Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mid-Week Inspiration (Asian TurkeyLettuce Wraps) (6 WW pts for meat, with sauce count as 8-9pts)

When the going gets tough, the tough get chopping!

So I'm driving home from the office this evening. Hungry. Of course. Sure, I had the most important meal of the day (breakfast); and a yummy salad for lunch.  But by the time I left the office I was down right ravenous.  

Tooling down 147 (Note to SoCal friends, they don't put a "the" in front of the the number.  Weird. But you get used to it.) I did a mental inventory of our 'fridge: Ground turkey. Random veggies.  I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I decided to make Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps. 

Had I done them before?  No.  Did I have a recipe?  No.  Did I have lettuce?  No.  

No biggie.  A quick trip to Harris Teeter and we had all the supplies I thought we'd need.  And by the time I got home, Steve's buddy Jeff was on his way over to join the fun.  

The result -- YUMMY.  And a big shout out to Jeff -- who was pressed into service to take notes while I threw this one together.  

Here's how we did it:

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
(weighs in at 6 WW points for the meat mixture, with sauce I count as 8-9, just to be safe)
Serves 4

The meat:
3/4 pound ground turkey
1 large or two small cloves garlic, diced
5 large white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts, chopped
1/2 cup water chestnuts, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp 5 Chinese 5 Spice
2 tsp sesame oil, divided in two
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs pepper spiced rice vinegar (regular will do fine)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp canola oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

The sauce: Mix in a small bowl and set aside
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup pepper spiced rice vinegar (or you could use regular rice vinegar with a pinch of cayenne) 
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (the one with the rooster on it)

The wrapper:
1 head of iceberg lettuce, washed, cored and cut so that you have four circular wedges. See photo.

In a large bowl mix:

  • The turkey, the spices, the vinegar, soy sauce and 1 tsp of the sesame oil, plus a good pinch of salt and 5 or 6 grinds of black pepper

Heat a large skillet over a medium high flame

  • Add the oil and then the turkey mixture.
  • Stir as the meat browns, to crumble
  • When the meat is done, spoon away any liquid and fat.  Throw away!
  • Then add in the mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, cilantro and scallions.  Continue to cook until everything is cooked through, but still a bit crunchy.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary, drizzle over the second half of the sesame oil, stir and serve.

To serve:
Put a spoonful - or two! in a lettuce leaf, spoon on some sauce and eat.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ding Dong Winter is Dead (Tiny Potatoes with Green Beans & Cilantro - 4 or 5 WW points)

To say the folks on the East Coast are sick and tired of Winter is an understatement.  

Green beans, potatoes and cilantro
take me back to lunches with one
of my very best friends.
I celebrated yesterday's Carolina Blue Skies and warmer temps with a walk with friends, a crazy good tennis clinic, a quick trip to the Farmer's Market and a tennis lesson.  By the time evening came, I was wiped out and ready for Steve to fire up the grill and cook a steak. 

Tiny Tiny Potatoes - Quarter added
for scale (-;
Steve is a fantastic griller.  Simplicity reins supreme.  Just a nice steak (not too big or thick, but a good quality piece of meat with just enough marbling for flavor), salt, pepper and a tad of olive oil and a screaming hot grill.  Cook one side long enough for some nice grill marks, flip, sear and remove to continue cooking as it rests to a perfect medium rare.

I had no idea what to make for the side, but we had some wonderful tiny potatoes, cilantro and farm fresh green beans.  It reminded me of the saltados my friend Jennifer and I used to get at Inka Grill when we worked at Telelogic in Orange County, California.  There they mixed green beans, french fries and chicken (weird but good).  Why not do something similar with the tiny little potatoes that we had on hand???

Well, I'm here to tell you that the result is going to become a standard side dish around the Barnett household.  I may tweak it here or there, but feel good about it to share.  

Add a crust to the cut side of the potatoes
Nothing like a cast iron skillet!
The finished product alongside a
WW friendly portion of steak
(yes, you need to cut that fat off!)
Tiny Potatoes with Green Beans & Cilantro - (4 or 5 WW points)
Makes two servings

Note:  The potatoes and green beans can be made way in advance, and kept cold until you are ready to assemble and serve.  Perfect for a day when you'd rather be outside playing than inside cooking.


  • 2 handfuls of tiny tiny potatoes cut in half, or 2 1/12  new or red potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 handfuls of fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 green onions, white and green chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 scant Tablespoon of olive oil.  Just enough to coat the skillet lightly
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds (you can use a little more if you like cumin - I really just throw some in a pan.  No measuring)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (ditto comment above about not measuring)
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (ditto)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


  • Prepare an ice bath:  fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.  Set aside
  • Place the potatoes and the whole cloves of garlic into a pot of cold water, add a bunch of salt and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender.  Pull the potatoes and garlic out of the water with a slotted spoon or "spider" and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking.  Slice the 
  • Now add the green beans to the boiling water. Cook until just tender and still slightly crisp.  Pull out of the water with a slotted spoon or "spider" and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking.
  • Put the cumin, coriander and chili powder into a dry cast iron skillet or other pan and toast until fragrant over a medium high heat. Stir them around a bit and don't let them burn.  
  • Now add olive oil and a pinch of salt to the pan, and add the onion and the garlic (pull from the ice bath, dry and chop the garlic first).  Saute until the onions are becoming soft.  
  • Then add to potatoes, plus a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Toss them around in the oil and spices and then arrange them cut side down and cook on a medium high heat until they are just getting browned, stir to cook the other side.  
  • After about a minute or two, remove the greenbeans from the ice bath and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Add them to the potato mixture along with 3/4 of the cilantro and 3/4 of the sliced green onions.
  • Cook until heated through.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve topped with the remaining cilantro and green onion.