Growing up in a family with 5 kids and one income makes life interesting. Not like “My summer vacation to Egypt/Hawaii/Scotland was SUCH a wonderful adventure”, or “I got a whole new wardrobe and I can't WAIT to show my gold plated mary janes to Mary Jane!", but more like “We went camping and my little brother didn’t even drown”, or “my gramma made me a new dickey to wear on the first day of school, now I just need a sweater and pants to wear with it” kind of interesting.. But I didn’t feel all that poor, just thought some people were really rich – and we were resourceful, so we made poor look good (just don’t look at my childhood photos).
We ate pretty basic foods, it was the 60’s/70’s and although the women’s lib movement was gaining speed and depth like a tsunami of bra-less, mini skirted, and free from the shackles of housewifery WOMEN, my mom still stayed home, wore aprons, and talked on the dial phone that was soooooo modern because it was olive green and not black and had a cord so long she could go anywhere in the house save the basement which is where we hid from her to avoid a spontaneous cleaning jag. She oven fried chicken, made spaghetti, hamburger creole, and sloppy joes, occasionally nodding begrudgingly to the feminists alternative to real meals and throwing tv dinners or pot pies in the oven. Which we loved all of….I still have a fondness for instant mashed potatoes and that delicious apple cobbler that you had to pick the peas out of first.
I have a love/hate relationship with restaurants. I love that they make the food for me/hate that they make me pay for something I know I can make at home. Love that I can eat a different country’s cuisine every day of the week/hate that I can’t GO there to eat it. Love that I can get a decadent meal with zero prep or clean up/hate that if I start counting points I will need to remove mine, my guests, and at least one nearby table occupants shoes to have enough digits to calculate why my Weight Watchers leader will do a double take and blow a long, low whistle under her breath at the scale readout when I weigh in next. Such is life…..you want it, you’re gonna pay for it, which is why I love this next recipe. Not only do I not have to pay for it literally or figuratively, I can actually feel good about myself when I enjoy the heck out of it – hell, I’ll leave MYSELF a tip!
BETTER Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Better is only in nutrition….the real ones at you-know-where are not to be sneezed at, I love them and will continue to order when I go to that place, I just wanted a DIY version that I knew exactly what went into it. And that I’m cheating them out of 8.95….
1 chicken breast, ground in processor/finely chopped (or 6 oz. of ground bird)
2 t. olive oil
1 t. sesame oil
4-6 mushrooms, diced small
1 can water chestnuts, diced small
2-3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
2-4 T. oyster sauce
1 t. rice vinegar
1 t. cornstarch
Sugar to taste
¼ tsp. ginger
Iceberg, butter lettuce, or romaine
Cooked brown rice - you could fry noodles, but brown rice is healthier and gives it texture and protein J
½ C. hot water
¼ C. sugar
2 T. soy
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. hot mustard
1-2 tsp. garlic red chili paste
Heat olive oil until smoking hot, add garlic, chicken and sesame oil and toss/break up chicken until no longer pink. Add mushrooms, onion, and water chestnuts and continue to stir fry on high until mushrooms are cooked, mix oyster sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch until dissolved and add, cook and stir one minute until sauce has coated everything and is nice and glossy.
Special Sauce: Dissolve sugar in hot water, then whisk in remaining ingredients and adjust to hot/sweet/sour/more hot taste.
Enjoy….I realize some of you are going to say “Who has garlic red chili paste, hot mustard and sesame oil in their fridge?”….that would be those of us who lovelovelove flavor!! All can be purchased at your grocery store in the Asian food section, and will last FOREVER – and once you try these you’ll make them all the time, and your grocer will notice the uptick in Asian condiment sales and start carrying black bean paste and pot sticker wrappers and I'll give you MORE yummy recipes!