Friday, October 31, 2008

My Version: PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I really like going to PF Chang's - usually for lunch. My colleague and I often will just order a meal of appetizers and one of our favorites is the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I tried making them at home and they were immediately my husband's new favorite meal. They are easy to make ahead and easy to prepare.

I don't think Chang's has vegetables in theirs but I add them for nutrition value and since I grate them pretty finely, I don't think my husband even realizes that there are carrots in there.

***Warning - raw meat discussion ahead for those averse to such talk. I use chicken breasts for this recipe but plan on experimenting with buying less expensive thighs and just taking the meat off the bone. Not sure if this is more hassle than it's worth but willing to give it a try since it all just gets ground up in the food processor anyway.

Note about sauce-y-ness: This sauce can be thickened with corn starch if you like a thicker sauce. We like topping variety with this dish, often using Thai chili sauce (Srichi) and Mae ploy sweet chili sauce for the wraps so I tend to keep the main sauce level low. If you or your kids don't like so spicy, you can do more of the simple soy sauce. You can also do the sauce that they do at PF Chang's: soy sauce with spicy chinese mustard and chili paste.

Make ahead tip: If prepping veggies for another meal, I will cut additional carrots/celery/onion and put them in the fridge to make this meal. If I drag out my old school (seriously, it's circa 1980) food processor for whatever, I will prep the chicken/chestnuts, add the soy sauce and let it marinade overnight.

2 chicken breasts

1 small onion, finely diced

1cup carrots, shredded or grated

2 celery stalks, finely diced

1can water chestnuts

1 1/2 tbls wok or other vegetable oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbls red pepper, or less if you like less spicy

1 head iceberg lettuce

1 cup chow mein noodles

Cut chicken breasts into medium pieces, place in food processor and process until meat is coarsely ground. Add can of water chestnuts and process until combined and chestnuts are ground. Heat oil in a wok or large sauce pan over med-high heat. Add chicken mixture and saute until meat is no longer pink, breaking up any large chunks. Put chicken into a heat proof bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1/2 tbls of oil to wok/pan with onion, carrot and celery. Cook until just soft, then add chicken back to the wok/pan. Pour soy sauce over mixture and simmer 5 minutes.

While chicken is simmering. Separate individual lettuce leaves and wash over a colander or put in a salad spinner. Place individual leaves on a platter and put chicken mixture into a bowl. Assemble wraps by putting chicken mixture on to lettuce and top with sauce and chow mein noodles. De-lish!

Grocery Cart Challenge hosts a great recipe swap every week - thanks for the wonderful ideas!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winner of the Shape Subscription

is honey! Congrats!

But you didn't leave me an email address - doh!

Please email me with the name and address of where you want your subscription sent and I'll get that crackin' for ya :)

Thanks to everyone who entered and keep checking back for more awesome giveaways.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Style Find - Steve & Barry's

For those of you who don't know me IRL - I had a baby this summer in June. So I spent the majority of the summer in maternity clothes because although I lost some weight immediately, not everything was back into its pre-pregnancy place. Maternity clothes were just quite comfortable.

When September rolled around and it was time to go back to work, maternity clothes would no longer work. I had two, maybe three outfits that fit me and looked presentable for an office environment. Since I had lost some more weight, but not all of the baby weight, I also didn't want to spend a lot of money on clothes that will likely be too big for me by next year. Lucky for me, I found a store called Steve & Barry's.

I had seen the advertisements for Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten clothing line but had no idea that this store was near me. Even more surprising was how affordable it is - or can be, depending on what store you go to - more about that below.

I was able to get some really cute pants by Bitten by SJP for $8.98! No, that is not a typo, wool dressy, office suitable pants for $8.98. I think it costs me more to have them dry cleaned than what I paid for them. I also got a really cute black wool sweater - also $8.98.

Now the pricing at the store I went to got me all excited because this store had signs all over it - "nothing over $9.98." Later, I went to a different location, hoping to score some more great clothes and it was not meant to be - the other store was significantly more expensive. My same wool pants were $21.98. I asked the cashier if she knew why there was a difference and she had no idea. I was in between meetings so did not have time to contact the manager for further insight as to the vast pricing differences.

