May 2, 2014

Kung Pao chicken

I've been trying to make more restaurant and take-out style foods at home lately. I figure this way, perhaps we will be less tempted to order them and they will hopefully be healthier and made with higher quality ingredients. I think it's fun, too. In the same amount of time it would take to order, wait, and go pick up Chinese take-out, I made this meal! This year we are really working hard to do a few things financially including paying off as much of our student loans as possible and saving as much of our income as possible. We've been tracking all of our spending and earnings for a couple of years now (down to the penny - yes, every penny - it's amazing how accountable this makes you for your spending). Part of this has been limiting our eating out. Once we realized the amount of money we were spending each year on eating out (maybe once a week we'd go out or pick-up take-out), we have made a strong effort to change that. Now we eat out only for special occasions (e.g., family birthday dinners, a planned evening with friends, maybe our anniversary) and when traveling (though we do plan carefully). We don't really miss eating out at all.

If you haven't already, please head over to Facebook and "like" my page. I've started a "Frugal Friday" series on my page where I am sharing tips, recipes, resources, and more to help you be more frugal while still eating well.

This recipe will feed about four people and is adapted from this recipe at Half Baked Harvest. It's pretty spicy, like Kung Pao is supposed to be. If you want it a little less hot, reduce the Sriracha.

Kung Pao chicken
1/2 cup soy sauce, preferably fermented or low sodium
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
3 teaspoons Sriracha
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
coconut oil, or other cooking oil
about 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 bell peppers, cut into strips
4 scallions, cut into about 1/2-inch pieces, greens reserved
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
1 cup white rice, cooked to package directions, for serving

Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl (soy sauce through water). Place the cut up chicken in a large bowl and stir in two tablespoons of the prepared sauce. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or other large skillet. When hot, toss in the chicken. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, tossing often. Stir in the peppers and scallion whites. Continue to cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through. 

Stir in the sauce and let it come to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce cook to thicken, stirring often (about 3 minutes). When the sauce is thick and hot, stir in the peanuts.

Serve hot over white rice and top with the scallion greens and a few extra peanuts.

What was I cooking one year ago?: creamy potato and ramp soup
Two years ago?: stuffed mushroom pasta bake
Three?: salmon and asparagus with creamy tarragon sauce
4?: parsnip muffins


  1. Cooking at home instead of eating out does save lots of money. The nice thing is that a lot of times the food is better too as I sure your kung pao was.

  2. Kung Pao is one of my favorites. Love the spiciness and the peanuts ;)

  3. Boy Howdy I hope this is a good recipe. I've tagged it. This past year this dish has become one of my favorites. I have been thinking about looking for a recipe. Looking this over, it sure has all the right stuff. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I spend too much money on eating out too. This looks great. More sriracha for me!

  5. Kung Pao chicken is one of my favorite carry-outs! We've also been trying to cut down on our restaurant eating. This looks like a delicious alternative! :)

  6. One of my favourite chinese dishes, its great with rice!

  7. I love recreating take out meals at home - though we do still indulge on take out every so often! I applaud your efforts to reduce your debt - it is well worth it! We're older than you guys, and we have always tried to find ways to stay out of debt. In August my husband will be able to retire and we will completely debt-free. SO worth it!

    Love this recipe & will give it a try very soon!

  8. I love kung pao flavour. Have you tried it with tofu...equally delicious!

  9. I've always wanted to make Kun Pao chicken! I'd have to tone down the spiciness for Bill, but I can up the spiciness on my plate! Wonderful recipe!

  10. I'm in need of some frugal friday recipes, and this looks great!

  11. Delicious looking kung pao chicken...this is the kind of the meal that I can never get tired of...have a great week Amy :D

  12. We went through a long period where we tracked every expenditure to the penny. It's surprising sometimes what one spends money on -- and how much one can save just by a minor change in habits. Anyway, this is such a great dish! I've never made it, but it's one I sometimes order in a restaurant. I definitely need to try this! Thanks.

  13. Takeout at home is always fun! This looks great!

  14. oh how i miss kung pao chicken! it's on my top 10 list! :)

  15. Looks like a gorgeous recipe for Kung Pao Chicken, Amy. Making this!

  16. My boys would love this! Looks yummy! Thanks for sharing at Friday Frenzy Link Party! PINNED!


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