Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Thai-inspired Pork Lettuce Wraps

thaiporklettucewrapstitleHave you ever had one of those meals where you think you made enough and expect there to be leftovers but the entire meal is inhaled within 15 seconds because it tastes SO good?  This is one of those meals.  At least it was for us.  The first time I made these, there were just 2 of us home for dinner so I only used a pound of ground pork.  It wasn’t enough.  We were both stuffed like ticks and considering licking the bowl.  Well, I was at least.

This was also the first recipe I’d ever made that used fish sauce.  Now, by itself, fish sauce tastes like death wrapped in pennies but it adds such a wonderful flavor as an ingredient.  I no longer fear the fish sauce.  I just won’t lick my finger if some drips down the side of the bottle.

I’ve said that before but have done it absent-mindedly more than once.

thaiporklettucewraps1Not only are these one of the best things you will ever taste but they are EASY.  While you are browning the pork, mix the sauce.  Once the pork is cooked, about 7 minutes later, mix in the sauce then stuff into your face.

I prefer to use butter lettuce for these but sometimes you have to use what’s available.  Fortunately, this pork tastes just as good on iceberg lettuce and romaine.  The lettuce in the pictures is quite fresh but the heat from the pork caused it to wilt a bit which is actually a plus when it comes to eating it.  If the lettuce is too crunchy, it will break when you go to eat it.

thaiporklettucewraps2I doubled this recipe and brought it to a Chinese-themed dinner party.  There was hardly any left which made me happy and I saw a number of people take more when they went back for seconds.

A note about buying ground pork: read your label!  The pork I had been getting at Kroger had 700mg of sodium per 2oz serving.  700 mg!  I made the mistake of assuming that the ground pork was just that: ground pork.  I had no idea they added so much salt to it as well.  I asked the meat department if they had an alternative and they directed me to their reduced fat ground pork which I usually get when they have it, fortunately.  It still has some added salt but much, much less.

I’ve never made this with ground chicken or turkey but I imagine it would still be quite tasty!  If anyone ever makes this with fowl instead of pig, please let me know how it turns out.  Kthxbai!

Thai-inspired Pork Lettuce Wraps
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 2-3 servings
Though I've never tried it, I imagine this would work really well with ground turkey or chicken!
  • ¼ c chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 head butter or iceberg lettuce, leaves removed in whole pieces if possible
  1. In a small bowl, mix the cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce and brown sugar. Mix well; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the pork and cook, stirring to break up clumps, until the pork is cooked through.
  3. Remove from the hear, drain, and stir in the sauce. Serve with the lettuce leaves to make wraps.
Adapted from

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad with Mushrooms

steakbluecheesesaladtitleI don’t know if it’s a carry over from all the decadent foods during the holidays or not but I had a sudden and strange craving for salad.  Because of that, I’m beginning to think that I don’t dislike salad as much as I think do.  But with the strangely cold weather we’ve been having here in Atlanta, I definitely didn’t want a cool, crisp salad.  It still needed to be warm and comforting.

steakbluecheesesalad1The hot juicy steak and mushrooms definitely fit that bill!  And by tossing the salad in a room temp vinaigrette first, it helped take that cold edge off.  I never really thought that a salad could be warm and comforting but this one certainly was.  It was quick to put together, too, which is another bonus.

steakbluecheesesalad5While the steak is cooking, you have plenty of time to mix up the dressing and cut up the mushrooms, lettuce, and tomato.  Even if you cook your steak medium-rare, which I recommend, there’s still plenty of time to do what you need to do.

steakbluecheesesalad4After you cook up the shroomies, which are cooked in a bit of the dressing, you just toss the lettuce and tomato with the dressing, put it on plates, top it with the cooked goodness and blue cheese.  The total time is only about 20 minutes from stat to finish… that’s less time than an episode of “Futurama” on Netflix which kept the guys busy while I made this for dinner.

