Chicken Bites with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Chicken Bites with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Happy New Year, everyone!  It's time for a new start; a fresh beginning.  And even though we don't need the start of a new year to change our lives, there is something exciting about the moment when the clock strikes Midnight and we shift from December to January; old year to new.

It's a time to pause and reflect: what were my favorite moments from the year just ended?  I made a list - a long list. Some items on the list were related to work:  a trip to California for two work conferences and met my sister in San Francisco for the weekend; a trip to Barcelona for the unforgettable Mobile World Conference; and a trip to Gdansk, Poland where I made new friends, toured a beautiful, vibrant, growing city, went sailing on the Baltic Sea and spoke at a start-up conference.  The other top items on my list were related to time spent with friends:  Genoa in March for a pesto competition; Olavinlinna in June with good friends to check out a bit of Finnish history; Sicily in July to cook for a wonderful and inspiring group of Yogis, and where we listened to our new Italian friends singing along with guitar music in the dim candlelight late into the evening accompanied by good food and laughter; long, lazy days with family at the cabin in late July/August during the (surprisingly) hot Finnish summer; treks into the woods in September to gather the mushroom bounty; visits from my dear niece and her friends; scattered moments here and there with good friends over breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner - too many good times to mention them all.

It was a good year.  A year in which I learned more than I could have hoped for.  A year during which I made new friends and reconnected with old friends.  A year when I left behind old things so I can start building something new.  A year when I embraced the things I had learned that can help me move forward and said goodbye to some of things that were driving me crazy.  But 2014 is over now; a sweet memory.  It's time to take steps to build a new year that lead me on a path closer to the things I dream of doing now.  And so I made a long list for the coming year too, thinking as I wrote it of the words Jeff DeGraff shared in LinkedIn a few months ago:

"Starting new things is easy.  You just add an app or expand your work day a couple of hours or live the adrenaline driven delusion that you are a superior person because you work harder and smarter than everybody else you know.  Stopping things is hard.  It's full of feelings of loss, disappointment and failure.  It takes more creativity.  It takes courage to stop what you've been doing to make room for the things you want to start doing now."

But stopping things to make room in our lives for something new is how we grow.  We do it when we leave our home for the first time to go to college.  We do it when we take a job somewhere far away from where we've lived, trusting that everything will be fine, and that we'll be capable of adapting to the new world we find before us. We do it when we leave our single selves behind, get married, and embrace a life of "together".  We do it when we leave old jobs to start new; old careers for new ventures; and yes, sometimes old relationships that don't serve us in order to create space for new people that enrich our lives.  We don't always have to stop something to start something else, or leave one person to include another in our lives.  Yet we have limited capacity in relation to time, energy, creativity and other related resources.  If we truly want to move forward into a new year in a new way, we'll need to focus, won't we?  Sometimes "no" is the quickest pathway to "yes".  Sometimes closing a door is the surest way of seeing an open one in front of you that you actually want to enter.  Sometimes "goodbye" is the only way to make another "hello" possible.
Brilliant days behind & ahead.

Happy New Year, everyone.  May you have the courage and conviction to boldly move forward in the direction you're dreaming of.

And now, for an appropriately bold peanut sauce to enliven your new year.  You can prepare all of the ingredients a day ahead and then cook the chicken quickly just before you want to serve it.  This easy appetizer delivers a mouth full of satisfying flavor and is sure to please even the pickiest of guests.  It also makes a great main course served with a nice green salad.

New Year's Buffet ready to go.
Chicken Bites with Spicy Peanut Sauce 
Adapted from Fine Cooking - Make-ahead Holidays

For the marinated chicken:
400 g chicken breast, cut into 1" / 2.5 cm pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Place the chicken pieces into bowl.  Stir together the soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, pepper and curry powder.  Pour over the chicken and stir well to coat the chicken completely with the marinade.  Cover; set aside for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours refrigerated.

Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F on the broiler setting.  Spread the marinated chicken chunks out in an even layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Place the pan into the top of the oven just below the broiler.  Cook for 5 minutes or until sizzling and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook: cut into a chicken piece after 5 minutes and if the juices run clear, it's done.

For the Spicy Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon maple syrup or liquid honey

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small pot.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Taste the sauce for spiciness, adding additional Shiraca if you prefer a spicier sauce.  If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more coconut milk and reheat.

The sauce can be made a day ahead and reheated.

To serve, transfer the sauce to a small bowl and place on a platter, along with the Chicken Bites.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

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