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Kung Pao Tacos

The other day at work, one of the maintenance workers came in wanting to borrow a full sheet pan. Of course I was happy to lend out a pan, but of course my curiosity got the best of me and I had to find out why he was in need of a huge sheet pan.

He said that he was taking off the next day to prep for his anniversary. He had purchased a beef tenderloin that was marinading in red wine and rosemary and he had no clue what he was doing. He was asking for wine recommendations and shared that he was serving parsnips and potatoes with his beef tenderloin — recommendations from his foodie boss. (Mmmm!)

As a woman, my heart melted for him. What a sweet plan for his wife and their anniversary. So well-planned. So thought out. Even if the meat was raw and disgusting, it’s the thought that matters. Why do I have the hunch that Mr. Prevention would never attempt such a feat? A successful anniversary is one that he actually REMEMBERS.

I’m anxious to hear how his meal turned out when I see him this week.

While his most recent culinary attempt was a challenge, mine was not.

If I’m being honest, none of my cooking magazines have wow-ed me lately. I rip out less recipes to try each month and even after thumbing through several magazines, I am left with nothing new and different to try.

But Cooking Light pulled through for me this month. This recipes caught my attention immediately and I must say, it’s one phenomenal recipe that I adapted very slightly. This meal was ready in 30 minutes or less and it really wow-ed me. Mr. Prevention, too.

It’s no beef tenderloin, but this recipe definitely delivered the wow-factor.


Kung Pao Tacos slightly adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken beasts cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup +1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 stalks celery, diagonally cut
3 Tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal oelek (chile paste)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced


Place diced chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce to bag; seal and toss. Add 1/4 cup cornstarch  to the ziplock and shale well to coat chicken pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add  chicken; sauté for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. With 1-2 minutes left to cook, add celery and peanuts.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, honey, and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Microwave on high for 1- 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick. Add to skillet and toll with chicken to coat.

Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas (2 1/2 ounces per taco). Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips.

Yield: 4 servings (2 tacos each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 492 calories; 18 g. fat; 69 mg. cholesterol; 645 mg. sodium; 46 g. carbohydrate; 4.3 g. fiber; 39.3 g. protein

Result: DELICIOUS! I think this has been my favorite new recipe in quite some time. It was simple, flavorful, and healthy. I’m a sucker for tacos, but this was something new for sure. Enjoy!


I ran 6 miles yesterday! I flipped on the Shawshank Redemption — one of my favorite movies and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I have hockey pracrice tonight and a game tomorrow!

Be well,

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  1. Erica @ EricaDHouse.com
    September 23, 2012 / 7:44 am

    Aww what an adorable maintenance man!

  2. Andrea@WellnessNotes
    September 23, 2012 / 8:21 am

    What a sweet guy!

    Your tacos sound great!

  3. Gina (The Candid RD)
    September 23, 2012 / 8:34 am

    Yeah, I agree with you Nicole, the magazine recipes lately have been lack luster. That’s why I can’t WAIT for your cookbook!!
    How sweet that that guy was preparing such an amazing meal for his wife. Like Mark, Nick would never be caught dead in the kitchen (I have to get down on my knees and BEG for that. And, I just can’t do the begging thing, I’d rather cook I suppose!).

  4. Biz
    September 23, 2012 / 11:04 am

    I too have found more inspiration from blogs than from magazines – but this one looks like a winner!

    6 miles? That’s awesome!!

    • Biz
      September 24, 2012 / 8:54 pm

      This is a winning dish! I just made it for my lunch tomorrow – holy amazeballs. Perfect balance of sweet/heat!! I halved the recipe because Tony wouldn’t touch this with a 10-foot pole, but I’ll gladly have this for two lunches this week.

      The only thing is that when I heated up the chili/corn startch mixture, I nuked it for 1 minute and it was a paste – started over and nuked for 30 seconds, same thing. So I just tossed it in the last minute the chicken cooked. So good!

  5. Tara
    September 23, 2012 / 3:31 pm

    Okay, when I saw that picture my mouth instantly watered. I am going to add this to my Mouth Watering Mondays post this Monday. Come on over to see it at http://www.noshingwiththenolands.com Cheers, Tara

    • Nicole, RD
      September 24, 2012 / 11:41 am

      Awesome! Thanks, Tara!

      • Tara
        September 24, 2012 / 1:30 pm

        It’s up and I am so making these!! Printing off the recipe now!

  6. Shundara
    September 23, 2012 / 8:44 pm

    Omg I am in heaven Asian food with a Mexican twist!!!… I love it the pictures are great love your blog so much….

  7. Kristen (swanky dietitian)
    September 24, 2012 / 12:16 am

    Wow! These tacos look fab! I think tacos with any filing are a win! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I can’t wait to hear how his anniversary was. That is adorable.

  8. Pingback: kung pao tacos. | Cooking Pics
  9. Kate
    September 24, 2012 / 10:35 am

    How sweet is your coworker! I bet his wife appreciated the effort, no matter how it turned out.

  10. Pingback: Mouth Watering Mondays | | Noshing With The NolandsNoshing With The Nolands
    • Tara
      October 20, 2012 / 9:36 pm

      I had to try these and they were excellent. I did use flour tortilla as we can’t get good corn tortillas and I like chicken thighs instead of breasts. My whole family raved about them!!!

  11. Jill
    September 25, 2012 / 4:03 pm

    These look delicious. I saw them on your blog and then saw them in my Cooking Light mag. I’ve had Kung Pao Lo Mein, which absolutely was the best lo mein I have ever had. I never thought to make it into tacos, though. Yum!

  12. Pingback: Kung Pao Chicken Tacos « My Bizzy Kitchen
  13. Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
    October 4, 2012 / 9:08 pm

    I plan to make these next week! What might you suggest as a side dish? Thanks!

    • Nicole, RD
      October 4, 2012 / 9:57 pm

      Hmmm. Maybe beans? Or veggies sauted in soy sauce? Broccoli sauted in soy sauce? I’m so bad with sides, sorry!

      • Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
        October 4, 2012 / 11:03 pm

        Sides ARE tough!! I actually love the broccoli idea – thanks!

  14. Pingback: Kung Pao Chicken Tacos « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.
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  16. Erin k
    April 3, 2013 / 10:03 am

    I made this last night with Tempeh and added red cabbage on top as well. So good but not sure why i had to microwave the sauce. Maybe my pan was too hot but it adhered to the pan immediately and couldn’t toss to coat well.

  17. Erin k
    April 8, 2013 / 11:05 am

    I made this recipe with Tempeh instead of chicken and added shredded red cabbage on top too. It was sooo good.

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