A Delicious Misunderstanding

Last night I was complaining about how I have been so busy and I haven’t been doing enough cooking at home, so I asked my son what he wanted for dinner and he said, “Wraps.” I thought that was a great idea! I really like the lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang’s. So good, right!? And a google search for “lettuce wraps” pulls up the recipe as the second link! Sweet! I quickly looked it over and thought 1. I have all almost all of these ingredients, and 2. no wonder we like them–that is a ton of sugar.

So with a few adjustments (in red) here is the recipe:

3 tablespoons oil used olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts had thighs in the freezer. I thawed 4.
1 cup water chestnut don’t usually keep these in the pantry. I food processed a half cup of almonds.
2/3 cup mushroom no mushrooms either. skip.
3 tablespoons chopped onions I had about a half cup of diced onions left over from…no idea.
1 teaspoon minced garlic 3 large cloves
4 -5 leaves iceberg lettuce had a small head of boston bibb

So far is would appear we aren’t even making the same thing, but I assure you it turned out very similar!

Special Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar had rice vinegar–sans wine
2 tablespoons ketchup no ketchup in the house. scraped out a container of Applewood Foods bbq sauce.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard dijon–gray poupon
2 teaspoons water
1 -2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste no red chile paste. put in a shake of red chili pepper flakes. should have used more.

Stir Fry Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar again, rice vinegar sans wine
1. Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.
2. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
3. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve.
4. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.
5. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.
6. Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
7. Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done.
8. Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
9. Keep oil in the pan, keep hot. how is this possible without burning it? I just took the pan off the burner.
10. As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.
11. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
12. When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. The 5 min per side thing wasn’t long enough to cook the chicken, but I diced it anyway and finished cooking it with the sauce.
13. With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. No need for extra oil.
14. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan. I added the garlic, onions, & almonds after the chicken had cooked a little more.
15. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce”cups”.
16. Top with”Special Sauce”. Of which you will need a fraction or you will have “Special Sauce” dripping from your elbows. Which we did. 


As I noted, I think it would have been better with more heat and my son didn’t like the lemon in the sauce…
And after we ate, my son tells me that by “wraps” he meant tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, guac, that sort of thing. Oops. It was a delicious mistake that I will be making again.


Note to self: must get nice white plate for future food pictures.

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New year, new opportunity…to eat more!

Working for Applewood Foods Catering certainly has it’s advantages–leftovers! But eating all that rich delicious food is not always good for the waistline. And as I get older it isn’t as easy to maintain the trim figure. So, I have incorporated a few small changes in my diet that allow me to pretty much eat whatever I want…within reason, of course.

With the new year comes an opportunity to refocus and implement changes that, if done in moderation, can become permanent. I thought I’d share a few of the things that work for me….because being able to eat Applewood smoked chicken and cheesy potatoes is not something I want to EVER give up!

1. Start the day with a cup of hot lemon water instead of coffee
Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings, high in vitamin C for fighting colds and they aid in digestion by encouraging the liver to produce bile. I add a little honey for less puckering.

2. Eat smaller portions more frequently
I eat every three hours. I take snacks almost everywhere I go–bags of cashews, pistachios and dates, or homemade granola. These are my snacks between meals. You will be surprised how little it takes to fill you up.

3. Smoothies!
I make them in larger batches and store the extra in small nalgene bottles. They are perfect for lunch and I never eat enough fruit. There are tons and tons of recipes out there. My favorites are frozen berries and pomegranate juice and some combination of fruits with spinach for a green smoothie. Add vanilla soy milk for a creamy sweet treat!

4. Drink 64 ounces of water a day
This seems the simpilist, but it is the one I have the most trouble with. It is hard to drink that much water!

It isn’t much (and I am no expert) but I started this last year and the above is what stuck. It makes *me* feel a lot better, but of course you have to find what works for you!

Happy eating in 2013!

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The bylaws of Nog

If my family had bylaws, one of them would read thus:

Section 3. Eggnog shall be consumed only between Thanksgiving day and New Year’s day and at no other time of the year. It shall be made from a recipe memorized by (my brother) George, and provided each year to individuals upon calling or emailing. It shall be made in full or half batches, garnished with freshly ground nutmeg, and consumed until gone*. Children shall not be permitted to consume eggnog from their parent’s glass…but they do. It is acceptable to use ones finger to clean the inside of ones old fashioned glass so long as it is your last glass of the day. In the morning, eggnog can be added to coffee should any remain from the previous evening.

So here it is…copied from an email from George.
1 dozen eggs
3 cups sugar
1 quart heavy whipping cream
3 cups (about a 1/5th of whiskey)
2-3 ounces spiced rum

Separate the eggs. (I usually make sure the yolks go into your final serving bowl, and the whites into another)
Beat the whites (I beat to a peak for thickness, this can be adjusted)
In a separate bowl (over twice the size of the quart of cream) pour and beat the cream (again, I beat to a peak for thickness, this can be adjusted)
Fold the beat whites into the beat cream.
Now back to the yolks, start beating the yolks, and slowly add the sugar.
Now, slowly, very slowly add the whiskey and rum. This is important, because if you add the alcohol too quickly, it could curdle the yolks.
Once all alcohol, and sugar are beat well into the yolks, stop beating, and then gently fold the whites/beats mixture into the yolks/alcohol/sugar thoroughly.


