Annie Chung’s Organic Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers

Chinese potstickers used to be one of my favorite side dishes to order from my local Chinese restaurant. These days I don’t order them any longer because I’m really the only one who likes them, and an order is just too much and possibly a little too tempting to have.
One day while shopping at Whole Foods I decided to pick up a bag of the Annie Chung’s Organic Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers because they were exceptionally low in points plus/calories and they were in a comfortable serving size for me.  After watching The Big Bang Theory re-runs back-to-back my boyfriend and I were both craving Chinese food (incase you don’t watch the show the gang tend to eat Chinese food quite often). So much for television swaying food choices, huh?  My boyfriend ended up ordering Chinese food for himself and I decided to take these potstickers out of the freezer.  I cooked them up in a non-stick pan, fried them for a couple of minutes on each side to get coloring on it, then steamed them. They came out perfectly. I asked my boyfriend to get potsticker sauce for me from the Chinese restaurant so I used tat to drizzle over my potstickers and they were absolutely perfect.
The potstickers contain no preservatives, no MSG, no trans fats and are made from organic chicken, cabbage and onions in a light wrapper. The wrapper isn’t as thick as traditional potstickers, but they’re light, flavorful and delicious.
A serving is 7 pieces which is 220 calories or 5 points plus values.

New Years Eve Dinner – Homemade “Chinese Food”

With New Years Eve the general consensus as far as traditions go is to order in Chinese food.  In years past (4 years ago) I would be one of those individuals jumping on that bandwagon and hauling in some take out.  But in the past few years I’ve actually opted on making homemade Chinese food for New Years Eve.  Since New Years isn’t one of those holidays/celebrations that I truthfully partake in, I rather stay home, relax, cook and enjoy the coming of a new year with my loved ones in the comfort of my own home.
This years menu I decided on a week prior.  I decided to take out a container of my homemade chicken chow mein and decided I’d make a batch of my quick vegetable fried rice, I’d steam up some broccoli and carrots and last minute decided to make some quick boneless pork “spareribs”.
The meal came out perfectly! I had 1 cup of vegetable fried rice (see here), 2/3 cups of chicken chow mein (see here), ¼ oz of chow mein noodles, 2 ounces of boneless “ribs” and a helping of fresh vegetables.
My boneless “spareribs” are actually made from boneless, lean, center cut pork loin chops, cut into strips and tossed with Ah-So sauce, 1 tsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. I baked them off in the oven, then broiled them for a few minutes to crisp them up a tad. I felt they came out perfectly and gave me that flavor I was looking/hoping for.
My entire plate was only 13 points plus values!  Far more satisfying and filling when in comparison to what I could’ve gotten from my local Chinese restaurant.

Quick & Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

A few weeks ago I needed a quick side dish to go along side some satay peanut chicken. Since potato and plain rice wasn’t my idea of ideal I poked through the cabinets and decided to make a quick vegetable fried rice. Since I didn’t have frozen vegetables on hand I used a few canned vegetables along with a packet of fried rice seasoning mix.
Overall the dish came out perfect. It was packed with flavor, was filling and it made for a pretty large and in charge serving. It was definitely far more satisfying than a vegetable fried rice I could have ordered from any Chinese food restaurant.
I didn’t have any scallions (green onions) on hand but when I make this again I will definitely be adding those to the dish. The scallions would not only give it color but it would give it a complimentary mild onion flavor which I love.
Of course I used peas, carrots and water chestnuts but ideally you could make this exact recipe with anything you enjoy. Bean sprouts, onions, egg, etc., and you could even add a protein of your choice to it to make it a meal instead of a side dish.
5 Points Plus Values. Serves 6. 1 ¼ cup serving.
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cooked white rice, room temperature
  • 15 oz canned peas & carrots, drained
  • 1 packet Fried Rice Seasoning (I used Sun-Bird)
  • 8 oz can whole water chestnuts, drained and chopped into quarters
  • 2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup baby corn, cut into smaller chunks
Spray the bottom of a nonstick skillet with Pam. Add in white rice and let heat through, crisping up slightly.
In a small bowl mix together water, soy sauce and fried rice seasoning packet.  Once well incorporated pour over rice and mix together until rice is coated with seasoning.
Add in canned peas & carrots, baby corn and water chestnuts. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to heat through for 2-3 minutes (just enough for the vegetables to warm) before removing from the flame.
Serve and enjoy!

Easy Chinese at home w/ Trader Joe’s and InnovAsian

For moments where I’m in the mood for Chinese food I like to keep some items I’d normally order from my local Chinese restaurant on hand incase a random craving for dinner were to arise.  Many of my favorites at my local Chinese restaurant just simply are not worth the points plus values to me.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I do order out Chinese once in a while, but for the most part I’d rather make it at home – homemade or frozen.  This time around we went with frozen since I didn’t have any cold rice on hand to make homemade fried rice.
 
