Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Braised Bok Choy & Chicken Lettuce Wraps (CSA Week 1 Recipe)

Summer is finally in full swing around here, and that means fresh vegetables are on the way. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up my first CSA. The selection featured heads of lettuce (curly and Boston), bok choy, kousa squash, zucchini, beets, radishes, cilantro, and garlic scapes.

I was really excited by all the fresh produce, and decided to use some of it right away for dinner. Below is a simple recipe (although it’s more of a starting point - no measurements needed here, just play with it according to your tastes!) for braised bok choy and chicken lettuce wraps. This is a really quick and easy way to use fresh veggies, as cooking them quickly and simply will help retain their flavor, color and nutrients. Enjoy!

(By the way, I'll be posting a weekly update of my CSA's contents. I'll also include a recipe or two throughout the week, featuring the produce from my share. So stay tuned!)

Braised Bok Choy & Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What you’ll need:

1 head of Bok Choy (chopped)
Red Bell Pepper (sliced into 1/4 in sticks)
Minced Garlic
Fresh ginger (minced or grated)
Minced Shallot
Olive Oil
¼ cup water (or chicken stock)
Teriyaki Sauce (optional)
Cilantro (chopped; optional)
Teriyaki Ginger Chicken Sausage (or chicken breast seasoned however you’d like)
Boston Lettuce cups for wraps (or Iceberg Lettuce if you’d like)

What you do:

1) Chop chicken sausage into bit size pieces and sauté in a hot pan until browned (these chicken sausages are fully cooked; If using chicken breast, cook through, about 7 minutes per side). Remove from pan.

2) In same pan, add oil, ginger and garlic (to taste) and heat until the garlic and ginger starts to sizzle.

3) Add the shallot and bell pepper and continue to cook until they start to soften.

4) Add the chopped Bok Choy and sauté with all other vegetables until the Bok Choy is a bright green color (only a couple minutes).

5) Add the water and lower the heat. Continue to cook on a simmer as the Bok Choy gets tender.

6) Toss the chicken into the pan along with some of your favorite teriyaki (or any Asian stir-fry sauce; I like a spicy teriyaki sauce for this). Cook until the Bok Choy is done to your desired tenderness (I personally like it still with a bit of crunch in the stalk)

7) Assemble the lettuce wraps using the Boston lettuce cups. Place a bit of the Bok Choy and chicken mixture into the lettuce cup. Top with a little more of the sauce of your choice and some chopped cilantro.

*You can switch this recipe up in any number of ways. Mix in any of your favorite veggies, leave out the chicken, or change up the sauce if you’d like. You can also use different toppings, maybe some chopped peanuts for some crunch. Also, you can stretch it a little further with some rice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homemade Seed Strips

If you haven't started planting yet, don't worry - seriously! Last year, the girl and I didn't get around to planting until the middle of June, and we still had a great harvest. So you have plenty of time to get your garden going!

The girl and I recently started working on our flower garden, aiming for late summer blooms. We started some seedlings in newspaper collars, and they are looking good, but we have more seeds that we want to grow. So, we decided to make seed strips to make the planting easier. They especially make evenly spacing small seeds, such as poppies and basil, a breeze. No more worrying about dropping too many in the same spot!

We found a step by step in Organic Gardening Magazine (posted below), and adapted it to our needs. Give it a shot if you still need to plant your veggies or flowers!

Paper Towel Seed Strips

What you need:
Paper Towels
Qtip or toothpick or spoon
Seeds (of your choice)

What to do:
1) Tear the paper towels into strips about 1 inch wide.
2) Mix flour and water together to make a thick gravy (we started with 1/2 cup flour and mixed in water as necessary until it was the right consistency).
3) Lay out seeds on the paper towels at the recommended spacing (per the seeds instructions).
4) Using a toothpick, spoon, or Qtip, place a small amount of the flour "glue" on top of the seeds
5) Allow to dry and then roll them up and place in a plastic bag until ready to be used

When planting, simply plant the seed strip in the soil at the required depth, cover, and wait for your seeds to sprout!

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