Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Similar to my love of Spinach and Artichoke Dip (Snowed-in-Superbowl 2010), I am also a connoisseur of chicken lettuce wraps. I have eaten them at many a national chain restaurant, and I can't get enough. I often have high blood sugar after I eat the lettuce wraps at restaurants, maybe they are not always as healthy as they sound! I wanted to make a version that had lots of veggies and still tasted great to kids and adults.

These use the juice of a fresh orange for some acid and flavor. There are lots of green veggies, you can swap out veggies if there is something you prefer. The addition of mushrooms and asparagus would be great! Water chestnuts offer some extra crunch and since the veggies are not sauteed for too long, they also remain fairly crunchy. I prefer almonds as a garnish, but cashews or sesame seeds would work too. I have made these several times and even my husband likes them, so that probably means kids would too!



2 tsp olive oil
1/8 cup green onion
1/8 cup chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped carrot
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets (½ lb)
¼ cup soy sauce
Juice of 1 small orange (¼ cup)
Pinch of black pepper or red pepper
1 cup zucchini diced
1 cup summer squash diced
1 cup chopped green beans
1 cup chopped snow peas
1 small can of chopped water chestnuts (1 cup)
½ cup water                                                       
16 whole Boston/Bibb lettuce leaves (1-2 heads)
Thin crispy Asian salad noodles to garnish
Slivered almonds to garnish (optional)
Makes 16 Lettuce Wraps (1/2 cup filling per wrap)



Chop all vegetables and chicken. Add olive oil to a large sauté pan or wok over med-high heat, once sizzling add green onion, celery and carrots. Sauté for 3-4 min to begin to soften the vegetables. Add chicken to the pan and toss with the vegetables and oil, cook until opaque and use a spatula continue to toss chicken and vegetables while cooking, making sure to loosen anything that sticks to the pan. Add soy and the juice from the orange. Add the pepper to the mixture and continue to sauté to allow the chicken to cook through about 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and water chestnuts allow these to cook for about 2 minutes and add water to loosen anything that may have stuck to the pan. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes tossing the mixture and allowing the liquid to evaporate. Serve hot over lettuce leaves and sprinkle about a teaspoon of noodle or almond garnish on each wrap if desired.

Fruit and Peanut Butter Tortilla "Pizza"

As I mentioned before, I have been creating some healthy recipes with kids in mind. I hope to use these for Aidan in a couple of years! Here is a recipe I created a while back, it can be a healthy and fun dessert. Kids get to create their own "pizza" with fruit and whole wheat tortillas. You can use whatever fruit you like, grapes or blueberries may be a nice addition. I use a simple combination of apples, bananas and strawberries. Toasting the tortillas is a must, it gives the pizza crunch. A drizzle of honey may be a nice addition as well, if you are not concerned with extra sugar.


4 low fat or whole wheat flour tortillas (6 inch)

4 Tbs creamy peanut butter

1 medium apple, diced

1 medium banana, sliced

8 medium strawberries, sliced

4 tsp mini semisweet chocolate chips

Makes 16 servings (1/4 of a tortilla)


Cut fruit and set aside. Bake the tortillas in a 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes until toasted. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spread 1 Tbs of peanut butter on each tortilla. Add ¼ of the apple, banana and strawberries to each tortilla. Sprinkle 1tsp of mini chocolate chips on each tortilla. Cut into 4 slices.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where have I been?

So, I totally love blogging. Believe it, or not. I was looking back at some of my 2010 posts (especially the Japan posts), and I am inspired to Blog Again! I have been quite busy with life, school, work (paid and unpaid). Of course, there is that minor little detail -- the birth of my son, Aidan Matthew. He is precious - born May 26, 2012. He is close to seven months old and says "MaMa, MaMa" and "DaDa, DaDa," of course he says "DaDa, DaDa" when he is happy and playing, and "MaMaMahhh" when he is crying and needs something -- It's nice to know that some things in the universe remain constant!

