I Don’t Have Time to Cook But Need To

chicken-lettuce-wraps-a-la-p-f-changs

Has anyone found the news to be extremely boring lately? I’m so bored with the news I’m almost hoping for another Kardashian family scandal to break.  No really though…the news is just filled with noise noise noise. Riots and protests, the latest Trump tweet, the latest person who’s been offended by something, the Emmy’s speeches which were just more of the same.  Even Hurricane Irma and Harvey which were HUGE news stories died down after the ‘drama’ was over. Can’t the media cover the real aspect of anything? How are those communities recovering from the hurricanes? What does it look like? What activities are going on in the country to help these cities? And if it is possible that global warming is responsible, then can we see some sort of special on it that discusses the data and historical facts? Seriously, I would like to be educated. I’m not trying to be controversial but it just seems like the media is consistently consumed by the latest drama that will get the biggest reaction, but that aggressive coverage and ‘investigative journalism’ stops short of actually educating people and bringing them real, useful information. And please, for the love of God, FIND MH370. That mystery has me so intrigued I’m almost ready to volunteer to help in the search (not sure what skills I would bring to the table other than curiosity).

Anyway, I used to really like reading the news but because I’m so bored with it now I have to eat my way through the week with delicious recipes.  Last week I wrote about strategies for avoiding Chinese takeout with my Mongolian Beef recipe.  If you want to understand why anyone would do that, you’ll have to read the post (and even then, you might still be confused).  But in order to really corner the Chinese market with my husband I needed to figure out how to replicate P.F. Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps. He LOVES them. There are lots of copycat  recipes out there that inspired me (like this one), but I made several changes to get it exactly how I wanted it (less hoisin sauce, more soy sauce, add brown sugar, Sriracha instead of garlic sauce, no green onion, etc). I’m not really a lettuce wrap person because I love rice with anything Chinese, but these are definitely worth it. And so, so easy to throw together.

Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 lb ground chicken, S&P
  • 1 sweet/yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1-3 teaspoons sriracha (I used about 1.5-2, just a touch of heat)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced (I did just two)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ~1/2-1 teaspoon ground ginger (I don’t love a strong ginger taste, start with 1/2)
  • 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and diced small
  • 1 6 oz can mushrooms (I used straw mushrooms from Asian section), drained & chopped
  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated and washed
  • Special Sauce from here (optional, but highly recommended. I halved recipe, omitted mustard and used about 1/2 tsp sriracha)

Brown the chicken in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper. When chicken is almost done cooking, add in the diced onions. Cook another 5 minutes or so until onions are soft. Transfer Chicken/onions to a bowl. Add in the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil, then the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, brown sugar and ginger. Cook for several minutes to combine and thicken. Add back in the chicken, and the water chestnuts and mushrooms. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve on lettuce leaves with special sauce.

Zoodle Piccata

zoodle-piccata

More zoodles! We can’t stop!

It rained all weekend here, which was so nice. Seriously, it’s never super rainy here for several days in a row. Aside from it squashing our plans to go to the park yesterday, it was a great excuse to stay in all weekend and be lazy (I use the term “lazy” lightly these days, with two mobile babies). And eat sandwiches. I ate lots of sandwiches this weekend. PS- if you’ve never tried pepperoni on your turkey sandwich, I highly recommend.


Chicken Piccata has long been a favorite of mine, and I’ve made similar recipes here and a sour cream version here. Oh and more lemon butter here and a lemon dijon butter sauce here.  This is a very basic white wine lemon butter sauce, so easy and so quick. We loved it with the zoodles because they suck up every ounce of flavor in the sauce.


Recipe

  • 1 1/4 lb chicken cutlets (butterflied breasts, alternatively pound them thin)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 tablespoon flour, divided
  • 1 1/4  teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup good white wine (such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 package  Veggie Noodle Co. Zoodles (or several zucchinis spiralized)
  • 2-4 tablespoons capers

Start by preparing the chicken. Make sure they are either cutlets or pounded thin. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl.   Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper to taste. Coat each piece in flour, shaking off the excess.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large pan. Working in batches, cook the chicken – about 3 minutes per side (for thin chicken). Set aside. Add butter to the pan and melt. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Add in wine and lemon juice, whisking to remove lumps, and then let it reduce for about 10 minutes. Whisk in remining 1/4 teaspoon salt, Dijon mustard and capers and remove from heat. In another pan, cook the zoodles for 2-3 minutes.  Plate the zoodles, top with chicken and sauce.

