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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Recipe Review | PLATED Taiwanese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This latest recipe from Plated is so perfect for a hot summer evening. No oven or grill necessary... just some pan sautéing and steaming of the rice. All four of us found it super flavorful, fresh-tasting, and filling too. After three generous wraps per person, there were leftovers enough for a few more --but no one had room for seconds. The heat from the red pepper flakes and the sweet from the dates turned out to be a winning combination. The toasted cashews were a nice crunch with the crisp lettuce. All in all, we loved it.


Taiwanese Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Cashews and Dates
Recipe curtesy of Plated
(serves 4)
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What you need:
1/4 ounce fresh ginger
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 ounce cilantro
2 heads Boston lettuce
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
6 scallions
1/2 cup roasted salted cashews
5 dates
5 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used half of this and it was plenty hot for us.)
1/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
salt and pepper
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What to do:
  1. Cook ginger rice: Trim and discard skin of ginger with the edge of a spoon. In a small pot, combine rice, whole ginger knob, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir once, reduce heat to medium low, cover pot, and simmer until water is fully absorbed, about 10-12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and then cover agin to keep warm until serving.
  2. Prepare ingredients: While the rice cooks, rinse all produce. Pick cilantro leaves, discarding stems. Rinse and dry lettuce leaves, separating larger leaves for the wraps (you'll need about 3 leaves per serving). Trim and discard scallion roots and cut into 1-inch pieces, keeping whites and light greens separate from dark greens. Roughly chop cashews or place in a ziplock bag and gently crush with the back of larger spoon or heavier utensil. Roughly chop dates. Thinly slice garlic. (I halved each clove so I could find them easily after cooking and remove them before serving. If you LOVE garlic, leave them in.)
  3. Cook chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Cook, breaking up, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a bowl. Wipe pan clean for the next step.
  4. Make sauce: Heat pan from chicken over medium heat with 2 tablespoons canola oil. When oil is shimmering, add crushed red pepper, cashews, garlic, and scallion withes and light greens. Sauté, stirring, until golden and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add mirin, soy sauce, dates and 2/3 cup water and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until sauce has thickened slightly, 5-7 minutes more (don't rush the thickening).
  5. Finish chicken: Return chicken to pan with sauce, still over medium-high heat. Stir to coat and warm through, 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. (With all of the soy sauce, I found I did not need to add any more salt but did hit the pan well with cracked pepper.)
  6. Plate lettuce wraps: Remove and discard the whole ginger knob from the pot with rice. Divide lettuce wraps among serving plates and fill with ginger rice and Taiwanese chicken. Garnish with cilantro and dark green scallions.

As always, let me know if you try it and what you thought of the recipe. We will definitely be enjoying this one again soon!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Fabulous Find | EGG THiNS by Crepini

Oh my gosh, you guys... Have you heard of Crepini - Egg Thins with Cauliflower?? 

This is a full post about a new product that I stumbled upon at Costco last week. I love it so much that  rather than just including it in a "Things I Love Thursday" post, I thought it deserved its own spotlight. If you're someone who tries to limit your sugar and carbohydrate intake, you'll want to keep reading. This post is not sponsored in any way. I have just honestly fallen for these little wraps.

I'm not sure why they caught my eye (and I actually don't even remember which section I found them in) but I'm so happy I looked closer at the packaging and noticed that these little crepes had no net-carbohydrates per serving. Always good news. They're also sugar-free, grainless, gluten-free, and natural.

If you're not familiar with crepes, you should know that they are very thin (not-too-sweet) "pancakes" that can be combined with other ingredients/fillings to make the dish savory or sweet. In many cases, they can also be substituted for tortillas --very thin tortillas. Traditional crepes do not include cauliflower --they do include sugar, vanilla, milk, and flour (which these do not).

When you first open the package, they DO smell a little funny. It's the cauliflower. It can't be helped. But I have not once tasted the cauliflower in any of the following recipes. Every combination included in this post starts with Crepini's recommendation of sautéing the thin first in a pan with a little butter. For a crispier texture, I increased the heat and the sauté time. For the sweet combination (with strawberries, below) I used a low temperature to simply warm through the crepe and leave it soft and very pliable.

So far, I've tried them four ways --in three savory combinations and one sweet. All were delicious and very satisfying. I recommend you give them a try. 

Simple Tortilla with Scrambled Eggs and Chorizo Sausage + Shredded Cheese

Lunch "Taco" with Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Avocado + Burrata

They are strong enough to hold up as a "shell" with fillings inside.

