I am always looking for recipes that I can adapt to my budget and family’s taste. This recipe was adapted from Pillsbury’s Annual Recipe 2010 cookbook. The cookbook was a wonderful find at my local Goodwill this past month. It is a beautiful cookbook with lots of really nice recipes. It is sitting in honor on my coffee table. It was one of those exciting $4 finds that I sometimes run across. I bought my first Pillsbury cookbook the summer I graduated from high school in 1966. It was a coupon offering that I sent away for. I still have it and it is held together with a rubber band. It is like an old friend.
Most recipes that you find for Chicken Cashew always has things in it like Hoisin Sauce, Oyster Sauce or Sesame Oil. When you are carefully shopping for your family on a limited income you don’t have the room in the budget to buy special sauces at $3-5 a little bottle all at one time. Unless you make oriental foods often you don’t have the sauces on hand. Soy Sauce because it is inexpensive and easy to find is about the only thing we might have on hand for Asian recipes.
This is an American version of Cashew Chicken that will please a picky family. I made a few changes to the recipe based on what was on hand. I have one child that will not eat broccoli so I added carrots for color and substitute for the traditional red peppers. When I was looking for ideas I found that I had everything on hand for this recipe but cashews and fresh ginger. A quick trip to the local market for a little piece of ginger that was only 54 cents and small can of cashews from the corner Dollar store for a $1,50.
You can really stretch a chicken breast to feed the whole family with a recipe like this. I pulled one from my freezer out and some home made chicken broth to thaw. If you don’t have chicken broth you can use a chicken bouillon cube. Bouillon cubes are one of those pantry items that you must keep on hand when you have a limited food budget. They also don’t strain your budget. An other budget item is a bag of fresh carrots to keep on hand and carrots are handy to make all kinds of cheap meals with. Rice is also a must have on hand because it makes low budget meals. I plan at least a meal a week that uses rice.
When ever I get broccoli or cauliflower I will blanch some of it in boiling salted water for 5 minutes and quickly cool in cold water so I can freeze it in a bag for later use. The bags get tucked away in the freezer of the refrigerator. I also keep a zip lock baggy in the freezer to put small amounts of left over vegetables that would normally linger in the refrigerator to be thrown away later. Instead I will add them to the bag until I have enough to make a pot of vegetable soup. Bouillon cubes are handy for soup making and that soup is like found money when you run out of ideas and money. If you rely on a food pantry to help you feed your family use your freezer to save fruits and vegetables for later. Some times you are given more of a vegetable, fruit or bread item than you can eat before it spoils depending on the donations the organization has to pass out. It can be a feast or famine at a Food Bank. Also you can get the most unusual items that takes some research as to how to use them in a meal. I save bread bags and twist ties to store things in the freezer. Usually everything get used up in a month or two so you don’t need quality bags. There is lots of information on the internet and at the library that will tell how to prep foods for freezer storage.
This turned out to be a really special meal for the family because we rarely eat out. Kids enjoyed eating on my collection of odd shaped dishes that I use to photograph food on. I served a pot of tea, made a cucumber salad and added a bowl full of fortune cookies. I bought the cucumber and fortune cookies on my run to the store.
Cashew Chicken with Broccoli and Carrots.
I 1/2 cups of uncooked rice.
2-3 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons of light or dark soy sauce
1 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil (optional)
1 or 2 chicken breast cut in bit sized pieces
1 1/2 cup of chicken broth or bouillon chicken broth
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
I tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 carrots cut into match sticks
2 green onions or 1/4 cup of finely chopped mild onion.
I cup of salted roasted cashews.
Mix in a bowl the chicken, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and sesame oil, Let stand for 15 minutes.
Cook rice as directed so it will be ready when the chicken is.
Take a half of cup of chicken broth and stir in corn starch and set a side.
In a large skillet add the tablespoon of oil to stir fry chicken. Just dump the whole bowl with marinade into the skillet. Stir fry until the chicken in longer pink in center. Add broccoli and carrots and stir fry for a minute add broth. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes. Now add the cornstarch mixture stirring until thickened. Add cashews and onions.
Serve over warm rice.
It is really quick and easy. You don’t even have to have a wok. American styled cashew chicken for when you are out of ideas.