Beef Stroganoff

beef-stroganoff
This isn’t really a season-appropriate recipe (especially in Dallas where it’s already 80+ degrees), but the truth is there is never a bad time for beef stroganoff. A wonderful comfort food, and a favorite of my husband’s, this was a perfect Sunday dinner for a lazy day. It’s so easy!
I did use a better cut of meat (tenderloin) – though I think the whole idea behind beef stroganoff from the beginning was the frugality of it. But whatever, tenderloin is better. And I added lots of mushrooms – portabella and cremini. I meant to use half sour cream/half yogurt for the sauce to lighten it up a bit, but that didn’t happen. Still, this didn’t taste heavy or rich at all – this has less sour cream than most recipes and no butter. It could practically be published in Cooking Light.
Recipe
  • 1 lb tenderloin
  • S&P, nutmeg
  • olive oil
  • 2 shallots or 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 lb mushrooms – cremini/diced portabella
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash Worcestershire
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, about 2 tablespoons. Slice the tenderloin into very thin strips, about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches long (hint: put the meat in the freezer for about 20 minutes prior to slicing to make it much easier). Sprinkle the meat with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Brown the meat and cook all the way through. Transfer to a plate.
Add the diced shallot or onion to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms. De-glaze the pan with white wine. Cook for about 5 more minutes, then reduce the heat to low.  In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, broth, corn starch, nutmeg, Dijon, and Worcestershire.  Slowly add the sour cream mixture to the onions/mushrooms, over low heat. Stir around, add the meat back in, and allow the sauce to thicken (but don’t boil, as the sour cream could curdle). If sauce it too thick, add a pinch of water or chicken broth to thin it out a bit.  Serve over noodles or rice, and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Lighter Sloppy Joe’s

lighter-sloppy-joes

I can’t explain to you my feelings toward Joe, the Sloppy kind. I just love him. Is there any better comfort food? No, the answer is no.

Normally, I make these, or some variation of it (I basically just throw in a bunch of ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, and worcestershire). But on Monday night John and I were craving Sloppy Joe’s, and I felt that I should attempt a healthier variation. They are so easy to make that they really are a perfect weeknight meal, but I also don’t like eating anything real fatty after a weekend of indulging. And I do plenty of indulging.

So, these are lighter, and just as tasty. I still use ground beef because it tastes better than ground turkey and it has basically the same calorie/fat content.

Recipe

  • 1.5 lb extra lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • S&P
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire
  • Splash BBQ sauce (optional)
  • 6 whole wheat hamburger buns

Start by browning the ground beef over medium heat. Add in the diced onion, and cook for 5-10 minutes. Drain out most of the fat (there shouldn’t be much with extra lean ground beef). Add in the water and remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly, cover and simmer until ready to serve. If you need more liquid (this is where the fatty beef really comes into play), add more water and ketchup. Enjoy them for the next two nights like we did, maybe even in a tortilla. Or on nachos.

grilled-salmon-with-creamy-avocado
This was dinner last night.
So good, so summery, so healthy, so easy. This recipe is really a nutritional superstar, loaded with a number of items that you always see on those ‘super foods’ lists: salmon, avocado, lemon, greek yogurt, sour cream. You may not have seen sour cream on any of the published ‘super foods’ lists, but I assure you it’s on mine.
I love hot, grilled salmon with a contrasting cold, creamy, dill-y, yogurt sauce. Avocado is an awesome addition.
Recipe
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 T. light sour cream
  • 2 T. nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. light mayo (optional)
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2-3 T. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 T. water, to thin it out a bit (optional)
Drizzle lemon juice and a little olive oil over the salmon fillets, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the grill to medium-high, and grill the salmon about 4 minutes on each side (a little longer for more well-done salmon).
In the bowl of a food processor, add the avocado, sour cream, yogurt, mayo and lemon juice. Mix until creamy. Stir in the dill and optional water, then spoon over the salmon. This will for sure become a staple weeknight dinner for us, and I think you could add other herbs with the dill for fun – basil, chives, parsley, yum!
mcbraley-chicken-snack-wrap
We’re McDonald’s people. It’s not like we eat there 5 times a week or anything, but I am a huge advocate of McDonald’s products. McFlurries, are you kidding me? Nothing is tastier. And I love the Happy Meals, I love the plain ol’ burger, I love the fries, and I loooove the grilled chicken snack wraps with honey mustard. But I think what I love most of all about McDonald’s is that the experience of going to get a Happy Meal is as special for my 4 year old niece as it was for me when I was her age. McDonald’s is a company that continues to evolve with the market space, and yet it has remained so classic at the same time.
So, inspired by the McDonald’s snack wrap, we decided to start making our own at home. Nothing about this post is particularly innovative or special or unique. But, it was tasty so I feel obligated to share it with you.  All you need is chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, tortillas, and honey mustard.
I started by rubbing my boneless, skinless chicken breasts with this amazing stuff:
I grilled the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side, then sliced it into little bitty pieces.
I used Mission whole wheat tortillas, which were delicious.  I piled it high with chicken, lettuce, tomato, and chopped avocado.  Then I took this honey mustard:
And mixed about a tablespoon of it with about a teaspoon of honey mustard vinaigrette to thin it out a bit. Yum. I could eat honey mustard by the spoonful. Then, drizzle it all over the top:
Doesn’t that look wonderful and delicious? It was. Of course if I were at McDonald’s I would have ordered two….the McBraley’s aren’t at that level of efficiency quite yet, so we had to settle for one.