Category Archives: Meats & Seafood

GF: Chicken & Lettuce Wraps

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Chicken & Lettuce Wraps, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Just a note before I proceed:

I received a couple passionate email comments regarding our recent eBay auctions and our adoption that demonstrated that our fund raiser was offensive to a few members of our GF and adoptive community. We regret that our choice to eBay items and post about it has offended a few people.

We are also quite thankful for the many more supportive and loving emails and comments received.  We are truly grateful for your love and support.

-Kate & Her Love

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And now on to the FOOD!

The grocery store near our home has decided to come out of the 70s (where our house still resides… 1979, to be exact) and remodel. The BEST part about the remodeling job, in my opinion, is that I no longer have to walk a gauntlet of “sale” items as they wind me through the store toward the fresh fruit and vegetables I seek. Now, when you enter the store, you walk immediately in to the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. (Well, okay.. and there is a coffee spot in the corner there too. I’m a bit of a coffee fan, so this doesn’t bother me as much as the food-in-a-box gauntlet did. LOL)

The fresh fruit that kicks off the shopping trip is not only fresh (and well lit, of course) but there are (so far) several employees there whose job it is to cut up pieces of fruit for you to taste before you buy!. OH YEA!

Entering with the fruit in front of me and a corner of the fresh vegetable curling around the edge of the entrance, I can see the fresh asparagus and brussel sprouts calling my name. Along with these gorgeous green veggies peer the rest of goodies: local carrots, celeries, lettuces, turnips, … and HUGE bunches of cilantro. (Let’s not talk about the cilantro…..mmmm.. cilantro.)

I found some gorgeous carrots, red lettuce, jalapenos, red peppers, ginger root, garlic and cilantro.) Ah, fresh vegetables are irresistible to me. I hadn’t even gone to the market to buy much more than a bag of apples and some red leaf lettuce for my lunches. All of that changed when I got hit with the veg-head, gotta-have-veggies craving.

Since we were off to work out, I knew I needed to make something light and quick as it would be after 7:00PM before I was home for dinner. So I thought these fresh lettuce wraps with ground chicken and fresh vegetables would be perfect.

This recipe is super easy! And the best part? The leftovers make for great wraps at lunch too. And if you run out of lettuce leaves to wrap the goodness in, then just pack a few GF corn chips to scoop it up with.

There’s nothing like a fresh, light, and easy dinner item for midweek – especially during the holiday season! I don’t know about you all, but our house is gearing up for a few cookie exchange parties (always an odd thing for me now that I’m gluten-free, to be honest). Tonight my love and I are making 10 dozen layered peppermint bark bites for a cookie exchange at his work.

And I bet that leaves you all wondering what I do with the cookies that he brings home, right? Well, we divide them for our neighbors and deliver holiday goodies to them with our share of the cookie exchange. We always make gluten-free cookies to share but never expect the same to come back to our house. So, it’s no big deal to me. After all, my Love doesn’t eat sweets and I sure as HECK don’t need 10 DOZEN cookies floating around the house during Winter Break! No WAY!

It’s actually kind of fun for me to make gluten-free cookies with my Love for his work crew. He is a fabulous cook, but his colleagues don’t (didn’t!) know it when he first started there. He is the only man in his office and has HILARIOUS stories about office “Craft Day” parties (Everyone stays in the office for TWO HOURS together to make new magnets for the IN/OUT board….oh-too-funny for the one poor guy with the chatty girl-club…. well, okay.. WAY more funny for me to hear about than for him to experience!)

When they first told him about the cookie exchange, he had never heard of one before. They were worried that he would “feel bad” because they told him they knew that “men don’t bake”. So they “excused” him from baking anything and told him they could buy it all. OH MY – He was offended! (And I don’t blame him!) Needless to say, those ladies got the most ornate, gluten-free, dark chocolate light wafer tea cookies that I have ever tasted and seen. To boot, he wrapped each cookie, tied them with silver bows and placed them in to the cutest cookie boxes ever. Oh were they surprised!

Now they expect something from him each time. This year? Layered peppermint bark bites. Oh man, give me strength! It’s going to be a long night.

And now you know why light, easy and fresh meals are the only way to go around the holidays in our house, at least.

