Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps

I’m always on the look out for something new to do with meat. I can’t spend month after month recycling the same tried and true recipes. I have to constantly change things up, occassionally surprising everyone with an old family favorite that we haven’t had in a while. It makes everyone more appreciative, and more adventurous in light of their ever expanding palate. The sons took one look at these and dubbed them lettuce ‘tacos’, they took one bite and couldn’t get enough. I served them with some fried rice and a steamed Asian vegetable blend. Who has the time for an expensive family feast at P.F. Changes? I certainly don’t. Now, there’s no need.

Tangy beef with a perfect hint of spice is wrapped in refreshing lettuce leaves in this quick and easy Asian lettuce wrap recipe.

Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps

recipe adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

2 tsp. neutral-flavored oil like grapeseed or peanut oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1-2 tbsp Sriracha Sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
1 tbsp water
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon (about 1 1/2 tbsp juice)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (or double that amount if you’re not using the cilantro)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 heads artisan romaine or iceberg lettuce

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, then saute the beef until it’s cooked through and starting to brown, breaking apart with a turner as it cooks.
2. While beef cooks, mix together the Hoisin sauce, Sriracha Sauce, and water in a small bowl.  Zest the skin of the lemon and squeeze the juice.  Thinly slice the green onions and chop the cilantro.  (Most iceberg lettuce doesn’t need washing, but if yours does break the heads apart gently and wash and dry the lettuce.)
3. When the beef is done, add the Sriracha Sauce mixture and let it sizzle until the water has evaporated, stirring a few times to get the flavor mixed through the meat.  Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, sliced green onions, and chopped cilantro.
4. Serve meat mixture with iceberg, or artisan romaine,  lettuce leaves to fill with meat and wrap around it, to be eaten with your hands.
5. This was definitely still good when the meat mixture was kept in the fridge and reheated for a very short time in the microwave, but I still liked it best freshly made.

40 Minute Hamburger Buns

Any good burger is typically built upon a solid beef patty and an assortment of tasty, traditional toppings. The key to a great burger? Starting it all off with a good bun. This simple recipe makes a dozen fluffy, yet hearty buns that are the perfect foundation for any burger. One of these bad boys, a patty, and their favorite fixins’ and all my guys are decidedly full and satisfied! Even better for me? They’re last minute friendly. I’m a habitual dinner procrastinator. Even if I already know what I’m making, I will almost always wait until the last minute possible to get started. With no rise times needed, even when I’ve waited until the last minute, I still always have just enough time to get a batch of these in the oven.

40 Minute Hamburger Buns

4 Sons 'R' Us: 40 Minute Hamburger Buns

recipe originally from Taste of Home

2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup + 2 tbsp warm water (110° to 115°)*
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3-31/2 cups all purpose flour

*The temp of the water is important. If you’re not familiar with baking and proofing yeast, use a candy thermometer to make sure it’s warm enough. If it’s not warm enough the buns won’t rise at all during baking and will become hard and crunchy.

Directions

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.
2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide into 12 equal pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. If you want a more browned and glossy outside, brush the tops of each with an egg wash.
3. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

 

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole–Served Hot or Cold!

Every now and then I’m looking for a change from our typical chicken or beef-based meals. A lot of times I will just go meatless, but last week I was still craving something meaty. This hot tuna noodle casserole hit the spot at dinner time. Everyone liked it so much that we made it again, over the weekend, as a cold pasta salad for lunch.

I know everyone has their brands they prefer and remain loyal too, but tuna is one of those things where I will pay for quality. This meal deserves a quality tuna. I go with Costco’s solid white albacore. Less fishy flavor, more actual tuna meat, no oil or grease, and I haven’t come across a bone yet.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

recipe adapted from Sugar Dish Me

12 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
12 ounces canned tuna, drained and flaked (tuna packed in water works best)
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
salt & black pepper to taste
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (use your favorite! I go with a sharp low fat white Cheddar)
2 teaspoons spicy mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, onion, celery, peas, and tuna. Squeeze the lemon juice over the contents of the bowl (being careful not to drop seeds in). Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, to taste.
2. In a smaller bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, Cheddar cheese, spicy mustard, red wine vinegar, parsley, and lemon pepper. Pour the sauce over the pasta/tuna mixture in the larger bowl and stir or toss to coat.
3. If you are serving this casserole cold, empty the contents into your serving dish, sprinkle the top with the Panko breadcrumbs, and refrigerate for at least an hour (to let the flavors meld).
4. If you are serving this hot, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 x 13 casserole with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Spread the noodle mixture evenly in the prepared pan and sprinkle the Panko bread crumbs over the top. You can also sprinkle with a little extra cheese if you like.
5. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just until it’s heated through and the sauce begins to bubble a little.

