With the weather warming up here, I tend to crave lighter and cooler menu items. Some days all I want is a smoothie to get a good brain freeze! I love making casseroles and stews because they are very economical and great for leftovers, but when the weather approaches the 110s all I want is something refreshing. Do you guys get that way too in hotter weather?
Lettuce wraps are a really refreshing reprieve, and they are super easy to make. I usually use butter lettuce instead of the nutritionally-void iceberg. I didn’t have any butter lettuce, and didn’t feel like going to the store just for that, so I used Romaine and used them like boats instead of wraps. And actually I think they worked out better because, while they don’t really ‘wrap’, they hold their shape well and don’t fall apart. Yum!
Mandarin Chicken Lettuce Boats
(adapted from CookingLight)
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1/2 cup minced green onions, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 pound ground chicken (I used 99% fat free)
- 1 11oz can mandarin oranges
- 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2-3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 3/4 tbsp black bean garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee, this is pretty high in sodium, so I use it sparingly)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Romaine leaves (bottom end removed)
- cooked soba noodles
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, cornstarch, and chicken to pan; sauté until chicken is done, stirring to crumble (the lower fat will be harder to crumble). Add mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, ginger, soy sauce, juice, black bean sauce and sesame oil to pan; cook until thick. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into center of each lettuce leaf with some soba noodles and enjoy! So easy! I topped mine with some chopped bell pepper for some added freshness and crunch, or you could add some chopped peanuts or almonds too. This recipe could also be great for a little appetizer for a party!
This past weekend I also went to a gardening class for small spaces at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. It was really informative and I am going to be taking on the endeavor of starting a garden when we move and have a little backyard! I probably won’t start it since it will be mid-May and way too hot here when we move, but that is my goal for September. I really want to start my own garden with various veggies and fresh herbs. But, for now I have these little guys that I got to transplant. There is bell pepper (front), cinnamon basil (back), and asparagus (left). I don’t know how long they’ll last before I kill them, but we’ll see :) I can’t wait to try a real garden!
Gotta have compost! And this is a great way to use things that would be thrown out anyway. They also gave us a huge handout with tons of information about gardening. I’m looking forward to reading it and gaining some gardening skills and tips for Nevada.
Here are some of the paint colors we picked out so far. I think Home Depot is going to be our second home! We aren’t sure if they will look quite right, but it’s exciting to have some ideas. I have a little notebook with all the house ideas. I love doing stuff like this, writing things down, taking notes. Kind of silly, but fun! We are going to have a lot of work cut out for us.
I sure hope you all had a great weekend and are getting back into the swing of things. I’m looking forward to spring break next week. I won’t have time off work, but at least I’ll have a little break from classes!