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Monday, February 18, 2019

Thai Chicken Wrap Bistro Boxes with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
This morning I was talking to my kids about "eating the rainbow" and what that actually means.  It seems I had just finished making up a nutritional metabolism lecture for one of my classes and it was still fresh in my mind.  Of course for my kids, whatever my college students are learning about tends to spill over into our home life, so they often have so suffer through hearing about the lecture du jour.  Now I must admit, this concept (eating the rainbow and antioxidant research) is near and dear to me, as the concept of it ties into what I did my dissertation on many years ago.  But that's another story. 

So anyway... one of my littles doesn't eat probably 75% of the stuff in this recipe.  Nope.  So this was a test.  A blatant, flat out test.  But when he walked in from school, he sniffed the air and declared, "Mmm, it smells so good in here!"  (Aha.  This could work.  He has it in his mind that he likes wraps.)  I had some grades to enter so I didn't push for anything more.  I said my thanks and left it at that.  I mentioned the meals were in fridge and they could help themselves as I had some things to attend to.  He did.  Later, I asked for a report.  "Mommmm,  those were PHENOMENAL!"  Wow!  That's definitely a score!!!  Need more in the pluses category?  All of the "fresh" ingredients I purchased cost $20, with the rest being pantry items I had on hand (including recycling my Chinese takeout containers).  For five very healthy and tasty meals?  I'd say that's a budget friendly meal worth putting on the rotation, wouldn't you?  

#mealprep #healthy #easy #budgetfriendly #quick #asian #eattherainbow

#kidfriendly #lunchbox #brownbag #dairyfree options for #glutenfree

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound thin sliced chicken breast filets  or breasts that have been pounded flat (or equivalent amount of chopped cooked chicken, about 3 - 3 1/2 cups)
  • Montreal chicken seasoning (or seasoning blend of choice) 
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil or cooking spray
Slaw:
    Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
  • 1 bag Power Blend Slaw mix 
    • contains:  Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, Kohlrabi, broccoli, carrots and kale
  • 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 3/4 seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks 
  • 1/2 heaping cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the peanut sauce:
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari for gluten free
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger pasted or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste or finely minced
  • 2 tsp sriracha 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
To assemble:
  • 4 (8'') tomato basil tortillas or gluten free if desired
  • 1/4 cup peanuts crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups grapes or fruit of choice
  • meal prep containers
  • 5 (2 oz) portion cups with lids
Step-by-Step - 
On your clean chopping board, prep your cucumber, pepper, cilantro, and peanuts.  Set these aside. 

Now you can make use of the same chopping board without fear of cross contamination.  If not using thinly sliced chicken, pound chicken breasts flat for quick, even cooking time.  Season liberally with seasoning blend of choice.  (The one I used contains salt, pepper, onion, garlic, etc so it makes meal prep easy and fast.)  
Put a little oil in a heavy bottom pan (or use cooking spray).  When hot, add chicken and cook on until golden brown on each side on medium high.  These are so thin that they only take 3-4 minutes on each side to be cooked through.  Remove from pan and allow to rest uncut while you make the sauce.

1 Tbsp canola oil
*Another alternative is to use precooked deli chicken or a rotisserie chicken


allow to rest before cutting to retain juices
For the sauce, throw all the sauce ingredients in your vitamix or blender.  That's it.  
(An immersion blender or whisk could also be used if necessary)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari 
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp ginger paste or minced
1 Tbsp garlic paste or minced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce


Start assembling the wraps.  Lay out the tortillas.  Divide the power blend evenly.  Distribute the veggies.  Chop and divide the chicken.  Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of sauce everything.  Something needs to be the glue.  Ha.  Roll and cut as you wish.  Divide among the five lunch containers.  Pour the rest of the dipping sauce into 2 oz portion cups and place into lunch containers.  Add fruit to each.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.


