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Monday, January 17, 2011

Christmas Stollen- Daring Baker's Challenge-December/2010

Christmas Stollen

I joined a group called The Daring Bakers! For those of you who have never heard of this group, it is a huge group of bakers who cook the same recipe each month, given by a monthly host. We all create the exact recipe and then post about it in our personal blogs on a designated date. We are not allowed to post it before the designated date. My first challenge was December's Christmas Stollen. I was excited but also very nervous when I saw the challenge. I have had problems baking with yeast and have just recently conquered it.

Stollen is a sweet yeasty bread made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough- a very traditional German Christmas bread that is amazing and makes for a beautiful presentation. The perfect dessert to bring to any Christmas dinner or party. It does, however, take some time. One bite and you will forget how long it took you. We were required to make the stollen in the shape of a wreath. The stollen was originally meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Some versions are made with starters, but the recipe we used is not. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.

My Stollen started out beautifully and I was so excited but it soon took a turn for the worst. The electricity went out!! of all times to have a power surge. I had to put my yeast in front of the gas heater so it wouldn't die and hope for the best. A few minutes later, after taking 30 minutes to meticulously make candied citrus, i burnt it!! It wasn't looking good. I had to load up and go to town in hopes of buying candied lemon citrus. I was quite sceptic our small town grocery store would have it, but they did.  I went home to find live and active yeast and finished the Stollen. I wasn't out of the clear yet....It wouldn't rise! I tried so many things and gave up after about an hour. As soon as i gave up and said i would try again it started to rise. It turned out to be beautiful.

I rolled out green gumdrops in granulated sugar and cut them out with a fondant leaf press. I dusted it with 3 layers of powdered sugar, which makes it keep longer. I think it turned out quite well and was very pleased. My mom and I decided this has to be a new Christmas tradition. It was that good. I hope you will try it too!

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


¼ cup lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)

2 packages active dry yeast

1 cup  milk

10 tablespoons  unsalted butter (can use salted butter)

5½ cups all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)

½ cup  sugar

¾ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)

1 teaspoon  cinnamon

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange ( I used lemon)

2 teaspoons  vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract or orange extract ( I used 1 Tablespoon of lemon)

¾ cup mixed peel (link below to make your own)...I bought it and used lemon.

1 cup  firmly packed raisins

3 tablespoons rum

12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)

1 cup  flaked almonds

Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath

Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Soak the raisins. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.
To make the dough:

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red! ( I opted out of adding cherries to the bread.) Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and ¼ inch thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch  intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar. Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents! When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Here is a link to recipes to make your own candied citrus peel:


Be sure to keep checking out each month for the next Daring Baker's Challenge!!!! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Breaking Traditions

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I am a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays. I stick to family favorites. However, each year I try a few new dishes in addition to the usual. This year I decided I wanted to make a Pumpkin Bread Pudding. I was working out the details in my head. A few nights later I sat down to watch Bobby Flay's throw down with Ree Drummond on the Food Network. You'll never guess what dessert Bobby challenged Ree's Pecan Pie with?! Well, if you watched the show you know....PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING! I was glued to the TV and decided I would make his with a few changes. That's just who I am. Rarely do I follow a recipe to a T. There's always a change I want to make. That's what makes it so fun though! I didn't like how long and detailed the process was. I had a lot to cook and was running short on time and sleep at this point. I have a few bread pudding recipes under my belt now and felt confident in branching out on my own. I didn't have a vanilla bean or bourbon so I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of rum extract. I also left out the maple syrup, simply out of preference. I also didn't feel the need to cook it in a water bath...I was TIRED! One of my favorite cookbooks is The Amish Cook's Baking Book.There is a recipe in it for a Pumpkin Sheet Cake that I had planned on making during fall. I decided this was the perfect opportunity so I made it instead of Bobby's Pumpkin Bread. I couldn't help myself....or keep my brother out of it...so we tested a sliver of the Pumpkin Sheet Cake after it came out of the oven. It was divine!!! It tasted like the best Pumpkin Bread you have ever put in your mouth. I think it will be my new Pumpkin Bread recipe. It MADE the bread pudding. Bobby's Pumpkin Bread Pudding had a Vanilla Bean Cream Anglaise layer and Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce over it. While it sounded amazing, I was going for something a little more simple and classic. It's Thanksgiving after all. I knew the real test would be when three people tasted it: my brother, a bread pudding fanatic and connoisseur, my dad, a pumpkin lover and my mom, who despises bread pudding. I handed them both a plate and needless to say; it passed the test with flying colors. My mom and brother loved it. But I knew it was a keeper when my dad deemed it better than Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie. My dad is a Southerner through and through and thinks there is nothing better than Sweet Potato Pie and Pumpkin Pie. I think to any true southerner that statement may have even been sinful! I sent him home with another helping and next year...we will have Pumpkin Bread Pudding and the year after that...and the year after that! We may broken old traditions, but we also created a new one. I can live with that! Did you try anything new this Thanksgiving? I would love to hear about it!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