I hope this easy meal delights your taste buds and your waistline too. (I now measure my food bites by the number of miles on the elliptical rather than calories. I am finding this measurement method to be MUCH more effective ….. LOL)

Chicken & Lettuce Wraps
Ingredients:
1 pound ground chicken
1 teaspoon olive or rice bran oil
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
1″ knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons GF soy sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey (or LESS if desired)
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon black pepper & salt – To TASTE
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (with or without seeds)
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (about 3/4 loosely packed cup)

For the wraps:
Red or Green Leaf Lettuce

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a sauce pan large enough to hold everything.
  2. Sauté the onions, carrot and ginger until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant – about 1-2 more minutes.
  3. Add the ground chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, red pepper flakes, honey (if using), salt/pepper, and cook until the chicken is done. Simmer for an additional 5-6 minutes without a lid. (You can add a touch of corn starch mixed with water if you want a thickened sauce with this too.)
  4. Add the chopped red pepper, jalapeno and cilantro. Stir together well.
  5. Serve with cleaned lettuce leaves and a huge glass of your favorite white wine or water.

Happy Festivities, All.
-Kate

Salmon Chowder – Gluten free, of course

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Okay, so photos of chowder are not the easiest. I’m sad to report that this photo does not do justice to the chowder. Because OH MAN. It hit the spot tonight!

I started making salmon and fish chowders a few years ago… and that was after several years of turning my nose up at the thought of fish chowder or fish soups. Quite honestly, the only type of fishy-soup/chowder I liked was Clam Chowder (New England style). And then, a few years ago, I had the best fish soup I had ever eaten in my life in a Chinese restaurant with my in-laws. Sometimes the beauty of not speaking the language is the willingness to eat what you are given. (Don’t worry, my father-in-law always orders gluten-free goodies for me at the Chinese restaurants. It’s helpful to have a native speaker making the requests, that’s for sure!)

Since that meal, I’ve tried to find gluten free fish chowders when we are out and about, but alas… most of them are prepared with a roux (butter and flour) or have flour added at the end to thicken the soup. It was at this point that I caved and decided to make my own. My Love had been telling me how easy chowders are to make, so now was the time.

Tonight I made another version of my Salmon Chowder. My original recipe (from July 2005) used clams and a few slices of ham or bacon and I didn’t have either of those on hand. But tonight, I found a little can of green chiles and some great parsnips in the fridge just waiting to be gobbled up. Couple those goodies with a pound and a half of some incredible fresh salmon and I have been dreaming of Salmon Chowder all day.

There is a brisk snap of cold in the air tonight. It’s actually the kind of weather I enjoy – although truth be told, I like my cold weather WITH sunshine, but that doesn’t happen around here all the time. And tomorrow, the weather reports are predicting a ton of rain and wind (read = 3 inches in 12 hours!). I think soup was the perfect thing to make to get my body ready for the wet chill that is about to set in.

Since this recipe makes MUCH more chowder than the two of us could possibly eat in one meal (or two!), it’s resting nicely in its pot in the fridge for lunch and dinner tomorrow too. I’ll probably make some corn bread or corn sticks or skillet corn bread to accompany it at the last meal. For lunch, I’m thinking some fabulous Caesar Salads with Salmon Chowder. (Yes, there is no school tomorrow in honor of Veteran’s Day in the US… thus my leisurely lunch plans rather than the soup and an apple to go which is what it would have been.)

I’m going to lay out the basic Chowder recipe here. Keep in mind, it’s very, very versatile. If you don’t have salmon on hand, use another firm fish (like cod). Don’t have the same veggies? Mix it up! You get the idea.

Above all, just eat it to feel good. Your body will thank you.

Salmon Chowder
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter or rice bran oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 shallot finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large parsnips, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small can of green chiles
1 15ounces can of corn (kernels, not creamed)
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (GF, of course)
3 cups of diced potatoes
1 1/2 pounds salmon (skinned, de-boned, and cut in to chunks)
salt & pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 can low fat or no fat evaporated milk (optional)
1/4 cup sorghum flour (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat large dutch oven/soup pot over medium high. Add butter. Saute onion, garlic, shallot, carrots, parsnips and celery until tender. (About 5-6 minutes).
  2. Add 3 cups of the broth (reserve one cup), green chiles, corn and the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. (About 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your potato dices.)
  3. Add the seasonings (salt/pepper, paprika, tarragon, red pepper flakes, etc) and taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Add the salmon and stir in to the broth. Simmer another 10 minutes or until the salmon is mostly cooked. Taste again. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Mix the sorghum flour in to the remaining one cup of broth. Add to the chowder (this will thicken it a bit.) Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the can of evaporated milk to make the chowder creamy.