For this particular meal I used two Trader Joe’s items, an InnovAsian meal and a bag of frozen green beans.  Talk about clearing out some freezer space!  My whole plate was 12 points plus, which I feel was very justifiable for the assortment of food and the volume of food I had on my plate.  Yummy!
Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Chicken Stix. These are a crunchy, Thai spring roll.  Spring rolls (and egg rolls) are some of my favorite appetizers.  These lemongrass chicken stix are delicious – they’re about a finger length, crispy on the outside with a chicken filling that’s flavored with lemongrass.  They’re yummy, slightly lemony but not overwhelmingly lemony.  They were super easy to heat up – either in the microwave or in a deep fryer.  I opted for the oven and within 11 minutes they were ready to serve.  A serving is 2 for 3 points plus values.

Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice.  This has to be one of the best frozen chicken fried rice dishes I have tried.  It’s flavorful, packed with veggies, chicken bits and egg bits.  You can heat it up in two ways – using olive oil to fry it (to get a crispier, crunchier exterior) or you can use water to cook it through. I went with the water method and found it was perfect. I don’t generally like harder fried rice, so this was perfect.  A 1 cup serving is 5 points plus values.

InnovAsian Black Pepper Chicken. I admit the picture on the box looked far more appealing than the meal that it truly was, but it tasted up to par.  The box described it as a chicken breast chunks with green beans, red bell peppers, water chestnuts, onions and a savory black pepper sauce.  That is exactly what I got.  This also can be cooked in two ways – on a stove top or in a microwave.  I opted for the microwave option since it was quick and easy.  All I had to do was pour off some of the water that came from the food cooking in the microwave – whereas if I cooked it on the stovetop it would’ve evaporated.  A 1 cup serving is 4 points plus values.
All in all it was a great, filling meal.  Sometimes you just want something that taste good, but does not involve a lot of effort and/or thought.  This was a far better choice for me than say, going to Burger King.
QUESTION:
Have you tried any of these frozen dishes?

Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

I’ve heard countless times how much the Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken was one of the greatest frozen dishes sold at Trader Joe’s.  I admit, I’d looked at the bag time and time again but always passed it up due to its higher points plus value.  Finally, on one shipping trip with my boyfriend we decided to pick it up to try something different.
Cooking it per the directions on the bag (in the oven) and then coating it with the mandarin orange sauce I have to say this is pretty amazing and I completely understand why it was so widely raved about.  The chicken is evenly coated in batter and once baked it comes out with a nice crunchy coating, but not crack your tooth crunchy.  The mandarin orange sauce is orangey and sweet but not overpowering on any flavor level.  Since the chicken is hot out of the oven once it’s tossed in the sauce, everything gets coated nicely.
A 1 cup serving (140g) is 9 points plus values.  Sure, it’s a little high, but when you think of all you are getting and compare it to a similar dish you may order out at a Chinese restaurant you are getting a far better “bang” for your buck (both cash and points plus wise).
I served this up with some ¾ cup basmati rice and some fresh steamed broccoli and carrots.  The whole dinner was 13 points plus values and well worth it.  It was filling, satisfied my craving for Chinese food and there was more than enough to feed four adults.
The only thing that could possibly make me happier would be if Trader Joe’s could come up with a general tsao’s version just like this mandarin orange dish.  It would be the epitome of amazingness.   C’mon TJ’s – I have faith in you … show me some (more) magic!

QUESTION:
Have you tried the mandarin orange chicken from Trader Joe’s?

