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Food Recipe on Deck: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken, yard bird, poultry, whatever. It's all chicken, and eating it 7 days a week to get your protein intake up can get straight up boring after the third chicken and veggies bowl. So how do you fix your boredom spiral? You turn it Asian (ish)!

I've been on a weird (but delicious) Asian food kick lately - baos, ramen, dumplings, stir-fry, firecracker chicken nuggets - you name it, I've probably eaten it within the last two months. This adapted recipe from I Heart Nap Time has been on my radar for quite some time, and now I've finally stopped being too lazy and I actually cooked it!

This Cashew Chicken recipe is supposed to take you only 20 min, but never one to follow the rules, I took more like 30ish minutes and used chicken thighs instead of the suggested breasts. I HIGHLY recommend using chicken breasts, because they are way easier to break down, but I'm a sucker for grocery store sales and made life harder for myself. Go figure.

No, I did not eat all of this by myself. I wanted to, but I did not. I shared - You're welcome, Mom and Sesame Street.

After throwing some of that magical Valentina* sauce on top

After all was said and done, these actually came out pretty dang delicious, though a little salty (which is saying something for me), and I even used low sodium soy sauce! Pro Tip: I added a little Valentina* hot sauce to mask the saltiness, but if I were do to it again, I'd use a touch less hosin sauce or soy sauce, or both! Or I might be crazy and it tastes just fine. You and your tastebuds be the judge.

* Not a plug for Valentina, I just use the extra hot version on pretty much everything I eat, and it's cheaper than other brands out there.

Let's get started, shall we?

Ingredients: (Pulled from I Heart Nap Time)

- 1 Tablespoon salted butter - 1 teaspoon olive oil - 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces (again, learn from my mistakes, use the chicken breast!!) - 2 teaspoons minced garlic - 3/4 cup chicken stock - 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce - 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce - 1 1/2 Tablespoon rice vinegar - 2 Tablespoons corn starch - Salt and pepper, to taste - 3/4 cup unsalted cashews - Lettuce cups or butter lettuce - Green onions, for serving, optional (I did not use these because I forgot to buy them. Oops)

Method: (Pulled from I Heart Nap Time) Any edits from my cooking experience are in red font.

1) Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add in a single layer of chicken (I cooked my chicken in two batches because I'm an idiot and almost burned my butter and oil since I didn't cut my chicken before hand. SHAME.) Add a salt and pepper to chicken. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, or until brown and then flip onto the other side. Let cook an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the the heat to low and then stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute or less, don't almost burn your garlic like I did.

2) While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and corn starch in a small bowl.

3) Stir sauce into the skillet and cook with chicken over low heat, until the sauce has thickened (This ended up being almost 9 minutes for me. Do I have a faulty burner? Maybe? Is my pan too big for my burner? Also a maybe. Did I mess this step up? Probably.) Stir in cashews. (I let the cashews cook for about 30 seconds or so just to get them really stuck with the sauce flavor. Not entirely sure if it was necessary, but I did it anyway)

4) Serve in lettuce cups or over rice if preferred. Top with chopped green onions if desired.

You're done, and hopefully you haven't burned the house down or chopped off your fingers. Yay!

Method image breakdown : PS this was at my apartment with my yellow lighting, so bear with me.

All the ingredients you'll need (except for the right cuts of chicken and green onions, because I don't know how to follow instructions).

Melting your butter and oil (but this shot is only of the butter, because I am useless).

First batch of chicken (while I am in the background furiously cutting up the second batch. Always pre-prep your ingredients, folks).

Second batch of chicken. All of my fingers survived! Once your chicken is cooked, this is the point where you'll add in your garlic.

Add in the sauce that I definitely made, even though pictures of that process do not exist. You're welcome.

Your sauce is going to look super watery. DON'T WORRY; turn your burner on low and let that sauce reduce down. Like I mentioned earlier, this may take a bit (approximately 9ish minutes for me). Don't get discouraged!

Voila, you're sauce has magically thickened up. Crisis averted.

Potato camera photo of the cashews being added in. Maybe one day I will learn how to take photos. One day...

This is a step I added in, but I cooked my cashews and let them sit in there and stirred for about a minute. In my head, this helped the cashews really absorb the flavors and saucy goodness.

Ta-daaaaa, you did it! Yours will probably not look like this because it was getting dark and I had to turn on my yellow stove light to get a good photo, but that means it'll look even better for you (maybe, you could be the type of cook that burns water - no judgement, I salute you for trying)! Judgement Day - AKA I made someone else eat it at work

"Clearly, I hated it." We have a winner winner chicken dinner (ha) folks!

And here's a photo of me stuffing my face. Enjoy.

This isn't a collaboration post by any means, but just a fan of another woman getting her ideas and recipes out for the world to enjoy. Ways you can catch up with the I Heart Naptime blog are below:

If you do happen to try my recipe, like it (or hate it, it happens), please give a shout out @sociallystacia and @iheartnaptime if you post on social media. Thank you!

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