Cashew Chicken

So, have I mentioned we love Asian food at our house?? Funny thing is, I used to hate trying new things, the only thing I would get from a chinese take out was those fried up little chicken pieces with sweet n sour. And now I eat something different every week - heck I even MAKE it!

With a little help though! Thanks to the packets I've found (and will be telling you more about soon) I'm able to cook up some seriously delicious food that gets raved about. Last night my boys (hubby and stepson) were actually dancing around the house singing "we're having cashew chicken!!" (over and over and over again). The dog joined in on the singing. It was insane. It was hilarious. It is definitely a good life!

This is the third Wanchai Ferry kit we've tried, and while all of them have been good, this one takes the cake, not only for taste but because it is seriously easy and gets to the table faster than I can load a dishwasher (maybe I'm a little slow in that area..)

So here is the box, which contains quite a few packets:

You can find it in most grocery stores. Unfortunately, they can run pretty high in price... Last week hubby was sick and no one wanted to drive all the way to the commissary on base, so I headed to the Winn Dixie on the corner. I had a coupon for this and so I thought it wouldn't be much of a difference. I was wrong! At Winn Dixie it was around 5 dollars! My coupon was for $1.10, so even with that it was a little much... but once you've tried it I think you'll agree that it is worth it to splurge on these every once and awhile (when the budget allows).

So here is what is in the box and the things you will need on hand:

The box comes with a cup of rice, a bag of cashews, the sauce mix, and flavored cornstarch to coat the chicken. You will need to have about a pound of chicken cut into small pieces, whatever veggies you want to serve with dinner, cooking oil, and some water. Do you see my cooking oil back there? YUM, it is olive oil with red chilies - it gives everything just a little extra kick, I use it with this meal, but regular olive oil or cooking oil would be fine too!

I also like to serve this up with egg rolls to round out the meal - we buy huge bags of mini ones normally, but this box was on sale so we are testing them out:

They are definitely different than our usuals, really crispy, but I don't know if I like the sauce it comes with.. I am on the fence, but we have to work our way through the whole box before I have to decide what to get next. And I didn't microwave them - I think it's easier to just throw them in the oven for 10-12 minutes - it helps me time everything else.

So here's how to get started on this meal... you want to get your rice cooking first, it takes around 15-20 minutes, and dinner does NOT take that long so if you don't get it started around 10 minutes before you will have dinner done and be waiting on rice! (Yep, I've found this out the hard way). If you happen to have a rice cooker, go ahead and pull it out, if not the directions are on the box for stove top. Most rice cookers have a steamer attachment and that's where I do my veggies, put them on the same time as the rice.

I have a confession to make. When I first opened hubby's box of kitchen supplies, I looked at this ugly rice maker, shook my head a few times, and shoved it back in the box. I didn't like rice anyway and I didn't make meals that required rice, so it was hidden away for quite some time. BUT NOW, I love it, it's convenient, easy to use, the steamer makes getting veggies on the table that much easier (no more excuses), and it's probably my second favorite appliance (next to my Crock Pot!). This is a cheap one you can probably pick up at Walmart for all of 10 dollars. If you don't have one, put it on your Christmas list!

So you start up your rice and veggies, wait about 5 minutes or so (you can chop up your chicken in this time - I use scissors, it makes me happy) and if you are making egg rolls get the oven preheated and have them ready to go:

Once you throw the egg rolls into the oven, go ahead and get your pan out and put the oil in to heat it up, nice and hot.

Next, you dump the cornstarch packet onto the chicken, stir it around to coat, and then dump the chicken in the pan to fry up until it's cooked. The package says this takes about 7 minutes, but I cut my chicken really small so really it only took me about 5. The important thing here is that when you first spread your chicken out on the pan, to not touch it for the first few minutes, let it get nice and brown, then flip it. I find that with their cornstarch mix my chicken pieces all end up sticking together, so after they've browned on one side it's almost like flipping a pancake. After browning both sides I break up the chicken and let it cook for another minute (I have a serious fear of undercooking my chicken).

Then, add 1/2 cup of water and the packet containing the sauce, let it heat up and simmer. You are supposed to wait to add the cashews until you are ready to serve, but I add them in at the same time as the sauce. I also break them up a bit because I like getting a little bite of cashew with each fork full!

From there, I am just waiting on the egg rolls and the rice. If they still aren't done (mine weren't - I've got to work on my timing) just turn the chicken to low to keep it warm.

(I had planned to take pictures of cooking this meal, but my camera died. I used to have a camera with batteries but last Christmas I got a great camera, but it has a charger... I never remember to charge it, so while I was cooking this up, my camera was charging!)

Once everything is done, set it all out on a plate and dinner is served!!

This is my stepson's plate (his first plate I should say) so it looks like a lot - my plate was about half of this and I was full, and hubby's was somewhere in the middle - we still had enough for a huge second helping for the growing teenager (even though we could have probably used a little more rice).

This delicious meal took all of about 20 minutes, half of which was spent waiting! And I can't say it enough - it is a HUGE hit!! I guarantee you China Wok down the street can't compare!

Let me know how it turns out!!

Love and Luck to you,

The Packet Queen

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