Shredded Rotisserie Chicken + Cheese Quesadilla

Strawberry, Almond Butter, Chocolate Chip Crepe with Swerve-Sweetened (Almond) Whipped Cream


I've since learned they come in a few different varieties (sweet potato would be worth trying) and are carried at Walmart and Publix (in the Charlotte area). If you try them, I'd love to hear what you think and I'd especially love to know what you're enjoying them with. Comment below! 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Things I Love Thursday // 7.25.19


  • Having the squirrels home from sleep away camp - Although this was the 6th summer they have gone away to camp, this year they went to the 4-week session (which was twice as long as they've ever been away from me) making it feel like the first summer again. One of the very best things about camp is NO electronics. There are also no phone calls, no visiting days, and no email. SO... the only communication is good ol' fashioned snail mail (though, parents can send letters in an email form to be printed and delivered to campers the next day). We do get glimpses into their camp life through the photos posted daily. (I confess to spending FAR too much time combing through the small thumbnail photos multiple times a day looking for their happy faces. #sorrynotsorry) I missed them terribly but they had the time of their lives and can't wait to go back next year. {sigh}

    A picture of them AT camp TOGETHER (it's never happened before)!
  • Camp Illahee - The place where our squirrels explore, love, grow, and thrive when they are away from us. Hiking, climbing, riding, tennis, ceramics, painting, field hockey, soccer, and swimming (to name a few they focused on this year) in addition to archery, riflery, canoeing, kayaking, vaulting, and fiber arts (of which they have participated in the past) are just some of the activities that keep them engaged and entertained over the long days away from home. G rooms with her camp friend from Texas (among other new friends made every year) and P rooms with her camp bestie from Colorado. They come back happy, exhausted, full of stories, and a little taller too.
  • These rose-gold sandals - I just picked these sandals up from Target a couple weeks ago and I love them. I bought them in the rose gold and black but have found that I wear the gold pair daily, as they "go with" everything. The sole is substantial enough for a fair amount of walking/standing. And the style is simple enough for shorts, jeans, skirts, and dresses. Love them.

  • Cooler Temps - Finally, Charlotte. Thank you. We are no longer melting and there are even moments during the day when the A/C has a moment to catch its breath. 
  • Houseplants - You guys, the plant purchasing situation at my house has gotten out of control. I can't help it. All of a sudden, my brown thumb has turned green (turns out water + light is a winning formula) and I've become obsessed with filling any slightly sunny corner of our house with greenery. They make me so happy. The only problem is that now I'm stressed about our upcoming travels because I don't know how to succinctly explain how much water each plant needs on what day. I don't really measure or have a schedule... I just look at them and feel the soil. Yikes!

  • My Caftan - I'm not sure how I stumbled across this long nightgown on Amazon but I'm so so thankful that I did. I'm telling you, I want to LIVE in it. If you're in the Charlotte area and you see me out and about at the grocery store in this, let's agree to behave as though everything is normal. It is so cozy and comfortable. It's the effortless thing that I can throw on in the morning while I sip some coffee, answer emails, water all the plants, etc. It's great for when I'm visiting friends or when we have company here. Every evening in front of the TV (or even on the porch). This is what I want to be in. I'm typically about a size 8. I ordered the navy/blue combo in a Small and it fits great. It is ankle-length and roomy --but the neck and the stripe make it NOT seem like a tent. The fabric is so soft and this color combo is flattering. (I ordered the light grey/black combo too and sent it back. My bootie did not need that.)
  • Shopping bags - How cute are these reusable fabric grocery bags? I picked them up a couple weeks ago from The Fresh Market. I took a quick peek online for them so I could give you a link but I came up short. Sorry.

    They had a third: "We Got the Beet" (I wish I had picked it up too).
  • Body Cream - I'm really not a lotion person. Of course, I need to put lotion on because I'm a human person. However, as soon as I'm done applying lotions of any kind (but especially sunscreen), I have to wash my hands with soap and water. Anyhoo... my cousin gave me this wonderful body cream from The Body Shop for Christmas last year and I'm addicted. Not only does it moisturize so well, it also smells amazing and doesn't "clash" with other scents I might be wearing. A little goes a long way and it's not at all sticky or greasy! Love. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Leaf & Petal

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=13IX_vc7oWMVqxLy5KY5LqwJ9HDClTJv3
I recently had the absolute pleasure of visiting old friends from the neighborhood who years ago moved "back home" to Alabama. While there, among an entire list of "favorite moments" was a trip back to one of my favorite places: Leaf & Petal. My first visit to Leaf & Petal in Birmingham was several years ago. Since then, I've been following them on Instagram (@leafnpetal).

