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!

_MG_1268-1 copy

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


Good Morning Muffins

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted… got a little busy and things had to take a back seat for a while.  Anyway, I made these muffins a couple weeks ago and man were they good!  This is a recipe I found while watching Pioneer Woman’s cooking show.  I really enjoy her show and the type of food she makes.  So much of it is just good, simple, comfort food!  While watching the episode I was a bit skeptic about her use of TWO jars of marmalade in one batch of muffins, but I did the same and I really liked the balance of flavor and texture.

On the recipe she suggests using less if you don’t like the bitter taste of marmalade, but I don’t really feel like it is bitter so don’t be afraid to use it all.  The recipe I followed was also slightly different than what I watched her make on the show (I imagine it got altered a bit) and only listed 2 cups of marmalade, but on the show she says she just goes ahead and uses the two jars as it’s close.  Another difference I found when searching was the use of either just butter, just shortening, or a mix.  On the show she states that she likes the mix best so I went with that.

The muffins are nice and moist, with a great orange flavor, and have a little bit of sweetness and crunch on the top.  She uses a good deal of nutmeg in the topping, so you might consider cutting back a little if you aren’t a big fan.  She also uses salt which I found to be a great addition that sort of cuts through the sweetness a bit, but if you don’t like that sort of thing you can leave it out.  This recipe makes a lot of muffins, perfect for sharing, or just portioning out through the week for breakfast or a quick snack.  I think you can freeze them too if you like.


Good Morning Muffins

Makes : 24 muffins

Ingredients :

  • 4 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 4 T. unsalted butter (cold)
  • 1/4 C. shortening
  • 1 1/2 – 2 C. marmalade (or 2 jars)
  • 1 C. orange juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Topping :

  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • wheat germ

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives cut in the butter and shortening until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine your wet ingredients, then gently stir into your dry ingredients.  Use very few turns of the spatula to combine it. 
  4. Mix your toppings in another bowl and sprinkle a heaping tsp. over each muffin.  Also sprinkle about a 1/2 tsp. of wheat germ on each muffin.
  5. Bake 20-22 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Day 133 : Captain’s Nest

It was a great day today.  Had to take the little one in to the doctor to get his shots, but even with that rough start it was a good day.  The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, we got some much needed yard work accomplished, went on a family drive, got a mocha from my favorite new coffee place, went out to eat, and found some fun decorations for our flower beds.  I decided to finish the night with some adult beverages to really relax.  I asked Jeff what type of alcohol from our veritable liquor store he wanted me to base the drinks off of, and his choice was Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum.

I looked on their website and this one sounded right up my alley.  According to Jeff it turns his “manly” alcohol into a girly one, but that’s ok with me lol.  The drink was pretty good, but I think it could have been a lot better if I had not used up the last of our fresh pineapple earlier today and been forced to use canned for this.  The pineapple juice is one of the prominent flavors of the drink is just nothing compared to fresh!  I also might have preferred my usual orange juice of choice (sunny D) over the more bland variety I used since I had it on hand from a different recipe.  Like I said though, the drink was enjoyable and had a nice tropical taste to it.

I just want to take a second to explain the picture tonight…. I was admittedly a little drunk at the time (had a large margarita with dinner lol) and I thought it would be great to push the pirate/tropical theme with a pirate’s treasure chest and other various items I had from Tahiti and whatnot.  I raided my jewelry box, my son’s rock collection and took his pirate chest to get what I have to say looked like a nice bit of loot!  And then I threw the tropical stuff in as well with the captain morgan bottle.

Captain’s Nest :

Serves : 1                Time to make : 3 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 oz. Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/4 oz. amaretto
  • lime slice
  • ice

Directions :

  1. Combine rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and amaretto in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake until well blended and chilled.
  2. Strain into an iced filled glass and garnish with lime slice.

* as a variation… I made enough for two, and instead of 4 oz of orange juice (2oz per serving) I used 3 oz. juice and 1 oz. cointreau.

Day 125 : Derby Special

On a whim I told Jeff to purchase some cointreau last weekend without really knowing what it was.  I just knew that I had often come across it in my recipe searches and felt aggravated when I didn’t have any.  I remembered it being for things like margaritas is all.  Well it turns out that it is an orange flavored liqueur, and not a cheap one at that!  I already had triple sec on hand which is an orange liqueur but I must admit that the cointreau does taste a bit better…. sweeter maybe.

Since today is Friday I figured it was a good day to have a drink.  I searched through my huge book of drink recipes for those that called for cointreau and suddenly there were a lot fewer than I remembered and those that did call for it also required things like vermouth, brandy, or gin…. none of which we keep on hand.  I came across this one and it was the only one that we had all the ingredients for so that’s the one I chose lol.

The funny thing is that both Jeff and I felt that it tasted rather like a gin type drink in the end.  I was assuming it would be more like a margarita given the ingredients, but it was definitely more like a gin drink and something more for Jeff than I.

Derby Special

Serves : 1                  Time to make : 5 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 1/2 oz. cointreau
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • ice

Directions :

  1. Add approximately 4 oz. cracked ice to a blender
  2. Pour in light rum, cointreau, orange juice and lime juice.
  3. Blend at medium speed until smooth.
  4. Pour into a highball glass.

Day 107 : Orange Pineapple Mojito Spritzers

Trying to finish up some leftovers and whatnot before I go grocery shopping again so making simple recipes until then.  Tonight I wanted a nice refreshing drink to relax after a typical Monday.  I might have rather had some alcohol in them, but I decided to let the whole family in on the fun instead.

I came up with the recipe on the fly, just looking around at what I had.  I think it turned out pretty well, and Perrin definitely agrees since he had 3 small glasses lol.  Archer went nuts over it too, but we didn’t let him have as much since he’s only 1.

