Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Wrapping Things Up

My 2 escapees, ready to make a break for it!
Some days I wish I could run away with them.
My week is only halfway there and it has already been some kind of a whirlwind, even as I am heading into the weekend I am continuing with panic attacks!

Tonight we are hosting weekly dinner for the girls' volleyball team at our house. As we are also preparing for our house guests who arriving next week (and then other arrivals the week after that), this includes lots of organizing, cleaning, scheduling carpet shampoo company, volleyball games, menus, tourist planning, and putting the finishing touches on our new guest room makeover. I think at this point not only do I have my lists everywhere, I'm quite certain I now have lists for my lists.  Not to mention my roles in the school Booster Club and my new appointment as a City Commissioner for the Art in Public Places Program, which I am super excited about being a part of.

Needless to say, dinners these days need to be really fast and easy for us right now.  I have tried (and failed) these Chicken Lettuce Wraps on many experimental occasions, but I think this time I finally "crushed it" (as my teens would say).

P.F. Chang's by far is one of my top 5 restaurants.  We absolutely love going there for special nights when we get the chance and always the first order of business is their Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (which I will save to experiment on making, for a quieter time in my life).

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Inspired by P.F. Chang's

1 pound ground chicken
1 (8 ounce) container baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bottle, "Soy Vay" brand, Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce (see photo below)
1 head bibb lettuce, washed and dried well

In a large saute pan, add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and set temperature to medium-high heat.  Add the ground chicken and cook until just starting to brown.  Lower temperature to medium and add the chopped mushrooms, water chestnuts, scallions and garlic cloves.  Saute for about 15 minutes.

Add about 1 cup of the Teriyaki Sauce to chicken/veggies, stir well, cover and let simmer on low for about 15 minutes. (You can add more sauce if you prefer).  Uncover and stir until you get the consistency of a thick sauce.

Spoon cooked chicken mixture on individual chilled lettuce leaves.

"Soy Vay" brand, Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce
My secret sauce!!

One Year Ago: Gorgonzola Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad
Two Years Ago: Nutella Cookies and Neighbors

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pear Cake, Pinterest and Prayer

In my never ending effort to search out and find new innovating recipes, I have become an avid subscriber to Pinterest.  It's actually really more of a love-hate relationship.  I haven't decided if the site motivates me and inspires me to create and "think outside the box" or depresses me because there are so many talented people in this world and I am just in awe of them, their specialties and jealous of the time they have to create so many beautiful it foods, crafts, events, tabletops, etc...

My world has been quite busy as of late and I have been in need of anything new that can be created on a budget and in a time friendly manner.  I just have to keep reminding myself that "this too shall pass", take a deep breath and pray.

This cake is one of those gems that I recently stumbled on during one of my Pinterest binges.  It was incredibly easy, fast, amazingly delicious and fit my budget.  I think it would also make a great coffee cake (for those rare special days that I actually get to sit during a weekend morning and relax).

Pear Cake
Adapted from An Italian In My Kitchen

1-1/2 cups flour
5-1/2 Tbl. cornstarch
1 Tbl. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup mascarpone
2-1/2 Tbl. canola oil
pinch of salt
2 pears
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour a 9" cake pan.  (I used a spring-form pan).

Clean and peel the pears.  One pear chop into medium sized cubes, and the other pear thin slices and set aside.

In a medium bowl, at medium speed beat eggs and sugar until creamy, add mascarpone and continue beating until smooth.

In another medium bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch and baking powder.

Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture and stir gently to combine, then add the oil and salt and stirring to combine.

Fold in the medium-sized cubed pear, spoon into the prepared cake pan.

Top with the sliced pears and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake approximately 45 minutes.  Let cool and dust with powdered sugar.

One Year Ago:  Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Sandwich
Two Years Ago: Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas

Friday, September 4, 2015

Eggplant, Green Olive and Provolone Pizza

It's Friday, which means Pizza, Flatbread or Pizzette for dinner.  I recently signed up with website and receive daily e-mails and recipes from them.  
This one came across my computer and I changed it up a little to fit our dinner and tastes.  

This pizza definitely did not disappoint.  So incredibly easy to make and really flavorful!  I recommend this for any night of the week for a delicious appetizer or dinner.  We paired it with a Castle Rock Pinot Noir to finish it off.

Eggplant, Green Olive and Provolone Pizza
Adapted from Epicurious

1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/4 pound eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch thick rounds
1 Stonefire Artisan pre-made pizza crust (original recipe calls for store-bought pizza dough)
5 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (original recipe calls for 5 ounces sliced Provolone cheese)
18 pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (1/3 cup)
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
** I also added 1 (8 ounce) package button mushrooms, sliced (not in original recipe)

Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat.

Stir together garlic and oil.  Brush some of the garlic oil on both sides of eggplant and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Grill, covered, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes total.  Cut into roughly 1 inch pieces.

(From original recipe), stretch dough into about a 12" x 10" rectangle on a large baking sheet and lightly brush with garlic oil.  Oil grill rack, then put dough, oiled side down, on grill.  Brush top with more garlic oil.  Grill covered, until underside is golden brown, 1-1/2 to 3 minutes.

Using tongs, return crust, grilled side up, to baking sheet.  (At this point, I just added my pre-made crust to the baking sheet and brushed some of the garlic oil on it).

Scatter eggplant, cheese, olives, parsley and mushrooms over crust.  Slide pizza from sheet onto grill and grill, covered until underside is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.  Enjoy!

One Year Ago: Strawberry-Blueberry Crunch
Two Years Ago: Hot Chili Mama Salsa

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mushroom Marsala Ravioli

In my effort to prepare for our upcoming guests at the end of the month, I have been enjoying hitting all the vintage stores in our area.  We have some of the most unique boutiques I've ever seen.  I love taking an hour and just perusing through all their aisles and corners finding little treasures.

One of my latest finds that now hangs at our garage door,
to give us a little reminder as we leave and start our
day each morning.
If you follow this blog you know that my husband is a huge fan of Chicken Marsala and Chicken Piccata.  A few weeks ago he came home and mentioned that he tried out a new place for lunch with one of his friends and had the "most unbelievable ravioli dish".  Coming from him that says a lot!  He said it was a sausage and mushroom ravioli with Marsala sauce.   Well, that did sound quite good, so I thought "I can make that, how hard can it be", right?  I did some research and really couldn't find a complete recipe for, I have taken a little of this one and a little of that one and have now found yet another little treasure.  This dish was unbelievable!!!! Incredible complex flavors, but not a complex meal to make.

Mushroom Marsala Ravioli

9 ounce package, Buitoni Mushroom Agnolotti
9 ounce package, Buitoni Spicy Beef and Sausage Ravioli

(if you cannot find these Buitoni flavors in your area, you can substitute with another brand in the refrigerated deli case or you may find something similar in the frozen ravioli area also)

1-1/2 Tbl. butter
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 ounces shallots, diced
1 cup Marsala wine
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Cook both the ravioli according to package directions.

While ravioli is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet.  Saute the mushrooms, then remove from pan and set aside.  Add more butter to the same skillet, if needed and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Add the shallots, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the Marsala wine, thyme, parsley, and pepper.  Stir until the liquid is reduced to 2-3 tablespoons.  Add the cream and stir constantly until reduced by half.  Stir the mushrooms into the sauce, then spoon onto the cooked ravioli.  Finish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

One Year Ago: Garlic Chicken Skewers
Two Years Ago: The Flavornator