Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles

Every mama, daddy and/or working person should have this recipe up their sleeve. You can make it ahead and just reheat the meat in the microwave and serve in lettuce cups whenever you need dinner asap.

I add hoisin at the end for a little sweetness but you could add some sriracha for more spice or both. Of course you could leave out the noodles but I just love them in this. They add some body and depth and a toothsomeness. To put it bluntly, I'd have a hard time calling these wraps 'dinner' without them.

To make this gluten free just be sure to use gluten free soy sauce, noodles and check the other condiments involved for gluten.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles

2 teaspoons grape seed or vegetable oil or olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin 1/2 inch strips
1 pound ground chicken thighs
2 large portabello mushrooms, diced
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
couple dashes garlic powder
1/3 cup green onions, chopped plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon Mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
6 oz rice noodles, boiled and drained (or rice if desired)
2 tablespoons chopped raw cashews
1 head Bibb lettuce, or whatever kind of lettuce you like to use as wraps (leaves cleaned and separated)
2 tablespoons Hoisin, optional and/or some dashes Sriracha or red pepper flakes, optional
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

How To:
Add the oil to a large nonstick pan and heat over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Add the ground chicken, breaking up gently with a wooden spoon. Season with a couple of pinches salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the mushrooms, ginger, garlic powder and green onions. Cook until chicken is cooked through - about 8-10 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the Mirin, soy sauce, and vinegar. Once the chicken is cooked through, add in the Mirin mixture and bring to a boil, stirring for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the hot burner. Gently stir in the rice noodles and 2 tablespoons hoisin and/or sriracha if using (or red pepper flakes) then the cashews.

Serve in lettuce leaves and garnish with additional green onion and/or cilantro.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Sawyer Lee.

To Sawyer on your first birthday,

Today you are one year old. I’m so excited and overwhelmed by what you’ve already become at just a year old that I’m at a complete loss as what to write. And I’m a writer. I could say that I love you so much that even on your fussiest and most teething and non-napping days I still consider myself the luckiest person on earth. I could say that when you flash me your quick, yet deliberate toothsome smile when you’re learning something new or something’s tickled you – I want to die. Right then and there. Go out on the highest of highs. See ya, earth! I won at this shit!

I could say that when I watch you dig into my spice drawer and pick out what strikes your fancy then crawl around with it like Tiny Tim on all fours so astoundingly fast - ‘clack! – clack! – clack!’ - I have the most morbid thought that if you just stayed that size the rest of your life, that would be beyond cool with me.

But I need to tell you more. Having you added the onus of wanting to be a better person myself. To set the best example I can for you. So I started a list of some guiding principles that I now aspire to in my life. I hope to drill them into you as much as myself. Thanks for that, Bubbas Bear.

Be kind.
To everyone - the old and young, the strong and weak, the shiny and the lackluster, even those who are unkind. The fact is nothing is more attractive on a human being than kindness. 

Love with your whole heart.
It will get bruised and broken along the way but try to keep it wide and open. Remember to look for the light in others. And when someone shows you only darkness, move on from them. The world is filled with kind, loving, big hearted people. Don’t waste time on the rest.

Happiness is a hobby.
When you find what makes you happy, stick with it. When I was six years old I was head over heels in love with horses, reading, writing and fashion. I love the same things to this very day. For your dad it was music. And judging from your current obsession with your daddy's drum sticks and tapings of ACL Live, it might also be yours. A hobby that you love is instant happiness at your finger tips whenever you want or need it. So when you find yours, stick with it. (This excludes masturbation. Please have sex with someone aside from yourself when age appropriate. *Also I just said 'tapings' which you will undoubtedly have no idea what I'm referring to when you're old enough to read this. Really dating myself here. We don't even 'tape' anymore - we hit a button on the remote. Maybe by the time you read this we will just think what we want to record and it will lodge itself in our brains somewhere for us to retrieve later at will.)

Look where you're going.
Literally and figuratively. Your dad and I are both specialists at eating asphalt so I need to drill this into your head early and often. Look where your feet are landing. 

In the figurative sense, I don't expect you to have your life figured out by your early teens (I always felt this pressure and hated it.) But start thinking of a master plan for yourself. Do you want to travel? Do you want to move to a small town in Idaho? Do you want to raise sheep? Run for governor? Play rock shows? Be a barista? I don’t care what it is as long as it’s something you feel in your bones you should be doing. And on that note…

Take pride in your job.
Whatever it is. Do it right and represent yourself and your parents well. I look back at certain odd jobs I did as a teen and feel horribly embarrassed. I had no pride. I was lazy. And I will never forget it. It haunts me. So if you take something on – do it right. Or don’t do it.

Open doors for ladies.
Car doors, elevator doors, building doors, all doors. This will help you more than you will ever know with the fairer sex. Wait -  is ‘fairer sex’ not PC anymore? Fuck it. Also don’t cuss. It’s ugly. Seriously. Like I said I’m still a work in progress.

* Also if you end up liking dudes I will still love you. Though based on how much you flirt with anything with boobs I suspect you're a ladies' man. But still if not – I support you. All the way. Now let's go shopping!

That said, there's no woman on earth worth letting treat you poorly. That's not a lady by the way.

This last one is the hardest to follow through with. Don't judge people. You don't have the right and nobody asked you. You don't know where they've been and how they got there. And if you can avoid making judgments of others, maybe you'll get spared a little judgement along the way.

Above all remember this - you are loved beyond measure. I love you. Your daddy loves you. Your family loves you. God loves you. Hell even the devil loves you. You're better than Christmas, first concerts, first kisses, cake, pie, ice cream and House of Cards rolled into one. You will forever be the one who showed me that there is no limit to the amount of love a person can hold in their heart. My heart - tonight and every night since you were born - overflows with happiness, gratitude and awe.

Happy birthday Sawyer Lee.