Lettuce Wraps – too good not to share

Sunday night, I made Lettuce Wraps for dinner, following Kristin’s recipe at IowaGirlEats.  She created this recipe to recreate PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps, and it has gone viral on Pinterst, which is how I found it.  The husband and I only go to PF Chang’s when one of our friends wants to have a birthday dinner there, so that is rarely.  In fact, we’ve never even had their Lettuce Wraps, but some of our friends rave about them, so I thought I’d try the recipe.

PF Chang's Lettuce Wrap copy from Kristen at IowaGirlEats.

PF Chang’s Lettuce Wrap copy from Kristen at IowaGirlEats.


The only things I did differently were use ground beef in place of the ground chicken and leave out the water chestnuts (which I despise).  I also made fried rice, only I used quinoa instead of rice, to go with the wraps.   When the husband walked in the kitchen, after I had already plated our portions, he made a comment that the plate didn’t look as appetizing as Kristin’s photo; it all looked brown and ground, pre-digested.  I was worried it would be bad.


But then we started eating.  AMAZING!  The wraps were wonderful (and the fried quinoa turned out great too).  I got the official “You can make this again anytime” approval from the husband.


Here’s a link to the recipe; it’s definitely worth trying.  I had all the ingredients to make the sauce in the pantry already, so this cost about $8 to make.  We got dinner out of it along with lunch yesterday also.  $8 (plus the cost of the fried quinoa) for 4 meals – not bad.


The Perfect Day for Chili

Nasty weather + cold office = the perfect evening to make something warm.

I stumbled across a great chili recipe in December when the husband and I were trying the Zone Diet (which I will probably talk more about later), and then I modified it to make it even better.   Last night, we added sour cream and corn chips and had Frito pie.  Probably not the best thing to eat while you’re trying to lose weight, but it was DELICIOUS.

The Best Chili Recipe
Makes 9 servings; 1 serving = 2 cups

1 onion, chopped
3 green peppers, chopped,
3 cloves garlic, minced
31 oz ground beef (or turkey, venison, whatever your prefer)
1 large can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste, mixed w/ about 8 oz of water
2 cans canned tomatoes (can use flavored)
cumin (start with 2 tsp)
chili powder (start with 2 Tbsp)
crushed red peppers (start with 2 tsp)
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
50 black olives, chopped
Add fresh cilantro to taste
Serve each helping with 1 oz cheese, grated

In a large pot, saute onion, peppers, and garlic; at the same time, in a separate skillet, brown ground meat.
Cook veggies until onions are transparent.
When meat is cooked thoroughly, add it to the veggies, along with the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste mixed with water, and spices.
Bring mixture to a simmer, and add beans and olives.
Reduce heat, cover, and cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally; taste test to see if more spices are needed after 15 minutes; wash dishes while chili is simmering 🙂

Garnish with cilantro and top with 1 oz cheese (if preferred) – or add Frito’s and sour cream for Frito pie!

2013 Resolution #3: Cooking

Resolution #2 is off to a great start, as the house is clean and ready for another test – a houseguest! My cousin arrives tonight and will be staying with us for two weeks to take a certification class.

Time to start in on Resolution #3: Cooking. I haven’t quite decided exactly what I want to include in this resolution as I already cook most nights, though we ate away from home A LOT in December. That is probably what inspired this one – a month of being on-the-go and having so many events and get togethers that I missed cooking regularly. I do get a secret pleasure from making a great meal for someone I love, and I like it even more when my husband and I cook together.

Along with getting back into the routine of cooking nightly, I also want to try new recipes – expand my repertoire, so to say. I have tons of cookbooks, but I rarely make anything out of them. If I want to try something new, I usually find something online or try a recipe a friend suggested. I’d like to start using the cookbooks as well. And I have dreams of compiling all my recipes in some sort of organized fashion to include how much the dish costs to make and what to do with left-over ingredients or food.

This resolution has not been at the top of my priority list so far because we currently do not have a refrigerator. Christmas Day, we had a huge ice storm, and lost power for a few days. When the power came back on, something happened to our fridge; the freezer still works, and the light comes on inside the fridge, but it does not get cold. A repairman is coming tomorrow (fingers crossed that he really does come…it’s been a week since we called) so hopefully we will be back in full swing Wednesday. In the meantime, since the contents of the refrigerator is in coolers, I was able to deep clean the inside of the fridge.

But we have managed to eat a home cooked meal every night since New Years, and I did try one new recipe last week: Japanese Restaurant-Style Salad Dressing.


Japanese Restaurant inspired dressing; a little darker than what I expected...

Japanese Restaurant inspired dressing; a little darker than what I expected…


Here’s my review: Since I had all the ingredients on hand (except fresh ginger for which I substituted ground ginger), it was easy to whip up. All ingredients just go into the blender. My husband sautéed some chicken, and we completed our salads with rice noodles, mandarin oranges, and cashews. The dressing was really good on the salad, but I have to say, it is NOT the Japanese Steakhouse dressing that I expected. To me, it was exactly like one of the dipping sauces given at the hibachi to dip steak and veggies. The recipe makes quite a bit – we had more than 1 cup left – so what to do with the leftover? Saturday, I added a little Worcestershire Sauce to the dressing and used it to marinade two ribeye steaks. The husband grilled these after they had soaked for a few hours, and they may have been the best steaks we’ve ever cooked at home. Decent salad dressing; Great dipping sauce; WONDERFUL marinade.