I plan to go back to the "nothing over $9.98" store, which for those in the Seattle-area is the Auburn Supermall location. Was this just a special sale or is that an outlet location? I will find the answers and report back on this. It is a smaller location than the Everett Mall location, so selection is not as vast.

The stores also carry a line by actress Amanda Bynes, workout-type clothes by Venus Williams, men's lines by surfer Laird Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Bubba Watson. They also carry children's, baby clothes and shoes. Check out the website for stores in your area - good quality, great style for a very reasonable great price!

Giveaway - Shape Magazine Subscription

Who needs to get in Shape? I've got something that will help - a two-year subscription to Shape Magazine!

Shape isn't just a workout magazine, it has lots of health news, recipes, beauty tips as well as fitness tips and advice.

Please leave me a comment to be entered to win this giveaway, blog about or link to this giveaway and then come back and let me know for an additional entry. Winner will be chosen on Thursday. Thanks for entering and good luck!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cooking Ahead Pays Off

I always try to make more than just one batch of certain things - lasagna is one of our family's favorite "Make-Aheads." It's really easy to make a really large batch of tomato sauce (with and sometimes without meat), cook a full box of lasagna noodles and super simple to assemble. A recipe note: I don't use the "no-cook" lasagna noodles because we prefer the texture of the cooked ones. It may be that my recipe is not super sauce soaked, which may be the difference. I have also used spinach in place of the zuchinni - both make this a pretty healthy dish. I originally planned to give one of these away so I used foil lasagna pans from the Dollar Store. You actually get 2 for $1. I price compared these at Target and it was .97 each so a good deal for these pans at the Dollar Store. If making just for us, I use a Pyrex dish and a cake pan. I usually try to stretch this recipe to make 3 pans.

I let them cool and then just put them in the freezer until we need one. Since the ingredients are fully cooked, it's really easy to just pop in the oven and cook quickly. On weekends like this one, where we decided last-minute to go to a potluck Halloween event, it really comes in handy! Here's my recipe:

1 box Lasagna noodles (you'll need 6 noodles for each pan so you may want to count)
1 28oz. can of tomato sauce
1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 6oz. can of tomato paste
1lb ground turkey or beef
1 tbs minced garlic
1 small onion
Basil, oregano to taste
1tbs olive oil
1 27oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 large zuchinni, grated or shredded
6 cups mozzarella cheese

Boil a large pot of water and add lasagna noodles, cook according to directions and then drain. While noodles are cooking, brown beef/turkey in skillet. Add garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Then add tomatoes, paste, sauce and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes. In another saute pan, add olive oil and shredded zuchinni, saute until just cooked.
Empty container of ricotta into a bowl and stir in egg. Add zuchinni and stir together.

To assemble: Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan just so the bottom noodles don't stick to the pan. Lay 3 noodles down. With a spatula, spread a layer of the ricotta-zuke mixture on the noodles and then add another layer of 3 noodles. Cover the top layer with the tomato sauce and then spread two cups of the cheese on top. It really is that easy!

Cook at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly on top.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Omaha Steaks Offer Update

I placed my order with Omaha Steaks using the Geico Privileges offer on Monday. I've seen the posts that the deal is officially DEAD. Now, a new twist...I got this email today:

Thank you for shopping at Omaha Steaks! We appreciate your business andare confident you will be delighted with your order. We do show when placing this order, a special offer for a free item wascombined with the $25 reward card. As stated in all promotions for freeitems, offers cannot be combined. Your order will ship without the freeitem. If you have any questions regarding your order, please contact us at1-800-329-6500. We would be happy to assist you. Sincerely, Jamie ToledoOmaha SteaksCustomer Care Manager

So it looks like the free burgers, cutlery and cutting board are not coming...bummer. Has anyone else received this? Anyone tempted to complain? I'll admit that the lawyer in me is!! The website did not prevent the order as it could and should have. If fact, I tried to go through ebates and it would not let me place the order, giving me an error message that offers cannot be combined so they do have the capability to prevent the order. I also wonder if this had anything to do with the volume of orders they must have received once word of this deal was out! I hope I don't sound too bitter... bright side is that I got the 12 burgers for only $3.98 - still a pretty great deal!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grocery Contest

I came across while reading Supermarket News - we get it at my work. They are giving away a year's worth of free groceries ($5,000 gift card) when you enter your email address.

