Semi Homemade

I have a confession. I really like Sandra Lee. Don’t stop reading, please! I know she is the love-to-hate of the Food Network, and I once thought I found her annoying. That is until I learned about how much charity work she does after growing up in pretty intense poverty. And then one day a couple of months ago, I was on JetBlue watching Food Network when I watched her show and found inspiration for a few great recipes that were fairly healthy, involved fresh ingredients, but that were not perfectly, completely, spend your whole evening in the kitchen homemade. Feeling pressure sometimes to do it all, I appreciate her 70/30 store bought/fresh combo every once in awhile

And when I found out her influence on her boyfriend, NY Governor Cuomo, helped to seal Marriage Equality deal for the state, I loved her even more. I am now officially a fan.

In that particular episode I was inspired by a recipe for sugar snap peas with red pepper, and Thursday night I used that inspiration to make a quick, healthy, and completely flavorful dinner.

sugarsnap peas

I started by cutting the little end pieces off of the peas and pulling off those pesky strings.


Then I chopped up a small jar of roasted red peppers and got the ingredients for my sauce together. It was a spicy, salty, sweet mix of tamari soy, habanero hot sauce from Trader Joe’s (according to them 11 on scale of 1-10 in hot), honey, and sesame oil.

stir fry sauce

I quickly chopped two chicken breasts left over from the tortellini salad, and I tossed everything in a pan to get cooking.

stir fry

Once the chicken was fully cooked, I tossed all of the ingredients and let them simmer in the shallow sauce for a few minutes. It thickened nicely and smelled of the nutty sesame oil in the pan.

Holy spicy! I can take the heat, but I may have overdone it with the habanero sauce. . . nah not really. I may have made the hubby sweat, but I love a dish that can make my mouth burn. It was perfect, the honey being a great balance to the hot.

I’ll be looking for more easy dishes like this as life keeps getting crazier, and a lot of my inspiration just might come from Sandra Lee.

Do you have a food tv show, book, or magazine that’s been inspiring your cooking style lately?

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Tags: easy recipe, healthy, recipe, stir fry, vegetables

  1. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    Ooooh I haven’t tried that habanero hot sauce from TJ’s yet – I will make sure to look for it soon! I’ve been eating out a lot lately but when I need quick and easy meals, I turn to Rachael Ray. She’s another polarizing figure from the food network but I love her!


  2. Michelle’s avatar

    While I definitely enjoy semi-homemade meals, there is something about Sandra Lee that really irritates me. I think it has to do with her matching curtains and table decorations!

    I’ve been getting lots of inspiration from our grill for quick and easy weeknight meals!


  3. Sues’s avatar

    I’ve never been a fan of Sanra Lee mostly because I find her so annoying. And I think she tries to fool people into thinking cooking from scratch is really hard- I’d rather her show people that cooking from scratch can be easy if done right (instead of with boxed cake mixes!). Also, one time I heard her say “I’m using Reggiano. But you can use Parmesan if you like.”

    BUT after I read this article by my food idol Michael Ruhlman, I realized she does have some merit:

    As he says, ” I don’t care where you start, only that you start.” I like that.

    It’s also good to hear about all the charity work and inspiring things she does. I don’t have to love her as a cook (or her personality hehe) to still believe she’s a good person! :)

    And I don’t think all her food is bad. I think your dish looks absolutely awesome- fresh and simple!


  4. Megan’s avatar

    Delicious! 5-Ingredient Fix has actually been inspiring me lately. I actually hated the show when it first started, but she always makes such good, easy stuff!


  5. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    I hate to admit this, but I’ve tried a few of Gwyneth’s recipes (my boss gave me her cookbook as a gift. I have no idea why) and they’re really good. I’m sure she didn’t come with them herself, but whatever, tastes good in my mouth!


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I completely love Gwyneth and am not afraid to say it! :) I really want her book!


    2. Daisy’s avatar

      I feel like everyone is so opinionated about all food network peeps! (not just miss sandra lee.) I never had a strong view of her either way. i like that you do what works at the time, be it from scratch or not!!


    3. Charlene’s avatar

      While I’m not Sandra Lee’s biggest fan by any means, I think people need to cut her some slack. I think she hits a target audience that may not always have time to cook from scratch and by watching her show, may feel inspired to still make a semi-home-cooked meal which in general is preferable to take-out/fast food/frozen meals. And for those not fans, well there are always other chefs to inspire those who want to start from scratch too!

      Your recipe sounds spicy which appeals greatly to me! I’ve seen TJ’s habanero sauce but I wasn’t sure how spicy it would be compared to other Mexican hot sauces I prefer but I might give it a try now after reading your recipe!


    4. Emily @ A Cambridge Story’s avatar

      Hehe I’m not a huge fan of Sandra Lee’s on-camera personality (or her crazy tablescapes!) but I love the semi-homemade concept and her commitment to childhood hunger and marriage equality.


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