Thursday, July 11, 2013

Child-Friendly Potstickers!

My kids LOVE dumplings - as long as there’s NO green stuff inside. 2 out of my 3 kids don’t like their food with any greens or multiple textures in it. And they usually like their food a single color. I don't know how many different brands of frozen dumplings I've bought in the past that all have had noticeable green stuff in them or they have a crunchy texture of (often times) cabbage which my kids don't find appealing. So my mother, Teresa Kuo and I re-invented a generations-old dumpling recipe that will be pleasing to kids and to kids-at-heart!

This is also a good recipe to cut down on sodium so you can control how much salt/soy sauce you use. I’m not someone who likes to hide or mask food like in Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious or The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine but I have to say the idea is growing on me. My mother and I found a way that adds flavor but yet they don’t “see” any of the the green stuff, spices or herbs!  I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Yields about 45-50 dumplings
1 package of round dumpling wrappers (My preference is Twin Marquis and can be found at Asian markets)
1 egg, beaten for meat mixture*
1 egg, beaten in a separate bowl to seal the dumplings*
1 pound ground pork*
1/2 cup canola oil
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger-root
4 tbsp finely chopped white part of scallions
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil salt and white pepper to taste
2 Dipping sauce receipes below
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, 1 beaten egg, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, sesame oil and drizzle in canola oil slowly to make a smooth and airy filling along with the salt and white pepper. Set aside.
Take a single dumpling wrapper and put a tsp of the meat mixture into the center. Use your finger and dip into the beaten egg mixture and dab along the entire edge of the wrapper. Seal to make a semi-circle.
Folding is an art. My mother mastered it. I, however, have not. You can simply crimp the edges to make a pretty wavy edge or you can simply use a fork and make crimps along the edge. The important thing here is to make sure you make a tight seal so the meat will not leak out (or it will be a messy situation). My mother also told me not to fold the edges on top of each other since you want to make the top of the dumplings as delicate as possible. Over-folding will make the dough tough and it could also be raw after cooking.
In a large non-stick pan, cover the bottom with canola oil (about ¼ cup) on high heat. The oil will prevent the dumplings from sticking. When hot, in a single layer, place the dumplings in the pan without overcrowding. I did this twice so as not to overcrowd the pan. You want a nice crispy brown surface on the dumpling hence calling it a “potsticker”. When you’ve finished placing the dumplings in a single layer, fill the pan with water* until it covers halfway up on the dumplings, then cover the pan immediately and lower the heat to medium. When the water evaporates, uncover the pan and when the bottom of the dumplings have a nice brown color, take them out and serve immediately.  Be mindful that the interior of these dumpling will be steaming hot so let cool when serving to children.     

Dipping sauces
Sesame and soy:
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp balsamic or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp of Sambal chili sauce
Mix all the ingredients together, garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro to make it more sophisticated.
Creamy Peanut Butter* and soy:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp of soy sauce
Mix peanut butter, sesame oil and soy sauce until smooth, if too thick, add a tsp of hot water to make a smoother consistency. You can also add some Sambal chili sauce for some spice.
*If you don't eat eggs, you can use silken tofu and/or egg yolk (if you have an egg white allergy) to incorporate the meat mixture.
*You can also just use water in replace of egg for the "glue" to seal the dumplings.
*You can use all sorts of ground meat for this recipe. You can certainly substitute pork for turkey or chicken to make a leaner version.
*To add even more flavor to your potstickers, you can also replace the water with chicken broth when cooking your dumplings.
*If someone in your family has a nut allergy, you can easily replace the peanut butter for sunbutter which is a huge crowd-pleaser in my family!
*To cut down on fat, you can also boil the dumplings.  In a large pot, fill with water until a rolling boil, put the dumplings in and make sure you stir so they don't stick together.  When the water boils, time for 3 minutes and take out and serve immediately.  You can also make a soup with this and boil the dumplings in chicken, beef or vegetable stock. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicken Fingers and Goldfish?

This recipe came about when I didn’t have any breadcrumbs in my pantry as I was preparing to make chicken fingers. I noticed the “goldfish” cracker container had a layer of crumbs on the bottom. My kids snack on them all the time and so I thought, hmm, maybe I could take a few and crush them finely to make a yummy breading. My kids LOVED it! They thought it was neatest thing they could taste their favorite snack at dinner in the form of chicken fingers. It was such a great recipe and years later my kids still ask for it. Now that’s a winning recipe in my book!

1 pound chicken breast, cut lengthwise into 1 inch strips
2 cups crushed Goldfish crackers (have your kids give you a hand and put Goldfish crackers into a large plastic bag and have them pound it)
1 egg (whisked) or 1 egg yolk with 2 tbsp water or 1 cup whole milk* (if your child has an egg allergy)
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil (I use canola)

Dipping sauce ingredients:
¼ cup of agave nectar* or honey
¼ cup and 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 heaping tbsp. sour cream* (optional)

Prepare your chicken breast into strips, pat dry and season with salt and pepper and set aside. In 2 shallow bowls, fill one with the egg or milk mixture and in the other bowl the crushed up Goldfish crackers. You will take each strip and dip them in the liquid mixture to coat both sides and dip them into the Goldfish crumbs making sure to coat all sides and rest on a plate. Continue doing this for all your strips. In a shallow large nonstick pan, coat with oil to coat the entire pan and once it is hot, gently place the chicken strips into the pan. Cook each side for about 4 minutes or until cooked through. Serve immediately with the honey/agave nectar mustard sauce.

*DOUBLE DUTY TIP: You can replace Goldfish crackers with any other cracker (Saltines, Ritz, Cheez-Its and even cereals) to make a delicious breading for your chicken strips.
*You may substitute whole milk for soy milk if your child has a dairy allergy.
*Agave nectar is a great substitute for honey and other sweeteners because of its lower glycemic properties. It’s also vegetarian.
*Sour cream is a great “thinner” if you need to make a sauce lighter and airier.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Twist on Chicken and Apple Sausage

I was trying to figure out ways to make meatballs without using eggs as my son has an egg white allergy. I tried just using egg yokes but he still had a sensitivity to them so I came up with this chicken and applesauce meatball recipe which is a variation on the chicken and apple sausage.

These meatballs are super moist and have a hint of sweetness because of the applesauce I use to bind the ingredients together. I hope you like them!

1 Pound ground chicken
1/2 cup of sauteed chopped onion (saute with a pinch of salt)
2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs*
1 cup applesauce
2 tbsps ketchup
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano
salt and pepper to taste
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 jars of tomato sauce of your choice

In a deep covered saucepan, simmer the 2 jars of tomato sauce while you prepare the meatballs. In a mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except for the olive oil and form into small balls, yields approximately 16 for bite-size portions.

In a shallow saute pan, add olive oil and place meatballs in to sear. Once the meatballs are lightly browned on all sides, transfer them to the tomato sauce to simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Because of the higher sugar content in the applesauce, the meatballs may need to be turned over quickly so as not to burn.

I love to serve shells or penne to serve with the meatballs and don't forget to grate some more cheese to top off your dish!

Hope you like this recipe. I feel like it's a very healthy and kid-friendly version on a classic recipe. These meatballs freeze really well too!

*DOUBLE DUTY TIP where I give tips on how to replace pantry items if you're in a pinch!
When I didn't have bread crumbs in the pantry, I used dried stuffing which I pounded into crumbs. I also have taken 5 pieces of toast and threw them in the food processor to make fresh bread crumbs.