Italian Alfredo Tortellini with Ham

It’s quick, easy, and oh-so creamy. This Italian Alfredo Tortellini with Ham makes a yummy lunch or dinner. It’s perfect for busy weeknights, or even on lazy days when you need to serve a crowd. However you choose to serve it this Italian Alfredo Tortellini With Ham is a simple meal that’s seasoned to perfection.

Italian Alfredo Tortellini 2

Read more

Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles

The sons go crazy for these easy peanut butter noodles. The first time I made them they looked at the ingredients I was pulling out with total confusion. I think I detected a hint of fear. Sons # 2 kept repeating orange juice & peanut butter? Orange juice & peanut butter?! Like I was some sort of professional recipe butcher-er. Ye sons of little faith…

One bite and his little peanut butter loving eyes lit up with joy! My reaction? A totally juvenille normal , ‘ha ha I told you so!!’ moment. (Everybody has those, right?)

Short on time? Looking for an alternative type of lunch? Trying to appeal to your pickier little foodies? These do the trick.

Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles

4 Sons 'R' Us: Peanut Butter Lo Mein Noodles

recipe originally from Mom Foodie

½ lb. of dry fettuccine or linguine noodles
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter (natural)
2½ tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. white vinegar
2 tbs. brown sugar (either light or dark is fine)
½ tsp hot chili sauce (more if you want it spicy)
*optional* squeeze a wedge or two of lime juice into sauce
1 tsp oil
¼ cup sweet onions, sliced
1 clove of garlic minced

Directions

1. Put on pot of boiling water for pasta. Cook the fettuccine to al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together orange juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chili sauce and lime if you are using it.
3. Heat oil in skillet over med-high, once hot add the onion and garlic. Stir fry, until onion is cooked, but still has a little firmness, not mushy, then add the noodles and stir fry for 2 minutes,
4. Pour the sauce over noodles, and stir to coat, continue folding and mixing the pasta over heat for about a minute.
5. Serve with a splash of soy or Ponzu sauce, or wedges of lime.

Have a larger family? Feeding a crowd? Making for dinner rather than lunch? No worries. The recipe easily doubles to accommodate your needs.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

This meal is easy and perfect for our busy nights. The chicken comes out cooked to perfection with the perfect kick. Customize your ‘kick’ by adding less buffalo sauce or more, to taste. Don’t have buffalo wing sauce? Substitute hot sauce. I heart a flexible recipe!

You’ll want good bread. Life is far too short and unpredictable to suffer through bad bread. Trust me on this. Don’t go sale, don’t go clearance. Go fresh. We made ours using a nice fresh loaf of sour dough, the slices toasted to perfection.

Good butter goes with good bread. Turn these into a delicious grilled cheese version by buttering the outsides of both slices, adding some shredded cheddar and/or blue cheese crumbles to the inside, and ‘grilling’ on a hot griddle until the outside are nice and crisped with melted cheese inside.

These sandwiches are perfect for any occasion: a delicious dinner, a game day snack, you name it!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (12 oz.) bottle buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons ranch mix seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 loaf of sour dough bread, or other crusty bread
shredded cheddar cheese or blue cheese crumbles (optional)
ranch dressing (optional)

Directions

1. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. In medium bowl, combine the buffalo wing sauce and ranch seasoning.
3. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4. Shred chicken breasts in the slow cooker, or use your paddle attachment and easily shred them in a stand mixer. Stir in butter until melted.
5. Pile buffalo chicken onto toasted slices of crusty bread. Top with cheese and/or ranch dressing, if desired.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Sometimes, I think my kids must find me a real drag. I mean, they love carbohydrates sooooo much. Why should they be forced to suffer through a salad? If they were meant to eat leaves, they would have been born cows… right? No.

I’m kidding. Just a little. Maybe. Really they don’t complain. Much.

