Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps


Whenever we go to PF Changs, the lettuce wraps are a must order. Unfortunately, it isn't very often considering the nearest location is over 2 hours away and I won't even tell you how much our bill was last time we took the whole fam!  Thank goodness for copy cat recipes and friends who text  you said recipes. 

Obviously I wasn't doing a side by side comparison, but these lettuce wraps were every bit as good as the original. I easily found all of the ingredients in my local grocery store, except the ground chicken. It was late at night and I didn't want to go to another store so I settled for ground turkey. It was so good I honestly don't know if I will even try the ground chicken next time. 

I served it with some steamed edamame and fresh pineapple. I also made a big pot of jasmine rice to go with it because I can't do no carb. For a quick weeknight meal that's delicious and healthy, this meal is hard to beat. 

Cook's note:  Make sure you get butter lettuce. Sorry people, ice burg just won't cut it here. 

PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 pound ground chicken (I used ground turkey)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste 
  • 1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced 
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add ground chicken and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain excess fat. 
  • Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chestnuts and green onions until tender, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style
Original recipe found here:

Posted by: Sallie

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

French Toast Roll Ups

Because weekday mornings tend to be pretty crazy with kids and adults heading in a million different directions, we usually keep breakfast pretty simple. Most mornings consist of quick and easy to prepare items like smoothies, oatmeal, or cold cereal with fruit. If my kids are really lucky, I'll whip up a quick batch of scrambled eggs and some toast.

 Because of various sports and activities, we're often rushing out the door on Saturdays sometimes as early as 7 a.m., so on Sundays I insist on having a hot, delicious breakfast. Nine times out of ten it's these yummy waffles, but I like to change it up every once in awhile with pancakes, muffins, monkey bread or french toast.

Enter the french toast roll up-- A fun twist on traditional french toast and not much harder to make either. My kids had fun flattening out the bread with the rolling pin while I  experimented with the fillings. We tried pb & j, strawberry jam and cream cheese, and Nutella with the overall favorites being the latter two. My personal favorite was plain cream cheese. Think churro with a cream cheese center. With the  delicious fillings and even better cinnamon and sugar coating, these are fabulous on their own, but equally delicious dunked in warm, maple syrup. 

French Toast Roll Ups

Makes 8 roll ups (I doubled the recipe for our family of 6 with a few leftovers)

8 slices white sandwich bread (the soft, fluffy type)
peanut butter, jelly, cream cheese, dulce de leche, cajeta or nutella
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
butter, for greasing the pan
maple syrup, for serving
  1. Trim the crust from the bread and flatten it out with a rolling pin.
  2. Place about a teaspoon or 2 of your chosen filling an inch from one end of the bread spread out in a strip. Roll the bread up and repeat until they're all filled. (Be sure not to overfill).
  3. In a shallow bowl whisk the eggs and milk until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the sugar with the cinnamon.
  5. In a skillet set over medium heat melt a tablespoon of butter.
  6. Add the rolls to the egg turning to coat on all sides then place them in the pan seam side down. Cook in batches until golden brown, turning them to cook and brown on all sides. Add butter to the pan as needed.
  7. Add the hot rolls from the pan to the cinnamon sugar and roll until completely covered in sugar.
  8. Serve with maple syrup for dunking.
Posted by: Sallie

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Fleur de Sel and Resolutions

           I hate to admit it, but while my friends and neighbors are starting off the new year resolving to eat healthier and exercise more, I actually quit the gym and made a resolution to make MORE cookies. To be completely honest, I run a few times a week  and started doing these awesome body pump videos, but  I just couldn't fit the 15 minute drive to the gym in my schedule anymore. As I'm writing this I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but with the crazy life I've got going on right now that 30 minutes is like gold.

         I love baking, however, when I started school  last year  it was one of the first things to go. This year I've adjusted a little bit and realized I need to do things for myself and not just study 24/7. I got back into my running regime, starting baking and cooking more, and trying to squeeze in as much time as I can with my family.

          I also made an extremely tough decision and changed my major from Physical Therapy to English.  Just in the first semester it has been so rewarding. I have always loved reading and now I get to curl up every night with some amazing literature and call it homework! Of course having a few cookies while I read just sweetens the deal. Hence the resolution to make more cookies.