For the pumpkin sheet cake:

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup nuts of your choice

2 cups pureed pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Present the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until the mixture is evenly and thoroughly combined. Spoon into a 10 by 15-inch pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes and then cut it into 1 inch squares.

For the custard:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon rum extract

1 heaping cup canned pumpkin puree

Cut the pumpkin cake into 1-inch squares and evenly distribute in a 9x13-inch pan. Lower the oven to 325. Combine the cream, milk and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, rum extract, and canned pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined. Pour the custard over the pumpkin cake cubes, pressing down on the cake to totally submerge it in the custard. Bake until sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Almond Joy Cake

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Almond Joy Cake

My husband and I are spending the weekend in Houma, Louisiana visiting with his sister and her boyfriend. Her birthday is next month and I doubt we see her for her birthday, so I decided to bring her a cake early. I couldn't figure out what kind of cake to make her but i knew she, like me, was okay with anything chocolate. I asked Ronnie what he thought and he said he had no clue but her favorite candy bar was Almond Joy. I was so excited! I have had an idea in my head for months for an Almond Joy Cake and had yet to try it. This was the perfect opportunity!! She was sooo excited when she found out!! I had plans to decorate it using my new "skills" from the cake decorating class, but long story short...time got away from me. (Meaning my husband was rushing me out the door!) All in all, I was very happy with the results.

How can you go wrong with a moist Chocolate Cake with Almond Joy filling, covered in chocolate ganache and sprinkled with sliced almonds? I'll tell you....you CAN"T!!These pictures do NOT do it justice. I have better ones on my Facebbok account and on my cell phone but getting them here is quite the task. I just got a new touch phone the day we left and am still figuring it out. I started to wait to post this but I chose not to for a few reasons: 1)I was anxious to share it with you. 2) So many people seemed to be excited about this cake when i uploaded it to facebook. I will replace these pictures with better ones later. For now....I am going to share this recipe with you and beg you to try it!!!! This cake will change your life forever. Maybe this is taking it too far, but you get the idea! This is by far, the BEST CAKE I HAVE EVER MADE! You won't be dissapointed. I promise....if you disagree i will refund the money for your ingredients!

Almond Joy Cake

For the cake:
1 ¾ c. flour

2 c. sugar

¾ c. cocoa

2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. coffee

1 c. buttermilk

½ c. oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degres. Spray two 9-inch pans with Baker's Joy cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together and divide between prepared pans.  Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
For the Almond Joy Filling:
2 (16-ounce) boxes confectioners' sugar Cream together sugar and butter in a bowl; add milk. Stir in almond extract, coconut, and mix well.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 (14-ounce) package shredded coconut

