Taste It Thursday with Melissa d'Arabian ~ M.O.Ms Make Your Favorite 'Takeout' At Home

#TBT - it was a long winter of ordering take out!
photo courtesy of Food Network
Melissa d'Arabian of Food Network's Ten Dollar Dinners shows us M.O.Ms who cook how to make 'Fakeout Takeout'

What is your best advice for M.O.Ms who want to plan a healthy family meal?

For me, I eat healthy when I have healthy food around me that inspires. When I'm tired and cranky after a long day (and what day is short?!), I eat whatever is in the cupboard, even if it's junk food, so nutritious meals really come from healthy stocking. Manage your pantry, fridge and freezer well. All of us find ourselves staring into the cupboard, searching for inspiration for dinner on a crazy-busy Tuesday night. I keep whole grain pasta (the kind with flaxseed and protein) in my cupboard at all times. Quinoa, light tuna in oil, good quality canned tomatoes, white beans, and brown rice are also staples I turn to. Garlic, onion and a cheap but decent bottle of white wine are always in the pantry ready to add flavor anytime. On the fridge side of things: my freezer is always stocked with boneless skinless chicken breasts because I can slice them into thin cutlets while partially frozen and they are ready to cook in no time. To find inspiration on the produce front, join a CSA group or organization. Having a regularly scheduled delivery of fresh produce inspires healthy creativity. Finally, when I am looking to pull a meal together, the first place I look is the produce drawer for anything that is on its last day or two of freshness. Because remember: the most expensive ingredient in your house is the one you throw away.

What is the key to prep meals for the week?

Before I grocery shop, I do a very quick survey of what my current stock is. Is there anything that needs to be used up? Any leftovers that I can repurpose? How about that one drawer at the bottom of my freezer...any meats sitting there frozen for awhile that might be nice to use? I pull opened dairy products forward to the front of the shelf so it's right there, reminding me to use it, and pull out any wilting produce to plan a soup; get those items on my week's menu. Next, I shop and buy any produce that is on manager's special (which means it's marked down by 50% or more because the expiration date is coming) or bread from the day-old rack. Between my own freezer and fridge and the manager's specials, I get most of the week planned. I swing by the fish counter to see what fish is at 50% off (there's usually something...fish is so perishable!). Lastly, I check the advertising flyers at the front of the store to scan for good deals that inspire. Also, I should clarify that I plan very high level. Sometimes I just jot down on the family calendar what the main dish each night and then fill in the blanks depending on my mood when the day arrives. I used to do a very detailed menu plan before I had kids (but then again, I was a size four before kids, so things change....), but I found myself skipping the whole exercise because I couldn't carve out a half hour to menu plan. Now, I'll spend less than five minutes sometimes: Open fridge, peek at freezer, and jot down some meal ideas.

Kitchen must-have or book ‘to cook by’

I could not live without a high quality chef's knife. And a good blender for smoothies. I'm a smoothie fan for sure. I just pile in everything that's healthy in one crazy smoothie and I just love it. Spinach, veggies, fruit, all-bran, pasteurized egg whites...all right up my alley. Is that gross? My most used cookbook is The Silver Palate. I have my mom's original copy from when I was growing up in the 80's and the pages are stuck together with food. Gotta love a cookbook like that, right?

Recipe(s) for our M.O.Ms to Enjoy
Sesame Chicken, Lemony Egg Drop Soup & Orange-Ginger Fried Wontons from this Sunday’s “Takeout Fakeout” Ten Dollar Dinners episode 

“Takeout Fakeout”
Premiering Sunday, April 10th at 10 ET/PT & 9am CT on Food Network
Melissa prepares an affordable and tasty takeout meal in her own kitchen with Sesame Chicken marinated in soy sauce and orange marmalade. She pairs this with her Lemony Egg Soup whisked to perfection and Orange-Ginger Fried Wontons filled with orange marmalade, ginger, cream cheese and cinnamon.

recipes are courtesy of Melissa d'Arabian....Enjoy not 1 but all 3!!

