Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

One of my good friends from college introduced me to homemade Chinese food, which was great as I never was a huge fan of restaurant Chinese. Her family's love of Chinese food was from a long-standing tradition of her dad's family - on Christmas Day they all went and ate Chinese. And since they were so fond of Chinese food, they had learned to make their own to save some pennies.

Over the years, I've learned so many of the beautiful traditions of the Jewish faith from my friends and students - and added some to my own celebrations of this Season of Light.  Since the reclaiming and purification of the Temple in Jerusalem is also part of the history of the Christian church (I heard a rabbi once refer to Judaism as the "Mother Church" - I loved that), I have my beautiful little menorah ready to go to remember:
  • the miracle of the oil
  • the celebration of religious freedom as the Jews had retained theirs despite their Babylonian captors
  • the celebration of  political freedom as the Jews had won theirs from the occupying Greeks
  • and to remember that the holiday celebrations in the religions of the Middle East hark back to the pagan worship of the Winter Solstice - it's all about the Light
Over the next week, I'll be re-reading the books of the Maccabees for my meditation.

Sunday night - the first night of Hanukkah - I'll be feasting on latkes.  But I'll include some Chinese later in the week and think about all my dear Jewish friends.  Chanukah Sameach!

Chicken Teriyaki Casserole

1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
3/4 c soy sauce (low sodium )
1/2 c water
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
1 T honey (or agave)
1 t ground ginger (or finely minced fresh)
1 T minced garlic
2 T corn starch
2 T water

fried rice - see below

32 oz precooked frozen mixed vegetables - water chestnuts, broccoli, peapods, etc.

2 green onions, chopped for garnish

Fried Rice Ingredients:
2 eggs
4 cups cooked rice - cook the rice at LEAST one day ahead and chill.  (1 1/3 c dry + water to cook)
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 pinch crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a small saucepan, mix soy sauce, water, brown sugar, honey, ginger, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic and boil for 1 minute over medium heat.

While teriyaki sauce cooks, mix corn starch and water in a small bowl. 

Pour corn starch mixture into teriyaki sauce, and whisk until the sauce begins to thicken (about 1 minute). Take the sauce off the heat.

Arrange chicken breasts in casserole (9x13 or similar size) and pour 1 cup of the teriyaki sauce on the chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. 

While chicken cooks, make the fried rice:

Heat a little oil in a non-stick skillet and quick fry the beaten eggs until they are set.  Remove and slice into strips.

Whisk together the oil, soy, brown sugar, white sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes.

In a large nonstick pan, saute the cold rice in a bit of oil until the rice is hot and you hear it begin to "pop".

Add the sauce and mix.  Add the chopped egg and stir gently

Add the fried rice and cooked mixed vegetables to dish with the chicken. Add another 2-3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce and stir all ingredients together to coat. 

Return dish to oven and bake for another 15 minutes. 

Remove from oven and drizzle the remaining teriyaki sauce on top, if desired. Garnish with the green onion pieces.  Serve immediately.

Speed hint!!  Do your prep work the night before and store everything in the fridge.  This comes together quickly if you just have to dump and stir the next night!!!


Blessing for Hanukkah:
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time.

The Shehechyanu (This is only said the first night.)
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

Blessing for the candles:
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the candles of Hanukkah.


Homemade Chinese - not difficult - just use leftover rice from some other meal - or make a batch a rice and put it in the fridge for a day before you start this. This is much healthier than restaurant food and SO much cheaper!!!

BTW - this method of fried rice is just as good (actually, I think better) than restaurant Chinese. You can also add cooked mixed veggies, bits of ham, pork, shrimp, chicken, and if you want, some heated bean sprouts right at the end with the cooked egg.

Try to use short or medium grain rice.  The long grain rice doesn't have the same amount of starch on the grains after cooking and fries up differently.  I made fried rice once with the black "royal" rice and loved that version, too.

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