For the Ganache:
2 C. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

1 c. heavy whipping cream

2 T. butter

2 T. sugar
Place chocolate chips in a large bowl; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream, butter, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over chocolate chips. Cool for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth and cool.
Originally, I had intentions of using a Chocolate Buttercream frosting on the cake. I decided a Ganache would make it taste more like an Almond Joy Bar and give it that same texture. When ganache sets it gets a little crispy like the candy bar! But like I said, you can;t go wrong with this cake!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
(Recipe courtesy of http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/jack-o-latern-whoopie-pies/)
I follow several blogs and they are all well known. The reason I follow these blogs aren't because they are well known. I follow them because I have tried several of their recipes and am never let down! Their recipes turn out delicious, accurate results time after time. One of these blogs is Willow Bird Baking. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you really should! Like now...you can finish reading this post later! You will find so many recipes to try. You'll be hard pressed to find one you don't want to immediately strap on your apron and cook. She's very talented in the kitchen and behind the camera. I think the recipe I loved most was her Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake. This is a decadent, rich, extravagant dessert that I cannot say enough about. If I can encourage you to try one of her recipes, it would be this one. Because her recipes always come through for me, I turned to her for a Whoopie Pie recipe. I wasn't disappointed. She had just what i was looking for : Jack-O'-Lantern (Pumpkin Spice) Whoopie Pies. Perfect, because I had just been given a slew of pumpkins by my brother and also because I just so happened to have all of the ingredients! I was a little nervous because it was my second attempt at making whoopie pies. My first was a disaster!! The first attempt was Oatmeal Cream Whoopie Pies. They spread on the pan and were the size of a soccer ball! I really don't know what happened...except that I threw it out! Julie's recipe turned out perfect and renewed my faith in my baking skills (and given me the courage to try those Oatmeal Cream Whoopie Pies one more time). Thanks, Julie!!! I hope you will try these!! They were a hit at my house!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
3 cups all-purpose flour (Jack-O'-Lantern Whoopie Pies)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cloves

2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled (chilling ensures pies won’t spread too much.)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle four mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

Make the filling: Sift confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopee pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies for at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apple Nachos

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Apple Nachos (Recipe Courtesy of Taste Of Home Magazine)
1 recipe of Caramel Sauce (Recipe Follows)
30 large marshmallows
1/3 cup butter, cubed
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons Halloween sprinkles

For The Caramel Sauce (Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Kitchens) :
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3 cups sugar
5 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber, 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter. Arrange apple slices on a large platter. Drizzle with caramel; top with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Serve immediately.

I am a regular subscriber to Taste of Home Magazine and always look forward to receiving them. They never dissapoint! The newest October/November issue was no exception to this. When I turned the page and saw this recipe I knew I had to make these soon. We had invited friends over for Sunday and I decided I would make these as an appetizer. They are very quick to put together and full of taste! I didn't add Halloween spinkles to them because, well I can be OCD about some things, and I couldn't find any that I liked. It was either sprinkles with a few Halloween shapes in them or glitter. I wanted just Halloween shapes. I know....but I had this idea in my head and there was no way around it. Until I couldn't find them....so I decided we just wouldn't have any. After they were put together though I realized I had some candy corn in a candy dish that would look really cute. I think it did the trick! We had these for an appetizer, Corn and Crawfish Chowder and Cilantro Cheese Biscuits for Dinner and Pecan Bars for dessert. Except for about 4 Pecan Bars, everything was GONE! So all in all, I guess it turned out pretty good. The Apple Nachos are a great dish if you need something quick, delicious and festive for a party or dinner. And if you can find the perfect sprinkles...I bet they would be even cuter!! As always, if you don't have the particular apple called for in this recipe, use the one you have. Same with all other ingredients; a jar of Smucker's Caramel Ice Cream sauce will work if you want to make this in a hurry. Use what you have. Recipes are a guideline...use your imagination and have fun. That's what counts! That....and well that it's slap your mama good !

(* A post for the Corn and Crawfish Chowder will be comins soon! ) :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pecan Bars

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Pecan Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart)
It’s fall!!! Is everyone else as excited as I am about this? I love everything about fall and winter. I have always been an extremely hot natured person. So during fall and winter I am in my element. I love that during fall I can turn off my AC and my heat and open my windows to enjoy the crisp cool air. And not to mention knowing when I get my power bill it will be the lowest of the year! I love making homemade hot chocolate and drinking my coffee outside in the morning. I love how there is a hint of excitement in the air that the holidays are just around the corner. I love seeing the orange and red flowers everywhere and the pumpkins and scarecrows on people’s lawn. I love everything about fall! Unlike most normal people, I even have my Thanksgiving menu planned. I know….that’s going a little overboard. But I have been looking forward to fall since last fall ended!! When it finally rolled around I had a list of dishes I was ready to cook to welcome it in. On the top of the list was Pecan Bars.

