Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sambal Oleck Turkey Lettuce Cups

Sambal Oleck Turkey Lettuce Cups

A number of years ago, Craig and I were in Arizona and tried a new restaurant to us called PF Chang‘s. We had their Asian lettuce wraps, this was before the whole lettuce wrap craze. Well, we fell in love then learned how to make them at home, and…… make them on a pretty regular basis. 

The other day I found a recipe for Sambal Oleck lettuce wraps. Now Sambal Oleck is one of my favorite Asian sauces, which is odd, as I don’t like spicy things. It’s a red chili and garlic paste that you can add to many different dishes to amp up the spice, if you like. Below is the recipe that I made last night for dinner. 

Sambal Oleck Turkey Lettuce Cups

with Mushrooms, Pepper & Sunflower Seeds


  • 16 oz  Ground Turkey
  • 8 oz  Mushrooms, chopped 
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 head  Butter Lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp  Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
  •  Piece Ginger, grated
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsps Roasted Sunflower Seeds
  •  Red, Yellow, Or Orange Bell Pepper, Julianed 


  1. Combine the chopped garlic and chopped ginger in a bowl. 
  2. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; separate the leaves. 
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, sesame oil, and as much of the sambal oelek as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be.
  4. In a medium pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the turkey; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add half the sauce (carefully, as the liquid may splatter). Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the turkey is coated and cooked through. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a large bowl. 
  5. In the pan of reserved fond, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the mushroom pieces in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. 
  6. Add the chopped garlic and ginger; season with salt and pepper (if the pan seems dry, add a drizzle of olive oil). Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the sliced pepper; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Turn off the heat. 
  7. Add the cooked cooked turkey; stir to combine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired. 
  8. Serve the lettuce leaves, filling, remaining sauce, and sunflower seeds separately. 
  9. Assemble each cup using 2 lettuce leaves.
  10. I usually serve this with some cooked rice. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Baked Feta Pasta

I’m not one to give into trends. The whole cooking what’s trendy just doesn’t hold an appeal for me. I’m always on the search for something new to make, so a few months back, I came across a recipe for a tomato and feta baked dish where you add in cooked pasta right before serving. I thought, “oooh, that looks good, easy and adaptable!”  So I made note and set it aside for the next cherry tomato harvest. 

Then the social media’s explode with this recipe. And I think, maybe I should put it on the menu. So I did for last night.

First off, I have to say it is so easy to make and totally adjustable. At my work, we all of a sudden can’t keep feta on the shelf. So as an ex-cheesemaster I thought, you could totally sub in your favorite goat cheese or Brie, adjust the seasoning how you like and make it your own. 

Here’s my version:

Baked Feta Pasta 


  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more for finishing
  • 2 boxes cherry tomatoes (around 20-25 oz)
  • 1 block feta about 8 oz
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dried oregano
  • a few pinches red pepper flakes
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Add olive oil to a baking dish and toss with whole cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, oregano, salt and pepper until everything is coated.
  2. Add the feta in the middle and top with a splash more of olive oil plus a few pinches of fresh ground pepper. Bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to directions then strain. Reserving a cup or so on the pasta water. 
  4. After the 25 minutes has past, turn the heat up to 450 and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the feta tomatoes and garlic have browned.
  5. Remove the baking dish from the oven, add red pepper flakes and stir so the residual heat releases the flavors from the red pepper flakes.
  6. Toss in the pasta and stir one more time. If mixture is too dry, loosen with 1/4 cup pasta water. Add 1/4 cup at a time, until you achieved the consistency you want. Finish with fresh basil, another splash of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 

Note: a few chopped kalamata olives would taste great tossed in, right before serving. 

Also, if you can’t find block Feta, crumbled feta works just fine. 

Can’t wait to try this with a creamy goat cheese or Brie. Mmmm!