Asian Inspired

Chicken Peanut Chow Mein

ChowMein

My first attempt at homemade chow mein was a success! I think it was so good it could be compared to take out chow mein noodles (minus the added fat and oil). I’ll also say the leftovers were just as good, if not better than when the dish was freshly cooked.

Just a little forewarning, this makes A LOT of food. Not saying that’s a bad thing, especially since you will love it so much you’ll want to eat it again the following night (or for tomorrow’s lunch).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 (6 oz) packages chow mein noodles
  • 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1/2 skinnless, boneless chicken breast
  • 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce (if you’re like me and don’t want to buy this, combine 1 Tbsp Hoisin with 1 Tbsp soy sauce and splash of Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup pre-sliced mushroom
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 cup green onion, sliced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Boil a large pot of water. While water comes to a boil, slice snow peas and mushrooms. Also cut chicken crosswise into thin strips.
  2. Cook noodles, carrots, and snow peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tsp oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and 1 1 Tbsp soy sauce to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
  4. Combine remaining soy-sauce, broth, oyster, sugar and pepper, stirring well. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and ginger to pan; stir-fry for 3 minutes or until mushroom have softened. Add broth mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add noodle mixture and chicken to pan; cook 1 minute, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with onions and peanuts. (makes 4-5 servings)

The Frugality

This recipe costs around $12.00 total or only around $3.00 for one serving! I highly doubt you will ever find take out chow mein anywhere near that price!

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Light Shrimp Fried Rice

shrimpfriedrice

This was my first try at homemade fried rice and it was a success! This recipe is super simple, and it’s easy to adjust the size of the recipe to make the correct number of portions. The measurements that I am providing makes two dinner servings.

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Ingredients

  • 1 bag of boil-in-bag brown rice
  • 5 oz frozen peas
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Tbsp Canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp bottled fresh ginger
  • 6 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Dash of crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package directions. Drain. Remove rice from bag and return to pan. Add peas to pan, stirring well. Cover and keep warm.
  2. Coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add eggs and cook 1 minute or until set. Remove eggs from pan and coarsely chop.
  3. Return pan to heat. Add canola oil and swirl to coat. Add onions and ginger, sauté 1 minute. Add shrimp to pan, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are done.
  4. Add shrimp mixture and eggs to rice mixture; stir well.
  5. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and crushed pepper; stirring well. Drizzle vinegar mixture over rice mixture; stir well. (makes 2 servings)

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The Frugality

This two serving recipe only costs about $9.00, or only $4.50 a serving! Order shrimp fried rice at a Chinese restaurant and you’ll pay anywhere between $5.00 to $12.00 for a plate.

Fresh Spring Rolls

SpringRolls

PeanutDipping

I used to work at an Asian restaurant called Lemon Grass that made the most amazing fresh spring rolls. Since I stopped working there I’ve wanted to try making them myself.  Finally, three years later, I am taking on the challenge!  This particular recipe is a melding of something I found online and what I can remember of the spring rolls from Lemon Grass.  I also made up my own peanut dipping sauce to go along side.

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Ingredients

Spring Rolls

  • 8 8-inch spring roll wrappers
  • 8 leafs of green lettuce
  • 8 oz cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp, chopped
  • 4 oz dry vermicelli noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

Peanut Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic paste
  • warm water
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Directions

  1. To make the peanut sauce, whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, and chili garlic paste.  Then add the hot water until the sauce has reached your desired consistency (I like mine to have a similar consistency to heavy cream: not too runny, but runny enough that you could drink it).  Sprinkle peanuts over the sauce just before serving (reserve 2 tablespoons of the sauce before adding peanuts; it will be needed for the spring roll mixture)
  2. To prep the vermicelli noodles, pour 4 cups of boiling water into a deep baking dish and stir in 1 tablespoon of salt until it dissolves.  Add the vermicelli noodles and soak for 2 minutes, or until soft.  Remove the noodles, keeping the water, and transfer the noodles to a clean bowl.  Toss the noodles with 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice and soy sauce.
  3. In a large bowl, combine shrimp, carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce; tossing to coat.
  4. Prepare each spring roll one at a time.  First place the wrapper in the warm water for about 15 seconds.  Then place the wrapper on a clean, damp wash cloth.  Along the center of the wrapper, place one lettuce leaf, then a handful of the vermicelli noodles, then about 1/4 cup of the shrimp mixture.  Fold in both ends of the wrapper and roll up.  Cut each spring roll in half and serve with the peanut dipping sauce

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The Frugality

I know it’s been a while since I’ve actually broken down the frugality of my recipes, so I figured I would boast about the frugality of these amazing spring rolls!  At Lemon Grass, just two spring rolls costs a whopping $6.00!  These homemade spring rolls only cost me $7.45; that’s only $0.93 per spring roll or $1.49 per serving!  Not to mention, my spring rolls served four people rather than one and the shrimp provides extra protein to make them work as a dinner rather than just an appetizer.

Sriracha-Glazed Chicken and Onions

Sriracha-Glazed Chix

If you recall, last week I made a Shrimp Stir Fry in which I only use half of the vegetables that I had purchased.  So tonight I decided to use the rest of them up in another easy, mouthwatering stir fry.  This stir fry is not only delicious and simple, but also healthy, with only 326 calories per serving and only 7.3 grams of fat!  I have to thank Cooking Light, once again, for providing me with this recipe.

As usual, I reduced the recipe to only make two servings, so I have provided both my measurements and the original measurements.

