Letter From Granma

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Fan Favs…Orange Chicken

I have now been living in close proximity to the grandgirls for nearly 6 months.  We have developed a schedule so that we maintain our separate family units as well as enjoying our combined time together.  After a few weeks of trial and error, we developed an eating arrangement during the week, which can be easily adapted.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, I cook the evening meal and we all eat together in the main house around the big family dining table.  Monday and Wednesday have become my “cooking” days and I have attempted to try a new recipe at each and every meal.  It is more creative for me and it has lead to some interesting and flavorful creations.  Some of the creations have been hits, some have been misses.  It takes a lot of research and pre-planning to have all of the ingredients and the time to make the meal.

I realized on Tuesday, when I do not cook for the family, that it does not take a “chef” to take the third and fifth grader to gastronomic heaven.  A last minute text from their mom asked that I preheat the oven and prepare Orange Chicken for the girls.  It could bake while she was on her drive home.

Trader Joe's ming_chicken_jpg_728x520_q85

For those of you unfamiliar with Trader Joes’s frozen orange chicken, you are missing out.  Trader Joe’s or Trader Ming’s Mandarin Orange Chicken features battered chicken pieces with a mandarin orange chicken sauce.  There is a reason the Mandarin Orange Chicken is Trader Joe’s number one selling product, and that is because it’s like a Chinese restaurant has set up shop in your kitchen. Just pour the coated nuggets onto a baking sheet, cook in the oven and then toss with the enclosed orange sauce. Serve with rice, and it’s cheaper (and tastier) than ordering out.  I must admit that I nearly always have a bag of this delightful dinner in my freezer for emergencies, but I had no idea until we moved to Norfolk, that this might be the all time favorite dinner of the grandgirls.

Because I am a culinary adventurer and would prefer to “do it yourself”, I did research an orange chicken recipe a few weeks ago.  Since I was experimenting and did not want to make enough for 6, I elected to make this on a Thursday for just the 2 of us.  I am a total fan of Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and have made a number of her recipes quite successfully.  If you haven’t tried her cooking section, I suggest you do.  With Orange Chicken on my mind,  I decided to try

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/09/orange-chicken/

rees orange chicken

Now, I am not saying that this wasn’t a great rendition of this dish.  It was very good.  However, the time that it took to prepare and the condition of the kitchen upon completion, with it’s grease spattered stove and batter slopped countertop, were definitely not worth the effort.

I have come to realize, that the girls are right.  Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken is Delish.  The third and fifth grader do have discerning tongues.

Here’s to Trader Ming!

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