Category Archives: Mains

Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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For all you party people out there who enjoy the likes of PF Changs, you’re in luck today! I’m going to woo you with Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps as a way to distract you from nagging me about another blog post. Yes, I’ve been MIA and the person whose mostly losing out is my sweet grandmother, Winnie, who is about to be featured here. Grandma, my apologies for not writing this sooner!

Here’s the recap on the past two months: I went to a wedding in Sunset Beach, North Carolina where I had the most delicious mojito and danced the night away. I visited Lake Burton with my ATL crew and said farewell to friends moving to Boston. My dear friend Claire got married in Savannah where I ate the most deliciously moist lemon cake and my friend Sean broke his chair at brunch. Much to his dismay, it was the best part of the weekend. Monroe City, Missouri stole my heart with its rolling cornfields, welcoming community, and overwhelming wildflowers. Lastly, I visited Austin, TX for the first time where I was treated to the BEST food thanks to my lovely host Molly. My sister and I talked all things growing up while we gorged on tacos, amazing smoothies, kolaches, barbecue, and brunch. I am still dreaming of the mezcal drink I had with my sistahwife Molly along with many a cucumber-grapefruit-gin drink that I tried at every place we went.

Lately I’m saying many goodbyes to friends who are starting new adventures in new cities. While I’m sad to see them go, it’s exciting to see people go on their next adventure and become a little bit more of themselves. Throughout the process of saying goodbye, I got to partake in bucket list items that I might not have ventured to otherwise 🙂 This really means new people will have to learn to partake in my late-night baking activities and that I’m going to have to start trolling Yelp in the cities where my friends move. Note to all my friends out there – when I come to visit you, I will have already found the best food instagrammers in your city and will have at least one opinion about following their food recommendations.

Let me tell you about these lettuce wraps. My grandmother loves to take the girls in my family to PF Changs where we always like to get the chicken lettuce wraps. Every time I’ve had them, I never really thought they’d be easy to make at home. THEN my friend Cessie taught Christine and I how to make these really healthy chicken lettuce wraps just like the ones at the restaurant (where you wrap it up like a massive burrito and stuff it in your mouth gracefully and then everything falls out).

After trying it once, I wanted to try out these lettuce wraps from Cookie and Kate for my grandma on Mother’s Day. My grandma Winnie is such an inspiration to me and also the person who gave me a bad habit of laughing anyone’s actually said anything. She can’t start a story without laughing which has entirely rubbed off on me. We also like to sit and eat snacks and chat about love, life , family , and most importantly faith. I was blessed to have so many wonderful Indian dishes from her kitchen over the years, and it’s been a joy to me to be able to actually make something of my own for her. Serve this dish as a light meal with coconut rice like I did or as an appetizer like at PF Changs. I actually made it in advance and it warmed up nicely. I think the mango salad benefits from some extra time marinating as well.

Thai Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps

adapted from this recipe from Cookie and Kate 

Peanut sauce: 

⅓ cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar or maple syrup

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

½ lime, juiced

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

Mango pico
2 ripe mangos, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ bunch (about 4) green onions, chopped
⅓ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
½ lime, juiced
⅛ teaspoon salt
Chicken:
1 lb chicken breast, cubed
soy sauce
sriracha or chili garlic sauce
For the rest: small head of green cabbage
Coconut rice:
 1 cup rice ( I used short grain brown rice)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1. Boil water and coconut milk in a small pot. Add rice and salt and bring back down to a simmer, covering rice for about 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender. (you can skip this step if you just want the wraps as an appetizer)
2. In a jar or small bowl, whisk all the peanut sauce ingredients together and place in the fridge to meld flavors.
3. Mix all the mango pico ingredients in a large bowl or serving dish. I know you’re thinking there’s not much in this but I promise it taste delicious and doesn’t need much to it!
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4. Cook chicken: Heat a saute pan to medium-high heat and add a few teaspoons of coconut oil or another light flavored oil. Once hot, add chicken and soy sauce. I would recommend about a tablespoon since that’s what the tofu in the original recipe is tossed in, and I added some chili garlic sauce as well. Saute chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side and then turn off the heat. Drain sauce out and place chicken on a serving plate.
5. To serve, cut the bottom thick part of the cabbage stem off and slowly peel back the layers of the cabbage. Really get to KNOW your cabbage. I found this to be actually pretty hard, but the good thing is that the green cabbage leaves are so thick that even if they rip they can hold a good amount of food.
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6. Eat your rice on the side or make a big mound of lettuce wrap and put chicken, mango pico, and rice in your wrap. You can either pour sauce into the wrap or dip the wrap into it.
If you’re like me, you’ll ask your grandmother a gazillion questions about growing up, how to know what God’s calling you to do next, why men are from Mars, what her favorite thing about Grandpa is, and oh yea please pass the vino. Dear Grandma, sorry this post is so late but I’m so glad you like the meal! (and I hope you read this)
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Sausage and Kale with Spaghetti Squash

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I write to you as a serious grown up, sitting here in my apartment, roommate less for another week, reflecting on life and shifting all the much-loved time with my roommate to some really productive things. I’ve taken to actually watering my one plant, cleaning my room, paying bills and running errands that most people take care of within a few days of needing something but usually take me months.