          Not only do I love baking and eating cookies, I love sharing them. Having a plate ready when the kids get home from school, taking them to neighbors, or just sharing with someone who's having a bad day makes me happy too. ( I don't know many people who can frown while eating a cookie.) Ultimately, that's what  my resolution is all about--enjoying my life and helping others to enjoy life too. Let's face it. Cookies make life better.

          Reminiscent of these chocolate cookies, these salted truffle cookies are everything their names implies. Rich, intensely chocolate, and just a smidge salty. And while the centers are slightly soft and deliciously fudgy, the outsides are firm and slightly crackly. Pure heaven with a cold glass of milk and a good book.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Fleur de Sel

slightly adapted from Ghiradelli and found on Pinterest

**Plan ahead. These cookies require 15 minutes of chilling time**

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups  60 % cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli brand)
2 tablespoon  butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough
 fleur de sel sprinkled on to taste ( I probably used a tsp. or less.)


In a heatproof bowl over a double boiler, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter until smooth. Turn off the stove and let chocolate sit over warm water. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. In another bowl, mix together sugar and eggs, combine thoroughly with a whisk and slowly add the warm chocolate mixture. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Stir in flour mixture. Cool for a few minutes (if batter is warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in mini chocolate chips. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes until the outside looks slightly cracked. Be very careful not to over bake cookies because they will continue to bake as they cool once removed from the oven. Cookies should be soft and gooey in the center.

Posted by: Sallie
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Baked Taco Roll Ups

Photos: courtesy of A Bountiful Kitchen
Found on  a blog I visit regularly, these taco roll ups are the latest and greatest hit at our house.  As is often the case, I had made a double batch of this delicious taco meat and wanted to use it up. But as you well know, the same old thing week after week can get a little boring. These babies were just the ticket. I tweaked them to use up my leftover taco meat and save myself a little time. The reaction they got was shocking.          Similar to a taquito, these taco roll ups were simple and downright tasty. We served ours with traditional taco fillings on the side: lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and gasp....ketchup. (I know it's gross, but my kids love ketchup with Mexican food.) I used medium sized tortillas and ended up with close to 18 roll ups, which I  planned on freezing for another meal. By the next evening, there was only 1 left.   I can't wait to try the original version (found here) next time. 

Baked Taco Roll Ups

Adapted heavily from A Bountiful Kitchen

One recipe ground beef taco meat (this is the ONLY recipe I use anymore)
2 cups shredded Colby-jack  or cheddar cheese (or more to taste)
flour tortillas, small to medium size
Suggested Condiments- lettuce 
sliced olives
sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Prepare taco meat as directed. Spoon  about 3 tablespoons of the taco meat mixture onto a tortilla. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up as you would a taquito, not filling the tortilla too full, but rolling fairly tight, so the tortilla will not come undone easily.  Place filled tortillas in a single layer onto a lightly greased baking sheet, seam side down. (I sprayed mine lightly with cooking spray to add some crunch and prevent over drying). Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tacos are heated through. Remove from the oven and serve with optional condiments. Makes about 12-15 medium tacos.-Heat up leftovers wrapped in a paper towel for about 1 minute in microwave.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Frosted Peanut Butter Cookies

          A little gem I found on Pinterest, these cookies were to die for! We're die-hard peanut butter & chocolate fans around here and these cookies lived up to all of our expectations. The cookies themselves are perfectly moist and chewy, and I love the addition of peanut butter chips.The final touch of not one, but two layers of frosting  takes these cookies from so-so to irresistible. Just be sure to have plenty of butter on hand!

          Not only do these cookies taste amazing, mine turned out beautifully exactly like the picture.The small amount of time it takes to whip up two batches of frosting, is well worth the WOW factor it creates.

Peanut Butter Cookies
recipe from Cutler's Bakery found via Six Sister's Stuff

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1- 10 oz bag Reese's Peanut Butter chips
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Cream together butter, sugars, salt, baking soda and powder.  Add vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add flour and peanut butter chips. Mix just until flour and chips are blended together. Scoop into 2 inch balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
milk (to thin to proper consistency, I used about 3 Tablespoons)
Cream together room-temperature butter and powdered sugar. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add milk a tablespoon at time, just until frosting is smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Chocolate Frosting
1 cup butter
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
Cream butter and 5 cups powdered sugar. Add cocoa and vanilla. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until frosting is smooth. If needed, add more powdered sugar.
After cookies are cooled, frost with peanut butter frosting. Then frost on top of the peanut butter frosting with the chocolate frosting. When spreading the chocolate frosting on top of the peanut butter frosting, be very gentle and leave a small space between the edge of the peanut butter frosting and the chocolate frosting for a layered frosting look.
Posted by: Sallie
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Most Fabulous Fudge Frosting

Picture courtesy of  Sweetapolita

     This delicious chocolate cake has become a birthday staple at our house. The first time I made it, my family wholeheartedly agreed it was pretty much the best chocolate cake ever. The magical frosting is amazing too, but after a birthday request for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, the chocolate/chocolate combo has become my most requested cake.

