Healthy Chinese Orange Chicken

Who doesn’t love a bit of Chinese takeout?  Problem is they are often pretty unhealthy, and sometimes you just have no idea what goes into it, but likely MSG.  I actually really enjoy recreating our favorites at home, and there are no shortage of recipes floating around the net from which to do so.

Although I have made other versions of Orange Chicken in the past in the more traditional way of a breaded chicken bite, and they were great, I was very excited to come across this recipe which eliminates the breading making it not only healthier but a thousand times easier!  This recipe was so easy in fact I could hardly believe it!  It’s also made with honey in place of some of the sugar which helps keep it lighter and better for you.

I honestly didn’t miss the breading, and felt this had a nice heat level and orange flavor.  We had ours with some rice, which I also like to take a little shortcut with and use boil in a bag.  For me it just turns out way better than our rice maker which I have yet to perfect.  Overall it was a great dinner and one I would make again!

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Healthy Chinese Orange Chicken

Ingredients :

  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 T. oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 T. white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 T. corn starch
  • zest from 1 orange
  • red pepper flakes to taste (I think I used about 1/4 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
  • sesame seeds and more green onion slices for garnish (optional)

Directions :

  1. Heat 1 T. of oil in a pan.  Add salt and pepper to chicken and saute until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove any excess water or oil from the pan.
  2. In a saucepan mix together the rest of the ingredients minus the garnish.  Bring to a boil and stir a few times until the sauce thickens.
  3. Pour sauce over the chicken and mix thoroughly.  Serve.

Recipe from Clever Spoon


Sweet Fire Chicken

You may know this dish from the Panda Express.  It’s a sweet and sour type chicken dish with pineapples, peppers, and onions and a great sweet and slightly spicy sauce.  It is my go-to order whenever we are craving fast food Chinese.  My only complaints when I order it is that there is never enough, and it’s not exactly low calorie food being “fast food”.  Being able to make it at home you get to control a few things and likely cut back on some of the less desirable calories/fat. 

I would say this is a pretty fair comparison to the dish you get at Panda Express, with only some slight differences.  The most obvious one being the chicken.  At panda express it doesn’t appear to be panko breaded, but rather just flour coated and then I am not sure if it’s deep fried or pan fried at that point.  This recipe calls for deep frying, but I actually just put enough oil in the bottom of my skillet to cover it and fried them that way.  I liked the more crunchy breading you get with the panko compared to the restaurant version.

Another difference was the sauce.  I think it’s pretty close in flavor, but the stuff I get at Panda Express is a bit spicier which I like.  This can easily be adjusted though by the amount of chili paste you put in.  So I suggest giving it a taste and putting a bit more if you like it spicy.

My own version was even more different in that I left out the onions entirely, but replaced them with a few green onions (greens only).  I like onions, and normally would have used them, but I have started looking into a new diet called the Low FODMAP diet and onions are on the NO list.  For those not familiar, the diet is one suggested for those with IBS, as it avoids foods that are harder to digest and cause bloating and gas build up.  As anyone with IBS knows, this is a major issue and causes a lot of discomfort.  The diet seems a bit daunting to tell the truth, as I will be greatly limiting if not completely avoiding many foods I normally enjoy and some I never thought I could live without such as garlic, onions, and various other things.  Anyway, you may see me mentioning the diet from time to time in my posts, and this is why.   Another change I made was to use not only red sweet peppers, but also yellow and orange for color.  The recipe said to use 3 sweet red peppers, and I figured they meant the mini ones you can get in a big bag, but I used probably 2-3 reds, and one of each yellow and orange.

The dish isn’t hard to make, but is a bit more time-consuming than other Asian dishes.  I don’t know how long it took me to coat all those pieces of chicken in flour, egg, and panko and then fry them up, but it seemed like forever lol.  So plan accordingly.  Definitely worth the effort though!  Serve with rice.


