Please trust me when I say this is the best sweet and sour chicken I have ever had in my entire life! Better than any homemade version, better than any take-out version, better than Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods/anything version… even better than any fried version! (I can’t even guess how much healthier this must be than fried/takeout version, but its got to be monumental without sacrificing any taste!)
It so good, that along with my General Tso’s Chicken aka My Favorite Chicken Ever (which if you haven’t tried yet, YOU MUST TRY), it is often what I serve company, out of everything I could serve company!
It is also fabulous for company because after your prep is done, it simply bakes away, no last minute finishing touches or stress!
I was first introduced to a variation of this recipe from my older (and only) sister, Kimberly, who is an incredible cook!
Kimberly is the same sister who gave me a basket busting with 30 of her most favorite things for my 30th birthday (which became my favorite things!) and the same sister who gave me her kidney last October, which is also now one of my favorite things!!! I have always looked up to my sister in every way possible and now feel so honored to always have a piece of her awesomeness with me – literally :)! (You can read more about her in my Easter Soul Food)
Kim is not only responsible for my current well being, she is also almost single handedly responsible for my love of cooking.
I always liked to cook but when she gifted me a recipe binder at the beginning of my marriage for Christmas comprised of all of her tried and true recipes, it lit a fire within me. After I cooked every recipe in the binder (and because they were all her favorites, they were all delicious and turned out great!), I wanted to cook more, much more. So I started cooking new recipes almost every single night of the week and pretty soon, I started creating my own recipes almost every single night of the week.
Her baked sweet and sour chicken was always my favorite recipes from her binder. I have played with it over the years, increasing the sauce, simmering the sauce, adding spices as well as pineapple, carrots and bell peppers so it has become a baked sweet and sour “stir fry” all in one baking dish! The sweet and sour sauce is first simmered with onions and ginger and pineapple juice, to awaken and meld the flavors. The chicken is then dredged in flour then breaded in spiced cornstarch which tenderizes and flavorizes (you don’t mind if I make up words do you?) the chicken as it cooks.
After the chicken is browned, the sauce is then combined with the chicken, pineapple, carrots and bell peppers and bakes for 50 minutes. It might seem like a long time to cook chicken pieces, but in this magical 50 minutes, the sauce permeates the chicken and “stir fry” veggies and pineapple so each pillow of breaded juicy chicken and each and every pineapple, carrot and bell pepper piece seep with sweet and sour goodness – the perfect balance of of sweet and sour goodness, I might add.
After what seems like an impossible task of self control, the Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapple, Carrots, and Bell Peppers is ready to be devoured when it has soaked up every last drop of the sweet and sour sauce.
When I make this Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken, I always think of my sister, Kimberly, and how she is such a generous, courageous, selfless person (did I mention she is also the perfect, patient mother to 5 children?).
When I eat this Baked Sweet and Sour chicken, I hope to become more like her, in more ways than just sharing matching kidneys.
So in honor of my sister Kimberly, I give you Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapple, Carrots, and Bell Peppers – so you too can take part of her awesomeness with you.
Carlsbad Cravings Original inspired by Kim’s Sweet and Sour chicken
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