This recipe came from Martha Stewart and it's absolutely heavenly! It has a buttery crust topped with a rich pecan filling and kicked up a notch with fresh honey. Honey is the ingredient that makes this recipe...but not just any honey...fresh, local honey! Lucky for me, I have a stash of honey we buy from a distant family member who is a bee charmer. I have yet to taste a better honey. I buy more every year, even if i still have some from the previous year. It's that good and very cheap compared to the stores and farmers markets.
Another reason I love this recipe so much is because I have issues with traditional Pecan Pie. Don't kick me out of the south just yet....hear me out! I have always loved Pecan Pie...just without the pecans! Since I was a kid I have always picked them off and ate the filling and crust. The pecans always tasted too cooked for me...almost burnt. Because of this I would not eat anything with pecans cooked in it growing up and well in to my 20's. I wasn't too sure I was going to like this recipe for that reason. However, when I watched Martha Stewart make them on t.v. they just looked too good not to try. I am certainly glad i did! The first time I made them and tried one I thought, "This is how Pecan Pie should taste!" Needless to say, I make these instead of Pecan Pie! And in case you're wondering...I leave the pecans on them! Am I allowed to remain in the south now? I think if you try them, you will replace your traditional Pecan Pie for this recipe....at least this Thanksgiving anyway! And if you still have to follow tradition and make your Pecan Pie I understand and won't judge. Southern traditions run deep! Just promise you'll try it. You're life will be complete!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sweet And Sour Chicken & Shrimp Fried Rice

Sweet and Sour Chicken & Shrimp Fried Rice

We live out in the sticks! It takes at least 15 minutes to get to the city limits and within sight of a store. Being so far out in the country has it’s advantages as well as it’s disadvantages. We think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Our family has planted a large summer and winter garden as long as long as I can remember that spans a few acres. Our neighbors are mostly family, but the ones that aren’t are people we have known all of our lives….my childhood pastor, a friend I‘ve had since kindergarten, etc. Our water doesn’t taste like bleach and the neighbors aren’t playing their music as loud as possible at 3 am. These are just some of the things I love about the country. One of the disadvantages? If you get a craving for something, such as Chinese food, you are out of luck unless you are willing to take at least a 40 minute trip. In any direction, it’s 40 minutes to the closest Chinese restaurant. Until now, this was a hardship for Ronnie and I …ha-ha…Well, maybe not a hardship, but it was definitely a disadvantage of country life! That was until these recipes entered our home!! We can now hang on a little while longer before having to make that 40 minute trip for Chinese food. Give them a try, even if you live closer than we do to your next fix…I think you’ll like them. My brother, mom and dad ate with us today when I fixed this meal and they all loved it…and they don’t like Chinese food. My brother, Wes…who HATES chicken…said the Sweet and Sour Chicken was “fine”. That Wes approves this chicken recipe speaks volumes. According to him he now only eats chicken two ways, fried and in this Sweet and Sour recipe. The shrimp fried rice perfectly rounds out this meal. Okay, I won’t hold you up any longer…here is the recipe:

Sweet and Sour Chicken:
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and pepper

1 c. cornstarch

5 whole eggs, lightly beaten

¼ c. canola oil

For the Sauce:

¾ c. sugar

4 T. ketchup

½ c. vinegar

1 T. soy sauce

1 tsp. garlic salt

Cut chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until browned on all sides but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick coking spray. Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken. Bake for 1 hour at 325°. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Shrimp Fried Rice:

20 oz. shrimp, peeled and de-veined

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. pineapple juice

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with 1 ½ tsp. water

1 medium onion, diced fine

5 eggs

6 T. oil

2 bags Rice mixed with Veggies

Pat shrimp dry and add the marinade ingredients. Marinate for 15 minutes. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs and salt lightly with a whisk. Set aside. Heat the wok and then add 1 ½ tablespoon oil. When oil is ready, pour egg mixture in the wok and cook over medium heat, turning over once. Cut eggs into thin strips; set aside. Add 2 ½ tablespoons oil to wok, when hot add onion and shrimp and cook on high heat for a few moments. Remove shrimp and onion and set aside. Add 1-2 tablespoons oil and turn the down the heat to medium and stir-fry the rice. Add one cup of the sweet and sour sauce ( recipe follows) and stir to combine.

Sweet and Sour sauce for Shrimp Fried Rice

2/3 c. white vinegar

8 T. brown sugar

2 T. ketchup

2 tsp. soy sauce

4 tsp. cornstarch

Mix the vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce together and bring to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cornstarch and stir to thicken. Remove from heat.

(Be careful to watch this and stir constantly or it will burn. Also, follow the directions exactly, if you add the cornstarch directly to the pot with the other ingredients, it will form a paste.)