Weekly Winner: It’s a Wrap… and tasty!

This past week’s winner is a great one-pan wonder.  Who doesn’t like to wrap things up before eating them?  And if you’re talking about tasty, zingy, spicy chicken wrapped into a cool, crisp lettuce leaf… then I’m generally all for it.

This version of Chicken Lettuce Wraps is from Cuisine at Home magazine and the only alterations I’ve made to the recipe is omitting all cilantro (just like Julia Child, I can’t stand the stuff), and I also decreased the chili garlic sauce by a teaspoon.  As it was it was delicious and had plenty of heat.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4


1 Tbsp. peanut oil

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

1 lb. ground chicken or turkey breast

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. chili garlic sauce

½ cup minced red onion

½ cup chopped fresh mint

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Minced zest of 1 lemon

Gem or Bibb lettuce leaves

Chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Lime wedges (for serving)


Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add ginger and garlic; cook one minute. Add chicken and increase heat to medium-high.  Sauté chicken until cooked through, 10 minutes. Crush chicken with a potato masher.

Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and chili garlic sauce; stir into chicken.  Cook mixture until liquid is evaporated, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in onion; remove skillet from heat.  Stir in chopped mint, parsley and zest.

Serve chicken in lettuce leaves and top with additional mint leaves, peanuts, and a squeeze of lime.

Why I love Chicago … Reason #47

Enough said.  We are not a subtle bunch.

Weekly Winner: Baja Meets Broadway

I seem to be into mixing my food metaphors lately.  Last week’s Weekly Winner had some unique food combinations, but that’s nothing compared to this week’s entry!  This was seriously funky…. it a tasty way.   I think the reason it appealed to me is that it is a culmination of all the places I’ve been.  I was born in New York and grew to love the delis there.  Much later in life I lived in Southern California where Mexican food and, in particular, the famous Baja fish tacos were incredibly popular.  Finally, I moved to Chicago where we’ll try anything once — culinarily speaking, of course.

So… without further delay I present this week’s Weekly Winner:  Fried Fish Reuben Tacos.  No really!  I did not make this up.  I would not be brave enough to put these things together.  I got the recipe from Food & Wine Magazine and when I saw it, I thought “you’ve got to be kidding me!”  But yet, I was intrigued.  So I tried it.  And boy, was I glad I did!

Fried Fish Reuben Tacos

Serves 4


1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon baking powder


1 ¾ cups club soda

½ cup mayonnaise

1 large dill pickle, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons ketchup

Vegetable oil, for frying

Four 6-ounce flounder fillets

Four 8-inch flour tortillas

¾ cup drained sauerkraut

¾ cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese (about 3 ounces)

1 cup microgreens or baby arugula


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and a pinch of salt. With a fork, blend in the club soda until incorporated; it’s OK if the batter is lumpy. Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, pickle and ketchup and season with salt. In a deep fryer or a very large saucepan, heat 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to 375°. Pat the flounder dry and season lightly with salt. Dip 2 of the fillets in the batter and let any excess drip off. Fry the fish, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 1/2 minutes. Drain the fish on a rack set over a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining fish fillets and batter.

Warm the tortillas in the oven for about 40 seconds, until hot and pliable. Spread the Russian dressing on the tortillas. Top with the sauerkraut, fried flounder, Jarlsberg cheese and microgreens. Fold the tortilla over the fillings and serve right away.


Weekly Winner: A Welcome Reprieve

We had a busy weekend last week.  It consisted of street fairs and sports bars (gotta keep up with my Cubs!) and coming home too tired to cook so we ordered in dinner.  Then on Monday it hit.  Food fatigue.  The actual craving for healthy, wholesome food.  This also happened to be the day hubby went out of town for business for most of the week so the week’s menus were all mine.  I started it off with Sautéed Arctic Char with Arugula Salad and Tomato Vinaigrette.  I got the recipe from Cooking Light Magazine and I’ve made it before.  It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite fish dishes.  You can easily substitute salmon if you don’t have Arctic Char. I’ve done that and it is just as good.

Sautéed Arctic Char and Arugula Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

Serves 4


4 (6-ounce) arctic char fillets

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

Cooking spray

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced shallots

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

5 cups loosely packed arugula

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I used walnuts)


1.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fillets evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fillets to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn fillets over; cook 4 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; loosely cover, and keep warm. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.

2.  While fish cooks, place vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually add oil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in shallots.

3.  Return pan to medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; sauté for 3 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Add tomatoes to vinaigrette; toss to combine.

4.  Arrange 1 1/4 cups arugula on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet. Spoon about 1/2 cup tomato mixture over each salad, and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons nuts.


Weekly Winner: The Odd Couple Pasta

There are some things that naturally just go together.  Bacon and eggs.  Bacon, lettuce and tomato.  Bacon and cheeseburgers.  Bacon and peanut butter (no seriously, try it!).  But prosciutto and orange?  And then add cheese?  I wasn’t so sure.

I’ve actually made this pasta once before this week and remembered that we loved it.  But I honestly didn’t remember how good it was.  I also had another Weekly Winner planned for this week: Hoisin-glazed salmon burgers, but once I made this pasta I knew that it was the true winner.    The recipe is from Bon Appetit.  It is easy.  It is highly unlikely.  It is fabulous.

Pasta with Prosciutto and Orange

Serves 4


Kosher salt

12 oz.egg tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1″ pieces

Zest and juice of 1 orange

½ cup heavy whipping cream

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, longer for dried. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.

Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest, and cream; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and divide among warm bowls. Sprinkle remaining orange zest over pasta.

Weekly Winner: Pasta Perfection

This meal was a long time in the making.  I’ve had it on my weekly menu list for about two months and for various reasons it just never happened.  Something always came up to change our plans – a dinner invitation out with friends or a sudden business trip, things like that.  Then on Friday I finally made it and let me tell you, even though the recipe sounds good — it is FAR better than the sum of its parts.  This is, quite possibly, the perfect pasta dish.  Its Fresh tagliatelle with Sausage, Red Peppers, and Arugula and it comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  Make it… you’ll be glad you did.

Fresh Tagliatelle with Sausage, Red Peppers, and Arugula

Serves 4


Kosher salt
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 13-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and finely chopped (1-3/4 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 10-oz. package fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine
4 cups loosely packed baby arugula (about 2-1/2 oz.)
3/4 oz. (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Break the sausage into bite-size pieces and add them to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 4 minutes. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat and return the skillet to medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the peppers and cream and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the sauce is slightly thickened, 8 minutes.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package instructions. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the sauce, arugula, cheese, and basil (if using) and toss with tongs until the arugula is slightly wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.