There’ve been some important conversations and revelations with my friends. To my dismay, I found out that one of my closest friends prefers the cardboard flavored animal cracker to the quite conveniently transportable AND fashionable AND delicious barnum & bailey animal cracker box which we’ve decided are really “animal cookies.” While I find her opinions to be wrong, I’m glad we can be honest about these things.

On the positive side, Jason DeRulo has two new songs out, I’m going to the lake this weekend and this spaghetti squash with kale and sausage was delicious. Though I will miss Christine dearly, we have decided to have a roomie food challenge from Atlanta to Boston. Since we used to cook together, we want to facetime while we are making our favorite recipes so I can help her know JUST WHEN to stop stirring her muffin batter and she can share her attempts at our laundry list of recipe ideas. If you can master any of them first and send to us, we’ll be amazed….the list includes Basic girl dip (goat cheese, kale, dried cranberries, candied pecans and whatever other basic things you can think of), more vegan peanut butter pies, granola recipes, the best tahini dressings, tahini baked goods ,anything with kimchi, and mediterranean seven layer dip take 2. OH and anything that involves slow-cooked short ribs or stewed tomatoes.

On to this recipe. I made this a few months back with my friend Ed whom you’ve met in earlier posts. I like stuffing vegetables with meat and garlic and I also love the kale/sausage combo. This was ideal for a cold day, but could still be a good spring recipe with the amount of greens you could substitute right now.

Speaking of greens, who has ever heard of green garlic?? I went to this farmer’s market a few weeks ago and tried to buy green onions at literally three different farm stands only to be stopped by the soft spoken vendors who noted, “ah, no, see the flat stems, ah yes, that’s green GARLIC.” So apparently green garlic is a green onion with a flat stem. Who would’ve thought. (I’m gonna get to the recipe I promise). I HAVE to tell you guys about the ricotta fritters first though. My friend Justin and I walked around tryna be all skinny minny, looking at the bread table and not sampling anything until wafts of *FRIED SOMETHING WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE” floated from this Italian restaurant’s table.

What I came to find is that ricotta donut holes are the most heavenly start to a weekend you could ever experience. Forget long-winded brunches with your closest friends, sipping your coffee quietly while listening to indie brunch music while the birds chirp, sleeping til the afternoon – no, in order for you to start the weekend off right, you really need to pop out of bed, get over to the farmer’s market and demand one of these fritters. Ok now that you’ve decided what you’re doing this weekend….recipe!!

Sausage and Kale stuffed spaghetti squash (really this is a capsized spaghetti squash boat we ate it bowls)

adapted from Paleo grubs, serves enough for two Jason deRulo and Ariana Grande fans + leftovers

2 medium sized spaghetti squash

1.5 lbs Italian sausage – we used a mix of sweet and hot

4 cloves, minced garlic

1 small onion, diced

1 bunch sliced kale (I used half of one of those big bags from Kroger)

a few tablespoons of olive oil

salt n pepper

parmesan cheese, to top

1. Start by turning your oven on to 400-450. Slice the squash lengthwise and scoop out the inside pumpkin-y stuff until it’s smooth. This can be confusing because I know you think that the stringy part is the spaghetti but in fact, it’s not. Rub olive oil over the inside of the cavity and sprinkle with salt n pepp. Place squash halves down in a baking dish and place under the oven for 35-50 minutes, turning throughout. I always roast them cut side down but this recipe said cut side up so we rotated….

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2. Heat a cast iron skillet or other wide skillet to medium high head and saute your onion for 5-6 minutes until they start to look translucent. Add garlic for 2 minutes more, then add in sausage, breaking it up after taking the sausages out of their casing. Cook the sausage for 10-12 minutes until brown and cooked through.

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3. At this point you can fold in your kale – you want to remove as many of the tough stems as you can. If you get the bank of kale you can just rip it off, if you’re using a more sturdy kale you can cut ribbons off the stem. Wilt the kale in for another 3-5 minutes until soft.

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4. Back to the squash….when the insides are fully cooked you can poke through them easily with a fork. Take them out of the oven and scrape out the insides with a fork, shredding the “spaghetti”. Mix in with the sausage kale mixture and you can either put the mixture back in the squash boat or in a bowl.