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad with Mushrooms
Recipe type: Entree
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
  • ½ c red wine vinegar
  • ½ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray (I use olive oil in my Misto)
  • 1½ - 2 lbs strip steak
  • 8 oz slice white mushrooms
  • 3 romaine hearts (24 oz)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese
  1. In a lidded jar that holds at least 2 cups, add the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Put the lid on tight and shake until well blended. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. While it is heating, pat the steak dry with paper towels and season one side with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. If using whole mushrooms, clean them while the skillet heats up.
  4. Spray the skillet with the olive oil spray and add the steak, seasoned side down. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cut or tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces and put in a large bowl.
  6. Core the tomatoes and cut them in half. Cut each half into 8 wedges. Add them to the bowl.
  7. Season the raw side of the steak with salt and pepper and flip. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until medium-rare in the center (longer if you like you steak more well done).
  8. Meanwhile, slice your mushrooms. Set aside.
  9. Remove the streak from the skillet and keep warm on a plate, covering the steak with foil.
  10. Add the mushrooms and 2 Tbsp of the dressing to the hot pan. Do not drain or wipe the pan out. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl or plate to cool slightly.
  11. Toss the lettuce and tomato with the remaining dressing. Divide into fourths and place on 4 places.
  12. Slice the steak into thin strips across the grain and place on top of the plated lettuce.
  13. Add the some of the mushrooms to each plate then sprinkle with blue cheese.


10 Random Food/Cooking Facts About Me

It was suggested to me recently that I should share more about me instead of just the food and cooking.  I decided that’s not a bad idea so, occasionally, I’ll post other things.  The main posts with still be a minimum of 3 days a week since this *is* a cooking blog but there is more to me than just food…. though many of my friends may disagree since it does tend to be my main focus.  🙂

So… here are 10 things about me in relation to cooking and food.

1. Blue Food Even before I developed my food intolerance, I could not bring myself to eat anything artificially blue.  The color is just too unappetizing for me.  When I would get M&Ms, I’d pick the blue ones out and either give them away or toss them.

2. Clockwise I tend to eat my food one item at a time and in clockwise order around my plate.  I’ll pick the food I like best and start with the one to the right of it.  I’m not sure when I started doing this, but I’m guessing it comes from having to clean my plate as a kid and “rewarding” myself by saving the best for last.

3. Barefoot As I said in a previous post, I usually cook barefooted even though I know that is not a good practice for both safety and foot health.  It feels unnatural to have shoes on when I’m in the house.

4. Pizza  My all time favorite food that I crave almost constantly is pepperoni pizza.  Since pepperoni is highly processed, I don’t eat it as often as I would like but sometimes it is just worth the subsequent tummy pain.  I even made my own pepperoni once which turned out really good!  Hmm… I should do that again.  Foods that are a close second are pizzas with other toppings, cheeseburgers, and anything with tomato sauce.

thinging about pizza5. Hands I *love* to mix cold things with my hands instead of a spoon.  The peanut noodle salad?  Mixed it with my (clean) hands.  I;m very tactile so love the different textures.  BUT… I hate having dirty or sticky hands so wash my hands a lot while cooking.

6. First meal I cooked my very first dinner for my family when I was 10.  I decided to make meat loaf, fried potatoes and canned green beans.  I was boiling the potatoes first and my mom, who was partly supervising, instructed me to “poke the potatoes to see if they are done”.  I wasn’t really sure what that meant so I kept poking them while I tried to figure it out.  We ended up having mashed potatoes with dinner.

meatloafmeal7. White  Even worse than my abhorrence for blue food is white food… well, warm, white creamy foods like cream soups and alfredo sauce.  There is a visual sliminess for me that makes me gag just looking at it.  Gross but true.  Sour cream and yogurt are fine.  It’s the more viscous things like sauces.

8. Chicken  I am very particular how my chicken is cooked.  It can bypass perfectly cooked to overcooked in a matter of a few seconds (it seems like).  Dry chicken will completely ruin a meal for me and I am very hard on myself when it comes to cooking chicken perfectly.

9. BACON  As a kid, I did not like bacon.  At all.  Same as a teenager and even young adult.  I tried it again a couple of years ago and ZOMG!  Best. Food. Ever! After pizza, of course.  And the fact that they make bacon free of sodium-nitrates now, I can even eat it with risking a migraine.  Which is good since I have a lot of lost time to make up for.