However, this mean, green Mama came equipped with a wonderful little sensor. I can feel the resistance building. When I feel an attack of the ‘anti-leaf’ campaign approaching, I immediately resort to subterfuge. I find a way to get those greens in. I get behind their defenses and hit them where it hurts. Right in the taste buds. This recipe is a beautiful pairing of pasta and salad that they can’t resist. The secret ingredient? Bacon! They see the greens, they know they’re good for them. They know they should at least try to resist, but their surrender is inevitable. This dish is just too tasty. Support your own troops with this delicious pasta salad. Pack a punch that they won’t soon forget. Who said your greens had to taste ‘green’ anyway?!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

  •  1 cup dry pasta; cooked according to package directions
  • 8 pieces bacon; cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 tbsp bacon grease*
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 head of lettuce (or whole if small), chopped**
  • 1 cup croutons (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup casesar dressing (or more to taste)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon, reserve 1-2 tbsp of the drippings/grease.
  3. Transfer cooled pasta to a bowl and toss with the bacon drippings* until evenly combined.
  4. Add in all other ingredients and stir thoroughly until evenly combined.
  5. Add in more dressing if necessary, to taste, and again toss everything to evenly coat.
  6. Serve immediately.**

*Don’t skip the bacon drippnigs! I know it might be tempting, but the flavor just isn’t nearly as robust without it. Also, it helps prevent the pasta from sticking together if you want to let it chill or transport.

**If not serving immediately, DO NOT add in the lettuce until you are ready to serve. If you add in the lettuce and don’t serve immediately the lettuce will be wilted and soggy.

Homemade Spaghetti O’s

All of my boys love any combination of pasta and pasta sauce. Like thousands of children before them, and after, they developed an instantaneous love of all things Chef Boyarde or that same canned style. Ravioli, Spaghetti-O’s,  Beefaroni…if it had pasta, sauce, and required a can opener they were all about it. However, things like that are not factored into my budget. Instead, they’re the kind of things Nanni keeps stocked in the pantry just for lunches for the boys when they visit. When I found a recipe for a homemade version from Seeded At The Table, for literally pennies per serving, I knew my kids would never forgive me if they found out I hadn’t tested it out. Just a heads up, this recipe will make a lot. We’re talking 8-10 adult servings, depending on how generous your helpings are. However, I split the finished product in two, and the second meal went in the freezer. It froze and defrosted beautifully, tasting just as delicious after a quick warm-up on the stove.

Homemade Spaghetti O’s

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Spaghettios

  •  1 lb ditalini pasta
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mince
  • generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2, 15 oz, cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking just until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar, and butter.
  5. Heat while stirring until the butter is melted.
  6. Slowly stir in the milk, and turn down the heat to low, simmering for about ten minutes.
  7. Stir the shredded cheese into the ‘soup’ until melted.
  8. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
  9. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then stir to combine making sure all of the pasta is evenly coated.
  10. Serve, enjoy, and remember to freeze any leftovers to enjoy again for another meal.

Buffalo Chicken Bake

Being that we have all these boys and seeing as how I am cheap, I try to buy in bulk whenever possible. Notice I said cheap. I’m not even going to try and dress it up and label myself as frugal, thrifty, etc. I’m just cheap. As part of my cost-cutting, we have a membership to Costco and that’s where the majority of our groceries come from. That being said, almost every trip to Costco my kids manage to convince me to buy them lunch, a snack, an ‘I’m going to die right this very minute if I don’t eat’ something from the food court. Their favorite thing to order is the Chicken Bake. So when I came across this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread, I knew they would love it.

Buffalo Chicken Dump Bread

I altered the recipe to the satisfaction of my tastes and those of my cheese-aholics. Notice I also changed the name. I could just imagine if I answered their ‘what’s for dinner’ question with something that included ‘garbage’ in its name. So I didn’t.

Buffalo Chicken Bake

Buffalo Chicken Dump Bread 2

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 pizza dough (we used homemade and let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight)
8 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of buffalo wing sauce, divided
1/4 cup of ranch

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Toss chicken with 1/4 cup of your wing sauce. You can add more or less depending on your desired spiciness. Stir to combine, the ranch dressing and remaining 1/4 cup wing sauce.
2. On a floured surface, or counter top, roll out dough into a long rectangular shape. Spread buffalo ranch sauce evenly across the dough. Add chicken and then top with both cheeses.
3. Pick a side and roll the dough up to form a log. Seal both ends (prevents ‘oozing’ while baking) and place seam side down on a non-stick or greased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit and ‘rest’ for 5-10 minutes before cutting into slices, then serve!