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Favorite quote: " "The best thing to hold on to in life is each other." - Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Winning Birthday, Restaurant Style-Orange Chicken

Last week was my birthday! Not really wanting to celebrate this one, but didn’t want it to slip by either, I decided to take a few days and go visit my mom at her beach house. We had a great visit, as usual, soaking up the coastal air, just relaxing and getting caught up was just what I wanted and needed.

As we were out and about on my big day, my mom asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner. It’s always been a treat in my family to choose your birthday dinner. In fact, I always felt a little guilty when my boys were younger and they chose McDonald’s or Burger King, but hey it was their big day and it made them happy, so I guess I can’t feel too guilty. As they grew up, so did their tastes so all that changed anyway. They had the choice to dine out or request a family favorite for me to prepare is always a surprise. Several times my boys would just want to go to the mall and get their favorite orange chicken bowl. I was all over that because I love orange chicken. In fact, we went so many times that I became obsessed with trying to recreate it. After several failed attempts, I finally created a recipe with flavors reminiscent of the orange chicken from the popular restaurant in the mall and enough to be requested on their birthdays.

By now you’re probably guessing where I decided to go for my birthday dinner, but hang on…. I wanted to tell you first that I was and still am so thrilled about my Restaurant Style Orange Chicken that I entered it into a copycat recipe contest. Having entered several of my own copycat recipes, I was left craving, I mean obsessive craving for Orange Chicken. So yes, I told my mother that I would love to have some Orange Chicken. She suggested P.F. Chang’s. I felt like a little girl, so excited, I have never eaten there and have had people tell my Shrimp Pot stickers were better than P.F. Chang’s. We drove 25 miles to the next town in her convertible topless, (top down as she says) Now mind you we are traveling 65 mph and our hair was pretty crazy by the time we got there. We walk in and are immediately seated in a huge comfy booth. I was surprised that we had such a large table with just 2 of us. I scooted around the bench so as to not feel like I was yelling to speak. We browsed the menu, already knowing what I wanted, and my mom orders for us. 

We start with egg drop soup and lettuce wraps, the waitress kept bringing dish after dish. By the time all the entrees were on the table, there was no room to set my phone down. Of course the foodie enthusiasts that I am had to snap a couple of pictures and even asked the waitress to take our photo with all that food. My mom starving, waited patiently for me to snap my pictures. Now it was time to dig in.

I told my mom there was no way the two of us were going to finish all that. She laughed and said she ordered everything she like and knew I would like, wanting me to try all of it at the same time. Wowzer what a meal. As we took our time enjoying and savoring every bite of this feast we were talking a lot about recipes and what not. We ate more than intended, and still had way more than the average dinner. We asked for containers to go… I was really impressed that the waitress actually boxed up our meal in those cute little Chinese containers rather than us having to do it, pretty cool.

As we sat there finishing our tea and talking about how fabulous the meal was and how full we were, our waitress shows up with a slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and a candle burning. Have I ever mentioned how much I love red velvet? It’s my absolute favorite. There was no way I could eat all of it myself so after making my wish, blowing out the candle I shared with my mom. We took one bite and thought we had died and gone to heaven. The perfect way to end that amazing meal. 

I’ve always felt that food creates memories and that’s exactly what my mom did for me. I had the best birthday, spending the day with her and having just what I wanted for dinner. Of course it didn’t end there, but hey a girl has to have some secrets right, even at my age.

As I left a couple days later, I stopped to get gas, juicy fruit gum and a snack for the road. My soundtrack was an 8 track on the stereo as I cruised home hanging on to my mom as long as I could.

I arrive home approximately 4 hours later and back to reality. As I was checking my personal facebook page before going to bed, I caught a glimpse of a photo that looked like Orange Chicken. I thought ‘no way’! Did I win? I quickly checked out Better Recipes Facebook page and saw the picture of my Orange Chicken Recipe and a link congratulating me on The Best Copycat Recipe Ever.

 I am ecstatic, I won the judge’s choice for my rendition of Panda Express Orange Chicken! Ha……ppy birth….day to me!!!!!
Photo Courtesy of Better Recipes

Photo courtesy of Better Recipes
Photo courtesy of Better Recipes

I know there are many restaurant style Orange Chicken dishes such as P.F. Chang’s and Applebee’s, and I enjoy them all, but if you are an enthusiastic connoisseur for Panda Express Orange Chicken, don’t wait in the drive-thru, make it at home.

Tasting like the original, now you can try this delightful tangy, sweet, tender chicken in its orange flavor sauce next time YOU crave it. Make as much as you want so you have plenty for another meal and then some.

Recipe by Vseward



Prep time: 15 minutes|Cook time: 20 minutes|Total time: 35 minutes|Yield: 4-6

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Grated Orange Zest
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar Packed
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Green Onions, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 2 lbs Chicken Breasts Boneless Cut into chunks
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper, ground
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
Cooking Directions
  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar and soy sauce, then set over medium high heat. Stir in orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, red pepper and chopped onion.

  2. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water well and add it to the sauce. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let cool 10-15 minutes. Place chicken pieces into a resealable plastic bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 3/4 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve remaining sauce. Seal bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

  3. In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, salt and pepper. Add marinated chicken pieces and shake to coat.

  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken in skillet and brown on both sides. Remove to paper towels and cover with aluminum foil. Wipe out the skillet and add the sauce. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

  5. Mix together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water, then stir into sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, then stir in chicken pieces and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over fried rice or steamed white rice.

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  1. Can't wait to try this. Looks delicious. Congrats on your win V.

  2. Thank you Colleen, glad you stopped by and for your comments, hope you'll try this and let me know how you like it.

  3. Sounds delicious. Can't wait to try this tonight!


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