Kate's Cuisine

Nov 07 2017

Chinese Chicken Balls (with Sweet and Sour Sauce!)

Chicken ball being dipped into sweet and sour sauce

There’s a reason you’ll never see a shellfish recipe on this site. I’m highly allergic, and I’m also very paranoid about my allergy (given that it could kill me and all). And while I usually get by okay with my allergy, it does keep me from going to certain places; namely, Chinese restaurants. There’s just too much of it strewn around and even if the kitchen is very careful not to cross-contaminate, I just can’t fully trust that they haven’t overlooked oyster sauce or fish sauce in one of their dishes. And even that little bit could quite literally have fatal consequences for me.

But I love Chinese food, and sometimes I miss it (in my younger days, I was a bit more cavalier about my allergy). So when a craving strikes, I have no problem whipping up a huge feast of egg rolls, chow mein, and other Chinese food goodies for me and my family. And when I do it, my family and I still have tons of leftovers, just as if we had ordered enough for 20 people. I mean, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to make sure my freezer’s stocked too.

Last week, that craving did strike and I made the usual fare, with one exception. For the first time ever, I made Chinese chicken balls and man, they were good. I was most looking forward to the chow mein, but it was really the chicken balls that stole the show. And everyone agreed that they were the best part of the meal. Sadly, I only have four left in my freezer. They are delicious though, and much easier to make than I thought they would be.

I even made the classic sweet and sour sauce to go along with them, but I warn you. This does not look anything like the sweet and sour sauce you’ll get at your favourite Chinese restaurant. Probably because I didn’t put a ton of red food colouring in it. But although it doesn’t look like the sauce, it definitely still tastes like it. And it can simmer on the stove while you fry the chicken balls, or be made ahead of time for those that like it cooled a bit before they start dipping. Whatever way you choose to go, it’s all so good. These are definitely going to show up on the table the next time my Chinese food craving strikes!

Ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup $1.49
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce $0.02
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar $0.18
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar $0.20
  • 1 cup white sugar $0.19
  • 3/4 cup cold water Free, with your water bill!
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch $1.08

Ingredients for the chicken balls:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.14
  • 1 cup cornstarch $1.59
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder $0.02
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda $0.04
  • 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1 1/3 cup cold water Free, with your water bill!
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil $0.06
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces $9.76
  • Oil, for deep-frying $3.30

Total cost $18.08
Cost per serving $3.01

Directions:

1.) To make the sweet and sour sauce, combine the ketchup, soy sauce, white vinegar, brown sugar, and white sugar in a small saucepan. In a cup or bowl whisk the cold water with the cornstarch until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture vigorously into the ketchup mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency (it should be very thick).

2.) To make the chicken balls, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add in water and sesame oil and stir well to fully combine, being sure to scrape up from the bottom of the bowl to get any flour and cornstarch that may have settled. Continue stirring until the entire mixture is smooth.

3.) Add the chicken pieces to the flour and cornstarch mixture and stir well again to ensure all pieces are coated in the batter.

4.) Using a deep-fryer or a deep Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

5.) Frying a few pieces at a time, remove the chicken from the batter, ensuring it is still completely covered in batter, and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes until all of the chicken balls are golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and season with salt, if desired. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken. If any of the chicken balls start to cool after being cooked while you fry the remaining chicken balls, place them in a 300 degree oven and they’ll stay warm and crisp.

6.) Serve the chicken balls with the sweet and sour sauce on the side for dipping, and enjoy!

Nov 02 2017

Avocado Toast

Avocado on Rye Toast

I was born in the late 70s, a time when the Internet as we know it was still a distant dream for a bunch of tech guys trying to connect the entire world. So no, I’m not a Millennial. And while I do know a few that I absolutely adore, I have to admit that I’ve also been a bit snarky towards them on occasion. But when they start taking an interest in food, I start taking a bigger interest in them. And I’m very thankful for their Avocado Toast.

Yes, I realize people were likely smearing avocados on toast long before there was Instagram to post their pics to, but I think we can all agree that it was the Millennials that really made it a trend, filling our feeds with countless pics of gorgeous Avocado Toast. And now, I get to be those one of those people! And not only is Avocado Toast very pretty to look at, it’s also delicious and takes only a few minutes to pull together. So thanks, Millennials, for the delicious snack!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe avocado $0.80
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime $0.50
  • 1 shallot, finely diced $0.37
  • 1/4 cup corn, fresh or frozen and thawed $0.58
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped $0.10
  • Salt, to taste $0.01
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste $0.01
  • 2 pieces rye bread $0.32
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half $0.01
  • 1 small tomato, diced $0.28
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste $0.01
  • Olive oil, to taste $0.05

Total cost $3.04

Directions:

1.) Using a fork, mash the avocado in a small bowl. Add the juice and zest of the lime, shallot, corn, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine all ingredients.

2.) Toast the rye bread. After it’s been toasted but is still warm, rub the half of garlic onto the bread. Spoon the avocado mixture onto the bread and smooth it out. Add the diced tomato and crushed red pepper flakes. Drizzle everything with olive oil.

3.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 30 2017

Halloween Hot Dog Mummies

Halloween Mummy Hot Dogs

I have to admit something. I don’t like Halloween all that much. I didn’t even like it that much as a kid, but all the candy really did seem to help. Today, I still turn to food on this holiday and while I may not be pulling out a pillowcase and hoping to fill it with loot, I do like to scour for special Halloween recipes and create something that I normally wouldn’t. This year, these Halloween hot dog mummies were perfect. And even though we didn’t actually eat them on Halloween, I think another batch might be in order for the big night tomorrow. Not only are they cute and easy to make, they also take just a few minutes to pull together. So even if you have to make last-minute alterations to costumes or finish off that cute clown’s makeup, you’ll still have lots of time to get out the door and hit the neighbourhood.

