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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Tonight was one of those nights where E and I could not decide on what to make for dinner. Takeout or cook?  Chicken or fish?  Burgers or Thai?  Any suggestions we made to each other garnered a shrug, a "whatever", an "I could do that .. I guess." 

 As the night got later and later, we realized it'd make more sense just to order in, so I called up the local specialty burger place down the street.  They didn't answer, so I drove over, getting pretty darn excited for the Athens Veggie with feta and tzatziki sure to head my way.

I got there.

And they were closed.

Lights out, empty parking lot.  On a random Tuesday.

My dreams were crushed.  Luckily, my favorite store in the whole world the local grocery store is conveniently across the street.  I didn't have time to make (good) burgers, given the late hour in the night (and the hungry boyfriend back home), so I had to improvise.  And quickly.

While we sometimes do the frozen-meal thing, I didn't really feel like doing that tonight.  I needed something more personal; I've been slacking in the home-cooked meals lately and - while we did just decide to order takeout - I thought we needed something a little better than overprocessed premade food in a bag.

I did a quick lap around Shoprite, sped home, and whipped up these Chicken Lettuce Wraps faster than it usually takes me to make most dinners for the two of us.  Seriously, this took 15 minutes between walking in the door and plating.  This makes a fantastic weeknight meal, and I will warn you: while these don't taste like the famed P.F. Chang lettuce wraps, these have more varied flavor and texture.  (I have made P.F. Chang-style wraps in the past and will be happy to share that recipe too!)

Definitely give these a shot, especially if you're short on time.  If you are allergic to peanuts, simply omit the peanut sauce and add slightly more teriyaki!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  • 1 Rotisserie chicken, cut up and loosely shredded
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, diced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup peanut sauce
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Shredded carrots
  • Diced green onions
  • Diced cucumber
  • Chinese noodles, if desired
  • 8 big leaves of Romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried

Over medium heat, combine the three sauces, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and garlic in a covered pan for 6-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through.  Then add chicken and cook til heated through, about five more minutes.

Spoon into lettuce leaves, and add carrots, green onions, cucumber, and Chinese noodles for crunch.  Enjoy!

Cheers, C

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baked (aka Healthy!) Eggplant Rollotini with Spinach and Prosciutto

I'm currently in the market for blog designers.  Contact me if interested!

This post is inspired by the lovely M, who is my boyfriend's sister and an utterly amazing cook!  E's entire family is very much into cooking and I feel right at home with them.  M made Eggplant Rollotini a few weeks ago and I found the recipe she used; I added spinach and Prosciutto into the mix to give a little more punch.  Extras freeze well, and I find that, like lasagna or chili, the flavors of the Rollotini meld into one another well over a day or two, so you may want to prepare this a day in advance and then heat in the oven (the last step) the day you're serving.  Either way, this recipe is well-received, and much more flavorful *and healthier* than traditionally served in restaurants!

Baked Eggplant Rollotini

  • Two medium size Eggplant
  • Coarse Ground Salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat) - or Plain Breadcrumbs, add 1 tsp each basil, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan/Romano cheese
  • 1 Egg + 2 Eggwhites
  • cooking spray
  • Cookie Sheet lined with Foil
  • 1 and 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese (I use regular, I find it tastes better, but of course you can use reduced fat)
  • 1/2 package Frozen Chopped Spinach
  • 1/4 lb Prosciutto, sliced very thin (Optional)
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Mozz Cheese
 Cut the tops of your eggplant, and peel.  Then cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch-thick vertical pieces with a sharp knife.

Heavily salt both sides of the pieces of eggplant, and put in a baking dish.  Let sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes to let the eggplant "sweat" out the bitterness.  If you don't do this step, the eggplant will taste bitter. You'll see the eggplant literally release water and sweat!

You may remember this picture from my blog posting, Baked Eggplant Parm :)

 At this point, while your eggplant is sweating, preheat your oven to 400*. 

After this step, rinse the eggplant pieces under cool water and dry thoroughly with papertowels.  

Spray your foil-lined cookie sheet heavily with cooking spray.

Mix your egg/eggwhites in one bowl, and mix your breadcrumbs and parmesan/romano cheese together in another bowl.

