Experimental Dinner: Gluten-Free Orange Chicken & Vegan/Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Are you asking yourself if meat + vegan food cancel each other out?

The answer is YES!!! You retain the calories, but the foods literally cancel each other in your stomach, leaving nothing. Don’t ya just love science of nutrition & digestion via Ginger al Dente girl? 😀

I had been craving Chinese food for days. Ever since the wonton experience.. *daydreaming for a moment* ..evidently my palate was just whetted for more. For a long time when we would order Chinese take-out, I went with the steamed veggies & rice. One late night as Honey’s sesame Asian chicken sat in the fridge, and as I stared into the light with the door open, it began to speak to me.. “Come on Ginger girl…taste me…you know you want to.” No, I didn’t really want to, but I listen to the food voice in my head when it speaks to me…and I tried a bite. Ever since then, I, too, have ordered the sesame Asian chicken.

I am NOT a sauce fan. No spaghetti sauce…no gravies. I am not a glaze fan. I don’t even like dressing. I tolerate sauces…maybe one day I will learn to love them. Sesame Asian chicken, on the other hand, introduced me to what I assumed was orange sauce. Possibly because it was orange, I made an assumption it was orange sauce? Hopefully that’s a good guess. I would NEVER IN MY LIFETIME have ordered “orange chicken” ANYTHING, because of my relationship with sauce. Thankfully, my late night snack on Honey’s leftovers changed my opinion, at least about organe chicken. Can I have an OMG? I love it. Trying to be $$ conscious, instead of asking Honey to pick up Chinese to-go on his way home, I used FoodGawker to browse a couple recipes for orange sauce, and then made a recipe of my own, using all of those ideas.

I was also in the mood for something sweet, thus the cookies. I made them vegan-style because I wanted to cancel out the organge chicken (ahem.)…and I made them gluten-free for Honey. First things first, needing my sweet tooth satisfied, I wanted to get those cookies in the oven.

Intead of egg, I used banana and peanut butter to hold things together. I dumped in all the other things I knew I’d usually need in cookies. As I was already experimenting with the vegan/gluten-free part, I didn’t push my luck by using honey or agave syrup. Just straight-up brown sugar. Once I loaded my bowl with all my dry ingredients, except flour, I couldn’t help but begin to salivate. Nanner, cocoa powder, crunchy PB, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder, baking soda…despite these last 2 additions, I was very tempted to just mix this up and start eating!!! But…good things come to those who wait, yaddayadda.

Instead of milk, I used coconut milk to be vegan. I fresh-ground flaxseed as another attempt to add stick-to, and I dumped this into some water to ensure even distribution (fresh-ground flaxseed tends to clump). The vanilla decided it hadn’t had enough camera time in the previous photo, so it photobomed the coconut milk & flax.

Last was the flour decision. A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE here is that this recipe could be COMPLETELY flourless (was my original intention) if you have shredded coconut on hand. A nice round in a food processor would crumble it to perfection. I used the coconut for something somewhere, and just forgot, so flour it was.

Coconut flour is a staple for super-high quality gluten-free baking. The particles are SO fine that the texture of baked goods comes out like “normal” goodies, full of regular white flour. Maybe even BETTER. I have always used it sparingly, simply because it’s a little pricey, but tonight I decided if I wanted this to be right, I just needed to go for it. Soy flour is also a great choice for gluten-free, also because of its fine particle size. I do have a problem with it clumping in the box, so it always gets sifted. Tonight, both flours were sifted together, just for the sake of uniformity.

This next ingredient is totally vegan, as long as it is of any decent quality: CHOCOLATE!! That’s right. All natural chocolate is vegan, as it is plant-based (cocoa beans). The only chocolates that are not completely vegan are milk chocolate, my favorite, and white chocolate, Honey’s favorite. Both of these contain dairy. The only ingredients real chocolate should contain are cocoa, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, sugar, & maybe some vanilla.

All the chocolate I had on hand was in a large chunk…so I broke off a large piece and proceeded to beat it into submission with the butt of my favorite knife. 😀 I doubt this was good for the knife, but it did the trick.

I most always mix all my wet ingredients together, mix my dry ingredients together, and then blend the two, saving any add-ins (like choco-chunks) for last. I am a big fan of blending until “just combined”. Over-mixing can ruin just about anything. Lumps & bumps don’t bother me. 🙂 Here’s our yummy batter ready to bake!

About 15 minutes to wait and I get my fix.

Now. For the orange chicken.

I let our chicken breasts strips marinate in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and a little egg white while I made the cookies. The egg white is just to help our flour mixture stay put when we coat our chicken.