Sweet Fire Chicken

Serves : 3-4

Ingredients :

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • oil for frying
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup lemon juice
  • 6 T. plum sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili paste
  • 1 Cup pineapple, in chunks
  • 1 medium onion, diced (I used probably 4 green onions)
  • 3 sweet peppers, cut into chunks (I used probably 5 mini sweet peppers in varying colors)

Directions :

  1. Heat oil in a deep fryer for 375 degrees. (If you are going to do as I did and use just a little oil in bottom of skillet hold off)  In medium bowl whisk together
    the eggs with the milk. In another bowl or shallow pie dish add the flour, salt, and white pepper. In another bowl or shallow pie dish add the panko bread crumbs.
  2. Roll the chicken pieces first in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg mixture, and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat until all pieces of chicken are covered. (I laid them out on a foil lined baking sheet to keep the breading from falling off)
  3. Place chicken pieces into the deep fryer and deep fry in batches until the chicken pieces are golden brown and fully cooked (the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees). Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked. OR Cover bottom of a large skillet with oil and heat over medium/medium-high heat.  You don’t want it to get TOO hot.  Carefully lay pieces of breaded chicken in once it’s heated and allow to cook without moving the chicken until you can see it starting to brown on the bottom edges.  Flip over and cook the other side to the same golden brown before removing to a paper towel to drain the grease as you cook the rest.  (I did three batches in my skillet)  Just watch that it’s not browning too fast, or you will need to turn the heat down because you need it to cook through and stay golden.
  4. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil to a wok or skillet and heat to medium-high heat. Add sweet pepper and onion and stir fry in about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice , plum sauce and chili sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in pineapple chunks. Mix the sauce with the chicken and serve immediately.

Recipe from Blog Chef



Chinese Orange Chicken

I love making my own Chinese food at home.  The first one I ever tried to make was sesame chicken, and I was hooked.  Though there is often a bit of prep work involved, the actual cooking process/time is quite simple and, in my opinion, homemade Chinese food is often WAY better than what you can get at most Chinese restaurants.  At least this is true when you live in remote northern Idaho…. which I did at the time.  Now that I am near Portland I am sure there are many great places to choose from, but you just can’t beat the simplicity of making it at home.  Because you are making it at home you can control things like the salt content, or portion sizes, which let’s face it are HUGE at most restaurants.  So you can have Chinese any day of the week and not feel guilty for the amount of oil and salt you just consumed.

I have had Orange Chicken numerous times over the years, and it’s always different wherever you go.  Years later I still remember the delicious chicken balls with orange sauce we had while staying in Toronto.  That is my idea of orange chicken…. but on the occasion when I am really in a hurry I’ll pick some up from somewhere like Panda Express and I am always left disappointed by their idea of orange chicken.  For starters it’s nothing like the image they have up, and comes out looking more like general tso than anything orange infused.  Then there is NO orange flavor whatsoever.  I honestly don’t know why they call it orange chicken.  It’s not terrible food, but it’s not orange chicken either.

This, however, does have a lot of orange flavor.  There is a great complexity from all the sauce ingredients, with a bit of heat, sweetness, salty, and citrus.  Though time consuming, making your own fried chicken results in a much tastier, less greasy, end result.  I liked that the chicken was so freshly tossed with the sauce that it retained a lot of the crunch from the breading and the amount of sauce left over was the perfect amount to mix in with the rice.  I made two packets of boil-in-a-bag brown rice which left us with a little more than we needed, but one would have been not enough.  When frying the chicken I used vegetable shortening (the Crisco one in a can) which was something I had never done before but wanted to try.  It worked really well and from what I hear gives it a better flavor.  I don’t have a thermometer that monitors temperatures that high, so I just kept a close eye on things to make sure it wasn’t too hot.  I suggest using a thermometer if you can though.  You don’t want to have your oil too low and end up with oily chicken, or too high and end up with burned outsides and raw insides or a house full of smoke or a fire lol.  I also used my dutch oven to fry in because I like having the taller sides to avoid the mess.

I admit my kitchen was in a state of utter disaster after dinner last night, but it was definitely worth it!


