Stir-fry your way to fast, tasty meals

A stir-fry makes great use of leftover vegetables.
A stir-fry makes great use of leftover vegetables. Detroit Free Press

What’s to like about a stir-fry dishes is they take just minutes to cook. They also are a way to use up any leftover vegetables nearing their prime. The only bit of effort with a stir-fry comes in cutting up the vegetables and meat. But if you practice mise en place, the French term for having everything prepped and ready, it’s a breeze.

To easily cut the chicken breast, place it on a plate and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Doing so freezes the chicken slightly and makes it easier to cut in even cubes. While the chicken is in the freezer, cut up the vegetables and have measured out the ingredients needed for the sauce.

This dish gets its spiciness from one ingredient: a fresh red chili. You can use any variety of red chili, such as a jalapeño, Fresno, and even a habanero. Keep in mind all will have different heat levels, with habanero being the hottest. And if you use the ribs and the seeds with the chili, that too will increase the level of spiciness.

Spicy peanut chicken

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from “Simply Quick & Easy” by Richard Ash (Barnes & Noble, $9.98, out of print).


101/2 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

1 cup shelled peanuts

1 fresh red chili, sliced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips

2/3 cup chicken stock or fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon reduced reduced-sodium soy sauce

11/2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Fried rice or brown rice for serving, optional


Trim any fat from the chicken and cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Set them aside.

Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the peanut oil. Add the peanuts and stir-fry 1 minute. Remove the peanuts with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Add the chicken to the wok and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chili and green bell pepper and cook for 1 minute. Remove the chicken, chili and pepper from the wok with a slotted spoon and set the mixture aside.

Put half of the peanuts in a food processor or blender and process until the blend is almost smooth. Or you can place them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

To make the sauce, add the chicken stock, rice wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and vinegar to the wok. Heat the sauce without boiling and stir in the peanuts and the slightly puréed or crushed peanut mixture, chicken, chili and bell pepper.

Sprinkle the sesame oil into the wok, stir and cook for 1 minute. Serve hot with fried rice.

Per serving: 392 calories (64 percent from fat); 28 g fat (4 g sat. fat); 13 g carb.; 25 g protein; 301 mg sodium; 42 mg chol.; 36 mg calcium; 4 g fiber.