A Sacramento mom dishes on parenting, family and everything in between

I have a confession: I can't stand leftovers.

Apart from leftover components of Thanksgiving dinner, I'm not a fan of repeat meals. Leftovers in my house used to prompt a white lie about the food not looking so great and a call to Round Table. Now, given the economic climate, leftovers are eaten, although sometimes without enthusiasm.

So when I come across a dish that results in appealing leftovers, it becomes a repeat feature in my culinary repertoire (can a woman who routinely uses a slow cooker and would prefer to eat brownies instead of dinner claim to have a repertoire? I'm not so sure, but I'm going with it).

stir-fry.jpgThe first night we had the dinner of sweet potato and pear stir-fry with chicken and chile sauce, it was good in a homey sort of way. The next night, however, it was delicious. The sweet potato had soaked up some of the spice and flavor from the sauce, the pears and the water chestnuts retained just the right amount of crunch.

This flavorful recipe also packs quite a healthful punch: one serving (which includes rice) is 370 calories and has 7 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein and 7 grams of dietary fiber. (If you're a Weight Watcher, it amounts to 7 points per serving).

Follow the link below for the recipe.

Sweet potato and pear stir-fry with chicken and chile sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes active, 1 hour inactive
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6
Notes: This recipe is from "The New American Plate Cookbook" (University of California Press, $25.95, 306 pages).


2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin, sake or dry white wine
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into thin, bite-sized pieces

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce or reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 large orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
Pinch of cayenne

1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup canned whole water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1 large Asian pear or Bosc pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
3 cups hot cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed, for garnish if desired


To prepare the marinade, combine the soy sauce, sugar and mirin in a large zip-top bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag and shake, coating all the pieces. Refrigerate for one hour or up to eight hours. If chilled, bring the chicken to room temperature before beginning to stir fry.

To make the sauce, wish the cornstarch with the broth in a small bowl and add in the fish sauce and pepper flakes. Set aside.

In a large pot, add the sweet potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, until they are fairly resistant when poked with a fork. Drain the sweet potatoes into a colander and set aside. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Discard the marinade and bag.

In a large, heavy skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic, ginger and cayenne. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry for about 3 to 4 minute, until just cooked through or juices run clear. Transfer the skillet mixture to a bowl.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the drained sweet potato, bell peppers and water chestnuts. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the peppers and the sweet potatoes are not quite tender. Add the cooked chicken, pear and spinach. Stir-fry, stirring constantly, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir the sauce and add to the skillet. Stir constantly and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, just until the sauce is thickened. Immediately remove from the heat and serve atop the rice. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
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