Sunday, February 15, 2009

I love vacation...

More time for cooking! Takeout is great, no complaints, but sometimes there is nothing like a good home cooked meal! This was it. Mostly. I almost didn't even mess up. Well, a little but it worked out. I was going to make vegetable fried rice and really over cooked the rice this morning. Then I forgot to make more, getting busy doing nothing. The other day I undercooked it. Crunchy rice is a lot better than mushy rice. I need to learn to pay attention. My third grade teacher was absolutely right. So was my fourth and fifth, too! A quick call and two containers of vegetable fried rice was on it way! I'll post my recipe for the fried rice even if I screwed it up this time. It's really easy and it's really good! It's from a cooking class I took a couple years ago.

Had all the time in the world today, so I got to looking at the hundreds and hundreds of recipes I saved to try. Found one that has been on the list for so long. This one is from the Cooking Forum at gardenweb. I should have made it sooner. It was great. I found a peanut sauce recipe online and played around with that, and a Thai cucumber salad that turned out to the best one I've tried yet!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups
source: Ann
Printable Recipe

Use this as an outline.
Measurements are just approximate. I don't measure anything.

1 pound of chicken breasts
1 minced garlic clove
1 or 2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 green onions chopped
fresh squeezed lime
lots of fresh chopped cilantro
1 or 2 tablespoons peanut oil
chicken broth
Peanuts (optional)

Coarsely grind chicken breasts in food processor.

Heat oil and sauté the ground chicken breasts. Do not brown. Add the garlic and the ginger. Add a little chicken broth to stop the meat from sticking. Simmer until meat is cooked. Season with salt.
Remove from the heat and add the chopped onion, green onion and cilantro. Squeeze the lime over mixture and stir. Top with peanuts.

season to suit own taste

1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons of garlic chili sauce or Thai sweet chili sauce
teaspoon of honey
minced ginger
minced garlic
1 or 2 tablespoons sesame oil

To serve, spoon on to lettuce leaves and drizzle on a little of the sauce.
This dipping sauce is just an adaption of whatever I found online, I looked at a few recipes and just threw it in the pot and stirred! Makes me a pot stirrer?

Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water (don’t pour all at once, you can add more or less depending on the consistency you like)
4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili oil (I used more)

Combine peanut butter, water, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and chili oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until mixture begins to bubble, then cover the pan and remove it from the heat.

Thai Cucumber Salad

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon course ground black pepper
1 large hothouse cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin
1/2 red onion. sliced very thin
1/2 - 1 small hot chili, sliced very thin (I used jalapeno)

In a small pan, combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt; cook over medium heat, stirring, until liquid boils and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Place the sliced cucumbers, onions and chili in a bowl, pour marinade over cucumbers; stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Vegetable Fried Rice
Printable Recipe

The key to excellent fried rice is to begin with well-chilled rice; accordingly, this recipe is a delicious way to use leftover rice. The sauce includes a Chinese wine known as Shaoxing that is made from fermented rice. The flavor is similar to dry sherry, which is an acceptable substitute.

5 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cooked long-grain rice (preferably jasmine), chilled*
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice, blanched**
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and discarded, caps very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce
6 whole green onions, very thinly sliced, reserve 1/4 cup green tops for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coat a large wok with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil; place over medium-high heat and heat
through. Add the eggs, swirling around to coat the bottom of the pan and form a crepe-like sheet of "omelette". When the eggs are just firm and barely cooked through, slide the "omelette" onto a plate; when cool enough to handle, finely chop and set aside until needed. Wipe out the wok with a paper towel.

If the rice has formed lumps, break them apart with wet hands.

Place the wok over high heat; add the remaining 4 tablespoons of peanut oil and heat through.

Add the onion, carrot, peas and sliced mushrooms; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the rice wine (or sherry) and stir-fry one minute more.

Add the rice and toss to coat with the oil and vegetables. Stir in the soy sauce and green onions, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stop stirring and let the rice cook, undisturbed, until it is slightly crisp, about 2 minutes. Stir the rice again, breaking up any new lumps that have formed.

Add the reserved egg and green onions to the wok, and stir to combine; serve immediately garnished with additional green onions.

* For the best fried rice, use leftover rice that has been chilling in the refrigerator for at least a day. Freshly cooked rice can produce a mushy finished product. If you can't wait a day, spread the rice out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for several hours.

** To blanch the diced carrots, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the carrots until just tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Plunge in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process; drain well, and set aside until needed.

Make It Ahead: The Vegetable Fried Rice may be prepared in advance and reheated just before serving.
Variation: Add shrimp, tofu, Chinese sausage, pork or chicken for a more substantial dish.


  1. Carol, only you would call for take out rice to go with your home cooked meal! You and the rice, so funny!

  2. Sounds good Carol - even with the take out rice!! I've seen lettuce wraps on various cooking shows and always wanted to try them too... maybe it's time!

  3. A little takeout to top off a great meal...cant go wrong there!

  4. So it was an in and out meal! :)
    Sounds know about the peanut thing, right, LOL!

    We had pork fried rice tonight, and egg rolls..No take out here, too far away!

    Have a great vacation! Cook up a storm!

  5. This looks great Carol. I'd love a meal like this.

    I have to laugh about your rice incident..mainly because I had one of my own tonight. I made cabbage rolls and they were filled with crunchy rice. Still tasty..just crunchy lol.

  6. Carol, sounds like a relaxing day overall.... I had to go back and re-read the part about ordering in rice. That's such a foreign concept for me ... About the only food that we can order in is pizza AND they don't have rice.

    I can imagine how much you enjoyed browsing through your recipes.

    Your picture is gorgeous, especially the lettuce... the green just POPS.

    Did you send it into Tastespotting?

  7. Soooooo, you have both an innie and and outie!

    This recipe really sounds terrific, and I'll be saving it, thanks, it's making my mouth water right this minute, I love all of the ingredients and the flavors have me craving it now!

  8. Hah! Annie. Mind bleach! Mind Bleach!

    But, seriously, latitude in cooking is a wonderful attribute. And, Carol, you have it down to a science, darlin'.

    This looks pretty amazing! I'll have to save this.

  9. That looks like a really nice meal. I like to use a rice cooker to make rice and it comes out perfect every time.

  10. Hey, we have very similar blog titles. I've been blogging since last year - I actually just posted my 100th post last week! Thought you might want to know....Robyn

  11. We love lettuce wraps but have never made them -- yours look really good -- may have to surprise husband and make them for him!

  12. Kevin, I've been wanting a rice cooker. I may just have to take the plunge.

    Martha, these were really easy and quick to make!

    Robyn, I used to blog as No Thyme To Cook and I deleted it and I have tried to get that back, so when I started again, I tried to pick something close and it was accepted first shot! I'm glad to be in good company, I just looked at your blog, too :)

    LOL, Sol and Annie, you guys crack me up!

    Cynthia, we can order in mostly anything. Even the good restaurants will have take-out!

    Suzy, Larry likes the crunchy rice, he'd have loved your cabbage rolls!

    Kathleen, do they have more takeout places open in season?

    Thanks, Barb and Marsha!

    LOL, Jayne :)

    Vacation's over! The week went fast!


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