September 04, 2012

Day Off Cooking

So it's been a little while since my last post, but these last few weeks of August have been pretty busy.  This past weekend, being Labor Day Weekend, was filled with fairs, cookouts, and friends.  I had Friday off from work so I used the day to catch up things and then decided to cook a good dinner and test my luck by baking my first pie.

For dinner I made Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice.  I thought this dish would be prefect for me to try on my day off because the chicken takes a while to bake and it worked out that I had left over white rice to use for the fried rice.  Very yummy dinner and even better the next day as left overs because the chicken had even more time to marinate.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice
  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
 Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
 Fried Rice
  •  3 cups cooked white rice (leftover is great)
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Rinse chicken breasts and cut into cubes
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs
  5. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until browned but not cooked through
  6. Place chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish
  7. Mix all of the sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk then pour evenly over the chicken
  8. Bake for one hour and during the baking process turn chicken every 15 minutes
  9. While chicken is baking, on medium high heat, heat oil in a large skillet/wok
  10. Add peas/carrots, onion, and garlic
  11. Stir fry until tender
  12. Lower heat to medium low and push mixture to one side, then pour eggs on the other side and fry until scrambled
  13. Add rice and soy sauce and blend together
  14. Stir fry until thoroughly heated
  15. Serve with chicken
Notes: try playing around with the rice and adding pork or ham

I defiantly passed Michael's taste test with my chicken and rice dinner!  I'd agree that it was a great dish that carried us through the weekend with leftovers, but I'm giving myself a big pat-on-the-back for my peach pie that I made completely from scratch.
Growing up I've been spoiled with homemade pie crust, so I knew that if I was going to make a pie, I'd have to fully commit to the homemade crust.  After I made the pie, I brought it over to my parent's house to share it with them.  I'd say that I got their approval because 2 days later, my dad called asking if I could bring him another piece!

Peach Pie

 Pie Crust
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons cold water
 Pie Filling
  • 20 ripe, but firm peaches
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon or pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
Pie Crust
  1. In a medium bowl with a fork, lightly stir together flour and salt
  2. With a pastry blender, or 2 knives, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Sprinkle in cold water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork after each addition until pastry just holds together (I needed 6 tablespoons)
  4. With hands, shape pastry into a ball
  5. Divide pastry into 2 pieces, one slightly larger, and then gently shape each piece into a ball
  6. On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll larger ball into a 1/8 inch thick circle, 2 inches larger all around than the pie plate
  7. Roll half of circle onto rolling pin and transfer pastry to pie plate and unroll
  8. Fill pie with filling (see below recipe)
  9. For top crust, roll smaller ball, following step 6, and add a few slashes or designs in the center of the crust then place top crust over pie
  10. With a sharp knife, trim the pastry edges, leaving a 1 inch overhang all around the pie plate
  11. Fold the overhang under and pinch a decorative edge around crust
  12. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush the top and edges of the pie
  13. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown
Pie Filling
  1. Peel and cut peaches into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 7 cups) and toss with lemon juice and almond extract in a large bowl
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in another bowl making sure there are no lumps
  3. Stir the flour mixture into the peaches and mix well
  4. Pour peaches into pie crust and scatter with the pieces of butter
I decided to make one more special treat this weekend for a cookout that Michael and I went to at a friend's house.  Michael and I both love cheesecake, so I decided to make Oreo Cheesecake Bites.  I'd say these bites turned out just right - rich and creamy!  They were also a huge hit with all of our friends.  They said they were heavenly goodness!

Oreo Cheesecake Bites
  • 36 Oreo cookies, divided
  • 1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 4 packages (8 ounce each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces white chocolate
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil, with ends extending over the sides
  3. Finely crunch 24 Oreo cookies
  4. Melt 1/4 cup butter and mix with cookie crumbs
  5. Press crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan
  6. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar mix a hand mixer until blended
  7. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix well
  8. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each just until blended
  9. Chop the remaining cookies and gently stir them into the batter
  10. Pour batter over the crust
  11.  Bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes or until the sides are set and the center is almost set
  12. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan
  13. When the cheesecake is completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  14. When chilled, remove cheesecake from the pan and cut into bite sized pieces and place on wax paper
  15. Melt the white chocolate and chocolate in separate bowls and pour each into a separate ziploc bag
  16. Snip a small corner off the bag and drizzle each chocolate over the bites
  17. Chill bars until ready to serve
Just looking back on all that cooking is making me realize that I need to get started on my workout tonight to burn off all my sweet treats I devoured this weekend.  Until next weekend, I'll be back on the healthy grind.

As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!


  1. Pie and cheesecake squares were a big treat and certainly a hit! I'll have to try the sweet and sour chicken. Sounds good! Mom

  2. You should post more pictures of the steps you take during the baking / cooking process.