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!

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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

 

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Chicken Tikka Masala Soup

This soup is a big, warm, flavorful, slightly spicy bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala goodness. Even though the weather is starting to warm up, don’t pass up a chance to enjoy this soup.Chicken Tikka Masala Soup | A Nerd Cooks

Yes, yes I know that I say this every time I post something that is even vaguely resembles Indian food, but seriously: Indian food is one of my weaknesses.  Most recently, I shared some seriously delicious Butter Chicken. Before that there have been a couple of chickpea curries (here and here) and Chicken Curry that my husband loves so dearly. And of course, there is Chicken Tikka Masala.

When I came across this recipe, I was really intrigued. Chicken Tikka Masala is my go-to order, and soup is one of my favorite things on the planet. Now, I know that combining two things that are great on their own doesn’t necessarily produce even greater results (think nacho cheese + rocky road ice cream = blech)… but this seemed like a pretty good bet.

In this case, Chicken Tikka Masala + soup = a very, very good thing.

Chicken Tikka Masala Soup | A Nerd CooksThis recipe was adapted from The Modern Proper.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 lbs cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and sauté for a few more minutes.  Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions and garlic.

Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and coconut milk to the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender (or blend in a regular blender, in batches) until smooth. Add the cooked chicken and simmer until warmed through. Add salt to taste.

I served mine with a couple of pieces of warm naan for dipping into the soup.  Not necessary, but definitely recommended.

Chicken Tikka Masala Soup | A Nerd Cooks

Butter Chicken

This Butter Chicken is delicious, fast, and easy.  Butter Chicken | A Nerd CooksWhat’s better than Indian food?  Few things, in my opinion.  But how about Indian food that doesn’t require you to put on real pants?

Okay so you could also have food delivered.  Yes, I know that.  But there’s something pretty satisfying about whipping up your own delicious meal.

Also, some of us don’t have Indian places in our area that deliver.

Butter Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

I made this over the weekend, and both my husband and I loved it.  It will definitely be making a regular appearance in my recipe rotation.Butter Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe on 40 Aprons, and couldn’t resist.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbs olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked with the flat side of a knife
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbs sugar, honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup full fat plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • basmati rice, for serving
  • naan, for serving

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tbs of oil/ghee. Add half the chicken and cook until browned all over, but not necessarily cooked the whole way through.  Remove and set aside.  Add the other tbs of oil/ghee and the rest of the chicken. Brown the rest of the chicken, remove it, and set it aside.

Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Add the butter/ghee to the skillet and melt.  Add the garam masala, paprika, coriander, ginger, chili powder, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken back into the skillet and stir it around to coat it in spices.

Add the tomato sauce and sugar/honey/etc. and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Add the yogurt, heavy cream, and lemon juice.  Simmer for 5 more minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through entirely.  Add salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve with warm basmati rice and naan.

Butter Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken – Updated!

This is one of those recipes that I make again and again, never seeming to tire of it.Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

Sean loves it, too.  And for good reason: It’s spicy and delicious!Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

This is an A Nerd Cooks original recipe.  Since I’m updating this post, the original blog post can be found here.

You’ll need (serves 4-6):

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 oz. hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 packet Ranch seasoning
  • 2 tbs butter
  • shredded cheddar, Ranch dressing, taco shells/tortillas, baked potatoes (optional)

Place the chicken breasts in a 4 quart slow cooker.  Salt and pepper the chicken.

In a medium bowl, combine the hot sauce, mustard, and Ranch seasoning.  Pour it over the chicken.

Set the slow cooker to high, and cook for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, remove the chicken to a plate and shred it.  Add the butter to the crock pot and stir so that it melts into the sauce.  Add the chicken to the crock pot again and stir to coat with the sauce.

Serve immediately or let it hang out in the crock pot on low for another hour.

We like to eat ours taco-style.  But you do you.  Eat it however feels right.  It’s great on a baked potato, or on its own as well.  However you choose to eat it, let me recommend a little drizzle of Ranch dressing to temper the heat.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken | A Nerd Cooks

Chicken Curry for Sean

Fortunately, Sean shares my love of Indian takeout.  While I love chicken tikka masala, he always opts for chicken curry.  He’s been asking me to try to recreate it at home for some time now, and I finally succumbed.

While this recipe isn’t identical to the one that we would get from our local Indian restaurant back in Baltimore, it’s still pretty delicious.  On top of that, it’s super simple to make.

Fair warning: it’s not exactly friendly to the waistline.  Sorry, guys.

