Prickly Ash and Strange Chicken

Greetings from the hospital!

Yes, I know, haven’t been around much, blah de blah and all that. I do apologize. Over the past several weeks, my time has consisted of (1) sleeping, (2) driving, (3) reading (for fun!), (4) working in my clinical rotation at a VA hospital, and (5) not spending time in cyberspace. Let me tell you, folks: it AWESOME. There’s nothing like QT with the husb to make you appreciate the finer things in life. Like watching that same husb squeeze refrigerated peanut oil out of a plastic jar:


Stay tuned for a post about a day in the life of a clinical dietitian! I think know people often have misconceptions about what a dietitian actually does – I hope I can help clear ’em up! In the meantime, a recipe for your delectation:

Strange-Flavor Chicken
Adapted from Martin Yan’s Asia

3 quarter-sized slices ginger, peeled
1 lb chicken breast or tofu (or both, if you’re me)
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 scallion, sliced
2 tsp canola or peanut oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices and separated into rings
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar (we used Chinkiang vinegar from an Asian grocery – so good! If you can’t find it, try balsamic vinegar instead)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine or sherry
1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 Tbsp honey or sugar
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground (key!)
Rice or noodles

Sichuan peppercorns, aka “prickly ash“, ready for grinding in our coffee grinder:

Boil chicken and ginger in a pot of water until chicken is tender and cooked through (about 20 minutes). If you are using tofu only, you can skip this step. Drain chicken and discard ginger. Let cool, then slice chicken.

Toast sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl.

An island of PB in the sea of Soy Sauce.

Place a wok or frying pan over high heat. When hot, add oil and swirl to coat sides. Add onion rings and red pepper and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tofu if desired.

Turn off heat and add chicken and sauce to wok/pan. Mix. Serve over rice or noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions.

This picture was immediately preceded by “Okay, I’m not waiting for you”.

This protein-packed dinner was enough to keep me full until the next morning 😀

Chat with you all soon!

P.S. Here’s the latest Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night recipe to grace the THIH kitchen: Caldo Verde, a delicious Portuguese soup with sausage and kale:

Beautiful! I’ve been steadily working my way through the Quickies cookbook and having a super duper blast! 🙂

P.P.S. Puppies!

No, we’re not getting another puppy! Peter’s parents are getting a dog and we were able to tag along to look at the pups. Let me tell you guys: it was SO hard not to walk out with a doggle of our own, but really – two high energy pups are enough for us:

Bonnie and Maddie, old school.

Q: Have you ever tried Sichuan peppercorns? What’s the most exotic food you’ve ever tried?


  1. Hello hello! Glad to see one of my faves back blogging. Good for you for spending quiet time with Peter. Make sure you do lots of that before you have kiddies. Wait, QT stands for quiet time right, just wanted to ask in case we weren’t talking about the same thing. Surely get all the sleep you need and do what you want to do. I think I’ve been able to finally find a good balance between blogging and life to really enjoy it.
    This recipe sounds delicious! Although I bet if I left out the peanut butter it would change the whole recipe. Peanut butter is one of those ingredients that can really make a dish. That too funny that Peter doesn’t wait for you. Gary totally does the same thing. He’ll wait a bit and if he sees me pull out the big camera, he just starts eating now. Haha. Glad you’re having so much fun with Denise’s cookbook. I really should use it more, so ashamed. Aren’t her food pictures just gorgeous? I don’t think she shot them, but still, you can’t make fake food look that scrumptious.
    Holy moly, how cute are those puppies?! I wants I wants I wants!!! Ok I’m off to bed stalk ya in the morning. Night night.

    1. Quiet Time = Quality Time = the time that Jessie craves. They’re both exactly what I need 🙂 I’m glad you’ve found a good balance, Leeqs! It think I’m still looking for that balance, and that balance may mean posting less and less.

      I keep forgetting to mention in these recipes that you can use any kind of nut butter in place of PB. I know you don’t eat nuts, but I think this recipe is worth trying anyway, even without a nut butter. The Sichuan peppercorns are what REALLY make the dish 🙂

      Have a great day, LeeQola!