Dinner: Quick & Easy Chinese Food at Home

A few weeks back we needed dinner, but had nothing truly planned.  I knew we had things in the freezer which were quick and easy to throw together, so after going through a few of the options my boyfriend and I decided on having “Chinese food “.  Dinner literally took 15 minutes to make, so this just goes to show if you have foods in the freezer, or even your cabinet, there’s no reason dinner cannot be thrown together quickly – even in a pinch, and be served faster than it would be to run out to get fast-food.  Granted, it just takes a bit more “effort” but not a terrible amount.
This particular dinner we decided to make the Fusia brand of chicken chow mein, which I had purchased at our local Aldi grocery store.  It comes with the noodles, the veggies, the chicken pieces and the flavored sauce packet.  I added a bit of Pam to the bottom of a skillet, along with a tablespoon of olive oil, emptied the contents of the bag into the frying pan (minus the sauce packet) and let its do its thing – stirring it occasionally since it was frozen it wasn’t sticking, etc.  I then submerged the sauce packet in a bowl of warm/hot tap water.  As the veggies, chicken and noodles start to defrost I stir it continuously and when everything is softened and hot I empty in the sauce packet, stir and let it simmer for a second or two before turning off the flame.
For a side of protein I made the Trader Joe’s BBQ Teriyaki Chicken – which is quite simply the easiest thing to make in a pinch.  The chicken is fully cooked, so you add it into a microwave safe bowl, which you cover with plastic wrap.  You microwave it for – I believe 5 minutes.  While the chicken is steaming/cooking in the microwave, you set the sauce packages in some warm water to aid in defrosting them.  When the cook time is up, you simply add in the sauce packet, stir and put back into the microwave for a minute or two and wah-lah, like magic it’s done! 
When the chicken was done I tossed in a bag of Trader Joe’s steam bag fresh green beans.  3 minutes later they were done.  Seriously, these are some of the best steamer green beans I have tried – my local super market sells a different brand but I find they are not nearly as crisp as the Trader Joe’s brand is.
The entire meal was 10 points plus – 1 of those points plus going towards the olive oil used to cook the lo mein.
QUESTION:
Do you have quick “throw together” meals on hand for days where you haven’t quite planned dinner?

Quick & Simple Dinner: General Tso Chicken

This was an on the fly type of dinner.  I  had some chicken that I defrosted (without an idea as to what exactly I was going to do with it), but my boyfriends and I’s dinner plans altered because we were asked if we’d like to go out to dinner with my BF’s mom.  The next day I decided I needed to think something up – peaked through the cabinet and decided I was going to use a seasoning packet I had picked up at the store and stashed away.
I got this Simply Asia Steamer General Tso’s Chicken pack.  I was a little concerned when I purchased this because it’s a steamer bag and it states to stick everything with seasoning in the microwave, in this plastic bag that’s in the package.  I decided I wasn’t comfortable steaming anything – especially since I had raw chicken on my hands, so I went ahead and improvised.
I added a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of sesame oil to a skillet then added in my cut up chicken and cooked through.  When done I threw in a can of baby corns and a can of sliced water chestnuts.  I then took the packet of seasoning and mixed it with the recommended amount of water and soy sauce.  The package called for like ¼ cup of sugar or something like that, so I added in a tablespoon.  I mixed that liquid mixture up and poured it over my chicken and vegetables in the pan and heated through.  The sauce thickened and I served it with white rice and steamed veggies on the side.
I will say it was VERY spicy.  My boyfriend didn’t enjoy it (his taste buds are really changing and spices are bothering him now) which left me with a whole bunch of this stuff to eat.  My sister-in-law and brother came over the next day and we shared the leftovers.
QUESTION:
Have you ever made general tso’s chicken at home?
Image is mine do not take or use. Thank you.

Dinner: Homemade Chicken Chow Mein!

 
 

For the past few weeks I have dying for some Chicken Chow Mein.  I figured instead of being tempted by all the foods that I used to love at my local Chinese restaurant that I was going to give a try in making my own homemade chicken chow mein for the first time.  Then again since I’ve been getting more and more into cooking, I enjoy trying to make dishes which are “foreign” to me and out of my normal comfort zone.
I was surprised with how simple this really was and how delicious it tuned out.  I actually ended up using rotisserie chicken meat for my chicken because I didn’t want to boil chicken/bake it/ etc.  I looked up how to make chow mein on allrecipes.com and kind of winged my vegetables and the measurements of my liquids.
I put 2 tablespoons of margarine in the bottom of a pan and put in my sliced onions, minced garlic, celery and red peppers.  I seasoned my veggies with black pepper, a dash of sea salt, ground ginger, and garlic powder.  I put them into the pan and let them sweat out, but I didn’t allow them to cook all the way ‘til they were soft.  I then added in my mushrooms and fresh bean sprouts.  I let them cook for a few minutes so the bean sprouts were more pliable.  I then put in some canned drained baby corn, water chestnuts and sliced bamboo shoots.  I then added in 3 ½ cups of fat free low sodium chicken broth and 1/3 cup water.  I mixed to combine, and then added in 1/4c low sodium soy sauce.  When all set I then took my chopped rotisserie chicken and added that in and stirred in.  I let it heat and added in some cornstarch to thicken.  Once everything was nice and hot (my chicken was cold since I cut it up the night before) I served with the hard chow mein noodles on top of the mixture.
I served with plain white rice and since I didn’t feel like making eggrolls, I took out a pack of Lean Cuisine Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls and microwaved them per package instruction and served.
Overall the meal was absolutely delicious!  The chow mein wasn’t as thick as it generally is at restaurants, but I didn’t want to overkill with the cornstarch – but I didn’t mind the consistency, I actually find I enjoy it more.  Better yet, it definitely cured the Chinese food bug.