Asian Lettuce Wraps & Lemon Buttercream Cupcakes

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Love, love, love, lettuce wraps.

This recipe makes a double batch. However, there are only two of us, so if you have a large family of 4 or more, the entire recipe will be perfect. We eat about half and I freeze the other half for another dinner or lunch.

Lettuce wraps are also great for an appetizer party. My aunt puts the meat in a crockpot and just places the lettuce cups next to it. Everyone can serve themselves.

Did you know that PF Chang’s has gluten-free lettuce wraps? They have an entire gluten-free menu if you’re interested. Make sure when you order that you double-check that the condiments they bring to the table are also gluten-free.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

*This recipe is adapted from my aunt, Judy Zumeks’ recipe.

14 Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Thighs (sounds like a lot but they are small – you can also use ground turkey or pork)

1 Green Bell Pepper, finely diced (I had green, you can also use red, yellow, or orange)

4 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons Freshly Grated Ginger

1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

4 Green Onions, thinly sliced

1 8oz Can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped

 8 Tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce

3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (make sure it’s gluten-free)

3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil

7 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (I use gluten-free Tamari sauce)

3 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce

4 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Olive Oil

Iceberg Lettuce (or any type of lettuce you like, I like the iceberg because it’s firm and crisp)

In two batches, place the chicken thighs in a food processor and pulse until “ground”.  I thought I had ground turkey in the freezer but I did not, so this is what I settled with and I am so happy I did! It’s incredibly easy to “grind” and less expensive than buying organic ground meat. I will never buy ground chicken, turkey, or pork again.

Place the ground meat (both batches) in a bowl and add the bell pepper, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and green onions.

Stir to combine. Drizzle the olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium-high. Add the chicken mixture and cook until meat is done. It will turn a pale color, don’t cook it until it is browned, the garlic will burn and the chicken will be tough. Once the chicken is done, add the chili sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, water chestnuts, and cilantro. Stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes.

This meal was incredibly easy so right after dinner I even had time to make my Lemon Buttercream Cupcakes for dessert. (Of which my husband and I ate 3 each and then were so loaded up on sugar we couldn’t sleep. Two is perfect…three might have been just one too many. But they were so good!)

Asian Shrimp Skewers with Hot and Spicy Slaw

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This turned out so good that I think I might have to make it again in a few days. It’s a nice, light meal that is surprisingly packed with flavor. Perfect for a hot summer evening. I think it would also pair nicely with a slightly sweet, fruity wine. It was really easy to put together, you can make it even easier if you want, by making the salad dressing and marinade the night before and sticking it in the fridge. One disclaimer though…the “hot” in the Hot and Spicy slaw is hot. We are big fans of spicy and hot in this family, but as with any recipe, you can feel free to tweak it to your liking.

1 Bag 50-60 Shrimp, peeled, rinsed & patted dry

Wood Skewers

For the Shrimp Marinade:

1 Lime, zested

Juice of 1 Lime

3 Tbsp. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp. Apricot Simply Fruit Jelly

1 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha Sauce

1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 Tbsp. Dried Parsley Flakes

1 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

Place all ingredients in a medium glass or ceramic bowl and stir.

Add shrimp and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 1/2 hours.

For the Salad Dressing:

1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar

1 Lime, zested

Juice of 1 Lime

1 Jalapeno, diced with seeds and membrane intact (if you like it hot)

1 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce

1 Tbsp. Sweet Chili Sauce

1/8 tsp. Dark Sesame Oil

Sesame Seeds for sprinkling after salad is tossed with dressing

Place all ingredients (except the seeds) in a small glass or ceramic bowl, stir. Cover and refrigerate while you make the salad.

For the Salad:

2 1/2 Cups Napa Cabbage, sliced thinly

2 Tbsp. Chives, finely chopped

1 Large Carrot, shredded

2 Large Broccoli Florets, pulled apart

1/2 Seedless Cucumber, peeled and sliced lengthwise then quartered

Place all ingredients in a medium glass or ceramic bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to dress the salad (right before the shrimp come off of the grill).

Next, skewer the shrimp and pre-heat the grill on medium-high.

I also grilled a summer squash alongside the shrimp. Cut  in half lengthwise, top with chopped garlic, thyme, olive oil and a squirt of lime juice on each one.

Grill the shrimp until done. They only take a few minutes per side. While the shrimp and the squash are grilling, toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I also made a dip for the shrimp with a little rice vinegar, sweet chile sauce, and sriracha sauce.