PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These lettuce wraps are easy and fast to whip up and taste just like the ones from PF Chang’s!

This post contains affiliate links.

PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps | A Nerd Cooks

You know the chicken lettuce wrap appetizers you can get at PF Chang’s, right? They’re addictive. Well, it turns out that you can make them at home very easily, and they come together quickly, too!

These lettuce wraps are savory, with a bit of crunch from the water chestnuts and lettuce leaves. The quickness with which you can throw these together makes them perfect for a light weeknight dinner. Plus, something about eating food out of a lettuce leaf makes me feel like I’m being healthy.

PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from the blog Damn Delicious.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger (or 1 tbs of ginger paste)
  • 8 oz. water chestnuts, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 head butter lettuce

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, crumbling as it cooks. Drain excess fat.

Add the garlic, onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and ginger. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the water chestnuts and green onions and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon a bit of the chicken mixture into each leaf of butter lettuce, using the lettuce like you would a soft taco shell.

PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps | A Nerd Cooks

PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps | A Nerd CooksThis recipe comes from the blog Damn Delicious

 

Hot Chocolate No Bake Cookies

The classic No Bake Cookie has been turned up a notch, and they taste just like hot chocolate!Hot Chocolate No Bake Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

This post may contain affiliate links.

We all know and love No Bake Cookies. They couldn’t be easier to make, taste great, and give you a pretty serious sugar rush.

Over the weekend, I got it into my head that I just had to make some. Instead of going with the classic recipe, I turned to Foodgawker to see if anyone out there had switched things up a little bit.Hot Chocolate No Bake Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

The lovely duo over at Oh, Sweet Basil tweaked the classic recipe to make it taste like a mug of hot chocolate by adding some hot chocolate mix, Nutella, and miniature marshmallows. This I could definitely get on board with.

For more hot chocolate goodness check out these Hot Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies and The Perfect Hot Chocolate! We enjoyed some of the Perfect Hot Chocolate over the weekend (with a little candy cane vodka).

Hot Chocolate No Bake Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Hot Chocolate No Bake Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from Oh, Sweet Basil.

You’ll need (makes ~36 cookies):

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tbs hot chocolate mix
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow bits (mini marshmallows will work, too)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set these aside.

In a large saucepan, add the butter, sugar, salt, hot chocolate mix, cocoa powder, and milk. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally until everything comes to a rapid boil. Allow it to cook for about a minute, stirring continuously.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the Nutella and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the oats and marshmallows, stirring until everything is well combined.

Using a cookie scoop (or heaping tablespoon), scoop the cookies out onto the prepared baking sheets.

Allow them to cool for at least a half an hour, or until the cookies set up.

Most Popular Posts of 2016

Well, kids, it’s that time of year again. Let’s round up the most popular posts on A Nerd Cooks from 2016!

As usual, the list is pretty dessert-heavy. However, Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken, Pumpkin Risotto, and Pumpkin Thyme Macaroni and Cheese also made the list and are holding it down for savory foods!

Much of my traffic this past year was thanks to Buzzfeed and Buzzfeed Community posts. The Dirty Coke Floats were picked up by Buzzfeed early in 2015, and I’m still consistently seeing traffic from it. I also put together a few Community posts that took off a bit (check out these posts for salted caramel treats, whiskey cocktails, savory pumpkin dishes, Moscow Mules, and cocktails for New Year’s Eve). Though success with these kinds of posts isn’t guaranteed, I’ll keep it up in the coming year, for sure.

Before we get to bloggy goodness, take a look at the #2016bestnine photos from my Instagram feed. If you haven’t followed me yet, head on over to my profile and give me a follow! You’ll see lots of food, drinks, and dog photos. Sometimes nature stuff, too.

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Anyway, let’s get to it. The 10 most popular posts on A Nerd Cooks in 2016 are as follows…

10. Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce De Leche Blondies

Salted Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Blondies | A Nerd Cooks

9. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

8. Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream | A Nerd Cooks

7. Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto | A Nerd Cooks

6. Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake | A Nerd Cooks

5. Malted Milk Cookies and Cream Cookies

Malted Milk Cookies and Cream Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

4. Pumpkin Thyme Macaroni and Cheese

Pumpkin Thyme Macaroni and Cheese | A Nerd Cooks

3. Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Banana Bread | A Nerd Cooks

2. Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Nerd Cooks

1. Dirty Coke Floats

Dirty Coke Floats | A Nerd Cooks

What do you think? Did any of your favorites make the list?