I have found that the key to making flour stick to stuff is PRESSING your item into it until the flour sticks to every part. I realize this is a no-brainer for most everyone, but this is probably my 5th attempt at frying anything…and since I like to mostly experiement more than read recipes, this knowledge came slowly. 🙂

I used a half ‘n half mix of Masa (corn flour — super-cheap & always gluten free!) & corn starch. I’d never tried this blend before, but it did the trick tonight. In my research on Asian cuisine, I’ve come to find that corn starch is a staple. More on corn starch in a future blog of kitchen randomness I keep thinking about. 😉

I always use tongs or don latex gloves when handling chicken. I don’t care that I buy organic or hormone/antiobiotic free…I’m sure it’s still teeming with bacteria, and I like to be safe. We’re about to fry those little bugs away anyhow.

I heated peanut oil for our frying experience tonight, just to make it super-authentic Asian and fried these little suckers about 2-3 minutes on each side. Just long enough to ensure death. They were laid to rest on paper towels in attempts to remove the oil I just put in it. 😀

While flouring & frying, I got our orange sauce going. Here’s everything that was used.. soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, OJ (made from frozen concentrate), sugar & then corn starch at the end of the process.

I added a little crushed red pepper as an after-thought, just for a bit of heat. I let the mixture come to a boil and then simmered for 8 minutes.

I then added the corn starch and continued the simmering on low for another 2 minutes, stirring VERY often, until the sauce thickened..

Off the heat and into a bowl the sauce went. I used the tongs to generously coat the chicken strips.

Leftover Colon Blow was our side dish.

I needed a little extra color on the plate, so our friendly tomato came out to model for a moment, and then went right back into the fridge. 🙂

One thing is for certain — we can’t WAIT to eat orange chicken again! This was better than anything I’ve had in a to-go container, and better than everything, I got to control all the ingredients that went into it. MSG is horrid if you have a gluten allergy, and you can’t hardly escape that at Asian restaurants.

Happy dining everyone!!!

Ingredients for Vegan/Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies:

-1/2 c brown sugar

-1/4 c cocoa

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1/8 tsp baking soda

-pinch of salt

-1/2 c peanut butter (I used crunchy)

-1 tbsp ground flaxseed (stirred into 3 tbsp water to distribute)

-4 tbsp coconut milk

-1 tsp vanilla

-1/2 c flour (I used 1/4 c coconut flour + 1/4 c soy flour)

*If you want to make flourless cookies, use 1/2 c shredded coconut

-1/2 c chocolate chips (no milk or white chocolate to keep it vegan!)

Directions for cookies:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. Mix your ground flaxseed with the water in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. If you’re making flourless cookies with shredded coconut, give it a few whirrs in the food processor.
  4. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  5. Mix all wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl and gently stir into dry ingredients until just blended.
  6. Add chocolate chips to batter and stir.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Let cool & enjoy!

Ingredients for Orange Sauce:

-1/3 c OJ (mine was made from frozen concentrate)

-3 tbsp water

-1 tbsp sugar

-3 tbsp soy sauce

-1 tsp rice wine vinegar

-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

-1/2 tsp corn starch

Directions for Orange Sauce:

  1. Combine all ingredients, except corn starch, into small skillet or pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes.
  3. Add corn starch and simmer for 2 more minutes, stirring often.
  4. Remove sauce from heat and put into a bowl; set aside.

Ingredients for Orange Chicken:

-Raw chicken (hopefully organic and antibiotic/hormone-free); this recipe will be for 2 servings (approximately 4-5 oz per serving).

-4 tbsp peanut oil (or whatever oil you want to fry in)

-1 c flour for coating chicken (I made a blend of 1/2 c Masa flour + 1/2 c corn starch)

-Marinade: 1/4 c soy sauce + 1/4 c rice wine vinegar + 1/4 c egg whites (2 egg whites should do the trick)

Directions for Orange Chicken:

  1. Prepare marinade by combining marinade ingredients and put chicken into marinade for about 15 minutes, turning container over every couple minutes to help the process along.
  2. Heat peanut oil in large skillet.
  3. Combine Masa & corn starch & and put on a plate. (Use regular flour here if you like, but it won’t be gluten-free.)
  4. Using tongs, remove chicken pieces and press chicken into flour mixture until thoroughly coated.
  5. Using tongs, carefully place chicken pieces into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Remove chicken from skillet & let rest on paper towels to de-grease.
  7. Toss chicken in orange sauce, serve & enjoy!
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