Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cravin' Asian: Peanut Lettuce Wraps

Does anyone else ever wake up first thing in the morning and immediately ponder over what to make for dinner that evening? Three days ago I woke up and thought, "Ketchup. I must have something with ketchup!" Yesterday, before I even had my first sip of coffee, I was dreaming of my favorite lettuce wraps. I prayed that the repairman would be able to fix my range hood so that I'd have access to my stove, but believe me, I was fully prepared to haul the DamFam' across town for lettuce wraps at PF Changs if my stove wasn't in working order by 5:00!
Fortunately, we didn't have to make the trek and we had the wraps at home. My husband and I like them really spicy, and my middle one must too, because she gobbled down three! The oldest glumly poked at his with a fork, and my youngest took a bite and screamed, "SPICY!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!" More for the three of us, is what I said. The two dissenters settled for Cheerios.

This recipe is originally from, I believe it's called "Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps" if you'd like to look it up. I've added a couple of different 'rifs' (as Rick Bayless would say) over the years. Try them next time you're craving Asian....they're delicious and relatively healthy way to get an Asian fix.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Serves: 6, maybe?

1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 can diced water chestnuts, drained
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 very large handful fresh bean sprouts
Purchased (or homemade, I've done both) peanut sauce
1-2 T. hoisin
2-3 t. chili garlic sauce - optional, I use it because we like them with a little heat
Generous pinches of fresh cilantro and mint

For serving:
Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
Seeded and diced English cucumber
Crunchy Rice Noodles (not necessary, but kids like them!)
Jasmine Rice on the side

Place a large saute pan and 1 T. cooking oil over medium high heat. Saute / stirfry the onion, carrot, and water chestnuts until the onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes (if you used ground turkey breast there shouldn't be very much liquid in the pan. If you used regular ground turkey, you might want to drain off the fat before proceeding). Add the bean sprouts, peanut sauce to taste (I usually use about half a cup), the hoisin, and the chili garlic sauce if using. Stir to combine. Add the cilantro and mint. Taste and correct seasonings if necessary.

Place turkey mixture on a large platter and surround with the lettuce leaves. Have diners assemble their own wraps, and garnish with cucumber and crunchy noodles. Serve with the Jasmine rice on the side.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Help is on the way.....

Just wanted to thank those of you who tried to help me feel better about my "lightbulb-changing- kitchen-fiasco" from yesterday by sharing silly things that you've also done. Here's a little sample:

** A trainer at my gym attempted to drive her car into her garage with her bike on top not once, but twice in one year, causing 1500.00 worth of damage both times

** My sister-in-law Megan locked herself and her dog out of their house last week in the middle of a snowstorm, while wearing a teensy weensy tank top, boy shorts, and her Ugg slippers - she had to walk 1/4 of a mile to the nearest house to call a locksmith

** My friend Betsey was in such a hurry while unloading groceries on Sunday that she put a box of tampons in the fridge!

So I'm feeling a little bit better today, especially because the repairman is here right now, hopefully fixing my mess......although it's a little quiet in there.....maybe I'm in deeper trouble than I thought. If it DOES get fixed, I'm going to fix something good for dinner tonight!

Monday, March 17, 2008

How many housewives does it take...... change a lightbulb?

I am so annoyed with myself. Really, really annoyed.

I came down to my kitchen this morning, turned on the lights over my stove and noticed that one of my halogen lightbulbs was burned out. Since I am a freak about lighting (and running out of Viva paper towels, and crumbs and watermarks on the counters....we all have our issues I guess), I immediately went to the cupboard and happily found that I did have a replacement bulb. Went back to the range to study how to go about changing the bulb, since in the five years that I've had this Dacor unit I've only had to change a bulb once.

The bulbs appear to be recessed into the unit itself. "Hhhhhhm," I thought. "I must have had to unscrew all of these lugnuts last time." Genious!

So I went to the toolbox and found a small wrench. Those suckers were tough to get out, but after about five minutes, some WD40, and a little elbow grease, I had a neat little pile of them on my counter.

