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.
This Asian style tofu coconut curry is a little Thai and a little American organic farmer’s market. It was created out of ingredients I had on hand and ended up being one of those dishes that my family couldn’t get enough of. The leftovers went fast! The creamy coconut curry is comforting with just enough heat and acidity. The textures work wonderfully, with squash-like green papaya, crunchy bean sprouts, soft marinated tofu and just-cooked Swiss chard. If you don’t have some of these ingredients available, I’ve included a variety of substitutions in the recipe.
I happen to have a papaya tree in my yard (well, I HAD one in my yard). It was so full of unripe fruit; it broke in half, leaving me with 30 or so green papayas to get creative with. I found they are delicious roasted, fried, raw and sautéed, like in this dish. Each way of preparing them brings out a different quality of this versatile fruit. I used a very green papaya this time, it should be completely white on the inside and the seeds should be white as well. When cooked, the papaya softens just enough, and the texture becomes like a turnip, taking on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. If you don’t have green papaya, substitute anything starchy like winter squash, pumpkin or sweet potato.
This is an easy dish to prepare, and healthy. The key is to cook each veggie in the right order to keep them fresh and crunchy. Before preparing this dish, remove your tofu from its container, slice it and marinate it overnight. You will be surprised at how delicious and flavorful it will be. One more note: I used yellow curry powder in this dish (not authentic Thai, but easy), accented with some herbs. If you want to be more authentic, use Thai yellow curry paste.
Yield: Serves 4-6
Serve with white or brown rice, or rice noodles.
Remove tofu from the container and slice into 1 inch cubes. Add the tofu to a plastic zip lock bag long with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of lime juice and a pinch of chili flakes. Shake bag to distribute evenly and place into the refrigerator overnight, turning once. Before cooking, drain the marinade from the tofu and place on a paper towel to dry.
To make the curry, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and chili flakes and stir until fragrant but not browned. Add the onion, coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, bay leaf and curry powder. Cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce,1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and brown sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Add the papaya (or substitute) to the pan and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
While the papaya is cooking, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Add the tofu when the oil is hot and let brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce and cook, turning the cubes, until they are crusted and brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the Swiss chard to the curry and cook uncovered until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts, tofu cubes and lime juice and stir for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat. Remove the bay leaf and garnish with chopped cilantro or basil. Serve over rice or noodles.
This recipe with mussels, scallops and bok choy in Thai green coconut curry cooks in minutes with ingredients available in the international foods section of your supermarket, giving you a fresh curry dish that looks—and tastes—like you went to a lot of effort.
While the jarred green curry paste doesn’t hold up to freshly made versions, most of us don’t have the time or the ingredients to make one from scratch. This recipe is a fast and easy way to bring the taste of Thai home, and is of better quality than what you will find in most restaurants.
I like to walk by the seafood section of my supermarket just to check out the freshness of what they have on display that day. I rarely make a purchase because I live just a few blocks from one of the best seafood markets in Miami. On this particular day, the mussels looked fresh and I had a craving for scallops. At $20.95 a pound for the scallops, I only bought six, along with a pound of the more reasonably priced mussels (only $3.95 a pound). Looking for good seafood recipes, I came across this one for Thai Shrimp, Scallop and Mussel Curry. Having most of the ingredients on hand (more and less); I gave the recipe a shot.
It was easy to make and full of flavor. The bok choy was perfectly cooked and still crunchy and the tomatoes add some sweet, juicy bites to the dish. Serve it with a side of Jasmine rice and you’ll find it irresistible to stop dunking spoonfuls into the slightly spicy, creamy, coconut milk sauce.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
Prepare everything before cooking; this dish cooks up in 8-10 minutes. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and curry paste and stir about 1 minute until you smell that delicious garlic. Now add the coconut milk and increase the heat to high. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, wine (or chicken broth) and Sriacha. Cover for 2 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Remove the lid and add the bok choy and mussels. Cover and cook about 2 minutes until you see some of the shells opening. Remove the lid and stir, then add in the scallops and cover again. Cook for another few minutes until the mussels open and the scallops are just cooked. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes.
Pour into bowls and top with scallions, basil and cilantro.