      1. Lol at LeeQola! Luv it! Yay, I gots me another nickname!
        Oh dear, guess I’m around my holy terrors too much. I should’ve known QT = quality time. To normal people it does, but when you’re a mom who’s around too much screaming and fighting all day, QT = quiet time. But if it were really up to me, it’d be QUITING TIME. Hahaha!
        Thanks for letting me know about the peanut thing, Jessie. I was actually thinking of subbing with almond butter. Appreciate the reminder though, you’re a sweetie. I’ve already bookmarked this. Hope you’re having a great week!

  2. Heyyyyy those puppies are adorable!!! 🙂 But nothing is better than Maddie and Bonnie!!

    Glad you’re enjoying your (internet) down time!! Sometimes we just don’t realise how the internet sneakily steals hours off our lives…

    I have never tried these peppercorns before and in general I am not much of a food risk-taker, so the strangest thing I’ve ever tried is probably something along the lines of smoked duck, which was delicious!! But I find octipus to be a perfectly normal kind of food, which is not the case with people outside of Greece, so you might consider that exotic! 😀

    Keep up the good work Jessie dear!! 🙂

  3. Hey stranger! I hope you’re enjoying your clinical rotation! I can’t wait to read that post on what an RD does 🙂 I love hearing about dietetics from others’ point of view!

    Those puppies…my gosh. I’m sure it was SO hard to not leave with 1…or all 🙂

    Enjoy that time with Peter, dear! I have been unplugging a lot too. With teaching in the evenings and working all day, there’s just no time to do it all! 🙂 xoxo

  4. Yayyyy Jessie!!! Long time no see!!!!!

    Your dinner looks delicious, I don’t blame Peter for not waiting! 🙂 And, as a matter of fact, I’m using Schezian peppercorns in our dinner tonight! A take on Jerk seasoning fish tacos for an upcoming challenge I’m entered in.

    Hooray for reading (for fun), puppies, QT w/ hubs, and peanut butter islands!

  5. You look so good in that lab coat! You’re already an RD in my opinion 🙂

    This recipe going on my ever-growing list of “recipes to make!” I truly enjoy cooking with peanut butter, and I think it makes everything taste amazing (like chocolate…sort of). I am planning a dinner party on Friday and I wanted to make something with peanuts but my friend has a peanut allergy, so no go for that.

    Nick gets annoyed when I ask to take photos, but he’s getting so much better about waiting (most of the time…). I cracked up when I read that!

    BTW, I loved your granola bars and was so sad when they were gone. They were perfect for a midday snack. That’s another recipe I’ll have to recreate.

  6. Hey Jessie, You are soooo cooooool! I always wondering what the dietitians life looks like. Can’t wait to read more stories of your lab. I am so glad that you find the job you enjoy! and it is so related to your blog 🙂 Don’t forget to take some time off,sweetie!

  7. Hi there, wow you have been busy…lovely dish and I do love sichuan peppercorns 🙂 Those puppies are so adorable, I could never resist.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week

  8. Happy RD day; soon to be RD!

    Glad that you are enjoying your VA experience. I did my internship in a VA and currently work at one and I love it.

  9. I am the worst with exotic food. I did try octopus (not fried) was strange to say the least.
    Puppies are so darn adorable. I would have tagged along as well.
    I only did outpatient at the VA clinics but really enjoyed it. I hope you are enjoying your clinical rotation. You really learn so much!!

  10. Hey Jessie! Nice to see you pop up! I’m glad that life has been going well lately. 🙂 And as soon as I saw that first picture, I thought – she’s gotta be at the VA!! (who else puts a flag as their desktop background? haha)

    I’ve never had sichuan peppercorns – never heard of them actually! But the dish looks delicious

    And those pups are adorable!! I would’ve had a really hard time not scooping one up and running with him. 🙂 I love puppies at that age – a lot of work, but so stinkin’ cute.

  11. Oh Jessie…how pretty are you sitting there at your desk? You look like a true professional! I’m so glad to see you back here blogging but yes, real life obviously takes precedence! I’m happy you are having such a wonderful time with work!

  12. I’ve been wondering what happened to you! 🙂 Glad you’ve been living and enjoying life!!!

    The chicken dish sounds great. I would have to replace the peanut butter with almond butter, but I bet it would still work. And, no, I have never tried Sichuan peppercorns, but I love experimenting with new spices.

