Dinner @ 226 - Lettuce Wraps

This weekend I found things to celebrate:  refinancing our house to save over $300 per month, a new baby arriving shortly amongst our group of friends, the tastiest lettuce wraps outside of China, the best coconut cake I have ever eaten or made, sleeping in until 9am on Sunday, two friend-get-togethers in one weekend (thank you, Super Bowl), and the conclusion of Project Hoosier Cabinet.  All mighty good things.

The garland turned out a wee bit more country than I'm into, but it served its purpose.  And, it was too late to change it.

I also, unfortunately, found things to lament:  a giant crack in the bowl of my food processor rendering it out of commission, the screen on my Canon repeatedly displaying ERR 99 leaving it without the ability to take a photo, and the sudden and unexpected last gasp from my 1991 Volvo.  Three things, gone.  Or at least in a dire state of disrepair.  I am equally dependent on each of these modern appliances and I'm not looking forward to braving the dreary world without them.  But, onward I must go.

The finished Hoosier Cabinet.  The iPhone doesn't do it justice, it is the most amazing color of mustard and I am so in love with it, I find myself ogling.  Oh, and that middle platter was filled with Banana Whoopie Pies with Peanut Butter Filling.  They flew! 
Baby Face Game, pretty funny.
 For now, let us focus on the mighty good things, because they really were terrific.  The baby shower went so well, even though these iPhone pictures are all that remain (Read above:  ERR 99.)  I found out just how many people fit comfortably in an 1800 square foot house.  The answer is: fewer than the number of people that were here.  Crowded-ness aside, it was a great time.  We set up a game for guests to make a composite of the mom's and dad's faces on a baby silhouette, attempting to predict his appearance.  Or, more accurately, attempting to be stupid.  It was pretty hilarious and I recommend it for a couples shower where you don't want overly girly/sentimental games.

My lettuce wrap, the morning after.  I added a fried egg to help cure my hangover because I thought it would be tasty.  It was.

I made gobs of Asian inspired food like vegetable summer rolls with peanut sauce, crab and mango salad in wonton cups and lettuce wraps.  Though the lettuce wraps weren't as Mingle Friendly as I'd hoped, they are super stinking good.  We make them a lot for dinner and it's fun for the kids to build them and pile on the toppings.

Hopefully you found a lot to celebrate this weekend.  And, your camera/car/favorite kitchen appliance didn't peter out leaving you with a feeling of emptiness.  Make these lettuce wraps for dinner tonight and you'll have one more thing to celebrate.

Tofu and/or Beef Lettuce Wraps - You can make the "meat" of this dish with whatever you like.  Most of the time I use tofu and mushrooms for ours.  But, in the past I've used lean ground beef or chicken, lentils or a mixture thereof.  Serves 4.

For the sauce:
1 teaspoon Sriracha or bottled chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced

For the filling:
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil (or other flavorless oil)
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
6 green onions, sliced, green parts set aside for topping
2 bell peppers chopped, one set aside for topping*
1 pound of "meat" ie: cooked lentils, tofu (drained and cut into small cubes), lean ground meat, or diced mushrooms
1 8 ounce can of water chestnuts, chopped

For assembly:
1 head of Bibb lettuce, carefully washed and trimmed
chopped red pepper
sliced green onion, green part
lightly salted peanuts
slices of lime
fresh cilantro or basil (optional, but a definite plus)

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil over medium and add the ginger, onion whites and pepper (and any other vegetable you're adding, see not below).  Do not burn the ginger, just let it get fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes.

Add the "meat" and cook it through.  You know, either brown the meat, or warm the lentils or tofu through.  Add the reserved sauce and the water chestnuts.  Let everything mingle in the hot pan for about 5 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure nothing is sticking.

Put all your toppings in separate bowls like it's taco night.  Fill the lettuce leaves with the saucy-meat mixture and then top with your favorites.  In my case, it's a little of everything.

And obvi, put a fried egg on the leftovers.  I really hope you love this.

*sometimes I throw a bunch of finely chopped or shredded vegetables in, depending on what I have or how much chopping I'm in the mood for.  Carrots, celery, snap peas and mushrooms have all been known to work (and go undetected by the vegetable-wary crowd).


  1. Wow! That cabinet looks amazing! You guys did a really nice job- such a great retro feel! And I am drooling thinking about the coconut cake... will you share the recipe? Pretty please???

  2. The coconut cake was outstanding - and just might be share-worthy.