It’s Saturday as I’m writing this, one thirty in the afternoon and it’s the first time I’ve sat down since I woke up this morning. Weekends are for relaxing (aren’t they? Or do I have that wrong?). My weekends are more work than my weekdays lately. I have two days to clean the house, run errands (grocery shopping), spend time with my toddler (who is a full-time job) and work on Love and Duck Fat.
On Sunday I cook as much as I can to make sure we have healthy, home-cooked meals for the week. This Thai beef lettuce wrap recipe is one of our new favorites.
Gluten-Free, Paleo, Real Food, Organic, Grass-fed…however you want to label them; these beef lettuce wraps are a delicious, healthy recipe to add to your weekday meal lineup. I like to make a double batch of the beef filling and use it for dinner one night, and then use the leftovers in an Asian beef salad the next day.
Beef lettuce wraps are light, flavorful and full of crunchy texture. They are easy to make too. I usually keep a few pounds of grass-fed, organic ground beef in my freezer to pull out for meals later in the week. Ground beef is one of those versatile, affordable staples that make a busy schedule just a little easier.
When life is busy (and a little overwhelming) in times like these, you know what I do? More!
Yep. I committed to working out 20 minutes a day on top of everything else so I can manage my stress and get in better shape. I’m almost through my first week, and it’s hard, but I need to do something for myself–even if a toddler is climbing all over me while I’m trying to do yoga.
It’s a lot to handle, and sometimes I think I should just quit Love and Duck Fat for a while—I mean, why am I here? I’m certainly not getting paid (much beyond expenses) for my time, and blogging takes a LOT of my time. There’s recipe creating, cooking, photographic, photo editing, writing, social media promotion, emails to answer, blog maintenance.
I’m not complaining. After all, I started this blog and I’m very proud of it. I’m compelled to keep doing it—and maybe someday it will lead to something that would make the hours worthwhile in a more monetary sense. That would be nice…to be valued enough for what I do to get paid for it so I don’t have to go to that OTHER job where I feel like what I’m doing could be done by anyone.
Love and Duck Fat is all mine, and that’s why I’m taking the few quiet moments of my day (when my son is napping) to sit here and share this Thai beef lettuce wrap recipe with you. I would love to hear what you think about handling a busy schedule, priorities and blogging. You do you do it? Please share in the comments!
Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry, keeping them whole by cutting the stalk and peeling away the leaves one by one.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan and add the chili flakes and ginger. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant but not brown. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes, until soft. Add the beef and sauté beef until nearly cooked. If using Grass-Fed beef it is usually lower in fat and you may not need to drain the grease.
Add the garlic, water chestnuts, mushrooms, soy sauce, fish sauce to the beef mixture. Cook until mixture is lightly browned.
Cut half the lime and squeeze juice over the beef mixture. Slice the remaining lime and use as garnish. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Garnish with scallions and serve with lettuce leaves and optional dipping sauce.
Mix all ingredients together and stir until combined. Garnish with scallions.
Have you ever experienced one of those times when your whole life drastically changes with a single decision or day? Times like these don’t happen very often. Sometimes you are expecting the changes and working towards them for year. Other times a single, seemingly unimportant decision may change your life overnight.
I’m going through one of those moments–my whole family is. I can’t go into detail (maybe after the smoke clears), but I’m sharing this moment with you because, while I love blogging, it sure is difficult to keep up with it all right now.
To fulfill goal #1, we are eating lots of healthy salads; emphasizing fresh, local and seasonal fruits and veggies with every meal. Since I am VERY short on time; this works out well. I can throw together a meal in minutes and usually don’t have to cook. This saves me a lot of time cleaning up the kitchen because all I use is a knife and cutting board.
One of my favorite simple salads is this Japanese cucumber salad, also known as Sunomono. It takes minutes to prepare and has so much flavor. This cucumber salad is crunchy, tangy and slightly sweet—all good things when its summer time and you want to eat something yummy that won’t slow you down. You can add all sorts of extras to make this salad into more of a meal like rice noodles, Mandarin oranges, crab and shrimp.
