And it takes a Swan Dive
May 20, 2009
Every two weeks, I sit down with a blank piece of paper, grocery store ads, my 3 ring binder of recipes (mostly printed from other lovely blogs), a list of the proteins in my freezer, and a promise not to curse to much during the menu planning process. An hour later, I have a menu filled with fourteen different entrees (most of which are commonplace in the weekly rotation), a shopping list complete with hieroglyphics reminding me of whichever store has the best price, and a headache from cursing too much. Immediately after finishing this tortuous task, we head to the grocery store so I can unleash my menu planning frustration on the world.
Why do I do this? Because in reality, it saves time and creates a harmonious and unstressful environment for dinner assembly. It’s a see the forest through the trees kind of thing. However, my desire to end the menu planning torture usually results in what I call Swan Dives Meals. These are meals that make it onto the menu because I am running out of time and I have a recipe that matches some random protein in the freezer. So I become a carefree non-anal person that I am not and put it on the menu.
Then, the day to actually make the recipe comes and somehow the recipe miraculously swan dives off the menu and I make something else with the ingredients I have on hand.
If the story stopped there, you would perceive me to be a normal well adjusted semi-neurotic individual but it does not. I feel guilt. Often times, I am so guilty that the recipe did not have its chance in the sun, its opportunity to make my taste buds dance, or its chance to make it on Alex’s vegetables I will eat list, I will put it on the menu again.
I am not going to tell you how many times recipes swan dive off the menu only to crawl their way back just to face elimination again. Just know that I cannot tell you what Kung Pao chicken tastes like but according to my menu plans I must love it because we have had it 20 times this year.
Recipes comes from Dine and Dish who found the recipe on Allrecipes
These lettuce wraps were one of those swan dive meals and even yesterday, I almost swapped it with baked ziti at the eleventh hour. I am so glad I pressed on and saw this recipe into fusion however. The Asian flavors were spot on. The ginger gave it the need kick and the filling was a great inside its lettuce container.
Alex, who has lettuce on the inedible list, ate his filling with jasmine rice and enjoyed his meal as much as I did.
- 16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- Asian chile pepper sauce (optional)
- 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
- Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
- Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!
Notes: I did not use the chile sauce; although Alex thought they could have used a little more kick so I definitely will next time. I also cooked the meat first and added the onions and water chestnuts to the meat mixture. After 3 to 4 minutes, I made a well in the meat mixture and added the liquids and the green onions then stirred everything together. My goal here was to keep as many plates as clean as possible. 🙂