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Recipe: Chicken-Veggie Stir-Fry 

When I was growing up, we ate what we were served. If we really couldn't eat it, we were welcome to take a bowl of cereal to our room after everyone else was done with dinner.

Lately I've been in homes where the children and the parents eat completely different meals. The parents cater to kids' every food whim, and I don't feel that's a good thing.

There aren't many foods that I dislike, and I thank my mother for putting an eclectic array of dinners on the table. Her only rule was to "try a taste," so we did that without being told. She knew that most food is palatable, even to children, and one taste would convince us of that.

When we don't want to try something new, it's usually because of a preconceived notion that something is going to taste "yucky" and not because of any actual experience with it.

This stir-fry might look a little scary to kids who don't like vegetables, but it's delicious, nutritious and easy to make.

About the ramen noodles: I'm not suggesting serving the packaged ramen noodles as directed. But as an ingredient, they're very useful. Just about everyone loves them, they cook in three minutes, and they're incredibly inexpensive. They might even help you convince your kids to taste the veggies.

CHICKEN-VEGGIE STIR-FRY

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1-1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in strips or cubes

1 12-ounce package frozen stir-fry vegetables

3/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (available in Asian section of grocery store) or catsup

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or cider vinegar

1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3/4 cup chicken broth or water

3 packages ramen noodles, broken up (reserve seasoning for other use)

2 tablespoons dry sherry or water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (available in Asian section of grocery store)

Directions

In a one-quart pot, bring to a boil the water for cooking the noodles. Keep covered, at a simmer, until step 5.

Heat the oil in a wok or 12-inch skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cook until no longer pink.

Add the frozen vegetables and toss together with the chicken.

Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, lemon juice, maple syrup and broth. Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about five minutes.

Place the ramen noodles in the boiling water and stir a little to get them all into the water. Let boil for three minutes, or as directed on the package.

While the noodles cook, mix the sherry and cornstarch in a small glass. Pour the mixture into the wok, stir to combine, and cook about one minute, until clear.

Add the sesame oil to the vegetable mixture.

Drain the noodles and place in a large serving bowl or on individual plates. Top with the stir-fry.

Kristina Creighton is a former restaurant owner and the author of Kristina's Kitchen Cookbook and The Practical Palate Cookbook. She lives in Granville, Vt.
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