Everyone needs some trusty, reliable, easy go-to recipes. The recipes that always turn out, never fail, and always please a crowd. The recipes that are simple and quick to throw together, but make people super impressed with your culinary prowess. The recipes that you can turn to if you suddenly remember that you have to bring a dish to a dinner party in an hour, or you invite people over for desserts and games on a whim, only to remember that you have no snacks or treats in the house whatsoever!
It’s like that one outfit that every girl needs – the blazer you wear to every job interview, or the shoes you wear on every first date – the ones you can put on and instantly know that you look good. Or the car that you know will get you 500 miles, through snow and storm, safely to your destination. You just need some “old faithful”, go-to recipes for stressful, last-minute, or spontaneous social eating situations. You have those, right? Those recipes that make you look like a freaking culinary goddess (or master)…when really you spent 20 minutes in the kitchen following a really easy recipe. But no one needs to know that, right? 😉
For example, I have my go-to salad. It’s this killer spinach salad with feta, bacon (need I even go on?), candied pecans…oh man…it needs to warm up outside so I can make this again! I’ve never seen people take so many servings of salad as when I bring this to a dinner party.
And then there’s my go-to dessert – a family classic: Chocolate Upside-down Pudding Cake. Which is doubly awesome, because you will always have every ingredient for this in your house. And, again – it has never failed to please and wow and delight everyone that eats it.
But today, I’m sharing with you my go-to entree: Sesame Chicken. I have probably made this recipe for over 15 dinner parties. And it never fails to please. And when I say “please”, I don’t mean in the “Thanks for having us over for dinner, that was really good” way. I mean the <take a first bite>, “Oh my gosh, this is SO good! Can I have the recipe? Please??!?”
I got this recipe from my Culinary Goddess Mother years ago, when she did a session on Asian recipes for the middle schoolers in her cooking club. (Thanks, mama!) Like I said, it’s quick, easy, and you probably have 90-100% of the ingredients on-hand. (And if you don’t, once you’ve made it once, you may just decide to make sure that you DO always have them on-hand so you can bust this out for last-minute dinner guests.) When I’m making a quick batch of this on a weeknight, I totally skip the sesame seeds. It really tastes fine without them. If I’m going “fancy”, then I’ll toast some sesame seeds, and top the chicken with them and some scallions. Makes it look super legit. Like, Chinese takeout status. You Culinary Goddess (or Master), you.
Bonus: It’s quite healthy. You mix up the sauce yourself from spices and other common ingredients, and you get this gorgeous, glossy sauce that coats the pan-fried chicken (no deep-frying here, folks). Sometimes I’ll double or 1 1/2 the sauce, then throw some mostly-cooked broccoli in the sauce for the last 3 minutes or so. The thick sauce gets soaked into the broccoli leaves, making it a super-flavorful dish! I’ll eat just that, or serve it over brown rice.
Cook a quick pot of rice, steam a head of broccoli (or throw a bag of frozen florets in the microwave), and voila – a quick, healthy meal! Easy enough for a busy weeknight, but tasty enough for dinner guests. Choose your own adventure. 😉
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 1½ teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 bunch scallions (optional)
- Mix together honey, soy sauce, chicken broth, corn starch, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes (can do less red pepper flakes or omit, depending on desired heat level). Whisk until no cornstarch lumps appear. Set sauce aside.
- Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes
- Heat a large non-stick skillet, spray with non-stick cooking spray, over medium-high heat
- Cook chicken for about 6 minutes, until cooked through and no longer pink
- Give the sauce one more quick stir, then pour it into the skillet with the chicken
- Bring to a boil, then turn the burner down to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Sprinkle with sesame seed and scallions
- Cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes, then serve over rice.