10. Food triggers  I get migraine-type headaches from certain foods, like sodium-nitrates and MSG, so I’ve always had to be careful with what I ate.  Since developing the intolerance to “lab foods” a couple of years ago and eating only “real foods”, I rarely get food-triggered headaches anymore… unless I throw all caution to the wind and eat things I know I shouldn’t.  And I do.  I’m looking at you, Taco Bell… my delicious bane, my artery-clogging nemesis.

What are some quirky things about you & food and/or cooking?




Chicken Enchiladas

chickenenchiladastitleI’m about to say something that I have never said before and may never say again: I made something that I think is better than anything I’ve ever ordered from a restaurant.  These chicken enchiladas were oh-my-gawd-I-need-a-third-mouth-so-I-can-eat-them-all-NOW good!

I’ve had enchiladas at a number of Mexican restaurants and thought they were okay at best.  I just never really liked the red enchilada sauce.  Then a few weeks ago, something I read online made me wonder if I could make a sauce that I DO like.  I have no idea what sparked that train of thought but something did.  When my husband and I first started dating, he commented that I was the only person he’d ever met that got from point A to point B in my thought process by taking a detour through Q and still getting to B before most people.  I can’t even track of my brain most of the time.

Um… yeah… so enchiladas!

chickenenchiladas4We all definitely overate a bit but the fact that these are healthy on top of delicious, I don’t feel all that guilty.  Would you believe that each enchilada has only about 200 calories?  I would have certainly been satisfied eating only 2 but the… ahem… more than 2 I actually ate were very, very good.

Even using low-sodium things, though, these are still a touch high in that area but considering the rest of the day was nowhere near the RDA limit.  That’s the nice thing about moderation.  You can still eat the good stuff. 🙂

chickenenchiladas1These are definitely going into the rotation of things I make on a regular basis.  And, by changing the beans I use (I used garbanzo beans/chickpeas this time), I can change them up a little each time as well.  You could also cook the chicken ahead of time to make these a quick weeknight meal.

Another thing I will probably never get to say here again: Las enchiladas son muy sabroso!

Chicken Enchiladas
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 16 enchiladas
For the chicken
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
For the enchilada sauce
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 2 ~ 15oz tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
For the enchiladas
  • 15oz beans (garbanzo/chickpeas, pinto OR black beans), rinsed and drained
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 8oz Monterrey Jack cheese, freshly shredded
  • 4oz Cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 16 8" flour tortillas
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil; set aside.
  2. Mix the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until the juices run clear when cut.
  3. While the chicken is baking, mix together all the ingredients for the enchilada sauce in a medium sauce pan and and heat over med-high heat for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  4. When the chicken is done cooking, lower the oven temp to 350°.
  5. On a cutting board, shred the chicken with two forks into small pieces.
  6. Remove the foil from the baking sheet you used to bake the chicken and cover with a new sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  7. In a large bowl, mix the chicken, beans, diced tomato, and 1 cup of the enchilada sauce. Fold in half the cheese.
  8. On each tortilla, spoon on about ⅓ cup of the chicken mixture. Roll the tortilla around the filling and place seam side down on the baking sheet. Do this with all 16 tortillas.
  9. Spoon the rest of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, covering as completely as possible. Top with the remaining cheese.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are heated through.
Nutrition Information
Servings: 1 enchilada Calories: 200 Fat: 8g Saturated fat: 4g Unsaturated fat: 1.5g Carbohydrates: 23g Sugar: 1.5g Sodium: 354mg Fiber: 3.5g Protein: 10g Cholesterol: 12.5mg


Monte Cristo sandwiches (with eggless French toast batter)

montecristotitleNow that more and more companies are making deli meats without sodium nitrates, I can occasionally enjoy a sandwich like this delicious version of a Monte Cristo.  Deli meats are still “sometimes foods” because they are still pretty high in sodium.  But every once in a while, there’s no real harm.

