Friday, September 19, 2014

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few months. Wedding planning has seriously become my second job! But I promise you that I have an arsenal of recipes I am ready to unleash, and will do my very best to make it more often that not.

Now that I’ve apologized, let’s move on to one of my favorite recipes to date! One of my favorite snacks (meals?) is the chicken lettuce wraps from P.F. Changs. I’ve had them at other restaurants, but none seem to compare… until now. I was shocked at how authentic, yet easy this recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen was. It is the perfect weeknight meal to make when you want to cut out carbs, but don’t want to give up on a flavorful meal. 

I adapted my own version of the recipe, replacing the peanuts with water chestnuts and adding crispy rice noodles. To me, the crispy rice noodles are a must; they really add so much depth to the wraps. Also, you will see below in my ingredients list that I use a pre-packed bunch of romaine/iceberg lettuce leaves from Wegmans … yes, I am a cheater. But if you don’t have a Wegmans near you, I would recommend either using iceberg lettuce leaves or Boston bibb lettuce if you want something with more nutritional benefits.

Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4-6

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 package lettuce cups (or one head of lettuce)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp shallots or red onion
2 tbsp garlic, minced
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp grated ginger root (I use one from a jar, but fresh is better)
1 tbsp chile garlic sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1 can of water chestnuts, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Chop up all shallots, garlic, water chestnuts and cilantro and set aside.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying plan, adding the shallot/onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for about one minute more.
  4. Add ground turkey, breaking apart as it starts to cook. Then add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, fish sauce and water chestnuts. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, follow the instructions on the rice noodles package and prepare accordingly.
  6. While the turkey cooks and the sauce reduces, prepare your lettuce cups for serving.
  7. Once the turkey is done, add the chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve all components of the meal in separate dishes allowing each person to assemble themselves.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dijon Glazed Salmon

Salmon is always my go-to fish. I refuse to eat tilapia after all of the horror stories (and the whole bottom feeder thing), and having a freezer full of other white fish is just too costly. I always keep a club size bag of frozen, individually packaged salmon fillets on hand for nights when I want to eat healthy, but I am way to lazy/tired/insert adjective here to whip up a full meal.

Those nights are when this mean comes in handy. I can proudly say I made this one up myself, but sadly I am not one for measuring so my ingredient list below is going to be a little all over the place. The dijon and garlic provide that salty decadent taste I always crave for dinner, while the garlic and lemon cut through and keep the flavor light and refreshing. I serve it with a side of sauteed veggies (asparagus being my favorite with fish), and quinoa. The leftover sauce from the individual steam packets is great to drizzle over the quinoa to give it some extra taste.

If you aren't a big salmon fan, this recipe could easily be replicated with a different white, flaky fish. Cod comes to mine as being a great replacement.

Dijon Glazed Salmon
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets (individual portions)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dry white wine
Juice of one lemon (cut off some slices for garnish first)
1 tbsp of fresh, chopped parsley
Pinch of salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together (except the salmon).
  3. Lay out two individual sheets of tin foil, put a little bit of olive oil in the center of the sheet, and lay the salmon down.
  4. Salt the salmon and pat dry.
  5. Pour the mixture over the salmon coating the top and sides. Lay slices of lemon on top.
  6. Fold and close up the tinfoil so it is a tent surrounding each salmon fillet. Place each tinfoil tent on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Let stand for a minute or two before opening up.
  8. Serve over quinoa and drizzle with the remaining mixture.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Roasted Garlic Red Lead

As much as I pride myself on being Irish, their culinary masterpieces do not compare to the Italian’s. So as I prepare to marry an Italian man, I am starting to take my Italian cooking skills up a notch. 

On yet again another snow day, I decide that there is no better time than now to put a big pot of garlicky, pasta sauce on the stove. I immediately started daydreaming that I was back in Italy with a bottle of Chianti and a big bowl of pasta in front of me.

… and then I woke up and was back in New Jersey with a foot of snow outside my window. But at least the house still smelled good!

This is a foolproof recipe that is a mix of recipes I’ve seen on the Internet combined with family recipes. As an ode to my Irish grandmother, who's pasta sauce is the only kind my grandfather will eat, I will call this recipe “Roasted Garlic Red Lead”.  If you find yourself with a few hours to kill, and want fill up a few mason jars of pasta sauce to give to your family (or just save for later), then this is the recipe for you!

Roasted Garlic Red Lead
1 and ½ quarts (2 quart sized mason jars filled ¾ of the way)

2 (28-ounce) cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 can tomato paste
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 heads of roasted garlic

  1. In a medium sized sauce pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add minced garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato pasta, salt, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, and seasonings, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the cans of San Marzano tomatoes, stirring well to combine, then bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the roasted garlic, squishing the cloves from the peels. Try to break apart some of the cloves with your wooden spoon.
  7. Continue to simmer for 30-45 minutes until the flavors have come together.
  8. If you want a smoother sauce, mix with an Immersion blender for a few pulses to break up some of the tomato and garlic chunks.