5. Serve with parmesan cheese and wine! Yummmm

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From-scratch Baked Falafel Salad with Honey Tahini dressing

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It’s sppprrriinnngggtiimmmeee peoples!! How do you all feel about having a birthday party for spring? As many of you may know, I have a die-hard obsession with Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers movies (the Parent Trap featuring Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Loan and You’ve Got Mail being at the tippy-top of the list). In Nora Ephron’s top success (if you ask me) You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan famously says that Fall “makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

Now what would you say about Spring to your mysterious email-pal? I know my friend Molly would say she’d send somebody a package of freshly cut green grass, as she claims the green lawns of UVA made her commit to going to school there. I might say I’d like to take a music box and capture the sound of birds in the morning or the sound of the whistle from soccer practice. What about the last class before spring break? How about the smell of dew hitting your nose as you walk out the door, the fresh scent of lilies, or eating warm ham biscuits with mustard on Easter? Going to Mellow Mushroom after soccer practice, and walking through the gardens at UVA. I love it! In addition to loving spring, I also love a good revival of an old fashion trend to bring back when the weather gets warm. One year it was overalls. This year, I’m feelin the comeback of platform flip flops. Thoughts?

And in true spring fashion, I’ve got a green-colored dish for you all. It just so happens that it’s the day before St. Patty’s as well. This year, I went to Savannah for St Patty’s and brought some Guinness cupcakes with me!! Are you an enthusiastic baker who jumps at the chance to make holiday-themed baked goods?? If so, come hang with me.

On to falafel. Fa-la-la-la-fel. One of my absolute FAVORITE foods, and also one that I haven’t ever mastered. Falafel is essentially a fried ball of chickpeas and herbs (but in this case baked.) Alas!!! A baked falafel recipe worth sharing from Cookie and Kate, a favorite blog in my home. There’s this place that sells delicious falafel by my office called Ameer’s. Every time I go, I try to craft a falafel salad which ends with me ordering side salad and falafel appetizer. Awkward meal, no more. I had heard that to make a homemade version of falafel, it is essential to use dried chickpeas. Well I don’t know if I mastered how to cook dried chickpeas, but I did get a good consistency.

Cookie and Kate says to soak the chickpeas for a long period of time, but I think you are also supposed to cook them once they soften. Mine were a little bit dry but all it did was make the falafel more firm.

Baked Falafel, adapted slightly from cookie+kate

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water at least 8 hours
  • ⅓ cup chopped onion (she says red I only had white)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep two wide skillets with 2 tablespoons olive oil while the oven heats.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine soaked and drained chickpeas, onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Puree until smooth, 30 seconds-1 minute.

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3. Before you start forming the falafel patties, make sure you’ve oiled the pans because otherwise you’re going to have a mess. Scoop out roughly two tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a ball first. Then flatten the ball lightly into a patty about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

4. Place each patty into one of your oiled skillets and drop a few sesame seeds on each.

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5. Bake falafel on the middle rack of your oven for 13 minutes on one side. While the first side is cooking, prep your dressing.

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6. QUICK DRESSING: Whisk about 2 tablespoons tahini, 1/2 tsp honey, 1 TBS water, a dash of cumin, salt and pepp, 1-2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar together.

7. Flip your falafel and bake for another 13-15 minutes. I found that for the flip I needed some more oil to get a crispy crust. In reality, this recipe may need more oil all around because I never got them to be super crispy.

8. Remove falafel from the oven. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Serve on a bed of lettuce, with chopped cucumber, carrot, tomato if you have it and some toasted walnuts. Drizzle dressing over top or use as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!!

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Stuffed Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

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I’m going to be upfront here and tell you that if I were writing a cookbook, this recipe would not be in it SOLELY for the fact that it is difficult to talk about how to make stuffed zucchini boats in a graceful manner. HOWEVER, the dish was good 🙂

And when you attend etiquette class in the fourth grade and learn how to gracefully smother your bread in butter NOT with a knife but with a graceful utensil-less shmear like me, you know that being elegant around food is important. (Are you proud I remembered that, Mom?)

I suggested we make this recipe for a quick girls getaway for MLK weekend and had the delightful pleasure of having a few girl friends help out with this intricate dish. What I didn’t know was how awkward it is to describe making these. “Yes, Ari, just scrape out the zucchini’s innards.” “Ok great, now put the zucchini flesh into a bowl and set aside for now.” Maybe you’re cringing, maybe this is intriguing you. If anything, at least it makes me happy that these are the kinds of experiences when I feel most alive. Just three gals, having girl talk in our pajamas and making a laughably girly meal followed by cookies. What more could you want?

My wonderful neighbor let us borrow her lakehouse for the weekend and while I can’t say I learned any wilderness skills, I met a dog named Buttons, at two delicious cinnamon rolls and gobs of cookie dough. It was a wonderful way to spruce up January, I might say. This lake always reminds me of busy days spent learned to waterski, tweeny tankinis (yea you know your mom made you wear one), and the days when my boy neighbors and I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask each other to hang out.