Chinese Orange Chicken

serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 T. orange zest
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried ginger (I used a bit of fresh ginger paste)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 T. grated yellow onion
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 T. cornstarch, divided
  • 2 T. cold water
  • 2 large eggs
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Directions :

  1. Place chicken pieces in a gallon size resealable bag, set aside. In a medium saucepan combine chicken broth, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, granulated sugar, ginger, yellow onion, garlic, Sriracha and pepper. Whisk mixture well, then measure out 2/3 cup of the mixture and pour it over the chicken in resealable bag. Seal bag while pressing excess air out, and press chicken into marinade. Place bag in a bowl or baking dish and refrigerate 30 minutes. Meanwhile, return remaining sauce mixture over medium heat and bring mixture just to a boil, stirring frequently. In a small bowl whisk together 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 2 Tbsp water then stir mixture into sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 1 – 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until thickened, remove from heat.
  2. Pour vegetable oil into a large cast iron dutch oven, filling pot about 1 1/2 – 2-inches deep and heat oil to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a shallow dish until well blended. Pour remaining 1 1/4 cups cornstarch into a separate shallow dish. Remove chicken from refrigerator and drain and discard marinade from chicken.
  3. Dip chicken pieces into egg followed by cornstarch and toss pieces to evenly coat in cornstarch, then carefully place 1/3 of the chicken pieces into preheated oil and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until golden, turning once during cooking. Using skimmer, remove fried chicken from oil and transfer to a paper towel lined cookie sheet to drain excess oil. Repeat process with remaining chicken working in two more batches.
  4. Pour drained fried chicken into a bowl and toss with sauce. Serve warm over white or brown rice garnished with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

Recipe from Cooking Classy


Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 135 : Kung Pao Chicken

I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll make this brief.  This recipe came from Key Ingredient, and though we did enjoy it I just felt it wasn’t the best kung pao chicken we’ve ever had.  The sauce never got very thick for me, and it was a bit weak on flavor which I had not anticipated given the list of ingredients.  Serving it w/ rice worked well to soak up the sauce though, and it was pretty easy to make which is always a plus.

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves : 3-4                   Time to make : 25 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 2 T. dark sesame oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 T. low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. bottled minced ginger
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 T. chopped, unsalted dry roasted peanuts

Directions :

  1. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until tender; about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds stirring constantly.  Add chicken and cook until starting to brown.
  2. Whisk together water and next 5 ingredients (through to the red pepper flakes) then add to skillet and bring to a boil.  Add the red peppers and snow peas and cook another couple minutes until the sauce thickens.
  3. Sprinkle peanuts over the top.

Published in: on May 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 45 : Kung Pao Chicken

So Jeff and I enjoy Chinese food from time to time, and used to have a favorite restaurant here in town that we would always go to.  They not only had good food, but they delivered!  Well, that restaurant unfortunately closed, but we soon enough found another that we liked in town, though it didn’t deliver.  At that time there seemed to be so many Chinese restaurants in our area.  After a while that one also went out of business, and suddenly there was really only one left that we would go to.  Honestly the food there is not so great, and their prices are a bit outrageous if you ask me.

Luckily for us, it is SO easy to make Chinese cuisine at home!  Not only that, but it is SO much better because you control the quality of the ingredients.  That is one of my biggest pet peeves about Chinese restaurants…. the chicken!  I am VERY picky about my chicken pieces.  Anyway, we have been able to recreate many of our favorites Chinese dishes and even improve upon them in most cases.  Now if only I had my access to some of the more rare ingredients in my area……  Another great thing about Chinese Cuisine is that it is typically pretty healthy and low in fat.  They don’t really use dairy in their recipes and this is the one time I don’t miss it!

Tonight’s recipe comes from Smuckers, and we really enjoyed it!  It had a great flavor from the ginger, soy, garlic, and marmalade.  And the peanuts and peppers gave it some nice crunch!  The red pepper flakes were an optional addition and normally when a recipe says that I find it to be a tad on the spicy side for us, but even with the full amount listed we felt it didn’t really have much heat and actually would maybe double it next time.

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves : 4             Time to make : 25 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 3 T. pure peanut oil, divided
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced on a diagonal
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Smucker’s sweet orange marmalade
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
  • hot cooked rice

Directions :

  1. Toss together chicken and cornstarch in  a small bowl.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or wok on medium-high heat.  Add half the chicken, stir fry 3 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink in center.  Remove from skillet, repeat with remaining chicken.
  2. Add remaining oil, red and green peppers to skillet, stir frying 30-45 seconds.  Add green onions, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper flakes, cooking 15 seconds more.  Remove pan from heat.
  3. Add soy sauce, orange marmalade, chicken, peanuts, and sesame oil to pan.  Cook and stir until heated through.  Serve with steamed white or fried rice.



Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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