Thursday, August 2, 2012

Trader Joe's Night at Our House

General Tsao's Chicken Stir Fry with Chicken Shu Mai Dumplings
If you read my blog, even occasionally, or know me just a little bit, then you know that I love to cook. However, I must admit, some nights, I just don't feel like spending alot of time in the kitchen. We are spoiled enough around our house, though, that we won't compromise too much on taste and quality. Somtimes, that can present a bit of a dilemma. TAA DAA, Trader Joe's to the rescue. If you live in an area with a Trader Joe's, you are in luck. Their prepared foods are actually pretty good, and believe me, I am kinda' picky. If you've not made the trip to one, I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

My friend de cuisine told me about the General Tsao's Stir Fry Sauce:
TJ's General Tsao's Stir Fry Sauce

All you need to do to make some pretty good stir fry is to cut up some meat and/or veggies, stir fry them for a minute, and then add the sauce. I used 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a bunch of green onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a small green pepper and a small red pepper. If you were really feeling lazy, you could buy a bag of frozen, pre-cut Chinese style veggies (I bet they sell them at TJ's!) and add some to the pan with the meat and pour the sauce over the whole thing. EASY and EASIER!!

I sprinkled on some dried hot pepper flakes, because we like things a little spicy. Lastly, pop on a lid and let it simmer a few minutes while your rice cooks. This is a good alternative to take out -- not only is it inexpensive, but you can control certain parts of the meal that are not always so good for you. For example, I only used a teaspoon of peanut oil to saute my chicken and vegetables.
Chicken and veggies, simmering away in the stir fry sauce
Another healthy addition that we like is to add some brown rice to the meal. I bring 2 1/4 cups of organic chicken stock to a boil and then add 1/2 cup brown rice and 1/2 cup white rice. Stir the rice into the liquid. Bring the pot back to a boil, cover it, turn it down and let it simmer for about 25 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.

To round out the meal, but not put any further stress on myself, I also purchased a box of Chicken Shu Mai Dumplings at TJ's:
TJ's Chicken Shu Mai
They are super easy to prepare: Heat a skillet and add just a drop of peanut or vegetable oil. Sear the shu mai on high heat on both flat sides. Pour in a little bit of water, just enough to cover the bottom and cover the pan to let them steam for about 10 minutes.
Shu Mai seared, and ready to be steamed
Now, honestly, you've gotta' admit -- How hard is this? IT WAS EZ! I heated up a few cashews in the microwave and sprinkled them over the top of our General Tsao's Chicken, and VOILA it was almost like eating in a nice restaurant! Anyone can do this, and it really tasted good! Give it a try, and make some take out at home! Let me say, I know, I know, this is NOT really cooking and it's cheating and all that stuff.....but it was a busy day and I was over the kitchen and I managed to turn out a fairly healthy, good tasting meal in about 30 minutes without trashing up my kitchen or breaking the bank, so just go with it. Give yourself a break, it's OK, I promise. I give you my official permission to make this and call it dinner, call it cooking, whatever you want.

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