Orange Pineapple Mojito Spritzers

Serves : 4            Time to make : 5 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 4 T. Orange Pineapple frozen concentrate
  • 1 1/2 C. Roses Mojito Mix
  • 16 oz. lime sparkling water
  • ice
  • lime wedges for garnish

Directions :

  1. Combine juice concentrate and mojito mix in a pitcher and stir until well mixed.
  2. Add ice, then slowly add the sparkling water (so it doesn’t foam up) and stir.
  3. Serve in a glass with more ice, and garnish with a lime wedge.

Day 68 : Fresh Orange Muffins

I figured I would continue with my orange theme from yesterday and make some yummy orange muffins.  I have made other recipes for them before, but never have I used an entire orange, peel and all in them before!  I was intrigued if not a bit skeptic.  They turned out WONDERFUL, with such a light and fluffy texture, and such a lovely fresh taste.

Not only were they delicious, but they were so fast and easy to make!  Seriously, just quarter the orange and throw it right in the processor along with a few other things and then stir in your dry ingredients.  It doesn’t get much easier and they did just what they were supposed to in the oven and came out looking beautiful golden brown with just a hint of orange color to them.  I decided to make them even more fun and added about a half cup of chopped pecans to mine and some orange decorating sugar to the tops of 6 of them.  That went over really well with the kids!

They were the perfect ending to a chaotic day, but I can totally see them as the perfect beginning to any day as well.  I am including two pics today because I think they are very different in appearance.  One with the sugar topping and the liners for the kids, and one I made in a ramekin for a larger sized muffin.

Fresh Orange Muffins

Serves : 12                 Time to make : 25 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 orange, quartered and seeds removed (with peel)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (I used Sunny D)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine (I melted and cooled mine just so it would combine easier)
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray muffin tin (12) with non-stick cooking spray or drop in liners.
  2. Put orange quarters in food processor with orange juice and blend until pureed.
  3. Add egg and butter and combine well, then pour into a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients, then dump into your orange mixture all at once.
  5. Stir to combine. (Here I added the nuts as well)
  6. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full, then bake for 20 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before removing muffins. (I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top before baking)


Published in: on March 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Day 67 : Orangey Orzo with Shrimp and Peas

Well it’s midweek and already I am feeling worn out and ready for the weekend!  With that in mind I figured it was a good night for a lighter meal… one that would not leave me feeling heavy or blech afterward.  This was just the ticket!  Without all the butter and oils of a typical pasta this was definitely light, and the flavors were nice and fresh, and not overpowering at all.

This was my first time using saffron, and while I think I could taste a hint of it in the final dish I don’t think it was a necessary ingredient.  Since it’s a rather expensive spice for such a small amount I would say you could leave it out if you prefer and probably never even notice.  I must say that I am really starting to like orzo.  It’s so small and has a great texture and it’s so easy to manipulate into your mouth without having to twirl it or stab it a bunch of times lol.

To get the listed amount of orange juice I used 2 oranges, and the zest of just one.  It seemed like a lot going into the dish, but it was a nice mellow flavor I felt.  And I liked that you could still taste the shrimp and the pasta flavors behind the orange.  I did heat everything up a couple more minutes after adding the orange just to let the flavors blend better.  I also really liked the peas in this, and might even use a bit more next time.  The finished dish is a lovely mix of both colors and flavors and one that is sure you leave you feeling great afterward.


Orangey Orzo with Shrimp and Peas

Serves : 3               Time to make : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 10 1/2 oz orzo pasta
  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron thread
  • 10 1/2 oz. cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 7 T. fresh orange juice
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 2/3 C. frozen baby peas

Directions :

  1. Add bay leaf and 1 tsp. salt to a large pot of water and bring to a rapid boil.  Add pasta and boil until just cooked, about 7-9 minutes.
  2. Drain pasta in colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking water.  Remove and discard bay leaf.
  3. Add olive oil, garlic, remaining tsp of salt, pepper, and saffron to a large skillet and heat over low heat for a  minute or so until warm and fragrant.  Remove from heat and add shrimp, tossing to coat.
  4. Pour pasta into the skillet and mix.  Add orange juice and zest.  If mixture is dry add some of your reserved pasta water (I didn’t have any need of this).
  5. Toss in the frozen peas, stir and transfer to a serving dish.



Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Day 4 : Orange, Coconut, Banana Smoothie

I had a different recipe in mind for today, but after it snowed all day our driveway was in need of a bit of snow blowing.  That of course went to my husband to take care of, but since it is nearly impossible to cook with a 10 month old hanging on you I decided to put it off for another day and make something a bit simpler for today instead.  The inspiration for this one came from, but I ended up changing it enough to suit me that I didn’t think it was necessary to post the original recipe.

I really liked this smoothie and I have to admit that I am hard to please when it comes to drink recipes.  I tend to tire of them long before I can drink mine, and textures are a big issue with me.  This one is so perfectly creamy and has a great blend of flavors.  I think using bananas in smoothies is tricky…. you have to use JUST the right amount or it’s overpowering.  For me at least this was very refreshing in a more subtle way.  I could definitely see myself doing this one again for a light breakfast on occasion.

I wasn’t feeling super creative as it was already late in the evening when I made these, so my picture could use some work lol, but I promise it tastes MUCH better than it looks!


Orange, Coconut, Banana Smoothie

Serves : 2                                                 Time to make : 5 minutes


Ingredients :

  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/2 C. vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1/2 C. half and half cream
  • 3/4 C. orange juice
  • 1/2 C. coconut milk


Directions :

1. Place in blender and process on high until smooth.
2. Enjoy!



Be sure to check back tomorrow!


Published in: on January 5, 2011 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,