This is how I know it’s the holidays.

*The only known discarding of any amount of eggnog was when a mouse drowned in the bowl that was placed in my parent’s root cellar–the bowl is usually too big to put in the refrigerator and it’s too far to walk to get it out of the fridge in the garage. That was one happy mouse!

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Ritual Chili

My ex always made the best chili. When we lived in Denver, he made a huge stockpot of it both times the Broncos won the super bowl. He declared it the reason they won. Now Payton has got them Broncos looking pretty good out there and it got me thinking that a return to the big game will require a pot of chili. So, I dug up and dusted off his recipe. Here is what I found word for word:

“Chili (double batch): 2 lbs meat, 2 cups onion, 2 cups green pepper, 2 1lb cans of tomatoes, 2 1lb cans of beans, 2 8oz cans of tomato sauce, 2 tsp salt, 4 tsd chili powder, corn. I think I let it simmer at least an hour. Maybe two.”

To me that looks like enough chili to feed the entire team, so last night I put this together:

1 lb ground sausage (browned)
1 medium onion (coarsely chopped)
1 green pepper (coarsely chopped)
1 can diced tomatoes
tomato sauce (1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, splash of red wine vinegar, 4-5 cloves crushed garlic)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can corn
2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

combine all ingredients in large pot. simmer.
I started mine before I left for the pool, so it was on for approximately an hour and a half.

Now as all football fans know, it’s the ritual that helps the team win and in the case of this chili that includes the trimmings. This *must* be served with fritos (the original kind), shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream. The cheese and fritos go in the bottom of your bowl, then chili, then sour cream on top. Mix and eat. I swear I heard the roar of a stadium crowd with my first bite.

*Enjoy leftovers for a week.

Go Broncos!!

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Food for Your Ears

I recently heard the Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Cornbread and Butterbeans,” which you should also listen to right now…

and I immediately decided I needed to make cornbread. I just love music about food!

I borrowed Martha’s recipe with rosemary (which I think might be my favorite herb cuz I use it in everything)

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 6 sprigs for garnish (optional)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put cornmeal in a large bowl. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into cornmeal. Stir in chopped rosemary.
  2. Put eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches; mix until just combined.
  3. Divide batter between two 5 1/8-by-3 3/4-by-2-inch wooden molds; top each with 3 rosemary sprigs, if desired (remove before cutting). Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in molds on a wire rack.*

It is so easy and so good! We had it with sliced ham and spinach salad with asian dressing.

*I used two small greased bread pans and they came out perfect. We ate one and I gave the other to a friend.

PS: I made more cornbread a few weeks later and we made cornbread french toast. DO IT!

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Leftovers? Yes, with blue cheese and bacon, please.

After 13 years in the catering business, eating leftovers is not always appealing. For example, when we first started making “better-than-almost-anything” cake (a very popular dessert) I *LOVED* it.  Whenever we served it I would snag an extra piece (or two sometimes) for myself.  Well, this went on long enough that I ate a whole lot more than I ever should have and now looking at a piece of that cake I get just the slightest feeling of “The Beast” roiling through my stomach and I don’t care if I ever eat another bite! There are items I still enjoy; smoked chicken, a ribeye steak once-in-awhile, and meatloaf are a few of my favorites, but it will be another lifetime before I eat cheesy potatoes. They are absolutely amazing, but in our family, even the kids have stopped eating them. This is the catering biz.

So, anytime we do an “out of normal” menu, not only is it fun to do because it’s different, it provides a whole new and wonderful taste experience.  This was just the case last Friday.  We did an in-home dinner with one of the entrees being bacon wrapped filet mignon.  When I placed the order for this heavenly piece of beef I ordered extra to have some to take home – after all, this is the very best of beef – melt in your mouth delicious.  Last evening I fired up the charcoal grill.  While waiting for the right fire, I put olive oil and garlic pepper on each side of the beef.  The coals were ready when I could just barely hold my hand several inches over the flame.  Then I put the filets on.  About 3½ minutes on the first side and 4½ minutes on the other and the meat was done to rare perfection.  Then, mixing soft blue cheese and butter, about equal parts, maybe a bit more blue cheese, I put a nice, thick layer on each and then, well it was a taste sensational.  As I ate through the piece, I ate more and more slowly because, like a good book, you just don’t want it to end!

For a side I cooked fresh green beans in a small amount of salted water and then tossed with olive oil and chopped onions sautéed with dried tarragon. A real treat and one which complimented the steak oh-so-well.  I thought I had died and gone to beef heaven!  What a delightful meal – one I don’t often eat, but that’s okay – I don’t want to get tired of it!


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This will be short and sweet.

Maybe the best Halloween costume I’ve ever made.

Oh! bonus food related costume from last year:

The Swedish Chef!

Have fun out there!!

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