Dredge your eggplant slices in the egg, then the breading.  Then place each carefully down on the foiled-and-oiled cookie sheet.

Place in your oven and bake for about 7 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until the eggplant begins to brown.  Then remove and set aside.

Turn oven down to 350*.

Thaw the frozen spinach according to package directions.  Mix ricotta and thawed spinach in a bowl, according to taste.  I tend to use a lot of spinach, you may want to use less.

Prepare a baking dish by layering about 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the ricotta/spinach mixture onto one side of an eggplant slice.  Layer one piece of Prosciutto on top, if desired.  Roll eggplant up around the ricotta/spinach/Prosciutto, and lay seam-side-down onto the baking dish.  Repeat for all eggplant slices.

Cover with remaining tomato sauce, and shredded mozz cheese.

Put into oven for about 12-15 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melty and toasty.  You may want to set on Broil for a minute as well.


Cheers, C

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guest Posting over at Mommy Musings!

Hi Everyone!! Head on over to my friend Amanda's blog, Mommy Musings, where I wrote a guest post on a really easy one-pan dinner that I actually made for E and his family on Monday night - Pasta Primavera with Chicken!  It was a hit, and I'm sure you'll love it.  I'm sure you'll love Mommy Mandy's blog as well!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Spring, Happy New Blog

Hey everyone!  Well, we're well into 2012 and, as promised, I'm back.  I've had a LOT of requests to get started again - and wow, I'm really surprised at how many fans I have!  Thank you, thank you!  It means so much to me - I never thought I'd have a little fan-base going and it means a lot.

I'll be writing more as the Spring progresses; I've been at a loss lately as to new and creative ideas to post.  I am aware that many of my readers - especially ones with finicky eaters (that's not a bad thing!) aren't necessarily ready to try things like say, my Smoked Salmon Pizza or my Salmon in Pastry Dough.  (don't be scared - fish are your friends.  AND food.)  So I'll broaden my horizons, and that will keep everyone happy!

And I know you've missed me, right? :)

Some of the GORGEOUS flowers that E got me for our three-year anniversary!  I'm such a sucker for flowers.  :)
A dear friend of mine asked me last week to post some recipes to make which incorporate asparagus and other spring veggies and fruits.  So let me give you a few of my staples today, for good side dishes. Later, in the next few weeks, I'll provide some main-course ideas!

The first is a super-easy one which I didn't come up with - E did!  A few weeks back, he banished me from the kitchen to create a really spectacular dinner for us.  He made Shrimp Scampi over Linguine, and a side of Roasted Asparagus that was simple and so, so flavorful!  I normally steam my fresh veggies, but I'm learning to embrace roasting them as well, for that bolder, bite-ier taste - something really crucial to maintain the integrity of the season's freshness.  He did a GREAT job and hopefully will continue to treat me to dinner again soon!  Babe?  You reading this?  LOL!


Roasted Asparagus

All you need for this recipe is a cookie sheet, some tin foil, olive oil, salt, pepper, and asparagus.  Try to find the ones with a closed tip, those are fresher.   

Cut the woody ends (about an inch) off the bottoms of asparagus.  Align on a cookie sheet, lined with tin foil, and drizzle olive oil on each.  A few cracks of salt and pepper, and roll them around to be sure they're all covered.

Put in a 325* oven for 10-12 minutes or until asparagus are crisp and bright, but not under-done.  What I like to do is roast them in my toaster oven - it gets done a lot quicker and is much more convenient!

The spectacular meal that E made for me - his famous asparagus on the right!
Another idea that I use for steaming fresh veggies (which was also E's idea) is adding this spice before cooking.  It goes GREAT on things like broccoli, green beans, zucchini.. on and on.

This i s the salt-free version, and is also MSG-free, and while they used to carry it at ShopRite and Wegmans, I can no longer find it.  Thank goodness for Amazon

The ingredients include, among others: onion, orange, celery leaf and celery root, garlic, mushroom, parsley, spinach, tomato, toasted onion, soy flour, dill, curry, white pepper, green and red peppers, tarragon, saffron, rosehips, sweet paprika, oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme - quite a list. (via) You can really put this on anything - meats, scrambled eggs, fish, etc.  Check it out!

 Look forward to hearing from you, readers, on what you'd like to see this Spring.  Happy Eating!