Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick Thai chicken dinner...

Our former house back in Phoenix had very high ceilings and tile floors throughout much of it, so even though it was 110+ in the summer outside, the inside was still relatively comfortable. Having the AC on helped of course, but we didn't have to use it 24/7. The kitchen was very open to the rest of the house and was also fairly large... this meant I could use the oven whenever I needed and the house did not heat up because of it.

Well, things are not quite the same in this house! With it being so warm and muggy outside lately, every time I use the oven here it tends to feel like the furnace is on instead of the AC inside. So I've not been doing as much baking as I want to, but a front came through last night and broke the sticky humidity and allowed the temperature to fall into a more comfortable range. While I didn't actually bake a new recipe today, I did get another batch of our favorite Peanut Butter Granola recipe made. I also have plans to get some cookies baked tomorrow!

While we were at the farmer's market the other day, I spotted a beautiful head of freshly picked Bibb lettuce and snatched it up without knowing what I was going to end up doing with it. Since the leaves were so crisp, yet tender, we thought we could use them as the vessel for tonight's dinner rather than just tossing them into a salad.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups PictureThe recipe we used with the lettuce, Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups, also called for an ample amount of ground chicken. I like to make my own in the food processor - this way I can control what goes in it, the final texture and it is way cheaper than buying it at the market. While I do use mostly breast meat, I like to throw in a bit of dark meat for a more juicy and flavorful end result. Once cooked, the chunky pieces of chicken are mixed with crisp water chestnuts, sweet red onions, green onions, fresh cilantro, lime juice, a dash of sugar and a few splashes of fish sauce. The lime in the dressing adds a brilliant tang to the mixture with the fish sauce coming back with a salty bite. The Bibb lettuce leaves are then used as little boats and stuffed with the chicken. Crunchy chopped peanuts are scattered on top of each serving with a bit of sliced serrano chilies for a spicy background. While they are fun to pick up and eat, they are also a little messy as they tend to drip a bit from excess dressing - if you wanted to keep clean, you could always just tear up the lettuce and layer the mixture in a bowl to serve.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups Picture

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