Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Try-it Tuesday: Mandarin Orange Chicken

I swear we aren't affiliated or sponsored in any way by Trader Joe's, but it just so happens that we are fiercely loyal to them that it really would seem like we are. It couldn't be that they have amazing food, reasonable prices, and a killer frozen food section. True story...last week I was there and I was unloading my cart and the cashier said to me, "WOW you really hit the frozen food aisle HARD." F yeah I did buddy. And if you judge me I don't even care. I mean have you had their Mandarin Orange Chicken? If you don't hit their frozen food aisle hard, then good for you, but I do. Every. Time.

For this week's TIT (Try-it Tuesday ha), I'm going to make an already lazy, simple meal even easier and a smidge healthier. I've been a fan of TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken for years and if you come over I usually have at least 1 bag in my freezer on standby. I throw some frozen broccoli in, throw a bag of TJ's microwaveable rice in the microwave (although this time I made their scallion pancakes) and VOILA, dinner is served.

The package of chicken comes with 2 packets of sauce. When I make it I usually put both packets in and it comes out really saucy so I figured cutting back to 1 wouldn't hurt. Then I was looking at the nutritional facts and thought 'hey, what if I only used 1 packet." I fancy myself somewhat of a carb expert* since my bout with gestational diabetes and while a serving of this chicken doesn't have *that* many carbs in the grand scheme of things, the sauce is where I'm guessing the majority of them lie and if I can prevent taking in fewer carbs, I'm f'ing going to. If you prefer more sauce, by all means put both packets in and drizzle some over your rice or dip your scallion pancakes in it.

(*I'm in no way certified or trained in nutrition, health, etc. These are just my opinions in trying to cut some carb corners!)

Next thing I did was not use oil to cook the chicken in. The instructions say to use 1/4 cup of oil but I said F it, I'm going to defrost ONE sauce packet directly in the skillet and cook the chicken and broccoli in that.

Half melted sauce packet

This brings me to my only gripe with Trader Joe's food: their instructions. I buy frozen meals so I don't have to mess up a ton of plates, bowls, etc. I don't want to heat up a packet of sauce separately or microwave a burrito at 50% for 4 minutes, then take it out and reheat it at full power for another 2 minutes. I want concise, simple, 1 step instructions and 1 pan to clean up. Is that too much to ask? It's like they try to make it complicated. Well, just so you know I rarely follow their instructions because they're asinine. Next time you're in the frozen aisle, take a look. Betcha say to yourself  "What the F!?"

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

After the sauce melted, I dumped the back of chicken in and a few handfuls of broccoli and cooked for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. One packet of sauce lightly coated all the chicken and broccoli nicely so this confirmed my decision to only use 1 packet.

Verdict: F Yeah! Since I'm already a fan of this meal, knocking back to 1 sauce packet and no oil is an even bigger bonus. My husband actually said to me that it wasn't as saucy as when we've had it in the past but agreed it was better.

If you've never had their scallion pancakes, give them a try. They make a great side that you just throw in the oven and bake. They come out crispy and delicious. You can also fry them too. My son is a huge fan, as are my husband and I.

NOTE: Next week, Try-It Tuesday will be moving to Thursdays for a special reason: IT'S BACHELORETTE SEASON! Join us every Tuesday for our thoughts on the "most dramatic season ever" of the Bachelorette!


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