I hope you enjoy this easy cucumber salad as much as we do. Stay tuned for a Vietnamese version that’s just as good but a bit spicier.
If you are using small cucumbers, slice them crosswise. For larger cucumbers, they need to be peeled, seeded and cut in half lengthwise, and them crosswise into half moon shapes.
Add the cucumbers to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine salt, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Mix well.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and stir. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Food Network's Cucumber Salad
We love Chinese five spice around here. We love Cornish Hens, too. Together, they make everyone happy. I like to keep a pair of Cornish Hens in my freezer for a quick meal. In the past, I cooked them whole, but now I almost always cut them in half. They cook faster. The portion size is more reasonable, and you can get a juicier bird because it cooks evenly.
You can grill or bake this delicious recipe for Chinese five spice Cornish Hens. Marinate them ahead of time for the best flavor. I recommend at least 4 hours to overnight. Save the leftover marinade to make a flavorful, dark sauce to pour on top. With two birds, you get four nice servings. It’s a romantic dinner for two (with leftovers) or an impressive meal for six. I like to bring out this recipe when the in-laws are visiting because it’s easy, but looks like I’ve worked all day.
I like to pair Chinese five spice Cornish Hens with some brown rice or fried rice, and some simply cooked vegetables like sautéed mustard greens with garlic and sesame or zucchini sautéed with soy and garlic.
I have to mention the photos in this post. They aren’t up to my usual standards, so don’t be surprised if the pictures change the next time I cook this recipe. You see, I need to photograph all of my recipes in daylight if I want everything to look pretty. Sometimes that doesn’t happen…and I end up doing my best with a lamp and slow shutter speed.
Combine all ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the Cornish Hens and seal, turning and squeezing just a little so the marinade coats the hens well. Refrigerate for 4 hours or as long as overnight.
Preheat oven to 425° F/ 220° C (or heat grill)
Remove the hens from the marinade and pat dry. Pour the leftover marinade into a saucepan.
Sprinkle the hens with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Arrange hens, skin side up, in a roasting pan. Roast until browned and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes and internal temperature is 160 degrees (hens will continue to cook when removed from the oven). Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
While the hens are cooking, cook the marinade on low heat until it reduces into a thick syrup. It should coat the back of a spoon. Spoon the sauce over the hens before serving.
Okra holds a special place in my heart. I grew up eating it in the grossest way. While most people try to cook okra in a way that will make it less slimy, my mother encouraged–even reveled in it. We ate okra boiled whole in salted water. Nothing else. You ate it in a bowl with the slimy “sauce” poured on top.
Doesn’t that sound good?
My dad hated the stuff. Anyone who tried it hated the stuff, and it took me a very long time to figure out that maybe it wasn’t the okra that was so disgusting. Maybe it needed to be cooked a different way.
This recipe for roasted okra with soy and garlic glaze is simple. It doesn’t hide the okra. It actually highlights it. The sweet okra flavor is more pronounced. The texture is tender—not slimy. Each little pod is beautifully shellacked in golden soy sauce, split open to reveal the little seeds inside.
This is one of those recipes I will make over and over because it’s that good. It’s eat-the-whole-batch-yourself-good. If you are one of the few people in the world who love okra, and want your family to love it too, this is your recipe.
There are only four ingredients at work in this recipe, but one of them is a little harder to find. Dark soy sauce (you can substitute regular soy if that’s all you have). Dark soy sauce is reddish-brown in color and thick like molasses (but not sweet). You can find it in Asian markets for a few dollars. Regular soy sauce and the “light” soy sauce are thin, saltier and better for adding at the end of cooking. Dark soy sauce is better for slow cooking and for giving sauces deep color and flavor. You can spoon it over roasts or duck to form a beautiful glaze. It works well with vegetables, too because it “sticks” better.
Let me know if you give this recipe a try. I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to hear your favorite way to eat okra. Please share!
Wash and dry okra. Cut off the hard stem and “head” of larger okra. Slice lengthwise. On a large sheet pan, mix okra, olive oil, soy sauce and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer and roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping twice, until okra is tender and rich brown on the edges. Taste and sprinkle with salt if necessary. Serve warm.