Thursday, May 17, 2012

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

          Last Friday night, Jenn had a bunch of girls over to have appetizers before they all went to Broadripple to celebrate her birthday.  I had to stay at school for an activity until 8:30 that night, so it had to be something she and I could make ahead of time.  She planned on having guacamole, shrimp, a fruit plate, and veggies - but she needed something else that provided some protein.  I love the Thai Lettuce Wraps at the Cheesecake Factory, and I was pretty sure we could duplicate that tasty, build-it-yourself snacking experience. Because we were under time constraints, Jenn served the lettuce wraps with store bought sauce, House of Tsang Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce, which was absolutely delicious.  Since there were no leftovers, I made it again for Tuesday night's dinner.  This time I dug into my repetoire of tried and true sauces that I have used in the past. Having a choice of three different sauces makes these wraps a bit more adventurous, but if you wish to only make one - it's just as yummy!

Steps to Make Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1.  Marinate 2 large chichen breasts in a mixture of 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1teaspoon fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil for about 20 minures while you are doing the rest of the steps.  (If pressed for time, just use plain cooked chicken)
2.  Slice half a cucumber very thin, and then place in a bowl with 2 thin slices purple onion, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon of mustard seeds, and 1/8 teaspoon peppercorns.  Let this sit until you assemble the wrap platter.  (If pressed for time, just use plain sliced cucumbers on the platter.)
3.  Make one sauce or more ....

Cilantro Tamarind Sauce 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar                            
1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1 pinch turmeric
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove put through a press
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
Combine vinegars, honey, and tamarind in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds.
Blend or food process the  tamarind mixture, cilantro, garlic, onions, pepper, cumin, coriander, and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chili Garlic Soy Sauce
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared hot chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Mix all ingredients together.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use

Peanut-Sesame Sauce - from The Working Mother Cookbook
1 clove garlic, put through a press
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup very hot water
Blend or food process all the ingredients together.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

4.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill, broil, or George Foreman it while you are assembling the lettuce wrap platter.

5.  Construct the lettuce wrap platter by arranging about a cup shredded carrots, a cup bean sprouts,
the drained cucumber/purple onion mix, washed and  separated Boston lettuce leaves, the sauce(s), and the cooked sliced chicken.

6.  Then -

      Make your choices......                                                    

And roll your wrap....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Easy Entertaining: Eternally Elegant Quiche

     Eternally elegant quiche, just like Jackie O., never goes out of style.  It's really delicious and can be made with almost any variations of meat, veggies, and cheese.  Individual ones, like the ones above, are just as simple to make as a whole quiche. However, it's also so easy to make large 13 x 9 quiche casseroles which I recently did for an early morning baby shower at school. (I just doubled the recipe and used a couple of premade pie crusts to fit the pan.)  My basic recipe came from a fellow school teacher who gave it to me when I was planning a brunch open house for Jenn's graduation from high school.  I hit upon the idea of putting the cheese and fillings in the pie crust the night before and storing the blended up eggs, milk, and cream in a zip lock bag to add just before baking.  If you want to cut carbs and calories, quiche can be made without the crust and milk can be substituted for the cream - just make sure you spray the baking dish well with cooking oil. Below the basic directions for quiche posted here, are the recipes for two of our family's favorite quiches: Ham & Cheese and Spinach. For a special occasion - quiche is forever chic!

Steps to Build a Great Quiche

1.  Place and "flute" a premade crust in a pie pan and fill it with:
  •  1 1/4 cup shredded cheese ( basic combo is 1 cup swiss + 1/4 cup cheddar)
  • Some kind of meat and/or veggie such as bacon, ham, mushrooms, broccoli, chicken, spinach
  • Seasonings: sprinkle of garlic powder, dry mustard, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
  • Diced onion (standard amount is 1 tablespoon)

2. In a blender mix together and pour over the ingredients in the pie shell
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
3.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Then, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for at least 45 more minutes until the the quiche is puffed up, cracked, browned, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Individual Spinach Cheese Quiches

10 oz. package of cooked and drained frozen spinach

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/8 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard, and red pepper flakes

1/4 cup diced yellow onion

1 cup cream

1/3 cup milk

6 eggs

2 premade piecrusts 

Spray the insides of a muffin tin with cooking oil.  With the two premade pie crusts, cut out twelve 3 1/2 inch circles by using the top of the glass.  Place the pie crust rounds into each muffin cup. Mix spinach, cheeses, spices, and onion in a bowl. Divide the spinach mixture between the muffin cups. Using a blender, combine the cream, milk, and eggs. Pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup just up to the top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Individual quiches should be browned, puffed, and an inserted toothpick should come out clean.

Ham and Cheese Quiche

1 nine inch pie shell

1 ¼ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

1 cup cubed ham1 bunch green onionssliced

1 teaspoon onion diced

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Pinch crushed red pepper

1 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup milk

6 eggs

Fill pie shell with cheese, ham, and green onions.
Sprinkle in the garlic powder, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and red pepper.Using blender, mix up whipping cream, milk, and eggs.Pour egg mixture into pie shell until full. Bake 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until puffed, lightly browned, cracked, and toothpick comes out clean.