I still love food and beauty. I am still cooking, eating and finding ways to cook the foods I love with a healthy twist (where applicable, some things need a little butter or cream as Julia Childs might say). I have a few recipes that I created with kids in mind, including veggieful chicken lettuce wraps and a southwest salad. I would like to take pics of these before posting the recipes, but I swear, I will blog again soon. That is all for now, just a tease!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2010: 2nd Half

So, I know, I am a totally incompetent blogger. I have not posted since May. But, I am stuck sick in bed this weekend so now I have finally taken the time to download some pics of what we have been up to for the past 6 months or so. My husband graduated from GW law school in May --> we got an adorable poodle puppy (Charlie Chestnut) --> we moved to NY (hope to post some pics of our adorable, inexpensive, paint based kitchen transformation soon) --> I am trying to finish my dietetics coursework (yay biochem!) while baking pretty things, continuing to volunteer a ton and wondering when I will get paid for my here are a few May 2010-Dec 2010 pictures:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sushi, Kaiseki, Tiny Fish and Nato: More Japanese Food Adventures

The desserts were not the only interesting and delicious foods we found in Japan. Everything was delicious (just about), fresh, colorful and beautiful. You could even find really good meals for under $10 in train stations and on the the streets. The best part is that all of the offerings were displayed with realistic food models in the windows of restaurants.

Osaka is known for its food, especially street food. This was the first place I have ever had octopus...and I LIKED IT!! Takoyaki and cold green tea was the first meal we had in Japan. It was about 10:30pm by the time we got settled in our hotel and ventured out to find street food and take in some of the sights of young, vibrant Osaka. I have to say, I was worried about eating street food, especially of the seafood nature. After seeing the street vendors in Osaka however, I realized there was nothing to worry about. Everything was served hot, fresh and clean. Takoyaki are little pancakes filled with tender octopus and a salty bbq-like sauce. They were delicious and the cold green tea was refreshing and provided a much needed caffeine boost after the long journey across the world.

After the Takoyaki we were led on an adventure to an upstairs restaurant serving raw foods that you cooked yourself. We chose from a wide array of foods on sticks that we then breaded with panko and DEEP FRIED at our tables. It was soooo good, not so healthy, but tasted good after that 16 hours of travel.

Another food we ate in Osaka was Okonomiyaki, which is essentially a giant pancake cooked at the table with lotsa seafood and veggies in it. Okonomiyaki are sometimes drizzled with a mayo based sauce - The Japanese LOVE mayo. This salty, doughy, fried treat is eaten communally and scooped up with flat mouth is actually watering as I talk about this treat. Okonomiyaki is sometimes hard to find in the US, but they do have it in some NY restaurants and I think Korea town in Annandale, VA has some version of it. I bet they have it on the West Coast too...mmmm.

On to Kyoto... While Osaka food is pretty much on the junk food spectrum, the food in Kyoto is fresh, light and perfectly composed. In Kyoto I was introduced the Japanese art of Kaiseki. Kaiseki is the fancy food of Japan that is served in upscale restaurants and in full service Ryokan (traditional upscale hotels). We ate Kaiseki in a Ryokan. It was served in the room, in courses, as we sat on the floor. Each dish was seasonal and had each element perfectly placed. Each combination told a story about flavors and the season. It was amazing. Fresh sushi, soups, vegetables and even a seasonal river fished cooked to look like it was still swimming!!

Another interesting food phenomenon in Japan is the breakfast. It can actually be really good. Breakfast is vastly different than the fat and carb filled glory we think of as American breakfast. The Japanese morning meal is usually composed of salmon, rice, miso soup and tea. I loved this, it actually keeps you going throughout the day without that sugar high and low from eating things like donuts and bacon first thing in the morning. I posted pics of both the "Japanese version of McDonald's" breakfast and the traditional Japanese breakfast at the Ryokan.

