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The holidays are upon us and that means house guests, parties, and gifts – which can really put a strain on our wallets! Author of Rustic Joyful Food, Danielle Kartes shares one of her favorite budget-friendly crowd-pleasers below.

Watch her show you how to shop on a budget here and check out the rest of her budget-friendly menu that’ll help you feed holiday houseguests for a WEEK for only $100:

Leftover Shredded Pork Sheet Pan Nachos

Linguine With Country Pork Ragu & Garlicky Asparagus

Braised Country-Style Spare Ribs With Caramelized Mushrooms

Shakshuka in Pork Ragu

Broccoli & Sausage Frittata

Spicy Chicken & Nut Lettuce Cups


For the chicken
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 1/2 cups seltzer water, preferably lemon-lime
  • 2 cups flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 to 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Chopped scallions, for garnish
For the sweet ‘n’ sour sauce
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted chili sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cornstarch
For the chow mein noodles
  • Salt
  • 16 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt


Serves: 10


Heat oil in a heavy-bottom skillet until it registers 325°F on a deep-fry thermometer; the oil will shimmer but not smoke.

In a large bowl, combine seltzer, flour and 3 teaspoons salt for the batter.

Season chicken with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Working in 4 batches, coat chicken in batter, then fry until chicken is cooked completely, 7 to 10 minutes. (Cooking time depends on size of chicken pieces and oil temperature.) Keep chicken warm in a glass baking dish in a preheated 200˚F oven, if needed.

While frying chicken, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and make the sweet ‘n’ sour sauce: Combine all ingredients except for the cold water and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. In a measuring cup, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch, and whisk into the boiling sauce ingredients. Lower heat and simmer until sauce thickens slightly and has taken on a glossy sheen, about 10 minutes.

For chow mein, cook spaghetti according to package directions for al dente.

In a large skillet with high sides, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat and cook vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cooked pasta and remaining chow mein ingredients, including the remaining oil, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, tossing frequently until noodles are glossy and evenly coated.

To serve, spoon sweet ‘n’ sour sauce over chicken and garnish with chopped scallions. Serve alongside noodles.

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