Happy soup days, all!
-Kate

Convenience that makes you smile…

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Words to make you smile…, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Okay…so if you haven’t figured it out, I LOVE being at home and cooking with my love. However, there come days in every life when cooking is just not going to happen. At least not before 8:00PM, and I don’t know about you guys, but eating dinner at 9:00PM is not on the agenda around here. Now in Spain? Rome?……. that’s a different story. But here? 9:00PM means getting some school work done or taking an hour to decompress my brain with a book or an intriguing show.

Lately (read: during the last week of our life), our lives have been a bit off as we’ve been scrambling to convert an office in to a much needed baby’s room (wahoo!) and to figure out where in Snoopy’s name we are going to put all that CRAP we stored in the office. In addition to kick starting the serious “Spring” cleaning (or nesting, as I’m beginning to think about it), we just finished the MONSTROUS packet of paperwork for the USCIS (U. S. Citizen and Immigrant Services, formerly known as INS).

Those flipping papers were tedious, to say the least. We spent a week (a ton of time in baby-wait time which is similar to dog’s years, I think) waiting for corrections to be made from the adoption agency (apparently our little baldie-baby girl was cute enough to be considered a boy too as all of her paperwork was marked “Male”… umm… that’s was a problem…. LOL). The last three nights I have been spending organizing and collecting all of the data and records necessary. Really, it wasn’t a mess to find anything – that was the easy part. The hard part was in interpreting the stinkin’ paperwork. And tonight? We *FINALLY* finished the paperwork and mailed off a 3 inch stack of pages, photos, records, etc to our agency for them to file.

The fun part was actually being able to tuck a couple little things into the package for our baby girl too. Our agency will arrange to have the items (a little cuddle blankie and a soft bunny) sent to our little one in South Korea. It’s funny as we dropped the box into the post office drop box, my love is worrying about the paperwork arriving but me? No. I was worrying about the bunny being crushed by the massive paperwork and being rendered to ridiculous and useless before our baby gets a chance to snuggle with it.

Oh boy. I’m getting sentimental about her toys already and she really doesn’t have any! (Time to get another “office” that we can stuff with more crap, I think…. LOL)

On our way home from the Post Office, I was thankful for our last Costco find. You see, last night we had to run to Costco to pick up pictures for our adoption paperwork too. (For you adoption people, we needed to send 12 photos total of: inside/outside of our house, the baby’s room/bed, us as a couple, individuals, etc).

We took a quick spin to the freakin’ FREEZIN’ “cooler” to pick up some romaine lettuce and fruit. As I walked to the back, I passed by the aisles of coolers filled with items I cannot eat. Normally, it doesn’t even faze me. Actually, most days it rather elates me. Saves me MONEY to NOT “need” to buy the items in those cases! LOL But last night we went at 7:40 PM…. after work, after working out, after paperwork, but NOT after eating anything!

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a bag of chicken meatballs. Oh, how I loved my mom’s meatballs that she would make for quick appetizers for parties. She would simply dump the prepared meatballs in to a crock pot with her BBQ sauce (or a bottle of BBQ sauce if she was prepping other things). It was the perfect toothpick-pricked appetizer/snack.

I picked up the package out of curiosity to see what seasonings they had used when LO and BEHOLD the words “GLUTEN FREE” grabbed my eyes and my mind started spinning!

WHAT? Prepared meatballs that are GLUTEN FREE? Oh, baby! I gotta get some of these!”, I thought.

And oh, how glad I am that I did that! They are delicious! We ate them tonight (8:30 PM dinner this time) with some salad and fruit for dinner.  And there are more in the fridge for my lunch tomorrow…. and the next day? Oh, I sense a little meatball sandwich. And after that? Well, then, just then, I might get around to dumping some in a pan with a little BBQ sauce just because I can.

Ah. It’s good to find convenience in the midst of a hectic week.

Gluten Free Pre-made Chicken MeatBalls!

If you find these meatballs, you should check them out too. I have absolutely NO connection with this company, but am delighted with the product. They are made by COLEMAN NATURAL FOODS and are the Italian Parmesan Chicken Meatballs. (Although allow me to say, I don’t think there’s much Italian or parmesan here… but they sure are good with a little Thai sweet chili sauce (my choice) and my Love votes for these dipped in ketchup. LOL)

Check out their website – you can even search their products by selecting “GLUTEN FREE” or “DAIRY FREE” or “SOY FREE”.  Come on!  You gotta love that!

I’ll be back this weekend with a recipe.
Do you have any requests? I’m itching to try something new!
Happy Gluten Free Days All!
-Kate