Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Frugal Femme Two Week Menu #2: Week One, Monday- Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Hello Everyone.
I am so excited!!!  For my birthday, my in-laws sent me some birthday money and with it I went on eBay and purchased myself a "new" kitchen appliance.  This is how I get ALOT of my kitchen equipment that I cherish so much. My agreement with my husband is that I always spend my birthday money on myself and not a bill and that I will spend it on something that I wouldn't purchase for myself - usually because I think:  "They want me to pay HOW much for WHAT?!?!" For this year's birthday, I got myself a vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster!!!!  I grew up with my grandmother's Mixmaster and that thing worked GREAT.  This one is probably a little bit later model than my grandmother's - I think hers was from the fifties and this one is most likely from the sixties. And it isn't one of the more collectable ones that come in the pastel colors.  But I already have a pastel pink KitchenAid mixer that my husband got me as a gift one year and, because I didn't care if it was a pastel color, I was able to get my Mixmaster for under $45.

My new baby.  Swoon.

Doesn't it look sleek?  Sort of futuristic and vintage both at the same time?  What I really love about it, is that the top comes off and becomes a handheld mixer.  Squee!!!!  I really wanted a handheld mixer, and to get a new Sunbeam Hand mixer (which look almost identical to the top of the mixer)would be about $60-$300 depending on the model that I could get. This way I get my hand mixer, a stand mixer, two bowls, and two types of beaters and for less than I would the new handheld.  Happy Birthday to me!
But enough about my new toy. On to tonight's meal.  To be honest, this recipe is not normally one that I would do on a week night because of the amount of time that it is the slow cooker.  Normally, this would be a meal that I would do on a Saturday afternoon because I could start the dish and it could cook in the slow cooker while I continue to do chores around the house and in the yard. However, since my husband and I aren't eating until around 9pm because of  his rehearsals, this one was a perfect dish to do for this Monday. 
Another warning, this is one of the few dishes that I am going to put up here that will feed more than two people. This dish will feed 4-6 people and you would probably still have leftovers. The reason why I am posting it here is for two reasons: 1. It makes great leftovers, and is a very delicious dish to bring with you to eat for lunch and 2.  It freezes really well, so its a great dish to have in the freezer for those nights when you just aren't feeling up to cooking and you still want something healthy-ish to eat.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The idea for this recipe came from a slow cooker cook book put out by America's Test Kitchen.  I adore America's Test Kitchen.  (Which I believe I have already mentioned in another post.)  It may be my favorite cooking show on PBS' Create TV.  Their recipes are usually very delicious, although I do agree with one of my male friends who also likes to cook that, for people from Louisiana, the recipes can sometimes be a little on the bland side.  So, I spiced this up a little and came up with a peanut sauce to go with it and it was just what I was looking for.

2 pounds ground chicken (this should be ground chicken, not ground chicken breast)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and minced
1-2 tsp. garlic rice wine vinegar (I like two but I would start with one and see how you like it.)
1 cup cooked rice
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 package baby romaine lettuce

1.  It is very important for this recipe that you do not use ground chicken breast as it will get too dry.  You want to have ground chicken that includes thigh meat.  I could not find ground chicken at my grocery store and there were some boneless chicken thighs on sale.  So I bought 2.5 pounds of chicken thighs and decided to grind up my own.  (This is one great way to save money as you can get two to three different meals from one packet of chicken.)  There are three ways that you can go about creating your own ground chicken. I am fortunate enough to have a Kitchenaid mixer with a grinder attachment.

My cup cake cookie jar makes this picture a little jarring.  Sorry.

Ground Chicken with garlic in it.

 (The attachment was a Christmas present from my husband this year and I use it like crazy.) and this is how I grind my meat but you can also grind meat using a food processor.
Below is a link to an America's Test Kitchen video that shows you how to grind your own ground beef, but the idea is the same no matter the meat.
Or you can use a knife.  This will be the longest process, but it is doable.   The secret any of these methods is to freeze any of the meat that you are planning on grinding for about 30 minutes.  This allows the meat to stiffen and it will grind easier.
I removed two chicken thighs out of the package and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge to use for another dinner this week and used the remainder of the chicken in this dish.
2.  Once the meat is ground, microwave the chicken and garlic in a bowl, stirring about every two minutes until chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes if you're meat is already ground, about 8 minutes if you ground your own chicken.  (I know this step seems weird but this is a very important step.  This step allows the ground chicken to become firm enough to crumble coarsely without turning grainy in the slow cooker.)
3.  Drain off liquid and put chicken garlic mixture in the slow cooker.

4.  Stir in the bell pepper, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp. garlic rice wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 2-3 hours on low.  (I usually only find two hours necessary.)

5.  Let it cook for about one hour and taste.  If you want the mixture to be tangier, add the other teaspoon of rice wine vinegar. If you would like it to be saltier, add a little bit more soy sauce per your personal taste.
6.  When the chicken has about a half hour to go, if you do not already have a cup of leftover white rice from another meal, start a cup of white rice in a rice cooker.  While the rice is steaming, drain and dice/mince the water chestnuts.

7.  After the chicken mixture has cooked for a minimum of two hours, stir in the water chestnuts and rice and let it sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.
8.  Stir in scallions.
9.  Serve chicken with lettuce leaves, spicy peanut sauce, Sriracha chili sauce and soy sauce for dipping.

Sweet Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. peanut butter
1/4 cup garlic rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar or fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. Sriracha chili paste (Or more to your person taste--it I want it really spicy, I do 3-4 tsp. chili paste)
1 tsp. anchovy paste (You could also you 1/2 tsp. fish oil, but I never have fish oil but do keep anchovy paste as a staple.)

1.  In a medium bowl, or using a small food processor, combine all ingredients and gently whisk together until smooth and creamy.  Set aside until ready to serve with wraps. 

Well, that is it for tonight's dinner.  I hope that you try it and enjoy!!!


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