What sorts of recipes would you like to see in the coming year? I don’t know that I have a clear cut plan for what I’ll be sharing in 2017, but it will be delicious. I hope you follow along!

Funfetti Cake Dip – Updated!

This dip is sweet, fun, and couldn’t be easier to whip up.

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

You know Funfetti, right?  In case you don’t… Basically, it’s white cake with a butt ton of sprinkles swirled into the batter.  When baked, the sprinkles look like confetti.  And we all know that confetti = a party.  Ideally the frosting is covered in sprinkles, too.

I’ve been bringing this dip to parties lately, and it’s consistently a hit.  It tastes just like Funfetti cake, but in the form of sweet, fluffy dip.  I actually took this batch to a friend’s house last weekend, which explains the disposable pie plate in the photos.

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

One really nice thing about this dip is that it’s not that terrible for you, if you ignore the entire box of cake mix that goes into it.  I like to think that the fat-free yogurt and whipped topping count for something.  This recipe is also easily made gluten free by using GF Funfetti cake mix (found in most grocery stores) and GF treats for dipping.

ALSO!  You can totally customize this dip for holiday celebrations.  Wanna make it for your Christmas celebrations?  Top with red and green sprinkles.  I’m going to be making this on Christmas Day, when family comes over to my parents’ house in the evening.

Need more Funfetti action?  Check out these Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes!Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

I originally found this recipe on the blog Eat Yourself Skinny, and posted about it nearly 4 and a half years ago, here.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box Funfetti cake mix (easily made gluten free by using GF Funfetti mix)
  • 2 cups plain, fat-free yogurt (I use 0% Fage Greek yogurt)
  • 8 oz Lite Cool Whip
  • Extra sprinkles, for garnish (optional, but definitely recommended)
  • Graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, animal crackers, cookies, etc. (for dipping)

In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, yogurt, and Cool Whip together until everything is combined.  An electric hand mixer can help speed things along.  Top with additional sprinkles, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or so.

Serve with graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, animal crackers, or whatever you’d like to use as a vehicle for getting this dip into your mouth.

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

Funfetti Cake Dip | A Nerd Cooks

Eggnog Cookies

Simply put, these cookies taste like Christmas.

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

This post may contain affiliate links.

What are your opinions on eggnog?  Love it?  Hate it?  It’s a pretty divisive holiday beverage!  It’s the winter holiday equivalent of candy corn.

Personally, I am staunchly anti-eggnog.  At least when it’s in liquid form.  I cannot abide any dairy-based alcoholic beverages.  Adding it to these cookies, however…  The eggnog imparts a really nice flavor to the cookies.  They’re sweet, warmly spiced, and, well, taste just like Christmas.

So, what I’m saying is, leave your preconceived notions about eggnog at the door.  If you’re an eggnog hater, these cookies just might change your mind.

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

 

This recipe comes from the blog Liv for Cake.  I doubled the recipe listed on her blog, and subbed bourbon for the rum that she used.  Because, bourbon.

You’ll need (makes ~36 cookies):

For the cookies –

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bourbon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup eggnog

For the glaze –

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp bourbon
  • 2 tbs eggnog
  • freshly grated nutmeg and/or colored sanding sugar, for garnish (optional)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the bourbon, egg, and and eggnog.  Beat until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Bit by bit, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 3 hours.  I scooped the dough, using a ~1.5 tbs cookie scoop, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets before tucking them into our chest freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Transfer the chilled cookie dough to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are golden around the edges.  Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, bourbon, and eggnog in a small bowl.  Stir until the glaze comes together.  Drizzle over the cooled cookies and top with some freshly grated nutmeg and/or colored sanding sugar, if desired.

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Eggnog Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

These treats taste just like the classic wintertime coffee drink, but in cookie form!peppermint_mocha_cookies4Do you like grabbing a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks?  If you said “yes”, then you’ll love these cookies.

These cookies are better than they have any right to be.  They’re fudgy and full of mini chocolate chips, and are flavored with cooling peppermint extract and bold dark roast instant coffee.  A little white chocolate and crushed candy canes are the cherry on top of the sundae, so to speak.peppermint_mocha_cookies7I can’t stop eating them, and frankly it’s getting to be a little problematic.  It’s a good thing that I can bring them to work and pawn them off on the folks in the lab.