  13. Welcome back! Hey, you guys do have a wok! Working on the seasoning, then? Your strange flavor chicken sounds good! Is that what Martin Yan called his version, too? Haha, well, he’s a quirky guy. I could see him calling it that, too. Black vinegar is so good.

    1. I wish! That’s an electric “wok” with a cast iron coating (I know, blasphemy) – Peter is still drooling for a well-seasoned wok! 😉

  14. I am not so sure I have had anything too exotic, maybe octopus, and some fun fruits. I am about to try a tamarillo and I hope it is good. I look forward to your post about a day in the life of an RD. Those puppies are too cute. I seriously would have gotten one.

  15. Jessie! I’m not around my blog much too haha. I agree that it’s is AWESOME. I’ve been reading books (hay, i’m still keeping my new year resolution – reading books more!). Talking about Quality Time, have you heard a book called 5 love languages? Quality time is one of the love languages. Guess what, it’s one of the 2 my main love languages. The point is i hear you! 😀

    I’m familiar with peanut butter with soy sauce but not “prickly ash”! I dislike it. It numbs my mouth and tough. The Chinese people put a lot in the spicy hotpot. I will leave that out for now.

    I know! the pups are so adorable! Bonnie and Maddie are so cute. Bella says hi to them!

    1. I haven’t heard of the book, but it sounds like a great read! Bonnie and Maddie say hi to Bella! 🙂

  16. Welcome back, Jessie! I’ve been doing a lot of numero 5 as well. 🙂 I’m looking forward to your next post about a day in the life of a dietitian! Go ahead, clear up ALLLLLLLLL my misconceptions, please! (Just kidding. I have no negative feelings or concepts about dietitians. :-P)

    I am also in love with your in-law’s puppies. <333333

    No fancy peppercorns for me (I think?!) — most exotic food I've tried…has got to be…um, either fish eggs, or kumquats. I love both of them. 😀

  17. Glad to hear you are still eating and sleeping and reading and living happily ever after – such cute puppies and you do look happy at the office!
    The dish looks delish and the stop by step helped me understand it perfectly!
    I, too, haven’t posted for a long time – 3 weeks – deep in the throws of planning a local slow food event. Great work. Time well spent, but missing my hobby site, my kitchen, cooking and reading your wonderful posts!
    I hope to catch up soon!

  18. Oh Jessie I have MISSED you! I ‘m glad to see you’re having fun in the hospital though! I kind of like that place. But only from the clinical end…not from the patient end.

    That chicken sounds SUPER delicious! I need more strange chicken in my life apparently.

  19. Jessie…how nice to hear from you and back with a tasty recipe and such cuties to show us…I’m in puppy love ;o)

    Blogging does represent very different importances to different people…and Jessie, you do what suits your life best. A computer, a post and a few cyber foodies are great to have as part of our lives, however our close loved ones and our personal quality time is much more important. Thus…great on you for taking some time off.

    Have a fun and pleasurable Sunday,

  20. Jessie, really really missed you. It’s so sad when you don’t blog for awhile, because it always feel like there’s something missing. But I know you are busy and you need your personal time…eh, screw it, I feel like being selfish and saying: Jessie, we need you!!

    Anyway. I’m not a big puppy person, but those puppies truly are freaking adorable.

    I’ve tried Sichuan peppercorns before in a dish, not by themselves though (of course, I don’t wanna die). The most exotic dish I’ve tried is probably live octopus. 🙂

  21. Hey pretty girl! Just dropping by to let you know I finally had a chance to make this chicken, and loved it! Gary really liked it too. The flavor of the almond butter went really well with the spiciness from the garlic chili and peppercorns. I’ll definitely be making this one again. Although I used asparagus instead of red bell peppers cause that’s what I had, oh and red onions. I prefer red onions over white. Thanks for this wonderful recipe, luv! Hope all is well in THIH household. Stalk ya later 😀

    1. Thanks for letting me know, LeeQs!!! I’m glad you and Gary enjoyed this recipe (a true test!), and I’m thrilled to hear the almond butter was a good substitution! Asparagus sounds like a perfect swap for the peppers, and the red onions – mmmm 😀

      Hugs from the THIH household!!!!!!

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