BAM! With no screws left to hold it in place, the entire unit came crashing down, along with about four feet of the galvanized tube that vents the whole works to the outside. Uh oh.

My husband came down and was like, "What the hell's going on down here?!?!" Meanwhile, I am about to cry, because at this exact moment I am feeling like a kid who had just broken a beloved toy.

He layed himself across the cooktop and using both his hands AND his feet (nice visual, right?)tried to guide the entire updraft system (about 60 pounds) back into place. No such luck.......nothin' doin'. Absolutely impossible.

We now have the updraft unit wedged precariously back in it's proper spot. It is, of course, in no way fixed. I have two coolers stacked on my cooktop, lest the 'wedging' give way and the entire thing plummets once again. The coolers will stay there, awaiting the service tech who is not due to arrive until tomorrow morning. No cooking in my corner of the kitchen today I guess.

Here's the kicker: if I had taken the time to pour a cup of coffee and reaaaaalllly think about how I changed that bulb last time, (or, BRILLIANT!! gotten out the DIRECTIONS?!?) I would have remembered it was done quite easily, by using a tiny little suction cup that came with the unit, to be used in times such as these.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Teriyaki Style Chicken and Lemon Cake

I was dying for Chinese style chicken and sticky rice and so I of course, went to Epicurious, my favorite source! I found this very simple, very healthy, and really yummy recipe and liked it so much I made it twice in one week! One time I made it with chicken thighs and it wasn't as good; the second time I followed the recipe exactly and used the flattened breasts as suggested. Mmmmm. I garnished with sliced scallions and a drizzle of the remaining marinade (boiled first, of course!). If you want to give it a try, go to and search for "Teriyaki Style Chicken". Serve it with some yummy Jasmine rice.

I paired it with Roasted Brussel Sprouts -- odd, I know! They're not really Chinese in flavor at all, but I was having a craving. I have a thing for them! If roasted brussel sprouts are sitting there I eat them practically like popcorn! There's not really a recipe for them; I just fired up the oven to 450, tossed them with olive oil, sea salt, and ground black pepper, then placed them cut side down on a cookie sheet that I had lined with foil. I blasted them for about 25 minutes, flipped them and shook 'em around, then roasted again for another 10 minutes or so. Yummy!!

The Lemon Cake is from one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, although I can't recall which one and truth be told, I'm just too lazy to get up off the couch and go into the kitchen to look! I found it on and if you're interested in making it, it's easy enough to find there. A bonus is that it makes two loaf pans and it freezes great! Go to and do a search for Ina's Lemon Cake. Oh, and I skipped the lemon syrup step that comes between the cooling cakes step and the icing step. ;-)

Bon appetit!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Italian Chopped Salad

I've been neglecting my poor blog this past month! I've been cooking away in a corner of my kitchen, almost every day in fact -- I just haven't stopped to snap any food shots lately! I don't know why, just too busy I guess. Anyway, I did shoot this salad one afternoon last week. It was excellent -- I loved it so much I'm going to make it again tomorrow. It's like an antipasto without any meat. It was so colorful and crunchy, and the dressing was really yummy too. I made it to go along with Giada's awesome Lasagna Rolls that I posted about back in January; I didn't think I needed to shoot those again since they're already on my blog! ;-) Any readers I have left will begin to think that I'm a one-hit wonder!!

Serves: 8
Source: Adapted from

For Vinaigrette:
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 small garlic cloved, minced
1/2 t. sugar
1/8 t. black pepper
6 T. olive oil

For Salad:
1 medium red onion, julienned
2 hearts of romaine (12 oz.), torn into bite-sized pieces
1 c. loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 c. brine cured black olives
1 c. drained bottled peperoncini
1/2 lb. grape tomatoes
A little shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmesan if you like

Make the dressing: Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl until combined well. ** I emulsified mine with a stick blender instead.

Arrange salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing, salt, and ground black pepper to taste.