 *I like this slaw blend because these veggies hold up well without wilting which means they maintain a nice crunch for you.  They are also super healthy, balanced, tasty and colorful.
*I was initially going to make 4 wraps, but this was SO much chicken that I decided to divide it up into 5 portions and make 5 wraps and it was STILL a lot!  You get to decide how many you'd like to make, but I was scared I wouldn't be able to close them up.  These were already huge!  
* I used some beautiful thin tomato basil tortillas for these wraps.  Feel free to use the tortillas of your choice, including a gluten free variety for those on a GF diet.
power blend slaw, red bell pepper strips
cooked chicken chunks
cilantro
cucumber pieces
chopped peanuts
drizzle with a few tablespoons of peanut sauce
Wrap and cut, or leave whole if you wish.  Add fruit, which acts as a palate cleanser and side.  Add remaining sauce to 2 oz portion cups that have lids.
Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
So much healthier (and less expensive) than eating lunch out!
Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
Don't like the idea of eating the same thing for a week?  What I recommend is finding a group of friends who want to share "lunch meal prep" duties.  Each person makes one recipe, then you share the things you made so that you get to cook once but get to eat each of 4-5 different things. 
Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
Lunch for a week, for awesome lunch for tomorrow for you and your favorite people!
Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Thai Chicken Wraps_menumusings.com
Family Friendly Bonus Recipes - 
Mini Sausage Pancake Muffins - perfect for on-the-go mornings for little kids and not so little kids alike! 
Mini sausage pancake muffins_menumusings.com
Baked Chicken Parmesan - Classic, family friendly, Italian with a healthier twist!
Baked Chicken Parmesan_menumusings.com
Ritzy Cheddar Baked Chicken - Because we are always looking for something different to do with chicken, right? 
Ritzy cheddar baked chicken_menumusings.com
Mongolian Beef - Easy, quick and satisfying ... there's no reason for takeout! 
Mongolian beef_menumusings.com
Individual White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Puddings - Let's look at this as purposeful  "portion control" for your loved ones. 
Individual White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Puddings_menumusings.com

How to get the Menu Musings Cookbook -  each recipe includes a scannable QR code that links back to the blog with step-by-step photos!  Makes a great gift for this year's graduates and newly weds.  
Method:
On your clean chopping board, prep your cucumber, pepper, cilantro, and peanuts.  Set these aside. Now you can make use of the same chopping board without fear of cross contamination.  If not using thinly sliced chicken, pound chicken breasts flat for quick, even cooking time.  Season liberally with seasoning blend of choice.  (The one I used contains salt, pepper, onion, garlic, etc so it makes meal prep easy and fast.)  

Put a little oil in a heavy bottom pan (or use cooking spray).  When hot, add chicken and cook on until golden brown on each side on medium high.  These are so thin that they only take 3-4 minutes on each side to be cooked through.  Remove from pan and allow to rest uncut while you make the sauce.  *Another alternative is to use precooked deli chicken or a rotisserie chicken 

For the sauce, throw all the sauce ingredients in your vitamix or blender.  That's it.  (An immersion blender or whisk could also be used if necessary)

Start assembling the wraps.  Lay out the tortillas.  Divide the power blend evenly. Distribute the veggies.  Chop and divide the chicken.  Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of sauce everything.  Something needs to be the glue.  Ha.  Roll and cut as you wish.  Divide among the five lunch containers.  Pour the rest of the dipping sauce into 2 oz portion cups and place into lunch containers.  Add fruit to each.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Notes - 
 *I like the Super Blend slaw blend because these veggies hold up well without wilting which means they maintain a nice crunch for you.  They are also super healthy, balanced, tasty and colorful.  It contains:  Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, carrots, and kale. 

*I was initially going to make 4 wraps, but this was SO much chicken that I decided to divide it up into 5 portions and make 5 wraps and it was STILL a lot!  You get to decide how many you'd like to make, but I was scared I wouldn't be able to close them up.  These were already huge!  

Wrap and cut, or leave whole if you wish.  Add fruit, which acts as a palate cleanser and side.  Add remaining sauce to 2 oz portion cups that have lids.

These are so much healthier (and less expensive) than eating lunch out!

