabulous Mommies, and the other great blogs below.

The rules after accepting the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs.  (I got lazy and did 10)

Seven facts about Shirley:
1. I speak on the conversational, not fluent, level of Mandarin, and know only a few phrases of my grandparents' dialect, from Hainan, China.
2. I LOVE cats.  I'm not a hoarder, but I had 2 and recently lost 1 so I'm sad.  :(
3. I like using spreadsheets.
4. I enjoy fantasy novels (did my blog's title clue you in?) and Victorian and Regency lit.  Jane Austen, Lord of the Rings, and A Song of Ice and Fire (the Game of Thrones series) rank at top.
5. I never learned to swim, but that didn't stop me from hopping on a jet-ski once!
6. People assume I have hoity-toity food tastes, but fast food is a guilty pleasure for me.  Don't even think about touching my fries.  Seriously.
7. My mom didn't know she was having twins until the doctor said another one (me!) was coming.

10 Versatile Bloggers (in no particular order):

1. Adora's Box
2. Tracy's Culinary Adventures
3. Anecdotes and Apple Cores
4. IndianSimmer
5. Just One Cookbook
6. All Day I Dream About Food
7. The Culinary Chronicles
8. The Sweet Swiper
9. Cats and Casseroles
10. A Pinch of Sweet

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lattice-top Peach Pie

Lattice-top Peach Pie whole

The nights are already starting to get chilly in Boston, and I'm going to miss having in-season watermelon, cherries, and peaches.  While I look forward to the warming food and holidays of autumn, I'm always sad to leave the barbeques, beach trips, and fresh fruits of summer behind.  Peach pie is a constant rival with apple for favorite pie in my book, and I wanted to try a new recipe this summer.  This is a Lattice-top Peach Pie with a cream cheese crust.

Lattice-top Peach Pie

The top crust in the recipe isn't a lattice, but when I flipped to the photos in the middle of the book I saw the same recipe with a lattice and thought, why not?  I'll describe the few adjustments to make when using a lattice in the recipe section after the jump.

Strawberry plant

The other thing I'll miss?  Picking strawberries off my porch.  The sweetness and subtlety of flavors just can't compare with grocery store strawberries.

Strawberry plant 2

Unfortunately, I only pick about 5 a week and they're barely bigger than grapes.  Where are my pints?  If you have strawberry-growing tips, please share!  The information tab on this plant even promised huge berries.

Cutting Lattice Strips

Truth be told, although the cream cheese crust came out perfect, I'd prefer a flaky all-butter crust to pair with peaches.  But I can attest to this same cream cheese crust being perfect for Apple Pie and Banana Cream Pie.  And I'd give the filling a hit of cinnamon next time, as I usually do.  But I can't complain, because it's still a pretty damn good pie.

Lattice-top Peach Pie Unbaked

If you've never done a lattice top, it's honestly one of the easiest parts.  Not lyin'.  Rolling out the dough and trying to prevent rips and tears can rile me up, but weaving those strips in and out takes only a minute.

Lattice-top Peach Pie Slice

One last tip: For peeling those soft peach skins, this serrated peeler is amazing.  I found mine at Sur la Table.  I've heard of cutting an X into the bottom of a peach, blanching it in a pot of water, and then plunging it into ice water.  Skip the production and just get a serrated peeler.  Happy baking!

This post is linked to:
* Sweet Treats Party
* Sweets for a Saturday
* Sweet Tooth Friday
* Tea Party Tuesday

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Making Biscuits for Baby: Peach Shortcakes

Peach ShortcakeE2

These fluffy, buttery shortcakes are filled with peaches and cream with a dash of cinnamon, perfect for the summer.  I had planned and looked forward to doing a recipe like this earlier, eagerly anticipating peach season.  But a couple of weeks ago our cat, Baby, was struck with a sudden illness and we lost him very shortly after.  His suffering was heartbreaking.  After losing him, I barely slept and had no appetite whatsoever, both of which could not be more unlike myself.  I cried.  A lot.

Baby was the cat who thought he was a person, and had a big personality by turns loving, inquisitive, even bossy.  My furry BFF.  I missed falling asleep and waking with him, having him insist on sharing my seat at the table, greeting me when I came home, petting his soft fur, looking into his sweet face.  His little brother, Shnooky, has been a comfort to us.  (Disclaimer: I didn't name them, but their names are very fitting.)

Shortcake with Peaches and Cream
Like many cats, Baby would use his claws to knead beds and blankets.  My friend Bill once told me, "Do you know what they call cats doing that in the South?  Making biscuits."  And when I finally regained some appetite for food and life, I knew I wanted to make this recipe.  So this post is for you, buddy, and nine years of beautiful friendship.  I will always miss you more than I can say.

Peach Shortcakes
This biscuit recipe is super-easy, and it advises you to handle the dough as little as possible for the softest biscuits.  But that's not my style.  Instead of just scooping the dough onto baking sheets, I rolled out the dough and cut out biscuits with a scalloped cutter.  Much prettier.  At top, the unbaked rounds, and above, golden puffed-up goodness.

Peach Shortcake Tray
While they're still warm, split them open and top the bottom half with sweetened whipped cream and peaches and some ground cinnamon.  You might even want to enjoy it in the outdoors.

This post was linked up with Sweets for a Saturday.