If you are not familiar with a Monte Cristo sandwich, it is basically a marriage between French toast and a fried ham, turkey and cheese sandwich.  It’d be really good at a brunch, I think.  Not a fancy brunch, but more the kind of brunch I’d go to where it’s people who slept past breakfast because morning starts to dang early.

montecristo1Anyway, these sammiches are definitely worth the wait that comes with “sometimes foods.”  And since we have someone who has aversion to eggs in our house, I was able to do an eggless batter that actually tastes better than a traditional French toast batter to me.  Though I’ve never actually used it to make French toast, just these sandwiches.

I usually use a Vermont maple Dijon mustard on these but I found a really good honey champagne Dijon mustard that was fabulous, too.  Really, you can use whatever kind of mustard you like.  I just like the sweet ones. 🙂


Monte Cristo sandwiches (with eggless French toast batter)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6 sandwiches
  • 12 slices bread
  • Maple or honey flavored Dijon mustard
  • 9 oz deli ham slices
  • 9 oz deli turkey slices
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 c milk
  • ¼ c flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp butter, for pan
  1. Spread one side of each slice of bread with a thin layer of mustard.
  2. Divide the ham into 6 portions and place on the mustard side of 6 of the bread slices.
  3. Divide the turkey into 6 portions and place on top of the ham.
  4. Top with the slices of cheese and place the remaining bread slices mustard-side down on top of the cheese.
  5. Heat a large griddle pan over medium high heat.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the milk, flour, cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon and whisk well. Pour into a shallow plate.
  7. Melt the butter ion the griddle pan and spread it around to coat.
  8. Quickly dip one half of the sandwich in the batter and quickly flip to dip the other side. Just do a quick dip or the bread will get soggy.
  9. Place on the hot pan and cook for about 3 minutes or until browned. Flip and cook the other side for 3 minutes.
  10. Cut in half and serve warm.
Want to make French toast? Just skip the sandwich building part and dip the bread in the batter and cook as directed!



Roasted Cauliflower Soup

roastedcauliflowersouptitleIt’s rare for me to see a new recipe and then make it the very same day.  New recipes usually end up in my binder of things I want to make and, if a particular recipe really excites me, it will get made the following week.  With this one, though, I saw it at work on a Friday a couple of weeks ago and since I was going grocery shopping that evening, I adjusted the menu for the night to include this because I HAD to make this right away.

I’m not usually a soup person but this just sounded SO good to me.  Teri at Spoon Fork Bacon posted this recipe for roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup the very same day I saw it.  I ended up making a few adjustments to mine, mainly because my store didn’t have any parsnips so I used a potato and carrot.  Because of the potato, my soup ended up a bit thicker but for me, that was a plus.  In my version below, I included instructions to add more broth if you like it a little thinner.

I have to say, this was amazing!  And surprisingly filling.  I made it as a side with the sandwiches I’ll be posting in a couple of days but it really could have been a meal all on its own.  It was so rich and filling and full of the flavors.  It’s also one of those recipes that doesn’t taste healthy but actually is… just don’t tell the guys. 😉  Even our resident loather of onions was okay with the shallots in this.


Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
This soup is very rich and filling. No one would guess that it's actually healthy, too!
  • 24 oz cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and roughly chopped into 1" pieces
  • 1 carrot, peels and cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 shallots, peeled and quartered (or 1 small onion peeled and chopped into 1" pieces)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 c chicken broth (4 c if you like a thinner soup)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Spread cauliflower, potato, carrots, and shallots onto the baking sheet in a single layer, Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle on the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss it all together until the vegetables are well coated.
  3. Roast for 15 minutes then give the vegetables a stir. Roast for 15 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the stock garlic, and thyme in a medium saucepan. Season to taste with salt pepper. Heat over medium-heat until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until the vegetable are done, stirring occasionally.
  5. In a blender with the lid on, working in 2 batches, puree half the vegetables with half the stock until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl while pureeing the other half. Mix it all together and pour back into the saucepan. Heat for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the sour cream and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
  7. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or a drizzle of olive oil.
When blending hot liquids, start with slow pulses before turning the blender all the way on to prevent the blender lid from exploding off.

Adapted from


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