Thursday, October 8, 2015

Inspired by Sonya Ann

Hi, my name is Anne and I'm a Dumb A... and let me tell you why. Several days ago Sonya Ann at A Mom Money and More posted a super easy way to make Orange Chicken and I decided to try it. Her recipe called for exactly 3 ingredients, an orange soda, soy sauce and chicken. She declared it was really good, so why not try something really good and easy? Oh that is an easy question to answer.  I can't because I am rarely satisfied to leave well enough alone.

If you choose to continue reading this you can follow me on my long journey, turning a very simple recipe into a multi step process, just to have basically the same thing I would have had if I had done it the easy way in the first place.

Orange Chicken the Not So Easy Way

3 large chicken breasts cut in pieces
1 Izze soda
2 tablespoons coconut aminos
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ponzu sauce or soy sauce
2 cloves minced garl
1large onion, sliced                                      
1 bell pepper sliced                                      
3 smallish zucchini sliced                                      
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch slice ginger, minced                                    
1 8 ounce carton mushrooms, sliced                                    
1 more Izze soda                                      
1/4 cup soy sauce (or ponzu sauce)                                    
1 1/2 tablespoons demera sugar                                      
2 teaspoons cornstarch                                    
1/4 cup water

I planned to add vegetables to Sonya Ann's recipe since I add vegetables to everything now. It would have been fine if I had just used her recipe and stopped with the additional veggies, but did I stop my "improvements" No!  Instead of the orange soda I tried Izze, which is a clementine carbonated drink sweetened with pear juice. (At this point I was aiming for a paleo option and decided I didn't want the sugar a regular drink has in it).

After tasting the drink I decided it was not as intensely orange flavored as a Sunkist would be so I put 1 bottle of Izze, 1 teaspoon dried orange peel, 2 cloves garlic, into a zip loc bag and intended to add my coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Unfortunately I only had 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos so I decided to go ahead and use the soy sauce.  It would not be paleo, but it wouldn't be too far off the mark, until I realized I had no soy sauce either and still needed 3/8th cup of something.  I found a bottle of citrus ponzu sauce in the back of the fridge and decided since it is soy based to use it instead. So I added it to the soda and mixed everything well (by zipping the bag and squishing the bag with my fingers.  I added 3 chicken breasts, which had been cut in largish chunks and stuck it in the fridge for the day. (I am guessing it marinated about 9 hours.

Now ask me if I even bothered to read her instructions about how to BAKE the chicken.  Negative Ghost Rider!  I just assumed it would be stir fried (wrong) so that is exactly what I did. I drained the marinade and stir fried the chicken in coconut oil.  DO NOT DO THIS!  Use olive oil instead.  Every time I use coconut oil with a savory food I regret it since the coconut  is a little too strong and overpowers the flavor of the food. I forget it each time.  I removed the chicken from the pan, tasted a bite to see if I needed more orange flavor, noticed all the coconut flavor and rinsed  the blooming pan to get rid of the coconut oil. Then I had to add additional oil to the pan(olive oil this time) and added the vegetables in the order they are listed so they would all be a nice crisp tender.  Then I tossed the chicken back in the pan to combine everything and realized when I had drained the marinade before stir frying, I lost all of the sauce components literally down the drain. I had to take the chicken and veggies out of the pan and add an additional Izze and more soy sauce (or ponzu since I had no soy) and cook it until it was reduced by half. In my quest to make something paleo I used the juice sweetened orange drink and no amount of reducing it would thicken the sauce. Aha! That is what the sugar in the drink would have done in the baking process.  I quickly added 1 1/2 tablespoons demera sugar (it was the first sugar out of the cabinet, any sugar would be fine)  and cooked it for a few minutes.  It still was not thick enough and I didn't want the sauce any sweeter, so I made a quick slurry of cornstarch and water, added it to the sauce and cooked it stirring until it thickened.  Then I put the chicken and vegetables in the pan and stirred to coat everything well.  By that time my ideas for paleo were totally out the window, so I served mine over the rice I had cooked for the others.
Whew! A gozillion steps instead of simplicity!

And the verdict was that it tasted very good, and TheHub said he would like to have it again.  I told him fine, but next time I am going to make it Sonya Ann's way and save myself time and clean up.  If you decide to try it I would suggest you do it her way too!


  1. Anne, you always make me smile! I chuckled the whole way through reading this post. This looks and sounds very good but I think I may try making it Sonya Ann's way instead. ;)
    Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

  2. Please let my error serve us all. I was at Sprouts and bought Hansen's orange soda to try next time. Has the same amount of sugar as regular sodas, but they use no HFC so I will claim a partial victory and use Sonya Ann's method, but I will add vegetables.

  3. That was funny and sad at the same Okay, I will do it like Sonya said.

  4. It's a testament to what a good cook you are (or how lucky) if after all of those steps, it still tasted good. :)
    Your mention of Sunkist made me think about caffeine. Sunkist is the one orange drink I know of that has caffeine in it. What does caffeine do when heated?

  5. I am only guessing but since coffee is heated caffeine, I am guessing nothing more drastic than what caffeine does anyway

  6. I love you!!! I laughed so so hard.
    "Negative Ghost Rider"-This is my new go to phrase!!!!
    I think the problem may be that I am cursed in the kitchen so I may have passed that on to you.

  7. Hahaha Nope I like to shoot myself in the foot now and then just to keep me on my toes! Honestly it was delicious but it just kind of took on a life of its own and in the end there was no reason for me to have made it so complicated, but complication is what I do best.

  8. Seriously Anne, I love the way your humor shines through in your posts. You crack me up!!! And since you said your husband enjoyed the way you made it and would like it again, I'm calling it a success.

  9. It was a successful dinner, just a long complicated multi step process for something that should have been insanely simple. As for the humor part, I really do love to laugh and laughing at myself is easy. I give myself so many opportunities!