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June 16, 2008

What's for dinner?

What's for dinner tonight? Stir fry!

A stir-fry dinner is one of the best ways I know to get a fairly inexpensive but fast and healthy dinner. With one chicken breast and a bag of frozen pre-cut stir-fry veggies you can make enough food to feed one for dinner plus lots of leftovers, or enough for a good-sized dinner for two people.

I use different brands of the pre-cut veggies and haven't found one I dislike yet. I know some people think it is just a travesty to the world of culinary arts to buy frozen vegetables but we don't really have culinary arts at my house. We have a lot of microwaved popcorn. Frozen veggies last longer (obviously) and they work best for me -- in my opinion, the pre-cut veggie is the best invention for people who work and commute! I was hoping for a jet pack as my favorite invention but since that is not available at the grocery store, I will take the pre-cut/pre-washed veggie ... for now.

I like that you can get get all kinds of organic mixes, too.

Some pre-packaged stir-fry veggies come with the seasonings, but I like to spice up my stir-fry myself. You can add shrimp or beef or turkey or just about anything to a stir-fry, but chicken is my normal stir-fry staple. I buy boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs when they're on special and freeze them in individual portions so if the urge to cook strikes me I can pull out one serving and not have to defrost 8 pounds of chicken on a Wednesday night. (Folks who live alone understand what I mean! Because if faced with the daunting task of cooking a whole pile of chicken at 8 p.m. after work or just making popcorn and having a glass of wine, you guess which option is the winner.)

I defrost the chicken by putting it in a shallow sink of cold water for a few minutes. I think chicken is easier to cut up if it's a little frozenish anyway. Then slice it into small strips or bite-sized pieces and sautée it -- I love to use a stove-top wok pan for cooking just about anything, so I heat up a little sesame oil and get busy.

For seasonings add a little splash of white wine or some rice vinegar or soy sauce or all of the above. Sometimes I add fish sauce in place of the soy sauce (you can buy it in the Asian foods section of your grocery store.) It doesn't add a fish taste, it adds a salty taste and it has a lot of sodium so just a few drops will do it. I love spicy food so I always add a good dallop of chili-garlic paste -- I can't cook without my chili garlic paste. If I have fresh ginger I add that, or garlic, but my number one favorite is a good sprinkle of Chinese Five Spice. I like spicy and pungent food, so my stir fry is definitely full of flavor. Cook the chicken for 8-12 minutes until it's cooked through and then add the veggies and let them cook (they don't take long, just a few minutes.) I like to serve this on top of those crunchy rice noodles you get at the store although I'm sure that isn't the healthiest option. You can have it with steamed rice or later this summer you have it on a whole army of zucchini I am sure.

I like stir-fry. It's pretty easy, only requires that one pan get dirty and takes about fifteen minutes. Not bad!

Posted by laurie at June 16, 2008 11:12 AM