Add them to your holiday cookie tray, bake them for a cookie swap, or just bake up a batch for some friends.  You will not be disappointed.peppermint_mocha_cookies3

This recipe comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I doubled the recipe listed on her blog.  Because, more cookies.

You’ll need (makes 36-40 cookies):

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder/instant coffee, and salt.  Set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together for a few minutes, until they are light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, allowing for each egg to incorporate completely, and add the vanilla and peppermint extracts.

Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the wet, on low speed.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the mini chocolate chips.  Turning the speed up a bit higher helps to incorporate them throughout the thick, sticky dough.

Next, you’re going to want to chill the dough.  This is important.   If you don’t chill the dough, the cookies will spread waaay too much.  Trust.  Anyway, cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap (you can chill it right in the bowl of the stand mixer, or transfer to another bowl if you want.  Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, and up to overnight.  I opted for overnight.

Once you’re ready to bake the cookies, after appropriately chilling the dough, let the dough sit out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.  While the dough warms up a little, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop and roll cookie dough into 1.5 tbs-sized balls balls.  Place them on the baking sheets, leaving a couple of inches between cookies.

Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes.  The cookies will look pretty soft in the middle, and that’s okay.  Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes or so before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Once the cookies have cooled, melt the white chocolate.  Dip the cookies into the chocolate, or drizzle chocolate over the cookies, and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

peppermint_mocha_cookies1

Peppermint Mocha Cookies | A Nerd Cooks

Herbed Kale and Sausage Dressing

This has been my go-to dressing for the past couple of years. It’s savory, herby, and makes for excellent leftovers.Kale and Italian Sausage Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

Can we talk about the stuffing vs. dressing terminology for just a second?  I have a hard time calling anything “dressing”, and almost always want to say “stuffing”.  This is probably due, in part, to me growing up in Pennsylvania, where I don’t think think that “dressing” is part of our Thanksgiving food-related lexicon.

However, I realize that anything of this nature that’s cooked in a pan is called “dressing”, while stuffing is technically stuffed into the cavity of the turkey, and cooked that way.  But, let’s be honest, the concept of stuffing is actually pretty disgusting.  The innermost stuffing rarely has a chance to come up to a high enough temperature to be safe to eat.  Enjoy that holiday meal with a side of gastrointestinal distress.

Anyway… I suppose we should attempt to be as correct as possible here.  So, “dressing” it is.

Even though Thanksgiving has come and gone, this dressing would make a lovely addition to your table for Christmas dinner.  Or anytime you feel like eating a ton of carbs, really.  The leftovers are fantastic, too.  Heat them up in the oven, microwave, or in a skillet.  Enjoy as is or top with a runny egg (breakfast/brunch, anyone?).  Perfection.

Kale and Italian Sausage Dressing | A Nerd Cooks

This post may contain affiliate links.

This recipe comes from the blog Kitchen Konfidence.

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb loaf of good quality ciabatta or French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 lbs mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tbs fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped (or 1/4 tsp dried)

If making the stuffing to be served immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  If you’re making this dressing a day ahead of time, don’t bother preheating.

Cut or tear the bread into bite-sized cubes.  Place it in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with the milk to saturate. Let it sit for 30 minutes, gently tossing things around occasionally to ensure that the bread is soaking up the milk uniformly.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook through, crumbling as it cooks. Stir in the onion, celery, parsley, and garlic.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Cook until the onion and celery begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add the kale, 1/2 cup of water and another pinch of kosher salt. Cook until the kale wilts.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Transfer the bread to a large bowl.  Add the sausage and kale mixture to the bowl along with the parmesan cheese, basil, rosemary, sage, 2 pinches of salt and several turns of black pepper. Gently toss the mixture until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.  Give the dressing a taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.  Transfer the dressing to a 9×13-inch baking dish.

This dressing can be made a day ahead of time (one of my favorite things about this recipe, TBH) and refrigerated until you’re ready to bake it.

Whenever you’re ready to bake and eat the dressing, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake uncovered until hot (at least 150 degrees in the center) and lightly browned.  This should take about half an hour.