Rather, we perched right next to our moms on slow summer days and begged them to call our neighbors while we told them what to say. It started with, “Mom, I’m boooorrrreeed, will you ask Mrs. stockton if the boys want to play capture the flag?” (*sullen tween sigh*) “No, Katie, you can call th–” “Moooooommm pleasseeee.” The never-ending cycle of “mom, please” actually led to some great friendships and a lot of opportunities for learning to talk to foreign male species in middle school.

This winter trip defied all lake stereotypes from my perspective. No watermelon, no watersports, and really no pressure for activity at all. I feel blessed to have friends, new and old, here in Atlanta who enjoy the peacefulness of the mountains and find pure joy in each others’ company. As I look back on the weekend, I’m smiling thinking of the sun on the water.

As I told my friends that day, I used to think the glittery spots where the sun shone on the water were where angels were (don’t know where that came from). It was definitely the presence of my neighbor, Mr. Stockton, shining down on us from above – reminding us to reflect in the quiet that special places like the lake seem to behold. Court – thanks for being with us that day!!

Stuffed Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

adapted from Skinnytaste <- Yea, for real

serves 3 generously

For the enchilada sauce:

  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 tbsp chipotle chile in adobo sauce, more if you like it spicy
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (can find this in a can)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the zucchini boats:

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lb sauteed chicken breast, cut in little chunks
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp water or fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Start by having your lovely friend Julia saute some chicken breast. We just cut it into about 1-in chunks, and sauteed in olive oil, cumin, and some chili powder. Set aside.

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2. In a saucepan for the enchilada sauce, saute garlic, chipotle chiles, chili powder, chicken broth, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

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3. Meanwhile, get a large pot of water onto the stove and bring to a boil. (This will take a few minutes so you have time to prep the zucchini.)

4. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise (hot-dog style), and using a small spoon, “SCOOP THE FLESH FROM THE ZUCCHINI.” It says leave the boat 1/4 in. thick on the bottom, however this is really just dependent upon how much stuffing you want in your zucchini. From our experience, you may want to scoop out more if you like the zucchini soft and less if you like it a bit sturdier. Save the flesh and chop into little pieces for later.

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5. Once water is boiling, drop your zucchini halves in the boiling water for 1 minute to blanch them. Remove with tongs and set aside.

6. For the stuffing, saute onion garlic and green pepper in a skillet. Preferably have your chef wear a Happy New Years hat. When the onions are translucent and fragrant, add the zucchini insides and cilantro, Season with salt and pepper and cook until the zucchini are softened, about 4 minutes. Then , add cumin, oregano, chili powder, water or chicken broth, tomato paste and cook until everything comes together. Add in the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes, until all the ingredients are mixed.

2015-01-18 18.40.517. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (here we go, CASSEROLE LADIES), and place your zucchini boats face up in the dish. Stuff with desired amount of chicken mixture and pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the zucchini boats. If you so desire, top with a mound of sharp cheddar cheese.2015-01-18 19.20.00

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with cilantro lime rice and nommmm hard mi amigos.

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Italian Sausage, Spinach, Tortellini Soup

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This recipe comes from my dear friend Edward’s mom and is your go-to recipe for cooking with men (boys). For our cooking date, I was gently steered towards not picking “any of that vegan stuff.” I must say it was a great choice for a cold night.

I especially appreciate cooking with people who find garlic to be as necessary of an influence on dishes as I do. While I wouldn’t suggest a high garlic factor recipe for a real date, in this case it was absolutely appropo. This recipe is great for a quick meal and involves little complication (you can’t mess it up that easily 🙂 )

Italian Sausage, Spinach, Tortellini Soup

serves 1 tall slightly Italian 20 something and 1 food blogger or 4 average eaters generously

2 (9 oz) packages of refrigerated cheese tortellini

3/4 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage

1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth (low sodium)

4 cups water

1 (10 oz) bag of frozen spinach, unthawed

1 (28 oz) can of Italian peeled tomatoes (can be chopped or whole)

1 can Ro-tel tomatoes

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBS italian seasoning (we used a combo of dried basil and oregano)

1. In a large dutch oven or soup pot, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and heat pan to medium. Break the sausages out of their casing and brown the sausage meat until slightly brown, breaking up the sausage with the back of your spoon.

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2. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.

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IMG 3187 from thereshegoes35 on Vimeo.

Look at that stirring form, what a natural chef. We had a pump up playlist for this soup, naturally. Actually I think we just replayed the song in the vid over and over again. Oldie but a GOODIE.

3. Add spinach, seasonings, garlic, and both kinds of tomatoes, then bring to a boil for another 10 minutes.

4. Add in your tortellini and cook until pasta is cooked, about another 10-12 minutes.

5. Serve with parmesan if you have it and some vino.