Monday, March 22, 2010

Stephanie O'Dea's "Panda Express Orange Chicken" with a side of her "PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps"

I really like Chinese food. Wait, that's an understatement. I LOVE Chinese food! The sad thing is that Chinese doesn't always love us. A lot of it is filled with MSG and many of the dishes are fried. Namely Orange Chicken.

Orange Chicken is delicious...but again, it's fried. I came across a blog called "Crockpot 365" by Stephanie O'Dea (she is the one who inspired my blog, and my blog setup is actually modeled after hers)- THANKS STEPHANIE!!!

Stephanie O'Dea's Crockpot 365 Blog

She has a recipe for Orange Chicken made in the crockpot..can you believe it? It's marvelous too, just like Panda Express. I made it for dinner last night, and it was so good.

Stephanie O'Dea's Orange Chicken


~1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, cut in 2-inch chunks

~1/2 cup flour

~Olive oil, for browning the chicken

~1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

~6 ounces (about 1/2 can) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (no pulp)

~3 tablespoons brown sugar

~1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

~3 tablespoons ketchup


Coat chicken pieces with the flour, and shake off the excess. Throw away any remaining flour. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on the stove and brown the chicken on all sides. Do not fully cook the chicken- just sear it enough for the flour to stick and get a good coating.

Throw the chicken pieces into your crockpot. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt, and ketchup. Taste the mixture. If you like the chicken to be a bit sweeter, add a bit more sugar. Pour the sauce mixture evenly over the chicken, and toss lightly to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for 3 to 4. Serve over brown rice.

Stephanie O'Dea's Lettuce Wraps

PF Chang's may not be authentic...but it's AWESOME! It's a Renner family tradition. Every time we go to Florida we eat there with the family :) We also had our rehearsal lunch there. They don't disappoint.

Stephanie also came up with this recipe, but I altered it a bit, which I will discuss in our review. She also used the crockpot, but since I was using ours for the chicken above, I opted for my wok :)


~1 pound of ground chicken (Stephanie uses 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

~2 Tablespoons of olive oil (I added this because I cooked in our wok rather than the crockpot, to soften the veggies)

~1 small can of sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped (I added this)

~5 cloves of garlic, chopped

~1/2 cup onion, chopped

~1/4 cup soy sauce

~1/4 cup white wine

~1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

~Dash of allspice (or a dash each of cloves, cinnamon and black pepper)

~2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

~Store bought jarred Plum Sauce

~Head of Iceburg lettuce

Put your olive oil in your wok or deep sautee pan and warm oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, onion, and chestnuts. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes on medium high heat.

While that is cooking, mix the ginger, allspice, soy sauce, white wine and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Set aside.

Wash the ground chicken twice and squeeze out any remaining water. Add to the wok/pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes, adding half of the sauce mixture after 2 minutes, and the remainder of the mixture after another 3 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, your filling for your lettuce cups is ready!

Take the head of lettuce and slam on your counter, so that the root of the lettuce can easily be pulled out (Sounds a little funny, right? If you had a bad day, this is fun. Andy taught me this! Lol). This will make the lettuce leaves come off of the head nicely.

Lay the lettuce cup on your plate, put the filling in, top with as much plum sauce as you like, fold into a wrap and enjoy!

Our Review on the Orange Chicken:

Yummy!!! This was great. I can't believe she was able to put this recipe together. I am so impressed! Just like Panda Express! I served this with brown rice, as Stephanie suggested, and paired it with the PF Chang's lettuce wraps recipe she made as well.

Our Review on the Lettuce Wraps:

Holy cow!!! This was so much like the restaurant! I couldn't believe it. Stephanie mentioned that hers needed a bit of crunch, so I added water chestnuts (I know Andy prefers peanuts, but since I am allergic, he got the water chestnuts instead :). As I mentioned too, Stephanie used her crockpot- since I was cooking the orange chicken, I just made mine on the stove.

She also wished she had used ground chicken, because she had to cut her chicken up into tiny pieces before cooking. I think I will try her way next time, because PF Chang's recipe seems to have small pieces of chicken and I like it better that way; although Andy disagrees and said it was perfect the way I made it. I love my husband :)

Make this! It is unbelievably tasty...and fun to eat!

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