UPDATE: I’ve updated the recipe to include an option to use plain Greek yogurt instead of the heavy cream.  I’ve found that the flavor is almost exactly the same, and it’s waaaayyy healthier.

Chicken Curry | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is adapted from one I found on the blog I Will Not Eat Oysters.  It’s one of my new favorite blogs; her recipes are delicious and the photos are beautiful.

You’ll need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 tbs yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream OR 16 oz. 0% or 2% plain Greek yogurt (the Greek yogurt route is definitely less fattening)
  • rice, for serving

In a large bowl, toss the chicken around in the curry powder, salt, pepper, and cinnamon until completely coated.  The original post offers some very good advice: Wash your hands and clean under your nails right away so you aren’t stained yellow.

Put the vegetable oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook until all sides are browned.

Add the heavy cream or Greek yogurt and stir.  Turn the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet partially, and simmer for 15 minutes or so.  The chicken will finish cooking through and the sauce will thicken.

Serve the chicken and sauce over rice.  Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

I talked about my affinity for Chinese food takeout in my post about Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken.  And that is still true.  I like it more than I probably should.  However, my love of Chinese takeout is eclipsed only by my love of Indian food (and maybe sushi…).  But seriously, I am unable to say no to Indian food.

Since moving out to the suburbs, we have yet to find an Indian restaurant in our area that will satisfy my cravings.  Rather than, you know, being patient or having self control, I took matters into my own hands.

Chicken Tikka Masala | A Nerd Cooks

I found this recipe through Bon Appétit, and made a few small modifications.

You’ll need:

  • 4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4 tbs peeled ginger, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt (not Greek*)
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • salt, to taste
  • steamed rice, for serving**

Combine the turmeric, garam masala, and cumin in a small bowl.  To another, medium-sized, bowl add half of the spice mixture, garlic, ginger, yogurt, and salt.  Stir everything to combine.

Add the chicken to the bowl and turn to coat everything.  Cover and chill for 4-6 hours.  Cover the remaining half of the spice mixture and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the sliced onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften and the tomato paste has darkened (~5 minutes).  Add the remaining half of the spice mixture, stir to combine, and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with juices, crushing the tomatoes with your hands*** as you add them.  Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer.  Stir often, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, until the sauce starts to thicken (~8-10 minutes).

Add the cream and cumin.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens a bit more (~30 minutes).

While the sauce is cooking, preheat the broiler to high.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and top that foil with a wire rack (like the one you’d use for cooling your cookies).  Arrange the marinated chicken breasts on top of the rack.  Broil for 10 minutes, or until black spots start to form on the chicken.  Note that the meat will not be cooked the whole way through.

After broiling the chicken, cut it into bite-sized pieces.  After the sauce has been simmering for about 30 minutes, add chicken to the sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through (~15 additional minutes).  Add salt to taste.

Serve over rice.

This chicken tikka masala is pretty fabulous.  It’s very, very close to the stuff I would get from Lumbini or Mughal Garden in Baltimore.  I will be making this again and again, and hope that you will too!

*I had a bit of a difficult time finding whole milk, non-Greek yogurt.  The grocery store where I usually shop had exclusively Greek yogurt and low-fat flavored varieties.  I ended up finding it at Wegmans, though.

**I cooked some basmati rice according to the directions on the bag. Before putting the lid on to let things simmer, I added a bit of salt, a couple of star anise, and a few more crushed cardamom pods.

***Holy crap, these things were messy.  I should have taken a picture of the mess that I made.  Every now and then, when squeezing one, it would squirt across the room: on the floor, the (white!) walls, all over my clothes… you name it, it got dirty.  Please be more careful than I was! =)

Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken

I have a serious weak spot for Chinese takeout.  Like, I shouldn’t be trusted to be in a room alone with it.  I would also order it a lot more if Sean wasn’t (very rightly) the voice of reason.  In an effort to save some money, and still enjoy takeout-esque goodness, I decided to try and make some at home.  This dish is super easy to make (God bless the inventor of the Crockpot) and yields delicious results.

crock-pot_honey_sesame_chicken

This recipe comes from the blog Table for Two.

You’ll need:

  • 1-1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sesame seeds
  • green onions, sliced thinly
  • white rice, for serving (optional)

Place the chicken thighs in the insert of a crock pot.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, vegetable oil, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes.  Pour this mixture over the chicken.  Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, or on high for 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken from the crock pot and cut into chunks.  While the chicken is out of the crock pot, whisk the cornstarch and water together, and add it to the sauce.  Put the chicken back in.

Serve the chicken and sauce over rice, topped with some sesame seeds and green onions.  Enjoy! =)