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Ingredients

(my measurements are shown in parenthesis)

  • 1 bag of boil-in-bag brown rice
  • 3 (1 1/2) Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 (1/2) Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 1/4 (3/4) teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 1/2 (1) Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups presliced onion (I just used 1/2 of an onion)
  • 1 (1/2) Tablespoon bottled minced ginger
  • 1 (1/2) Tablespoon garlic
  • 3/4 (1/2) teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 (1/2) pound, boneless chicken-breast, cut into one-inch thick chunks
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (this is my addition)
  • 1/2 cup pea pods, halved (this is my addition)

Directions

  1. Prepare the rice according to package directions
  2. While rice cooks, chop the onion, pepper, and pea pods, and mince the garlic.  Also combine hoisin, ketchup, and Sriracha in a small bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes or until tender.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic, pepper, and pea pods; sauté for about 1 minute
  5. Add the chicken and curry powder; sauté for about 6 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  6. Stir in hoisin mixture and cook for 1 minute; tossing to coat.
  7. Serve over rice.  Makes 2-4 servings depending on if you follow my measurements or Cooking Light’s

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The Frugality

I essentially made this recipe because I already had all of the ingredients left over from previous meals, but I will do my best to lay out the cost effectiveness.

  • Onion $0.51, but I was using the other half from a previous recipe so it was really $0.26
  • Red Bell Pepper $1.14, but once again, I only used half so it was really $0.57
  • Pea pods $0.42
  • Chicken Breast $8.18, but I only used 1 of 3 breasts making it $2.72
  • Ginger $4.29, but the bottled ginger stays good for a long time, and I use it frequently. I can typically use one tube for 15 recipes or more, making this use only cost around $0.29
  • Brown Rice $2.65, but I only used one of 4 bags making it $0.66 for this recipe
  • Hoisin Sauce $3.59, once again, this lasts for a very long time in the fridge and can typically be used for about 10 stir fry recipes, making it only cost around $0.36 in this recipe
  • I don’t even include the Sriracha and Ketchup in my cost since I ALWAYS have them in my fridge. If you don’t have Sriracha, I highly suggest investing in some.  It can be used on just about anything to add an extra kick, and it keeps for a long time.

In the end, this recipe cost me about $5.28, or only $2.64 per serving!  That is at least $10.00 cheaper than any take out Chinese food, and I can guarantee it is way healthier too!

Sweet and Sour Shrimp (the light version)

Sweet-SourShrimp

Most people hate Mondays, but I love them.  I only have one class on Mondays so I have the rest of the day to study, catch up on TV shows, and of course COOK!  I spent part of my afternoon making my Zesty Homemade Tomato Sauce, which I will be eating later this week when I don’t have time to cook.  Now I have moved to the other side of the globe, to make an Asian inspired dinner, Sweet and Sour Shrimp.

This recipe was based off of a Cooking Light recipe from their cook book “Complete Meals in Minutes” (a cook book I highly recommend purchasing).  Once again, I cut the recipe in half since I am only cooking for one person.  This will leave me with one left over dinner that I can reheat later in the week when I don’t have time to cook.  I have provided the measurements from the original recipe and my own measurement, which are shown in parenthesis.

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Ingredients

(my measurements for the 2-serving-recipe are shown in parenthesis)

  • 2 (1) bag of boil-in-bag brown rice
  • 2 (1) tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 32 (16) peeled and de-veined large shrimp
  • 1/4 (~1/8) cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 (~1/8) cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 (1) tablespoons sugar
  • 3 (1 1/2) tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 (1/2) tablespoon chile garlic sauce (this is where the spice comes from so use more or less depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 2 (1) tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 2 (1) teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 (1/2) cups prechopped onion
  • 1 (1/2) of a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pea pods, cut in halves (this is my little addition because I love pea pods in my stir fry’s)
  • 1 (1/2) tablespoon ground fresh ginger (I just use the bottled ginger)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package directions
  2. Combine 1 (or 1/2) tablespoons cornstarch and shrimp
  3. Combine remaining cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and chile garlic sauce; set aside.
  4. Heat sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp mixture to the pan, cooking about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until both sides are pink and the shrimp is cooked through. (Be very careful when cooking shrimp, it is easy to overcook and will not taste good if it is cooked for too long).  Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a bowl.
  5. Heat canola oil in pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, pea pods, ginger, and pineapple to pan; sauté about 2 minutes.
  6. Add shrimp and broth mixture to pan and cook about 1 minute.
  7. Split up the mixture among 2 or 4 plates, serving over the rice (each plate should have 8 shrimp)

The Frugality

Now for the low down on the costs.  Once again, I had many of these ingredients already, such as oils, spices, soy sauce, and chile garlic sauce.  These are all things that most people will likely have already, minus the chile garlic sauce (but if you start cooking stir fry’s more often you will definitely use it again).  Here is the layout of the costs, looking at what I had to purchase to make this meal.

  • Low sodium chicken broth $0.88 (the broth that I didn’t use, I put in the freezer in a plastic container to be used later)
  • 2 lb bag of frozen shrimp $18.59, seeing that I only used about 1/8th of the bag it really only cost $2.32 (if you buy frozen shrimp it keeps for a long time)
  • Onion $0.51, I only used half the onion so it was really $0.26
  • Red Bell pepper $1.14, I only used half the pepper so it was really $0.57
  • Pea pods $0.42
  • Pineapple chunks $1.25

The grand total for this recipe?? $5.95, making each serving only $2.98!