Click on the "Saving Dough" link and you can print a coupon for .55/1 Orowheat bread - certain states are excluded from this coupon. There is another coupon through the same link for .55/1 Mrs. baird's Whole Grain White Bread - again, only good in certain states. We can never have too many coupons, can we?!

They also have brown bag lunch ideas and recipes and a cool calculator that shows you how to save money and calories by brown bagging it - check it out!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Walgreens Haul

Here is the haul that I got from Walgreens yesterday! A few items are not pictured because I kept them at work:

2 boxes of Ghiradelli Mint Chocolate Squares - found in the clearance bin for 1.49 ea

2 Lindt Excellence Chocolate Bars 2.59

1 box of Shout Wipes 2.50

1 bag of Brach's Candy Corn ('tis the season right? and I needed a filler!) .99

1 bag of Frito Lay peanuts .59 (filler again)

I used the Right @ Home coupons for the Shout, 2 Scrubbing Bubbles products and Windex. I had newspaper mfg coupons for the Ghiradelli ($1 off), Ricola ($1/2), M&Ms ($1/2), Lindt (B1G1 and .75/1)

I had $13.50 in Register Rewards from last week. Used a total of 2.42 in Walgreens coupons and $39.34 in mfg coupons for oop of only $13.18!! I'll get $17 in Rebates! I tried to use the Walgreens Ghiradelli coupon but the squares are not included as eligible for that coupon.

I have to say thank you to all of you out there - especially Money Saving Mom, Saving Some Green, and Common Sense with Money - this Walgreens thing is super fun and easy, once you figure out how to work it and I could not have done it without you!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frugal Finds Giveaways

Carol at Frugal Finds from your Frugal Friend is celebrating her Blog-iversary this week with lots and lots of awesome giveaways. I am particularly excited about the Babylegs since the weather in the Seattle area has made a definite shift to fall in the last week. My 3-month old needs these! I also love the reusable grocery bags - I currently use a variety of different bags including a freebie from BECU (Boeing Employees Credit Union) and other canvas bags that were just lying around my house. It will be great to have a coordinated look when I go to the store!!
Go to her blog and sign up for these wonderful giveaways - good luck and thanks Carol!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sweet-Tart Pluot Crepes

My son Michael wanted pancakes this morning but I realized that we took our griddle on the boat this summer and did not bring it back. So I decided to make crepes instead. I like an egg-y crepe rather than a flour-y crepe so this recipe has a lot less flour than a lot of recipes that I have seen. The pluots were from our CSA box, Full Circle Farm in Carnation, WA. If you don't know, and I didn't until I started writing this and "blingo'd" it, a pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot. I have been eating these almost all summer and did not know that. These pluots had a LOT of watery liquid with what seemed like very little juice but don't worry, it all cooks off and combined with the brown sugar, it makes a wonderful thick syrup. They are deliciously tart and combined with the sweetness of the crepes, make a savory breakfast for a Saturday morning.

Elizabeth's Crepes

1/2 cup flour

1 tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

3 large eggs

1 cup milk

Combine and whisk the dry ingredients. Mix in the eggs and slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking it all together. Batter will be very runny.

I use a non-stick small skillet and non-stick spray, heat on medium. Add about 1/4 cup of batter and swirl around the pan until batter coats pan evenly. Crepes cook very quickly, so using a small spatula, turn after about 20 seconds. If there's still runny batter in the middle of the crepe after 20 secs then you may need to turn your heat up a bit. Transfer crepes to a small plate.

Pluot Filling

3 small Pluots, cut into small slices

1 tsp butter

1 tbsp brown sugar

Place Pluots and butter in a small saucepan and heat on medium until simmering. Add brown sugar and simmer until sauce is thickened. Serve sauce on the side and let everyone assemble their own.

I also like to have small lemon slices for drizzling and powdered sugar for the crepes. Of course, my son thinks they are just a thin pancake so he likes regular maple syrup on his

How do you like your crepes?!!

About Me

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Seattle Area, Washington - the state
I am an attorney, working mom of 3, who loves a bargain, a great deal and freebies. Who doesn't want the best, for less? Come here to see my triumphs and budget tribulations, good deals and my take on what the good life can mean...