     I was first drawn to this recipe because of  minimal ingredients,  the use of a food processor, and mostly because you don't need to sift the powdered sugar. Powered sugar and me have a love-hate relationship. Why does it have to be so messy? (Maybe because I'm using a 20 year old sifter that shoots powdered sugar out the sides.)
     It's really simple to make and dare I say fool proof? All the ingredients are added to the food processor and after a few pulses you're done! The most important step is to make sure you let your melted chocolate cool, or else you'll end up with really runny frosting.

     The result is a rich, silky smooth, chocolate frosting. After serving it to my teenage son's friends, they were all begging me to send their Mom's the recipe. Really? Teenage boys asking for recipes? Yeah, it's that good.
      **I like to frost the entire cake and then stick it in the fridge or freezer for 20-30 minutes before putting on the remaining frosting. It goes on smoother and looks much prettier.**

Instant Fudge Frosting

  • 6 oz. (180 g) quality unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 4-1/2 cups (563 g) confectioners' sugar (no need to sift)
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks)(340 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) half-and-half   (I've used milk in a pinch with good results)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until the frosting is smooth.

Posted by: Sallie
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Southwestern Ranch Chicken Club Wraps

Wow! It's been so long, I've almost forgotten  how to post. This last year has thrown my family for a real loop. With my youngest starting first grade, I decided to take a part-time job at a local elementary school. As if that wasn't enough, a few weeks later I decided that I would go back to school myself.  After 13 years of staying at home with my kids, this was no easy task. I'm not in any way, shape, or form implying that staying at home with children is easy! (You stay-at-home Mom's know exactly what I'm talking about). It has been really hard, and I still question if I'm doing the right thing, but despite the struggles, I am enjoying being a student again. We've survived one year, only three more to go! On top of both of these developments, we are also building a new house. (I think I must be insane!) My sister Julia has added another adorable little daughter to her family, so this explains our lack of posting.

Although I still enjoy cooking, sadly I don't have the time to prepare (or post about) the kind of meals I used to prepare on a daily basis. We save our "fancy meals" for Sunday dinner, and the rest of the week is reserved for quick, whatever my husband and I can throw together meals. I've got 3 more years of school ahead of me, but I can't wait until I graduate and can get back in my kitchen.

These wraps are a great meal for summer I had photographed and forgotten all about. Originally a sandwich, I decided the ingredients would be delicious as a wrap. Boy was I right!

The base for these delicious wraps is a wonderfully flavored, Mexican seasoned chicken which is then layered with crisp bacon, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato and avocado. What really adds to these wraps is the sauce. If you ask me, everything's better with sauce, and these wraps are no exception.  The sauce consists of a few simple ingredients: ranch dressing, sour cream, some chopped cilantro, and a few squeezes of lime. My whole family loved these  wraps which means they'll be making another appearance on the menu soon.

Southwestern Ranch Chicken Club Wraps
heavily adapted from here

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
8 strips bacon, cooked to desired crispness and cut into bite sized pieces
approx. 1-2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese, to taste
1 tomato diced
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime, divided
lettuce, torn into  pieces (like you would put on a sandwich)
Flour tortillas (burrito or large taco size work best)

1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Combine ranch mix, chili powder and cumin and sprinkle evenly over the chicken.

2. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil while you prepare the other  components. (Note: Something in the ranch dressing mix makes the chicken get pretty brown, so if that bothers you, you can easily bake the chicken instead. I'd do 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cutlets.) Let chicken rest for about 5 minutes and then cut or shred into chunks with a fork.

3. To make the sauce, mix together the ranch dressing, sour cream, cilantro, and juice of half a lime. Use the remaining lime juice to dress the avocado to prevent browning.

4. To make a wrap, layer shredded chicken, grated cheese, chopped bacon, chopped tomato, and a few slices of avocado on a tortilla Top with lettuce. Drizzle with sauce and roll tortilla up tightly.

Posted by: Sallie
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