Pineapple Pork Chops

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge pork chop lover. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have it much as a kid, or maybe it’s just because I never seem to be able to cook it to the correct internal temperature in the amount of time to recipe calls for. Either way… I usually avoid cooking it.

But on one of the numerous snow days, we’ve had this winter (you’ll see this pattern in the last few/next recipes I’ve posted), I caught an episode of “The Kitchen” – a culinary infused talk show on the Food Network, and was very intrigued by this recipe. I liked all the flavors they talked about; it seemed easy enough to do; and I didn’t have to venture out into the snow to pick up the ingredients. #winning

If you are a novice pork handler, this recipe is for you. It was a great (and cheap) weeknight meal with a great summery taste for a wintery day. 

Pineapple Pork Chops
Serves 4

4, boneless pork chops, about ½ inch thick
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
2 tbsp olive oil, + 1 tsp
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
One Spanish onion, sliced thin (the recipe calls for Pearl Onions)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper

  1. Sprinkle pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the minced garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, rosemary and thyme.
  3. Rub the mixture on both of the pork chops. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Sear the pork chops on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pineapple juice, wine and onions.
  7. Cover and simmer until the pork chops and onions are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pork chops and onions to a serving platter and cover to keep warm.
  9. In a small bowl, mash the butter and flour together to make a paste.
  10. Whisk the paste into the liquid and cook for about a minute, until the sauce thickens.
  11. Drizzle it over the pork chops and your starch just before serving.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Shrimp Scampi(esque) Appetizer

I pretty much am in love with every ingredient in this recipe. I find a way to incorporate garlic into every dinner I make, wine is (obviously) a staple, butter cannot be beat, and I can never get enough shrimp. Combine all of these into one amazing appetizer and I have a new favorite!

I recently had the girlfriends over for a belated polyanna (the holidays are just too busy)/Christmas party/sleepover filled with snacks, cocktails, wine and "Summer Hits of the 2000s" Pandora. We had such a good spread of food that we couldn't eat everything we put out. Imagine my delight when there was a ton of shrimp leftover! What is great about this recipe is that not only is it easy and delicious, but it is great as leftovers. I just put it in the fridge and took it out again the next night as a Sunday football snack - can't go wrong with that!

This recipe can replicated as a dinner (just add pasta), or altered depending on your taste (i.e. even MORE garlic if you are crazy like me).

Shrimp Scampi Appetizer

2 lbs extra-large, peeled and deveined shrimp
2 tbsp olive oil (give or take depending on the amount of liquid you want)
4 tbsp butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/8 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

  1. Brown the shrimp in a saute pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, flipping over after 2 minutes (or until the shrimp is pink and the center is no longer opaque). Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter along with the oil and garlic in the microwave.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix well.
  4. Add the shrimp to the liquid mixture and mix well.
  5. Set in the fridge for 1 hour. 
  6. Mix again before serving to loosen up the liquid and coat every bit of the shrimp.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Peanut Butter Sriracha Cookies

 I think I start every blog post saying I am way overdue for a new post because I have been so busy... but it's the truth! Today I have a very interesting recipe for you. Unadventurous eaters beware!

For Halloween this year, I decided to be a bottle of sriracha - partly as a nod to my foodie-ness, and also because it was easy. For our company Halloween party, I figured I had to accompany my costume with a sriracha-related dish.... and then my research led me straight to this glorious recipe. I guess this recipe is also timely considering the soon-to-be sriracha shortage due to the plant closing (is that still happening?). I've never been much of a baker, but this recipe looked easy so I figured even a novice like myself could handle it... and I was right.

The taste is very hard to describe, but I'll try. You start out tasting your standard, chewy and delicious peanut butter cookie, but as you continue to chew and eventually swallow, the flavor profile changes and you are left wondering what the heck you just ate. You will be very intrigued by its deliciousness! It is just the right amount of kick to cut through the thick peanut buttery taste, but not overpowering enough to make you wonder if you just ate a cookie or a hot wing.

Needless to say, I am definitely making these again. But I will need to make sure the audience is adventurous. If you aren't the daring eater and are just looking for a great peanut butter cookie recipe, then you've still come to the right place. Sans sriracha these cookies are still delicious!

Peanut Butter Sriracha Cookies
Makes 5 dozen

1 cup Unsalted Butter (softened)
1½ cups Crunchy Peanut Butter (or Sunbutter if allergic to peanuts)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
¼ c Sriracha
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2¾ to 3 cups All-Purpose Flour (finished dough should be soft, but not sticky)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
Granulated sugar for dipping dough balls into
  1. Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars.
  2. Slowly add in sriracha, eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  3. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Gently mix flour into peanut butter mixture until well combined. 
  5. Place batter into refrigerator for 1 hour to chill.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Roll dough into approx 1″ sized balls.
  8. Dip the top of dough ball into granulated sugar and place onto cookie sheet.
  9. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. 
  10. Bake for 8-10 minutes or just until the cookies begin to brown. Do NOT over-bake!
  11. Cool on wire racks and enjoy!