Orange-Ginger Fried Wontons
Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
1 generous tablespoon orange marmalade
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 wonton wrappers
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

In a heavy-bottomed, straight-sided, medium saute pan, add enough oil to reach at least 1-inch up the sides. Heat over medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, mix together the orange marmalade, ginger, cream cheese, cinnamon, and salt until very well blended. Fill each wonton with a rounded teaspoon of filling and brush a little water along the edges of the wonton dough. Fold in half diagonally and pinch the wontons shut, making triangles. (Make all the wontons before frying.)

Working in batches, carefully fry the wontons 3 or 4 at a time, just until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Remove the wontons and any blot excess oil on a paper towel. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving, as the filling will be extremely hot. Lightly dust with confectioners' sugar and serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings, 3 wontons each
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy


Lemony Egg Soup
Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice
2 eggs
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 green onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock, water, and rice to a simmer. Cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs until light yellow. Whisk a few tablespoons of the soup into the eggs. Then slowly add the egg mixture to the soup, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the soup reaches 160 degrees F, about 5 minutes. Add in the lemon juice and soy sauce, stir to combine, and serve garnished with the green onions and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy


Sesame Chicken
Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, nearly thawed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon sweet rice cooking wine (aji mirin), or white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Rice, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes (easiest when not completely thawed). In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, orange marmalade, wine, and crushed red pepper flakes. Toss in the chicken cubes and marinate for at least 10 minutes and up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

In another bowl or plastic bag, mix together the flour and sesame seeds. Drain the chicken cubes and blot any excess liquid, and then toss in the flour to coat lightly. Spread the chicken cubes on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with the melted butter. Bake until the chicken is crispy but not dry, about 20 minutes, turning the cubes halfway through. Serve with rice.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

About Melissa
Melissa d’Arabian is host of Food Network’s daytime cooking series, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian, where she shares her tasty recipes and $10 promise: four people, ten bucks, infinite possibilities. As a wife and mother of four daughters all under the age of six, Melissa uses her real life experiences to share tips and approachable recipes for delicious, budget-friendly meals the whole family can enjoy. The fourth season of Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian premiered Sunday, January 9, 2011.

Melissa made her Food Network debut in 2009, winning season five of The Next Food Network Star. Since then Melissa and her recipes have been featured on NBC’s TODAY Show and The CBS Early Show as well as in a variety of publications nationwide.

Melissa began cooking at a young age and has always been passionate about food. During her early childhood, Melissa lived with her mother and sister in Tucson, Ariz., where she learned about budget-conscious cooking out of necessity – life lessons that have always remained at her core. Due to her mother's schooling and career, Melissa also lived and went to school in San Diego and Bethesda, Md. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from The University of Vermont in 1990, and then spent a year at sea on the entertainment staff of two cruise lines before earning her MBA at Georgetown University in 1993. To pay her way through business school, she held down several jobs including working as a live-in cook for a family of seven. Melissa then began her professional career in consulting and eventually worked in corporate finance at Disney in Burbank, Calif., and in merchandise finance at Euro Disney outside of Paris.

While working in Paris, Melissa met her husband, Philippe, who was born and raised in the south of France. They married in June 2003 and now have four daughters: Valentine; Charlotte; and twins, Margaux and Océane.

Melissa has spent time volunteering and giving back to various organizations; she currently serves on the Executive Program Advisory Board of Act One, Inc., a non-profit organization founded to train Christians of all denominations for careers in mainstream film and television. Melissa believes strongly in her Christian faith and living her life with meaning and purpose. In addition to her family and cooking, Melissa enjoys theatre, reading non-fiction, writing, and movies. She also speaks Spanish and French.

Melissa and her family reside outside of Seattle, Wash.

You can follow Melissa on:

Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/melissa-darabian
Facebook: Melissa d’Arabian
Twitter: @MelissadArabian

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