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Apricot Chicken Stir Fry

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My life has been a little more hectic than usual. You see, we just adopted a new puppy (named Taffetta Darling—fans of the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein will get the hidden joke), and she needs a lot of supervision. So while I generally like to prepare speedy meals, I’ve had to be speedier than ever. I don’t have the luxury of watching over something at the stove or in the oven if I suddenly need to bring Taffy outside for some unknown period of time waiting for her to do her business.

So here is one of those speedy meals. While the prep takes a bit of time, it’s an easy task to stop and start…the large dices are quick to make…and the cooking is fast. I also “compromised” by using more prepared ingredients than usual—e.g. apricot jam rather than soaking dried apricots and garlic powder instead of a freshly chopped clove. But as compromises go, this is still a pretty virtuous dish. And, yes, really yummy.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (or 2 or 3 boneless chicken cutlets, depending on their size, if you prefer)
1 head bok choy
4 mini peppers (I used yellow and red for color) or one regular pepper
1 medium onion, largely diced (I used red onion because they’re so pretty)
3 Tbsp juice-sweetened apricot spread
1-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used gluten free and organic)
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp garlic powder (or one clove, minced)
1 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp avocado oil (or other oil for sautéing)

Directions:

A few tips before you read on…

  • I like Dickenson’s Purely Fruit Apricot Spreadable Fruit, but there are other brands available. Yes, this contains added sugar from the fruit juice, but it’s not cane sugar, which is a major no-no for me, or corn syrup. The amount of added sugars in this recipe is about 27 grams, equivalent to about 6-1/2 teaspoons of sugar—so two or fewer teaspoons per serving. Conventional apricot preserves contain 50% to 100% more added sugars than this product. I don’t like fake sweeteners so I avoid anything labeled sugar-free, which is typically sweetened with Splenda.) To do this without any added sugars: Soak some dried apricots for half an hour, then create a syrupy paste by mashing them with some of the water in a mini food processor or smoothie maker.
  • I’m very careful about not spreading chicken germs to minimize the risk of cross-contamination and food poisoning. I use two different cutting boards and two different knives—one set for the chicken that can be run through the dishwasher and one set for the vegetables, which I don’t mind washing by hand. Or I cut up all of the vegetables first and then cut the chicken. I also will use one implement that is dishwasher-safe to sauté the chicken when it’s raw, and then change to a clean wooden spatula to proceed with the rest of the cooking.
  • I wear gloves—I buy non-latex, powder-free exam gloves in the first-aid department at my local pharmacy—when I am preparing meat, poultry or fish. Besides the risk of spreading dangerous germs, I don’t like the feel of raw flesh. I’ll use one pair for the protein and, if I’ll be washing a lot of veggies, another for everything else so that my hands don’t get chapped.
  •  I use prep bowls when making a stir fry so I can easily throw in one ingredient after another. To minimize dishes, you can later use these bowls for serving.
  • I used to have a wok, but it took up a lot of space in the cabinet. I’ve found that dishes like this taste just fine cooked in a sauté pan.
  • Stay flexible! You can use virtually any vegetable in here. And feel free to adjust the spices to your personal taste.
  1. Prepare bok choy: Wash and dry each stalk. Cut leaves off the stalks, slicing leaves into wide shreds and stalks into bite-sized pieces. Put leaves into one bowl and stalks into another.
  2. Prepare the peppers: Cut in half and remove stem and seeds. Then cut into bite-sized pieces and put into a prep bowl. (If there’s room, you can add to the bok choy stalks.)
  3. Prepare the onions: Peel and cut in half. Then create large dices from each half by cutting in thirds in each direction (as if you were cutting a tic-tac-toe board) and put into a prep bowl.
  4. Prepare the chicken: Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces, trimming off fat as you go. I just leave this on the cutting board.
  5. In another bowl, combine apricot spread, soy sauce, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix to combine.
  6. Warm a large sauté pan on medium heat. Once it’s hot, add avocado oil and swirl to coat.
  7. Add chicken and sauté until mostly cooked through. Actual cooking time will depend on the size of your pieces. For me, it was about three or four minutes. Remove to a clean bowl.
  8. Add onions and sauté until they start becoming translucent, about two to three minutes.
  9. Add bok choy stems and peppers. Sauté about two minutes.
  10. Add bok choy leaves. Sauté about one minute.
  11. Add back chicken and pour over the jam/soy sauce/spice combo.
  12. Continue to sauté to coat evenly and ensure that the chicken is cooked all the way through. I usually check by using my spatula to cut a larger-sized piece in half. I also usually test one of each kind of vegetable to make sure all are cooked to my liking.

If you want to get a bit fancy and to further enhance the taste sensation, throw in a handful of freshly chopped basil and/or cilantro before serving. I served over brown-rice pasta, but you could enjoy as-is, over brown rice, or some other whole grain.

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