Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A gathering of friends...

It was my daughter's birthday recently and she was excited to have a party this year. It was the first ever for her. She told me the friends she wanted to invite and as an extra special touch, my two best friends were coming to the party as well. What was so amazing was that our three daughters would be playing together. We are seeking to nurture this next generation of little women and the importance of female friendships in their lives.

To honor the presence of my friends coming for the weekend, I stressed over the perfect meal to serve. I wanted it to be delicious of course, but also something reflecting their 'meal' style. I thought of things my mother fixed for her company. Okay, that was the 70s and 80s. Not so sure they were going to like Chicken Divan. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. I looked through at least 20 cookbooks. I wanted the perfect recipe, but what? It eluded me for days. Until finally.....

I came across this recipe in 'The Family Chef', by Jewels and Julie Elmore. These women are young and hip and reading their cookbook makes me feel like I am getting a fabulous secret recipe from a friend. They look like the kind of girls you could hang out with. They even cooked for Jennifer Aniston. Impressive! So it only made sense to find my recipe here.

This was a hit. My friend Samantha is still talking about how good these were. To me there is nothing that says I love you more that making a meal for someone that really touches who they are.

Lettuce Chicken Wraps:

The Filling:

2 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
3/4 Cup Chopped Shitake Mushrooms, can substitute if you desire
3 Large Carrots, grated
3 Shallots, finely chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Minced Ginger
2Pounds Chicken Breast, Cut up bite size
1 Teaspoon ground pepper
2 small cans of water chestnuts, drained and diced

The Sauce:

1 Cup Soy Sauce
5 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
5 Tablespoons Orange Juice
5 Tablespoons Water
4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Chili Flakes
4 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce

The Lettuce Cups:

1 Head of Iceberg Lettuce, washed and leaves separated for individual cups


1. For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and stir with a whisk. You may shake in a jar. Set aside.
2. In a large non stick skillet, add the oils. Over medium heat, add the mushrooms, carrots, shallots, ginger and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly.
4.When chicken is almost cooked, and pepper and the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
5. With chicken cooking, prepare the lettuce cups on plates.
6. Remove pan from heat, and add water chestnuts to the chicken mixture.
7. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce cups and serve.