Notes:  Don't like the idea of eating the same thing for a week?  What I recommend is finding a group of friends who want to share "lunch meal prep" duties.  Each person makes one recipe, then you share the things you made so that you get to cook once but get to eat each of 4-5 different things.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Fool Proof Fall Off The Bone Ribs (Slowcooker)

menumusings.com_fool proof ribs
After making these a good half dozen times or so, and even going so far as to even giving my oldest child his own slowcooker to make his own (because he proclaimed these some of the best ribs he and his friends had ever had), I felt like it was probably high time to transcribe this recipe off of a sheet of paper full of "scribble scratch" into a honest-to-goodness typed up recipe that I could actually share when friends asked me for it.  

I have absolutely nothing against ribs on a smoker or a grill.  But hey... it's smack dab in the middle of winter here, and I'd rather be snuggled inside than adding woodchips to the smoker or braving the elements.  Total girlie statement there.  Let's face it, though - there are several reasons why making ribs in a slowcooker totally rocks!  Maybe you don't have a grill or smoker.  Maybe you don't wish to go out and stand around in the snow or wind or whatEVA!  Maybe you live in a small apartment and that's just not an option for you.  Maybe you have one and you're just not quite "there yet" in your comfort level.  Perhaps you just want to be able to put these bad boys on in the morning before work and have them tender and ready for the barbeque sauce and oven when you walk in the door from work!  (I'm raising my hand.)  Whatever the reason, these are amazing.  Ask my kiddos if you need witnesses. These come out so tender you will absolutely be astonished!  I'll add in the tips as we go through the post.
#glutenfree #dairyfree #slowcooker #easy #kidfriendly #pork #babyback #ribs #familyfriendly

Ingredients (1-2 racks of baby back pork ribs)

Spice Rub
I make this up ahead of time and store it in an airtight container.  That makes prep faster when I’m ready to season the ribs in the morning.  I sometimes use it all on one rack, but it really is enough to accommodate two whole racks of ribs.
·       1 Tbsp paprika
menumusings.com_fool proof ribs
·       1 Tbsp garlic pwdr
·       1 Tbsp onion pwdr
·       2 Tbsp brown sugar
·       2 Tbsp kosher salt
·       1 tsp cayenne
·       1 Tbsp chili pwdr
·       1 Tbsp black pepper
·       1 tsp steak seasoning (like Montreal or Chicago)
·       1 tsp instant coffee
Ribs
·       2-3 medium sized yellow onions
o   cut into thick slices
·       Good quality apple juice or apple cider
o   enough to cover the onion slices
·       Apple cider vinegar
o   a splash à maybe half a cup or so
·       1 - 2 nice meaty racks of baby back ribs
o   Membrane removed!!
BBQ Sauce
·       2 slices bacon, cut into ½” pieces
·       Fry until crispy, then remove pieces from saucepan, reserving bacon fat
·       To bacon fat, add 1 Tbsp EVOO
·       Add ½ cup chopped finely chopped onion to bacon fat and EVOO
·       Cook until onion is translucent and soft
·       Add 3 Tbsp minced garlic or garlic paste
·       1 (16 oz) jar apricot preserves
      2 cups ketchup
·       ¼ cup molasses
·       3 Tbsp Dijon
·       2 Tbsp brown sugar
·       2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
·       3 Tbsp honey
·       1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
·       ¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
·       Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
*Cook on simmer until desired consistency is reached.

Step-by-Step - 
The night before –
Make the spice rub.   Store in airtight container.  Doing this the night before saves you so much time! (*Hint - this "rib rub" would be such an awesome gift to someone!)
seasoning blend
In the morning –
Slice the onions into thick slices and line the bottom of the crock pot.  Don't skip this step!  This keeps the meat out of the liquid and OH MY GOSH, these onions are AMAZING at the end of the day!
thick onion slabs
Add apple cider/apple juice to cover the onions.  Then add a nice splash of Apple cider vinegar (ACV) to the apple juice for acidity.  This brightens up and balances out the flavors.
apple juice or apple cider
apple cider vinegar

Okie dokie.  Now this is the only technical part of the entire recipe.  Pull the membrane off of the ribs.  Yuck.  Loosen the edge with a knife or something until you can grab it.  Grab it with a paper towel and rip it off.  A paper towel works much better than trying to grab it with your fingers.  Trust me.  When you are lucky, it will come off in a sheet.  It will still look sort of white underneath, but you will know that you got it off when a thin, filmy sheet of skin stuff comes off.
Cut your rack(s) in half.  Otherwise they won't fit in the slowcooker.  Spread that great rub all over the entire rack – top and bottom.  Make sure you massage the rub into the meat really nice on all sides.

