chicken lettuce wraps 2.0

a few of my friends and i are concentrating on getting healthy this summer, not just healthy bodies but healthy minds too.  we’ve dubbed it our summer of wellness.  my goals for this summer are to work out regularly, make healthier food choices, and do some summer reading on positive thinking.  i’m hoping all of these things will help me be a healthier and happier me.

one of the dishes my friend makes often is lettuce wraps and last week she was telling me about them and it reminded me of the chicken lettuce wraps i made a while ago.  well i wanted to try a version that is close to the lettuce wraps i ate while i was going up.  we got them from a local vietnamese restaurant and they were just amazing.  super flavorful and i loved the freshness the lettuce added.  i am happy to report that these chicken lettuce wraps are incredibly close the ones i enjoyed at home.  yippee!

these lettuce wraps are filled with ground chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and water chestnuts coated in a soy/hoisin sauce that is just divine.  i love that even though they are low carb, they do not lack in flavor.  plus they keep me full – i have 3-4 for dinner and i’m good to go!  but you could also serve this as a healthy appetizer option too (1-2 would be a perfect serving).

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poutine

a couple months ago, my family and i went to niagara falls.  we had a great time checking out the falls and very interesting collection of restaurants, shops, and games in clifton hill.

i did some research prior to our trip about different kinds of canadian food.  one of the things i found was poutine.  poutine is fries, smothered in gravy and cheese curds.  sounds good right?  so while we were there, we made sure to try some poutine.  i found smoke’s poutinerie online and it was within walking distance from our hotel.  score!

there were all kinds of different poutines at smoke’s poutinerie and all of them looked wonderful.  but we decided on the regular, perogi, and triple pork (bacon, sausage, and pulled pork).  we shared 3 orders among the 4 of us and it was more than enough.  we were absolutely stuffed.

well fast forward a few weeks and my brother came to visit us in dc.  since he wasn’t able to go to niagara falls with us, i wanted to try our hand at homemade poutine so he could taste the amazing-ness that it is.  he was so kind and actually picked up some cheese curds from cornell’s dairy for our poutine.  how neat!

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thai peanut dressing

a while back, i made some asian style peanut sesame noodles but then i found this recipe and it was life changing.  you guys this thai peanut dressing is sooo good!  it is full of flavor and definitely packs a punch.  it is peanuty, savory, sweet, gingery, garlicy, and just so complex.

the first time i made this dressing, i served it over a quinoa salad.  there were all kind of veggies along with the quinoa from cucumber, carrots, and cabbage.  along with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice, this stuff was heavenly.  i packed a few containers of the salad and then brought the dressing to work in a mason jar.  it’s best to keep the dressing separate until it’s time to eat.

the second time that i made it, i ate it with soba noodles and veggies (sliced carrots, red bell peppers, cucumbers, and lots of cilantro) instead.  it was equally delicious.

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crockpot carnitas

i have to admit – i made this recipe for crockpot carnitas last january.  yes a year ago.  i don’t know how i still haven’t written a post on it because it was really really good.  so i apologize for not sharing this recipe with you sooner.  i hope you forgive me.

i love crockpot recipes.  i even did a whole series of crockpot recipes a while back because i had so many different crockpot recipes.  check them all out here!  crockpot/slow cooker recipes are the best because they are usually super simple.  this recipe is no different.  brown the meat, add the seasoning, plop in the crockpot – then set it and forget about it.  genius.

i some how bought the biggest pork shoulder ever so i ended up with a lot of carnitas.  but that was okay because it is incredibly versatile and stores well in the freezer.  chris and i ate a lot of the carnitas as tacos.  i just rolled up some carnitas and cheese in a tortilla then packed it with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.  i love these lunch boxes with the different compartments.

but you can also use the carnitas to make homemade chipotle bowls, quesadillas, taquitos and much more.  sometimes we just ate it with rice and veggies.  having some carnitas stashed away in the freezer was perfect for quick, weeknight meals.

to make this crockpot carnitas, start with a pork shoulder.  the recipe suggests using a boneless pork shoulder but i didn’t find one at the store and didn’t really feel like dealing with the hassle of taking the bone out.  so i just left it in – oh well.  it was fine.  also, like i said i got the biggest pork shoulder ever so it wouldn’t fit in the crockpot with out me cutting it into 2 pieces.

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taco macaroni & cheese

macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods.  i will admit i love the boxed kind or if we really feel like splurging velveta shells is the best.  don’t hate.  but i know, i know – of course homemade mac and cheese is delicious and definitely better than the boxed version full of (delicious) fake cheese.

plus, it’s always fun to try different kinds of macaroni and cheese recipes.  i’ve seen everything from cheeseburger mac and cheese to this taco mac and cheese.  it has all of the flavors of tacos incorporated into macaroni and cheese.  genius!

there is taco seasoned ground turkey (or beef), salsa, green peppers, onions, lots of cheese (cheddar and cream cheese), sour cream – all kinds of good stuff.  then i topped my taco mac and cheese with salsa, sour cream and cilantro; chris isn’t a fan of cilantro so i topped his with green onion instead.

be warned this recipe makes a lot of mac and cheese.  so it’s perfect for my style of meal planning (i just cook a couple dishes a week and chris and i eat for lunch and dinner) but if you don’t feel like eating the same thing every day, i would suggest making this for a potluck or maybe freezing instead.

first, cook the macaroni according to the package directions and set it aside.

now for the taco turkey – brown the ground turkey, onions, and green peppers.

then add the taco seasoning and garlic.  (p.s. homemade taco seasoning is the best.  try it out!)

throw in the salsa and stir it all together.

the taco turkey is ready.  set it aside as you work on the cheese sauce.

pour the milk, sour cream, and cream cheese into a medium saucepan (i’m lazy and didn’t want to dirty any more dishes so i just used the pot i boiled the macaroni in).

mix to combine and then cook until the cream cheese is melted, then add the shredded cheddar cheese.

stir until the cheese is melted.

pour the taco turkey to the cheese sauce and mix to combine.

add the cooked macaroni…

lastly, stir everything together and add salt and pepper to taste.

the taco mac and cheese is ready to eat!

the recipe for this taco mac and cheese can be found here on cassie craves.