Who needs to call for take-out when you have this recipe for Cashew Chicken on hand? Karen Schneider

Last Sunday I had my daughter and her three teenagers over for dinner. I invited my son to join us as well. We spent a cozy homespun afternoon looking at old photos and sitting at the table together enjoying good food and conversation.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

When planning what to serve, my son mentioned he had been craving my Cashew Chicken, a family favorite that I hadn’t made in quite a while. It had been so long, in fact, that I had forgotten how simple it is to make. The preparation involves cooking some rice, mixing up a savory sauce and chopping. Everything is stirred together in the skillet or wok and a main dish is created that tastes so much better than takeout and is a fraction of the cost.

A colorful, healthful side dish can be made by purchasing some supermarket conveniences or doing the slicing and dicing yourself. Whatever you decide, this salad is a go-to when I make an Asian entrée. Double the recipe and you’ll have leftovers for lunch.

It’s a rule in my house that after Chinese food, there must be chocolate. These cookies that I’ve made since I was about 10 years old are incredibly easy and are just the ticket. Tuck a few into the next day’s lunch box along with your Asian-influenced salad, if there are any left over for the next day, that is. Come to think of it, you may want to make a double batch of those, too!

Cashew Chicken

¾ cup roasted, unsalted cashews

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

6 medium garlic cloves, minced

8 scallions (1 bunch), white and green parts separated, each cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

Place the cashews in a dry wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce in a small bowl by whisking together water, cornstarch, hoisin sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.

Place the chicken in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the wok until hot. Carefully add half the chicken and stir fry until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil then add the remaining chicken, garlic and white parts of the scallion. Stir fry for another 3 minutes. Return the first batch of chicken to the wok. Turn the heat down to medium and add the rice vinegar and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Add the sauce mixture to the chicken. Cook and toss until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is thickened, about 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in scallion greens, cashews and sesame oil. Serve with rice. Yield: 4 servings

Far East Salad
1 (10-ounce) bag zucchini or butternut squash zoodles
2 scallions, diced
1½ cups shredded cabbage (any type)
½ cup shredded carrot
1 (6-ounce bag) fresh pea pods
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
¼ cup cilantro leaves

Gently stir together vegetables in a large bowl. For the dressing, whisk together all other ingredients except cilantro. Pour dressing over vegetables and garnish with cilantro. Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Drop Cookies
1 (12-oz.) bag chocolate chips, divided
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Melt half the chocolate chips over low heat or in the microwave and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Gradually mix in melted chocolate. Sift together dry ingredients then add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in remaining chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. transfer to cooling racks. Yield: 4 dozen small cookies

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