Leaf & Petal has four locations: Mountain Brook Village, The Summit, Botanical Gardens, and a new location called Leaf & Petal Deal Depot. I've only visited the Mountain Brook location but the others will go on my short list for the next trip back to the Birmingham area.
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1v0Jar8z_4zKVcHaZOkrR31sV-Gii0-N3https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1mB6sE2tC5VuU39PpbfZbOXRuDJHBTnxz
Coffee table books, candles, candlesticks, cake stands, lanterns, place card holders, picture frames and more. I'm told the gift shop at the Botanical Gardens location has the best selection.

 https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1FmML2WxlS6faM-Ug9CHqEPEa-57BmeTl
I wanted to take home ALL THE PLANTS. Unfortunately, airlines have restrictions on that sort of thing so I settled for a few small vessels that I filled with sweet green babies from Charlotte nurseries.
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1AW_er8LR-rozWLAZFHMrOtRXmRiMBABi
If you ever get to Birmingham, Alabama, do yourself a solid and swing by one of the Leaf & Petal locations in and around the Mountain Brook area. In the meantime, follow them on Instagram for some visual satisfaction. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1p531GEPL2GZMy2A6hRB8ERfbLV-d6xhOhttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=13suiiZ9IKqSdia5vFy04YEfQpFX-ue2F

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

2019 Kentucky Derby

About once per year, for the past 5 years, we have had the absolute pleasure of taking an adult vacation with some of our best friends. The usual suspects always include two other couples that moved into our brand new neighborhood way back in 2008. Since then, we've all moved away from that street but have managed to keep in touch despite the huge difference in the commute (from a few steps to nearly 3000 miles). A tremendous appreciation for our continued connection with one another belongs to some very special friends who plan and execute the trip details every year in celebration of my girlfriend's birthday. Amazing.

This year we traveled from Oregon, Texas, and North Carolina to meet in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Whatever you're imagining... Yes. It was that and then some. Here is our adventure in a few picture highlights.

Packing. So many decisions to be made. In hindsight, I would have definitely STARTED with the hats (or in my case, one hat, one fascinator) and worked from there. Instead, I had 2 dresses that I wanted to wear and tried shopping in Charlotte (late winter/early spring) for hats that matched the dresses. So. Many. Returned. Wherever you live, if you're planning for a Derby trip, start with a great hat. Chances are the stores where you live have a small selection of hats and you'll end up shopping online. Once you find the hat(s) of your dreams... your dress selection will FAR outnumber the choices you had for headwear.

We had tickets for The Kentucky Oaks (pink themed) on Friday and The Derby --so two hat outfits needed to be pulled together. Here's what I wore to The Oaks (slightly more "casual" than The Derby).

Hat, Shoes, Belt, Dress (sold out; similar), Purse (sold out; similar)
Thursday: Arrivals, reunion/many hugs, check in, amazing dinner

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=18OJlCrVD_77b7rfwVAcCAprpT1ErXLly

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1lFo2suFYQzZxHcpoKhLsFla0pN9NWNOx
Aperol Spritzes for breakfast and off we went!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1PbQt9Bv1J4BrM3qSbP6MRv9lB6flbaMD

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1kbjauBo0eDkL5aYTgCpMSX7OQFKMeU3s
We stopped many times for the admirers of G's dress! Incredible.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1D2-MYEw1btfbxRzavmojcjJn7-nqArfv
After The Oaks we hit the Barnstable Brown Gala. (He cleans up well!)

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1rr1Ht-Zob8hQCiV792gbSU1hkSEjR2RV

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1je3IAO_hnw2t7V_ZF_IDX-bnd5xTE1IB

Saturday: Brunch, races, The Kentucky Derby, The Winners Party, dinner

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=16yI127rjuuHFQzItNiKRwIfFlTJ-rMtp
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1eGt2iT8X8PDdRN1n-d5-QKa-vciRmToj
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https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1ohs23gCfi101_cShmW5_3IWKxfqeQx3N
Choosing our horses.

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1EOdJnRns5qpIglxjTPgz-qyytOa2gvlc

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Jbjs_RTCZkS5XvMXih4w6lfc3tw5fZBZ
Were you even at The Derby if you didn't have too many Mint Juleps?

Sunday: Brunch, tears, departures