Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Though my checkbook has apparently thought it's been spring since sundresses started coming out in February, it seems like the weather is finally catching up!  But sadly, warm weather means it's also that time to say goodbye to the hearty winter recipes that can be camouflaged by a sweater, and hellooooo to delicious yet satisfying lighter recipes.  Tonight for dinner I tested out Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps, a new recipe I've been thinking about for the last few weeks.  I blended a ton of bold flavors to create a healthy meal with an Asian twist that won't let you feel like you're missing out on anything!

The recipe is so quick that you need to cut up everything before you even heat the skillet, it only takes about 10 minutes to cook!  Now there are no excuses for those busy weeknights when you're about to order pizza!   I chopped up green onions, water chestnuts, unsalted peanuts and carrots; it doesn't look like a lot of food because I did the test run just for myself.  A little trick that I've picked up over time is to use a peeler instead of cutting the carrots with a knife, especially in fast skillet dishes.  They never get soft enough like the other ingredients when they're in chunks, but are PERFECT with they're thinly peeled.  Make sure to keep all the ingredients separate from one another because they'll be added at different times.

In large pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan with olive oil, add 1 chopped chicken breast and seasoned it with a dash of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.  I let it cook for about 1 minute, flipped it over, and then added the carrots and water chestnuts.  Add another dash of salt and pepper over these veggies when you first put them in the skillet.  Let these ingredients do their thing for a few minutes until they start to get that delicious golden brown crust on the edges.  When these were cooking I added chicken-flavored Ramen noodles to the boiling water, and cooked them following package instructions.  No judging: I know Ramen noodles are a college staple, but it was actually my first time ever trying them!  I felt like a daredevil using them without knowing how they tasted...but it worked out well though, if I do say so myself!

While the noodles cooked, I added a diced clove of garlic, the peanuts and the green onions to the skillet to let the peanuts get that delicious roasted flavor that everyone loves.  After the peanuts get to toast for 2 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of your favorite teriyaki sauce and a dash of red pepper flakes, and let the mixture continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes. 

While the mixture finishes up, drain the Ramen noodles, and place 2 big pieces of iceberg lettuce on a plate.  Divide the chicken mixture evenly between the wraps, and top each with about 1/4 cup of Ramen noodles.  I added a little garnish of green onions to the top to make it look pretty, but mostly because I love green onions!  Wrap them up, secure them with a toothpick, and enjoy!  

One confession: I intended these to be a finger food, but the iceberg lettuce didn't hold up past the first bite.  Let's just say it quickly became a fork and knife wrap (that still tasted awesome!).  The lettuce I bought seemed thinner than usual, but make sure you have silverware as a backup just-in-case!

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