Lettuce Wraps

Working overtime, going to the gym and making a home cooked meal…it takes commitment to do them all. But I’m managing. Mostly.

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Sometimes I worry that my dinners are too simple to be worthy of a blog post. But then, I think about why I started writing here in the first place. To share the happenings in my kitchen. To keep a personal record of my journey with food. So I’m going to try worry less and post more.

Like I said there’s nothing complicated about these lettuce wraps. But ground beef seasoning is flavorful and easy to throw together on a busy week night.

Ground Beef Seasoning

Cumin
Black pepper
Salt
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes

That’s it. I kind of just sprinkle by eye so experiment as you go to get the taste you want. Squeezing fresh lemons over the top seals the deal.

And as always, I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Cheesy Orzo with Sauteed Spinach

Tonight was the perfect excuse to make a pasta dish. After all, it’s Meatless Monday.

This recipe is a fusion of two of my favorites: mac n cheese and creamed spinach. It’s a bit heavy for a Spring meal, but it was incredibly delicious nonetheless.

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Cheesy Orzo with Sauteed Spinach
Ingredients
3/4 small cereal bowl of dry orzo
5-6 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 handful of shredded Colby Jack
1/2 can of Cheddar Cheese soup
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup half n half
Salt n pepper
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil

Directions

1. Cook your orzo according to package instructions.
2. Meanwhile, sautee your onion. Once it becomes transparent, add the spinach and mix until thoroughly wilted.
3. Once the orzo is ready, drain the water. Mix in all ingredients and heat for 3-4 more minutes.

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Although I enjoyed this as a main course, I think it would also be great served as a side with a steak.

Good thing I got a solid hour in at the gym! 😉

Pearl Couscous Stirfry

Have you ever heard of Pearl Couscous? I hadn’t up until a few weeks ago. I saw a coworker eating it at the kitchen table at work. I asked, “What kind of grain is that?” “Pearl couscous”, he said. “Would you like to try some?” And try some I did. And then just another spoonful more. Such a yummy, nutty flavor to it!

I liked it so much that I made a point to find some when I went to the grocery store later that week.

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Searching the Web and Pinterest, I easily found a bunch of recipes. Tonight, I was inspired by a post from Your Food Life.

Pearl Couscous Stirfry
Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup filtered water
2/3 cup Pearl Couscous
1 tomato
1/2 white onion
6 mushrooms
Shredded cabbage
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 lb ground beef
1 egg
Salt
Pepper
Garlic salt
Parsley
Butter
Olive oil

1. Boil the vegetable broth and water, then add the Pearl Couscous. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. Mix in a 1/2 tbsp or less of butter once the liquid is almost vaporated.
2. Brown the ground beef on a separate pan, then set aside.

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3. Peel the tomato and chop it in the half. Then peel the onion and chop it in half. Blend both ingredients together into a puree.

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4. Mix the puree with the ground beef and cook with a drizzle of olive oil for about 3 minutes.

5. Chop remaining veggies and add them to the pan.

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6. Once the veggies are almost done, break the egg into a bowl and whisk. Then make a space on the pan and slowly pour in the egg. Wait a minute or two, then mix it in with the rest of the ingredients.

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7. Season the beef-veggie stirfry then serve with your delicious Pearl Couscous.

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This was a big hit. So glad I made it. 🙂

Spicy Pan-Seared Chicken

I have been concentrating on making major improvements in my health. I’m exercising almost everyday and trying to watch what I eat. It’s a daily battle, but it gets a little easier with each passing day.

Tonight I decided to make a super lean meal: chicken, mushrooms and salad. But as healthy as it was, it was also full of flavor.

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Spicy Pan Seared Chicken serves 1 to 2

1 chicken breast (cut in half, lengthwise)
Buffalo sauce
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes
Black pepper
Salt
Canola or vegetable oil

Directions

1. Cut your chicken breast in half, rinse and pat dry.
2. Sprinkle the spices over each side of the chicken.

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3. Put a couple dots of buffalo sauce on one side. Spread evenly with a pastry brush. Repeat on other side.

