The Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year!  Supposedly, the year of the dragon is the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.  So, if you’re a dragon, live it up this year.

Here are a few of my favorite Chinese dishes I’ve shared with you before.  Hope this inspires you to try making and eating some new Chinese food this year.

Click on the name of each dish to take you to the recipe.

Green Onion Pancake

Pork Potstickers

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun

Lion Head Meatballs

Spicy Tofu and Edamame Beans

Pork and Prawn Dumplings


The Best Roast Chicken

I have roasted many a chicken in my time and this is by far the best way I like it.  The chicken comes out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  The lovely bed of vegetables it sits on absorb all the chicken juices and it’s just a delectable meal, all in one pan.

I beg of you, make this tonight!  You can’t go wrong with roast chicken.

Start off with a large roasting pan, glass or metal will work.  I rough chop red potatoes, carrots, fennel, and onion.  You can substitute your favorite root vegetables, but my family loves this combination.

Then pour on some olive oil to coat well, salt and pepper and the leaves of 5 sprigs of thyme.  The combination of fennel and thyme is to die for!

The lemon wedges and thyme are for stuffing the chicken.  It gives the chicken a wonderful aroma from the inside out.

One of the most important things when roasting chicken is trussing it.  That just means that you need to get all the limbs tight and secure around the body of the chicken so that it cooks evenly.  I’m sure you’ve bought one of those Costco or grocery store chickens all bound with string.  There’s a good reason for it!

Here’s my favorite trick for trussing a chicken the lazy way.  Hey a girl needs some shortcuts sometimes!  Besides, I don’t like fumbling around tying up my chicken with kitchen twine.  I mean, the poor thing’s been through enough already, don’t you think?!

Start by tucking the wing tips into the chicken’s armpit.

Next, use kitchen scissors or a knife and carefully snip a hole in the flap of skin near the chicken butt.  Tuck the left drumstick through the hole of the flap of skin on the right side.  Then do the same with the right drumstick.

When you are done, it should look like this.  Each drumstick is tucked through the flap of skin and secured tightly to the body of the chicken.  Give the chicken a good rub down with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

The Best Roast Chicken

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large bunch fresh thyme

1 lemon, quartered

1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

4 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks

4 red potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks

2 bulbs of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges

Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme and lemon. Reserve 5 sprigs of thyme for the vegetables.  Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tuck the legs into the skin flaps and tuck the wing tips under the body. Place the onions, carrots, potatoes and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 5 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Pineapple Cream on Pound Cake

This is my favorite easy-to-make dessert when I’m in a pinch and want to serve something fast and refreshing.  All it takes is assembly, no baking involved.  I used a store-bought butter pound cake and the cream is three simple ingredients; crushed pineapple, vanilla instant pudding and whipped topping.

You can make this exact same dessert in the form of a trifle, which makes for a beautiful presentation.

Anyway you make it, the pineapple cream will stand out as being the star in this dessert.  It is creamy, but light.  It’s sweetness balances well with the tart berries and adds moisture to the heavier pound cake.  No one will go away unsatisfied with this dessert.  Enjoy!

Pineapple Cream on Pound Cake

1 can (20 oz.)  Crushed Pineapple, with juice

1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

4 cups whipped topping

1 loaf store bought pound cake

fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Mix pineapple and dry pudding mix in medium bowl with whisk until well blended. Stir in whipped topping.  Slice pound cake and place on plate.  Spoon on pineapple cream and top with fresh berries.  Serves 6-8.

White Chicken Chili

So, I got tired of the run-of-the-mill red chili.  Here’s a chili that caused me to redefine chili altogether.  It’s really mild, but full of flavor.  It’s made with chicken instead of ground beef.  It uses white beans instead of red kidney beans.  It’s a nice change from the usual.  And, I like change!

I got this recipe from my MOPS group cookbook.  It was put together by our seasoned moms (older mentor moms) to pass down to us younger moms.  The cookbook is filled with treasures that are easy to make and are good for a household of young children with picky palates.

This chili was a hit in our house the first time I made it.  It doesn’t have the spice and bold flavors of red chili that put preschoolers off.  The chunks of lean chicken breast meat and mild white beans are a great source of protein for the little ones too.  It does have a small can of diced green chiles, but the little hint of it blends well with the chili as a whole.  Add some crunched up tortillas chips on top and you’ve got a quick easy meal fit for any family member, young or old.

White Chicken Chili

1 large sweet onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

olive oil

2 cans small white beans (S&W brand), drained

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups shredded chicken breast meat

4 oz. diced mild green chilies

2 tsp cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, sauté onion until transparent; add garlic and sauté.  Add beans, chilies, broth, cooked chicken, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook uncovered at a simmer for 45 minutes.  Add cheese and stir constantly until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and add sour cream.