Ingredients:

  • 8 hot dogs $3.99
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of Pillsbury crescent rolls $1.99
  • Mustard for the eyes $0.10

Total cost $6.08
Cost per serving $1.52

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.) Unwrap the crescent rolls and join two together. Press the seams together. Repeat this step until you have four rectangles.

3.) Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, slice each rectangle lengthwise into ten thin strips.

4.) Wrap five strips around each hot dog, stretching it lightly and pressing each strip into another as you’re done wrapping. Crisscross the dough as you wrap it, and layer it to really make it look like a mummy.

5.) Using your finger, separate the dough at the top of the hot dog to make room for the eyes.

6.) When all the hot dogs have been wrapped, place them into the oven and bake for 13 – 15 minutes until the dough is cooked through and golden.

7.) Remove the mummies from the oven and place mustard in a small bowl. Dip a toothpick into the mustard and then use it to place two dots in the space you created to make eyes.

8.) Serve and enjoy!

Oct 20 2017

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing in ramekin

Today wraps up all the posts on salad dressings and spice mixes, and next week we’ll get back to actual dishes and entrees. But, I saved the very best for last - Ranch dressing, a go-to for many people, including mine. I mean, when a dressing not only works as a dressing but can be used to dip wings, pizza crust, and even sandwiches, you know it’s got to be good. And when you make it at home from scratch, it’s even better.

This Ranch dressing is very similar to the garlic dip I posted last week, and there’s a reason for that since I was trying to make Ranch dressing and it just happened to turn into something a little more garlicky than Ranch calls for. But after tinkering with it some and making some key changes, namely adding sour cream, using buttermilk, and getting rid of the garlic entirely, it did transform into Ranch dressing. And trust me my friends, it’s good!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise $1.44
  • 1/2 cup sour cream $0.65
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped $0.06
  • 1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce $0.06
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika $0.08
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • Dash of hot sauce $0.03
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk $0.45

Total cost $3.10

Directions:

1.) Combine everything but the buttermilk in a medium-sized bowl so that everything is very well combined.

2.) Slowly add in the buttermilk, using only as much as you need for desired consistency.

3.) Store in an airtight container in the fridge or, serve and enjoy!

Oct 16 2017

French Dressing

French Dressing in ramekin

We continue on with dressings this week and I have to say, this just might be my absolute favourite. I’ve always loved French dressing, but I never really knew how much until I made it myself at home. Now, this dressing won’t last as long in the fridge as that bottle of Kraft might, but it’s also not filled with all those undesirable ingredients, and it’s super easy to make. So you can make just a little bit for what you need and then quickly whip up a batch the next time you want a little more. This batch makes about 1 1/2 cups of dressing, and you won’t believe that French dressing could ever taste this good!

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup ketchup $0.99
  • 1 cup sugar $0.19
  • 1/2 cup olive oil $0.91
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar $0.27
  • 2 teaspoons salt $0.02
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed $0.03
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder $0.04
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard $0.03
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder $0.04
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika $0.08

Total cost $2.60

Directions:

1.) Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

2.) Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days or, serve and enjoy!

Oct 12 2017

Garlic Dip/Dressing

Garlic Dip

So last week was all about the different spice mixes you can create in your own kitchen and store in your pantry instead of wasting all that money on them in the grocery store. And just like you can do it with spices, you can also do it with dips and dressings (and just about anything else, btw). This dressing was actually the result of a mistake I had made when trying to make ranch dressing. Ranch it is certainly not, but it’s just as delicious all the same. I just called it Garlic Dip, and everyone who tried it was happy. On a side note, I ended up crushing that ranch dressing a few days later, and I’ll be bringing that recipe to you this week as well!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.02
  • 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise $2.16
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped finely $0.06
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce $0.06
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper $0.05
  • Dash hot sauce $0.01
  • 1/4 cup milk $0.07

Total cost $2.76

Directions:

1.) Place the minced garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with the salt. Lay your knife on its side and move it back and forth against the garlic, almost crushing the garlic into the cutting board. Do this several times until a paste forms. Place the paste, including any leftover salt, into a medium-sized bowl.

2.) To the bowl add the mayonnaise, parsley, dill, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, vinegar, paprika, cayenne pepper and the hot sauce. Stir to combine all ingredients very well and then stir in the milk.

3.) Place in an airtight container in the fridge or, serve and enjoy!

Oct 06 2017

Spice Mix for Roasted Potato Wedges

Roasted Wedges Spice Mix

I think roasted potato wedges were one of the dishes I first started cooking. It’s a good one to start with, because they are so incredibly easy. But can you believe that I used to just toss them with salt and pepper?! I mean, how boring is that? These days I like to mix it up a little more with different seasonings and spices. And although I do change it up every now and then, I usually come back to this Cajun spice mix. It’s got just a little bit of spice, but not so much that my spice-adverse daughter won’t eat them. And it’s a great way to wrap up Spice Week!

Just like all the other spices posted this week, you can make a big batch and just store it in an airtight container. When it comes time to use, just toss it with potato wedges and some olive oil in a large bowl before tossing them onto a pan sheet and into a hot oven. Almost as soon as you mix it, before they’ve even seen any actual heat, they turn a beautiful golden colour that promises you’re in a for a tasty dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder $0.23
  • 2 teaspoons cumin $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander $0.16
  • 1 teaspoon paprika $0.16
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric $0.37
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon salt $0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper $0.01

Total cost $1.64

Directions:

1.) Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and use as desired.

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