Healthy Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

These are about as Asian as my grandmother’s spaghetti is Italian, but they are equally as delicious and for the same reason – they both contain copious amounts of ketchup (which are, as we all know, a key ingredient in both Italian and Asian foods…right?).

This is a popular recipe at our house, because our kids love any food that they get to put together themselves. It’s also healthy – low in calories, fat and cholesterol, high in protein and actually tastes better with more veggies inside. The fresh pickled veggies add a nice zing and some crunch.

Healthy Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion chopped
1 package ground turkey

The Sauce
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
Sri Racha sauce (optional to taste)

Hoisin
2 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 Tablespoon honey
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Serve With:

Romaine or Bibb lettuce

Cooked Brown rice

Pickled Veggies
1 small carrot julienned
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

Instructions:

Sauté your chopped onions and garlic over low to medium heat until they become translucent.

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Translucent onions (not brown, just starting to be soft):

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Add the turkey to the hot pan and brown, using your spatula to chop it up until it is nice and crumbly.

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If you don’t keep hoisin on hand, now is the time to make your own using the ingredients listed above. It makes extra – put some on the table to serve and refrigerate the remainder.

Once your turkey is browned, then you add The Sauce.

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I just shoot the hoisin, ginger, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar and Sri Racha directly into the pan, but you could also mix it up in a bowl and then add it. Whichever way you go, mix well, and simmer the entire mixture on low heat for an additional 10 – 15 minutes.

The finished product:

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To Serve

While the turkey simmers, wash and pat dry your lettuce leaves and arrange them on a serving plate.

In a small glass or ceramic serving bowl, prepare the pickled veggies by tossing the ingredients lightly together. Place on the table.

When meat has finished cooking, place in a serving bowl on table.

Also have soy sauce, hoisin and Sri Racha available on the table for those who want a bit more sauce in their sauce.

To eat, each person takes a lettuce leaf and puts the fillings of their choice (meat, vegetables, rice) inside, plus any additional sauce to taste. Wrap the lettuce leaf around the fillings like a burrito, and eat.

This serves 4 – 6, and is a great, healthy weeknight dinner.

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Enjoy!

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All Pie’d Out

Tonight was the annual Book Fair and also the Pie and Cider Fundraiser for my older son’s elementary school. It also happened that I made Chicken Pot Pie for dinner. Naturally, in addition to dinner I did have to sample the dessert pies (apple and pumpkin) at the fundraiser. And now, much as I love pie, I can officially say I am all pie’d out for the night.

Of all the pies, I will say mine had the best crust. Pie crust can be tricky to make, but over the last couple of years I have figured out a basically foolproof recipe. People argue over whether a butter crust or an oil or lard crust is better. Butter crusts are supposed to be more flavorful and flakier, while oil/lard is easier to work with and crispier. My pie crust secret is not to choose between the two types of crust, but to combine the benefits of both – I do this by using butter AND oil in my crust. It always turns out really well.

Here is the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie with Perfect Pie Crust.

Perfect Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chilled
4 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup ice water

Chicken Filling

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 small onion, chopped small
2 small peeled potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes
Flour to make a roux
Chicken broth
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
Salt, pepper and sage to taste
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Making the crust:

The crust must be made first and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

To make the dough for the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl (such as the bowl of a large stand mixer). Stir well.

Slice chilled butter into 1/4″ cubes

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Add cubed butter to the flour and salt mixture.

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Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour, until the butter is in consistent pea-sized lumps.

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Use a mixer on slow speed to incorporate oil to the flour and butter mixture, then very slowly add chilled water. When dough balls up, turn off the mixer. It is very important not to overwork this dough. Visible chunks of butter are good – they will make the crust flaky.

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Remove dough to a floured board. With floured hands, lightly pat together the dough. Do not knead. Roll the dough ball into a cylindrical shape and cut in half. Roll both halves into a ball, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

At this point you can also freeze this dough for future use.

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To make the filling:

Cube 2 cups of cooked chicken in 1/2″ cubes and set aside.

Finely chop a small onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large sauté pan on medium low heat, and sauté the onions until translucent. Do not allow to brown.

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Cube 2 small potatoes in 1/2 inch cubes, and sauté with the onions.

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When onions and potatoes start to soften sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour to make a paste (technically, this paste is a roux).

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To the roux, add broth over low heat to make a thick gravy.

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When gravy has thickened, add in frozen vegetables. Mix well and reduce heat to low as you assemble the pie.

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Assembling the pie:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove one ball of pastry dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured board.

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Using a floured pastry roller, begin to roll out the dough ball until it is large enough to fit your pie plate (recipe easily fits a 9″ plate when rolled to about 1/8″).

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Drape the first crust over the pie plate. Roll out the second dough ball in the same way and set aside while you fill the pie.

Spread the cubed chicken evenly over the bottom crust in the pie plate. Over the top of that, pour and evenly spread the vegetable/gravy filling. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sage and thyme to taste.

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Drape the top crust over the top of the filling. Fold back the crust 1/3 at a time to expose the bottom crust edge and brush it with water using a pastry brush. Fold the top crust back down to cover and repeat two more times, press the edges together to seal the pie.

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Cut off the excess crust – you can set this aside to roll out and make apple dumplings if you have enough left over. Use a fork to make a decorative edge. Poke some holes in the top and place in a 350 degree oven.

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Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

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Serves 4 – 6 people who like pie.

Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

For dinner tonight I made Stuffed Squash with Quinoa and Sausage. To save time and add a nice flavor, I used a quick cooking Olive Oil and Rosemary Quinoa and Brown Rice blend from Near East foods (here) as the base for the stuffing.

To save time, the filling can be prepared and squashes can stuffed ahead of time. To save even more baking time, the squash halves can be microwaved until soft prior to being stuffed. If this is done, the stuffed squashes will only require 20 minutes of baking time.

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Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 box Nile Foods Olive Oil and Rosemary Quinoa blend
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
2 medium to large acorn squashes
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. chicken Italian sausage
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Prepare the Quinoa blend according to the package instructions, adding in 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage before cooking. Set aside and allow to cool.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat until translucent.

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Turn up the heat to medium and add the sausage.

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Brown the sausage, being sure to break up the sausage into small chunks.

Turn off the heat and add the cooled quinoa blend and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

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Cut acorn squashes in half from stem to flower end (the pointy part).

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Scoop out the seeds. Cut a small slice of peel off each squash half so that they will lie flat on a baking sheet. If the flesh is more than 1/2″ thick, microwave the squash halves for 2 – 3 minutes or until flesh just starts to soften. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet.

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Stuff the squashes with the quinoa/sausage mixture. Use all the mixture, mounding the stuffing on top of the filled squash halves. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

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Bake about 30 – 40 minutes or until squash is completely soft when poked with a fork in the stem end. If cheese browns before the squash is done, cover the tops with tented foil (make sure the foil doesn’t touch the cheese). Makes 4.

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