Add your seasoned ribs to the slowcooker on top of the onion slices.  I have ... ahem... several slowcookers.  The one I use for these ribs is an extra large size.  It can probably accommodate two racks of ribs easily; however one is more than enough for our needs right now.  

 Make sure you shut the lid tightly.
I set my slowcooker on low for 8 hours.  If you do not wish for them to be quite so tender and falling off the bone, check them for doneness earlier.  I realize that everyone has different opinions on this.
When you get home from work/school –
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Make your BBQ sauce if you'd like.  This can also be made ahead of time.  Note -  It freezes very well!  One batch of sauce lasts me about three meals of ribs.  I freeze it in small portions (think muffin tin sizes, or snack baggies than can be stored flat).

Carefully take the ribs out of the crock pot and set them out onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. 
You may need to use two spatulas (one on each side) to remove the ribs, as they will be SUPER tender at this point.

Allow yourself to have a little taste test if a small chunk of meat should happen to accidentally fall off during the transfer.  Yes - FALL off.  Literally.
Find SOME kind of use for these AMAZING onions.  Promise me you will taste these!  Wowwww! 

Recipe for homemade BBQ sauce is listed in ingredient list
Slather as much BBQ sauce as you want onto the ribs.
Pop them into the oven for up to 2 hours on 200F until a nice crusty bark has formed.  Or turn the heat up to 400F and just leave them in a little while until bark has formed.
It also works really great to put them on a cooling rack to put them in the oven.  That way they get to develop a bark on both sides with a little better circulation.
menumusings.com_fool proof ribs
Gently cut apart into servings. 
menumusings.com_fool proof ribs
Here are some Bonus Recipes I hope you will enjoy:
Happy Hour PIzza Rolls - every kid in your house will love these..even the grown ones!
menu musings_ happy hour pizza rolls
Stuffed Peppers - old school with lots of nutritious delicious!
menumusings.com_ stuffed peppers
Cajun Crawfish Bread - it's that time of year, folks!  Substitute crab meat or shrimp if you don't live in the Gulf South.
menumusings.com_ cajun crawfish bread
Creamy Chicken Piccata - an Italian classic with a bit of twist.
menumusings.com_creamy chicken piccata
Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy) - a French classic that will warm your whole family.
menumusings.com_boeuf bourguignon (beef bourguignon)
Method:

The night before –
·       Make the spice rub.
·       Store in airtight container.
In the morning –
·       Slice the onions into thick slices and line the bottom of the crock pot.
·       Add apple cider/apple juice to cover the onions.
·       Add a nice splash of ACV to the apple juice for acidity. 
·       Pull the membrane off of the ribs.  Yuck.
o   Loosen the edge with a knife or something until you can grab it.
o   Grab it with a paper towel and rip it off.  A paper towel works much better than trying to grab it with your fingers.  Trust me.  When you are lucky, it will come off in a sheet.  It will still look sort of white underneath, but you will know that you got it off when a thin, filmy sheet of skin stuff comes off.
·       Spread the rub all over the entire rack – top and bottom.
·       You’ll probably need to cut the rack into two pieces to fit into the crockpot.
·       Close the lid tightly.
·       Set the crockpot on LOW x 8 hours.
When you get home from work/school –
·       Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
·       Make your BBQ sauce.
o   This can also be made ahead of time.  It also freezes very well!
o   (think small portions like muffin tin sizes)
·       Carefully take the ribs out of the crock pot and set them out onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.
o   You may need to use two spatulas (one on each side) to remove the ribs, as they will be SUPER tender at this point.
·       Slather as much BBQ sauce as you want onto the ribs.
·       Pop them into the oven for up to 2 hours on 200F until a nice crusty bark has formed
o   Or turn the heat up to 400F and just leave them in a little while until bark has formed.
·       Gently cut apart into servings.
           

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