Speaking of traditional...there were some not so appetizing components of breakfast that were a little harder on the American palate...Nato and tiny fish. Nato is a fermented bean thing, it looks like cooked down beans in cow mucus :) Rhonda ate this the first morning, and liked it, much to Erica's disbelief. This "treat" is apparently even a tough one for Japanese natives to stomach.

The tiny fish thing is probably a gourmet seasonal delicacy (it was, after all, part of the Ryokan breakfast). BUT...seeing salmon and soup for breakfast is culture shock enough, but a spoon full of crunchy tiny fishes with eyes first thing in the morning was not as much fun. I did not try either Nato or tiny fish, but did appreciate the salmon and miso soup. My favorite staple foods from the Japanese trip was soba and tempura...but that probably deserves its own post.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Grotesquely Satisfying Desserts" (GSD's)

Grotesquely Satisfying Desserts (GSD's) was a phrase coined on a recent trip to Japan. I went with two dear friends from college to explore some of the famous cities and sites of Japan. Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo boasted many interesting people, places and foods. I wasn't too surprised by the Japanese love of cutesy sweets. I was surprised, however, by the sheer amount of lovely little places serving gigantic, over the top desserts. Because we walked many miles a day, we required such "snacks" often. I believe my friend Rhonda came up with "GSD" as an accurate description of the "more means more" scale of these treats.

My friend Erica, a first generation Japanese American was quick to note that these desserts/dessert parlors are a very feminine, girlie thing, and men are not so quick to eat sweets in this way. So, of course this idea of "girlie" sparked my curiosity even more. We also observed that there was a particular penchant for anything French in Japan, so there were even lots of creperies that served crepes with fillings such as fruit, ice cream - and naturally- fillings like whole pieces of cheesecake!
Since I am a type 1 Diabetic (the autoimmune kind), my love of baking, and preoccupation with the look and idea of wonderful desserts seems oh, so incredibly ironic. Although, we CAN eat sugar, it can be painfully complicated as to when, how much, and which desserts can be enjoyed. I was lucky to be able to partake in many GSD's because we walked a ridiculous amount and I found my average blood sugar to be about 60 during this trip!! So GSD's it was...afterall I needed them to survive..right?!

I also noticed that some of the desserts were not quite as sweet as some of the stuff you might find in, say...the American Midwest. Many Japanese treats were subtly sweet and made of unconventional ingredients, like a cold, sweet pea soup with rice balls. I loved getting giant pieces of "cake" at convenience stores that were half the sugar of many American treats. Then again, some of the Japanese desserts were pretty much a hi-test conglomeration of simple sugars. Look at the ice cream sundae under the title, yes people, that is a piece of cake ON TOP of a sundae... pure genius (and there were cornflakes at the bottom of the glass -- Rhonda's favorite).

I think my favorite, although it was hard to choose, was a treat in a fancy dessert parlour in the Ginza section of Tokyo (think Upper East Side, NY). It was made with green tea ice cream, shaved ice with green tea syrup, green tea rice balls, and sweet red beans. Those of you who know me realize that I do not miss a chance to have green tea flavored things. The awesome part of this dessert was that it came with a little drink that was made of hot water and a cherry blossom...It actually tasted like cherries. This drink was one of the most subtle and delicious things I have ever had, I really felt like royalty. I will be sure to post more on Japan.

Flowers and Bumble Bees

Consistent with my love of pretty things is my love of flowers. I never miss an opportunity to arrange and display flowers. Vintage jars and milk bottles are favorite vase choices. My husband recently brought me flowers and I decided to immortalize the occasion by taking pictures :) I hope to post a lot more of my past and present flower arrangements soon.

I also decided to make more cookies to welcome spring. Myself and my husband brought them to friends and colleagues who were delighted. This was one of my favorite batches of decorated cookies to date. It included flowers, butterflies and bumble bees. The bee hives were especially good and were iced with a honey glaze made of pure honey, powdered sugar and softened butter.