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Thai ground turkey lettuce wraps

These three are always leading the way.

Ella, Cole and Evie

So many good things have happened in my life because of these faces and their ideas. From my Cole at age 4 asking me why in the world I had signed him up for preschool? Um, because that’s what good Moms are supposed to do? And since obligation was the only answer I could come up with, we quit preschool and slowed down the freight train in our current life at the time.

And a month ago, Evie poetically proclaimed the wind was like dancing. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see her 3 year old outstretched arms raised to the sunroof open for the first time in months. Clearly I followed suit and stuck my arms out the window. Hello warm breeze on my skin. Where have you been and why have I never done this? 

There is something profound that happens when you listen to the younger people in your life, and I’m not just talking this way because they are my offspring. I actually find this true about anyone I really listen to, young and old. Different perspectives always give me some perspective. You do know what I mean about younger people though, right?

How about we just sit here content for 3 hours and throw rocks in this big lake? Ok, lets do that. 

Evie throwing rocks in Lake Superior

So when Ella begged for lettuce wraps on her 12th birthday this past year, I was briefly puzzled. She didn’t want to go to a new restaurant. She didn’t want the special pasta or the usual favorites. She wanted celebratory dinner wrapped in lettuce?

ground turkey lettuce wraps

Huh. We put things in lettuce wraps all the time, tuna for lunch, bun-less burgers. I’m so accustomed to celebration meaning the big bang meals, the ones you splurge on, the ones you look the other way on. But this girl wanted lettuce wraps and since I aim to please on birthdays, I set off to find that special something.

red pepper strips, cilantro, peanuts and cucumbers

The truth is, I’ve struggled finding Thai recipes that I love and want to actually repeat. They either seem bland and boring, or they have excess sugar and additives I can’t pronounce. While this version I tried did have sweetness, it seemed like something that could be altered in the future—which is my whole point about my kids. They send me down paths like this all the time! This one just happened to lead me to homemade hoisin and peanut sauce. Yum.

thai lettuce wraps

While I still love making special splurgy birthday meals, I equally love when special is also not full of regrets. Thanks, El, for this little nudge in a delicious direction.

Here you go!

Thai Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps
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Makes: 12-14 lettuce wraps
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Ingredients
Ground Turkey Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 ¼ lb ground turkey, I like a mixture of dark and white meat
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • ½ cup peanut sauce, store bought or recipe below
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, store bought or recipe below
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce
Toppings:
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin julienne strips
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro or mint leaves
  • 1 cup of peanuts roughly chopped
  • hot sauce and extra peanut sauce to pass
  • small romaine or butter lettuce leaves, at least 15
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in medium sauce pan over medium high heat and sauté onions until lightly browned and soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey and brown meat, lightly mixing with onions, and breaking turkey into smaller pieces as you go.
  3. When meat is cooked all the way through and meat juices have evaporated and cooked down, add peanut sauce, hoisin, and aminos or soy sauce.
  4. Stir meat mixture together over heat, taste to check seasonings, and serve.
  5. Pass the lettuce leaves, meat mixture, toppings and hot sauce!

 

seeding a cucumber

Peanut Sauce
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Makes: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1-1 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter (no sugar needed!)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes OR ½-1 seeded green or red chili
Instructions
  1. Prep ingredients for sauce.
  2. Toss garlic and ginger into your food processor, or blender, and puree until finely chopped.
  3. Pause your processor and add in peanut butter, aminos (or soy sauce if using), lime juice, ⅓ cup water, and red pepper flakes or chilies if using. If the sauce is too thick to use as a condiment, add more water one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency.
  4. Reserve ½ cup of sauce for lettuce wrap filling and the rest to pass with the toppings.

 

peanut sauce

Hoisin Sauce
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Makes: 1 cup
Adapted from It's All Good by Gweneth Paltrow
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (use an oil that is neutral in taste)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
  • ½ cup red miso paste (refrigerated)
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in medium sauce pan.
  2. Press garlic through a garlic press to mince and sprinkle the five-spice powder across the surface of the oil.
  3. Cook and stir garlic and spices for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Whisk in the miso paste, brown rice syrup and vinegar.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil and stir as it cooks and thickens, for 2-3 minutes.
  6. When thickened, remove from heat to cool.
  7. Once cool store in a small jar with tight fitting lid. It will keep for a month or more in your fridge.

 

homemade hoisin

Enjoy!

~H

 

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