21 April 2012

Baked Crab Rangoon + Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

This recipe received mixed reviews in our house, which almost never happens. Here is how it all went down... I made these after work because I thought it would add something different to our normal weekday meal lineup. Doug devoured them. Gave it two thumbs up. I ate a few. Gave it one thumb up and one thumb down. To me, it was just... mehhh... You know? I will save the time and energy that went into this appetizer and sauce and splurge on the "real deal" the next time we go out for Chinese. I wanted to post the recipe just in case you are in the mood for something that will satisfy your cravings for an ordinarily fried appetizer.

Baked Crab Rangoon
(From Tracey's Culinary Adventures)
Yield: 24

2 Tbsp. Light Sour Cream
8 oz. Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
1 Green Onion, thinly sliced
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 C. Crab Meat, drained
Wonton Wrappers

Preheat oven to 415F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Alternatively, you can use a mini muffin pan to make baked crab rangoon look more like purses (I find it is easier to do it this way - just be prepared it won't look like the triangles in my picture).

In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese, green onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sugar together until combined. Gently fold in the crab meat.

Lay a wonton wrapper on your work surface. Place 2 tsp. of the filling in the center of the wrapper and then lightly brush the two adjacent sides with water. Fold the wrapper over on the diagonal and press around the filling to remove air pockets to seal the wrapper tightly. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. (If you are using the mini muffin pan method, simply place the wonton wrapper in the prepared muffin pan, fill with filling and seal with water to create a purse; cook per below instructions).

Spray the tops of the wonton wrappers lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Serve immediately with sweet chili dipping sauce (below).

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
(From Tracey's Culinary Adventures)
Yield: 1 cup 

3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 Red Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed (I used jalapenos, that is why my sauce appears green)
1/2 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Water
1/4 C. White Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp. Water

Add the garlic, peppers, sugar, water, vinegar and salt to a food processor; process until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer; cook for 3 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Add that to the sauce and continue to whisk while the sauce simmers. The sauce should get thicker after 2 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

17 April 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Oh dear readers! I haven't forgotten about you. I feel like I blinked and April is already halfway over! Time flies when you are having fun, I guess :) My whole side of the family came out to visit us in Chicago this past weekend and we had such a blast together. Life feels like it is slowly getting back to reality after a jam-packed weekend of laughs. Miss you already, fam!

I seriously don't even remember when I made these chicken lettuce wraps... however, I do remember that they were delicious! We simply made a weeknight meal out of it, but I suppose you could serve them as appetizers too. Don't get overwhelmed by the list of ingredients. It is worth it!

I previously posted some other lettuce wraps on this blog - I'll leave it up to you to decide which one is tastier!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
(Recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon)
Yield: 4 Servings

For the Marinade:
1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Water
2 tsp. Soy Sauce (reduced sodium)
1 tsp. Cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, diced small

For the Cooking Sauce:
2 1/2 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce (reduced sodium)
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
1 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
2 1/2 tsp. Cornstarch
1 tsp. Honey
1 tsp. Sesame Oil

Other ingredients you'll need:
6 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, divided
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Fresh Ginger, peeled and minced
4 oz. Mushrooms, cleaned and diced (choose your favorite!)
1/2 C. Bamboo Shoots, drained and diced
1/2 C. Water Chestnuts, drained and diced
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced (reserve some for garnish)
2 Heads Butter Lettuce, washed and leaves removed
2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Seeds, for garnish

First, prepare the marinade by combining the red wine vinegar, water, soy sauce, cornstarch and black pepper; add chicken and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Next, put all the ingredients for the cooking sauce in a small bowl; whisk together and set aside. Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the cubed chicken until half-cooked (about 6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside on a plate.

Pour the remaining 4 Tbsp. oil into the same wok and sauté the ginger, garlic and mushrooms (about 3-5 minutes, careful not to burn the garlic). Add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper (to taste). At this point, you can add the chicken back into the wok. Then, pour the cooking sauce over everything in the wok; stir until combined. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 3-5 minutes longer.

Stir in the green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Remove from heat and serve in a medium bowl along with a platter of freshly washed lettuce cups.

07 April 2012

Basil + Tomato Risotto with Shrimp

We are back from our vacation! Doug and I had a great time soaking up some sunshine, reading books by the infinity pool, dining on some fabulous seafood and having a few tropical cocktails! Inspired by all the wonderful seafood dishes we had on our trip, I made a basil and tomato risotto with shrimp. It was, in my opinion, a delightful spring meal! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Basil and Tomato Risotto with Shrimp
(Adapted from Master Chef Australia)
Yield: 4 Servings

4 C. Chicken Stock
1 Leek, thoroughly cleaned and finely sliced
1 1/2 C. Arborio Rice
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 lbs. Large Shrimp or Prawns, peeled, deveined
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 C. White Wine
1/2 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 C. Fresh Basil Leaves, loosely packed, thinly sliced
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

Heat stock in a saucepan on medium heat until simmering; reduce to low. Next, Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large heavy pan (I used our Le Creuset dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and sauté for about 2 minutes or until soft. Add the rice and stir until coated with oil. Add a ladle of stock, stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Continue the process, adding one ladle of stock at a time until the rice is just cooked (about 20 minutes). Place lid on pot of risotto and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the other 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the shrimp or prawns and cook for about 2 minutes, turning once or until just cooked. Add wine and cook for 1 minute or until wine has reduced by half. Add the cherry tomatoes and basil; cook for 2 minutes longer and then set aside.

Gently stir in the shrimp mixture into the risotto; then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Garnish with extra basil leaves, if desired.