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4. Heat your oil on a large pan. Once oil is hot, cook your chicken. One chicken breast will take roughly 15 minutes to cook, but this will vary depending on its weight.

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Honey and Beer Glazed Chicken

I haven’t been sticking to my resolution to make weekly meal plans. So like many other nights, I found myself at the grocery store with no list, no plan.

Whenever I find myself in this place, I open my Pinterest app and check my “food to make” board. And viola…a perfect recipe appears. Isn’t technology great?

The original recipes comes from The Beeroness.

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Honey and Beer Glazed Chicken
Ingredients
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup Stout beer (I used Guinness)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large shallot, chopped
2 chicken breasts (sliced in thin halves)
Green onions
1 tbsp canola oil

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, red and black pepper, beer and mustard. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
2. In a small pan, saute the shallot until translucent.
3. Heat the canola oil on a large pan. Cook one side of the chicken, then flip over. Pour the sauteed shallots over the chicken. Cover the pan and continue to cook on high heat. Half way through, pour a little more of the marinade over the chicken. It should be ready in about 20 minutes.

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Kadın Budu Köfte (Fried Meatballs)

Kadın Budu Köfte, translated into English is lady thigh meatball. This is perhaps due to its shape or perhaps to where its going after you eat it. 😉 Whatever the reason, it’s well seasoned, fried, and dipped in cool yogurt. In other words, it’s “çok lezzetli” (very delicious).

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Kadın Budu Köfte
Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion (chopped)
1/4 cup cooked rice
4 eggs
Flour
Köfte bahartı (ingredients below)
Cumin
Salt & pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

1. Cook 3/4 of the ground beef with the onions, then drain the fat. Be sure to break it up as small possible.
2. Put the raw and cooked ground beef in a large mixing bowl with 1 egg, the rice, and spices. Knead together until well mixed. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

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3. Remove the bowl from the fridge and begin shaping your meatballs. They should look like mini footballs.
4. Put some flour in 1 bowl and beat the remaining 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Dip each köfte in the flour and then egg.

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5. In a pan, heat some vegetable oil. Once the oil is sizzling hot, put in some of the köfte. I cooked mine in batches of 6.

Kadın Budu Köfte is traditionally served cold (prepared as above and then refrigerated and served the next day). But you can also eat it right away, warm. Serve with plain Greek yogurt.

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Köfte Bahartı
Cumin
Paprika
Black pepper
Coriander
Allspice
Hot red pepper
Sodium bicarbonate

Indian Butter Chicken

This might sound strange, but I’ve been craving butter chicken ever since my trip to Dublin, Ireland. My family and I went to an Indian restaurant there with probably the best Indian food I’ve ever tasted.

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Indian Butter Chicken
Adapted from Cooking and Me
Ingredients
1 chicken breast, cubed and cooked
1/2 onion, minced
1 tomato, pureed
1 tbsp of tomato paste or sauce
1 tbsp of butter
Splash of olive oil
1 tsp of minced garlic
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tsp of garam masala (see recipe below)
1 large pinch of ground fenugreek
1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
Red pepper flakes to taste

Directions
1. Heat the butter in a pan and add the minced onions. Fry until golden brown.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, chilli powder, turmeric, and salt. Fry for a minute until fragrant.
3. Add the pureed tomato and tomato paste and cook for 3-4 mins until the mixture bubbles uniformly.
4. Thrown in the fenugreek, milk, and the cubed chicken. Cook covered for 8-10 mins until the chicken is soft.
5. When the chicken is cooked soft, open the lid and cook for a further minute or two.
6. When done, add the garam masala. Give it a good stir, but don’t boil.
7. Adjust salt and remove from fire.
8. Serve hot with rice and plain Green yogurt.

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Garam Masala
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients together

Note: This will make a little more garam masala than you need for the recipe. Save it for another time or add to your butter chicken to increase flavor. The red pepper flakes also help to bring out the flavor of the spices.

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