Remember me? I'm the one who used to write that blog Two Recipes? I used to sit here behind a screen and shove pictures of food at you and beg you to make whatever delicious thing that had recently rocked my world? I used to travel some? Sent some packages to friends in the mail?
Well, that shouldn't surprise me. This has been the longest hiatus I've taken since the night I decided to go to Blogger.com and write about Caesar salad, and also the night I assumed that you actually wanted to read about Caesar salad. The last you heard of me was Valentine's day. That's 47 days of nothing. Not a single word. Not a single picture of food on Instagram, not a single click of my camera shutter, not a single post on the Two Recipes Facebook page--nothin'. I've got nothin'.
I feel like I owe you an explanation. I could tell you that I moved, which I did, and that I started a new, much more involved job, which I did. I could tell you that I lived in a hotel room for about a month, then moved into a (pretty, shiny, new) apartment while all of my stuff sat idle in boxes in Pittsburgh, which all happened. I could tell you that in all the moving/working/transitioning that I had been doing in the past 47 days, I wanted meals that I could make with my eyes closed because taco night is familiar and I wanted familiar. That's all true.
But if I can be honest, and I think I can because I'm the boss here and so what I say goes, that's not why you haven't heard from me. It started with hotel-living, sure. But when that three week camp-out ended, I just didn't feel anything. I felt no words inside. Nothing worth telling you. Every time I sat down to write I was overwhelmed by this giant looming question: Why?
What was the point? Who was reading? Who cares about a lighter version of sesame chicken, and if they do, what's keeping them from googling a different recipe that's probably better tested and written by a witty, beautiful, cookbook-writing blog author? What do I have to say that is so important that I am asking readers to stick around? The answer was a resounding….nothing.
So let's be clear. This winter has sucked the life out of me. I am self-aware enough to admit that most of that thinking was due to the fact that it snowed up until about 3 days ago and I have been languishing in this terrible, puffy, brown, sleeping bag "coat" for, oh, five months, and that those things made me more than a little blue.
I have not been myself, and therefore I didn't feel that I had anything to offer, anything to give all of you sweet people who check in here every day, who ask me how I'm doing because you haven't heard from me, or who sit me down at a table and tell me that I simply must keep writing.
Because of that, this is what happened: My body was having an actual chemical reaction to the lack of sun, warmth, and change. My brain was reeling from a move, a new place, a new job, and new expectations. I felt tired, stressed, anxious, and because I felt all of those things, I stopped doing the thing that made me feel energized, optimistic, and calm. I stopped writing because I felt off, when, ironically, writing was the only thing that would make me feel on.
Yesterday evening I sat on my balcony with a glass of wine and watched the sun set over the Hudson river. I remembered that first trip to Bear Mountain, atop the peak looking down into the Hudson River Valley and thinking: wow, how lucky that people get to live here. I remembered how I couldn't wait to tell you all about that beautiful place. I remembered the feeling that, "hey, here's something cool that's happening to me, and I want to share that cool thing with my Internet friends." I remembered why I went on Blogger on January 10th, 2010 and wrote those words. It clicked again.
So here I am. I'm not going to promise that I'm going to be super blogger, or that I'm going to post every day, or that every recipe will be perfect and seasonal and trendy (if that's why you're here, I can offer you a lot of other blogs that will make your dreams come true). I'm not going to promise that I won't feel blue some days and I can't promise that because I'm a human and live on earth.
I can promise that I'll try, and that I'll remember the answer to that big, looming WHY. The answer is because you have to. This is true, and I can't get over how incredibly cool it is that you're here too. What a bonus.
So are you still reading? Ready to hear about some food? Cool. Me too.
Sesame chicken! Light! Easy weeknight meals that take little to no time to make! That's why you're here, so let's get going!
Start with some chicken. Cut up two chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks and season them liberally with salt and pepper.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken in a single layer. You may have to work in batches--you don't want to crowd the pan. Every time I say "crowd the pan" I say it in my Julia Child voice. Try it.
Transfer the browned chicken onto a plate and continue until all the chicken is brown on all of the sides. Next, mix up your sauce.
Soy sauce, honey, tomato paste, rice wine vinegar, garlic powder, olive oil (or sesame oil if you have it), onion powder, hot chili sauce. Stir it up!
Put the browned chicken back in the skillet and cover with the sauce.
Let that simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Next, dissolve about a tablespoon of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water. Pour that into the chicken and sauce and let it thicken, about 1 minute.
It will get thick and glossy, like Chinese take-out should be.
Make some rice using your preferred method. Have you seen these Swanson flavor-infused broths? I used the Thai Ginger to make my rice instead of water and it was incredible!
To serve, add a little rice to the bottom of a bowl and top with the sesame chicken. Add a little extra sauce because why not. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions for a little color and crunch, then dig in!
It's sweet, spicy, tangy, and because it's not fried, light! Add some broccoli in there if you're looking for a more balanced dinner. Broccoli in that sauce would be divine.
So, if you made it this far, you're a champ and I applaud you. I'll be back, with more food and more stories. I've got a whole new state to tell you about! This week is K's birthday too, so you all should look forward to that.
Thank you for sticking around. I like each and every one of you and appreciate the heck out of you.
Here's the recipe.
Lightened Up Sesame Chicken Rice Bowls
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (sesame oil is more traditional, obviously, but I didn't have it. Use it if you got it!)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce. More if you like it spicy!
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
- Sesame seeds
- Sliced scallions
- Cooked rice
- Mix up your sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, honey, tomato paste, rice wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, oil, sriracha, and salt and pepper. Set that aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken chunks in a single layer and brown on both sides. You may need to work in batches depending on how big your skillet is. This is OK. When all the chicken is browned, add it to the skillet and pour the sauce on top. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Add your slurry of cornstarch + water and stir. Let cook for 1 minute more, or until thick and glossy. Remove from the heat. Serve over rice and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.