Larb Lettuce Wraps & Bowls

Larb is a traditional meat salad found in Laos and Thailand. It is one of our favorite dishes to order on a Thai menu when we are trying to eat healthy because it’s light and really refreshing. What makes this dish bright are the many herbs and spices mixed into the meat mixture. It is usually served with sliced cucumber and sliced jalapenos for some kick. With everyone having different goals this time of the year in regards to their eating habits, we’ve made this recipe a little bit of a choose your own adventure story. Watching the calories? Serve the larb in lettuce wraps with lots of added vegetables. Needing a bit more? Serve the larb over a bed of white rice. This is a great weeknight dinner and made extra fun when everyone gets to make their own version!

Larb Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 8 lettuce wraps
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Our quick and easy variation of larb – a delicious, healthy and herby salad found in Laos and Thailand.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sambal oelek or your favorite chili paste
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of one lime
  • bib lettuce – divided into 8 cups
  • 1 english cucumber, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • jalapeno, sliced for garnish (optional)
  • cooked white rice, if you plan to make rice bowls

Directions

  1. Prepare the vegetables. Mince the garlic, ginger and shallot and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion and set aside in the same bowl as the garlic mix.
  2. In a large sauté pan, sauté the pork over medium heat. You do not need to add any oil to the pan, the fat from the pork will start to render as it is heated. Use a spatula to break up the ground pork into bite sized pieces.
  3. Sauté for five minutes and add the garlic, ginger, shallot and onion to the pan and continue to stir and sauté for another 5 minutes. The onion should start to soften and the pork will be completely cooked through.
  4. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and sambal oelek. Stir completely so that all of the ingredients are combined. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the sauce is mostly soaked up by the pork. Remove the larb from the heat, set aside, and add the lime juice.
  5. Lettuce Cup Preparation: Place a 1/4 – 1/2 cup serving of larb into each lettuce cup. Top with sliced cucumbers, cilantro, and jalapeno.
  6. Rice Bowl Preparation: Place 1/2 – 1 cup cooked rice on the bottom of a bowl. Layer with a 1/2 cup of larb and top with sliced cucumbers, cilantro, and jalepeno.


Mapo Tofu

We have been seeing a ton of recipes online lately for Mapo Tofu. We have our go-to favorite place in Denver for getting very good, traditional Sichuan cuisine (Shanghai Kitchen) but had not tried Mapo Tofu until recently. We ordered it, immediately fell in love, and knew we wanted to recreate it at home. This dish is rich, spicy and will warm you up any night for dinner. We prefer to serve this with rice and a green veggie on the side for an easy weeknight dinner.

Mapo Tofu
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1-2 tsp Chinese red pepper depending on your spice preference
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbs red bean paste
  • 2 tbs black vinegar
  • 1 lb soft tofu, cubed

Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and ground pork. You do not need to add oil as the fat from the pork will melt and add liquid to the pan. Sauté for 6-8 minutes until the pork is cooked completely through.
  2. Add the Chinese red pepper, peppercorns, red bean paste and black vinegar. Mix thoroughly to combine the ingredients. Add the tofu, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Be sure the tofu is heated throughout.
  3. Serve over rice, hot, and enjoy!

Semi-Homemade Potsticker Salad Bowls

If you know us personally, you know that we love dumplings something fierce. At any given time, you can venture to Tuck or Tate’s homes and find potstickers in the freezer. They are the ultimate answer to “oh crap, what is for dinner?!” We have created these Potsticker Salad Bowls by combining two of our favorite Japanese appetizers: potstickers and the house salad with ginger dressing. 

Makoto Ginger Dressing one of the only pre-made salad dressings that we will buy at the grocery store- the stuff is that good. You can find it at regular grocery stores (Publix, Wegmans, King Soopers/Kroger) in the refrigerated salad section. We’ve added romaine, shredded carrots, snap peas, and cucumbers to bulk this baby up with some vegetables and brown rice because Tuck and Tate have fathers that would never consider a lettuce-based salad a dinner. If you prep the salad ingredients while the potstickers are cooking in the pan, this dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes. 

Semi-Homemade Potsticker Salad Bowls 
Prep Time: 20 minutes    Total Time: 20 minutes 
Makes: 4 servings 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 package frozen potstickers (there should be about 20 in the pack) 
  • 2 tbs sesame oil 
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sriracha 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into bite sized pieces 
  • 1 package frozen brown rice 
  • 1+ cups shredded carrots 
  • 1+ cups snap peas 
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 avocado, quartered and sliced 
  • 1 bottle Makoto Ginger Dressing 

Directions: 

  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and water to the pan- stir to combine the ingredients. Add the frozen potstickers to the pan, creating one even layer of potstickers. Cook the potstickers on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes- rotating every once in a while so that all sides of the potstickers are heated through. As the water evaporates and steams the filling, the oil and soy sauce will coat the outside dough and give the potstickers a crispy flavorful topping. 
  2. While the potstickers are cooking, cook the frozen brown rice in the microwave according to package directions. It doesn’t have to be scorching hot, just heated somewhere north of room temperature. 
  3. Assemble the salads by layering the romaine, brown rice, snap peas, carrots, and cucumbers. Top with the Makoto dressing. When the potstickers are finished cooking (starting to get crispy on the outside and the water has evaporated), remove from the pan and serve on top of the salads. Garnish with avocado and serve. 

* Please note our salad is not pictured with cucumber because we were so excited to cook, photograph, and then eat this recipe that we forgot to add them in the process. Sigh. 


Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

Pulled pork has become a go-to week night recipe in our house. You can make it in the Crock Pot or Instant Pot and you really get your bang for your buck with this one. We love it because it is pretty hands off and produces a quantity that is large enough for a crowd or for week night leftovers to put on top of salads, in tacos or just eat alone if you are lazy on a Thursday like we are! We have a few ways we like to season and make this dish but wanted to bring in a BBQ element to our Super Bowl party this year. The Instant Pot reduces the cooking time by hours making this recipe perfect for entertaining. You can be hands off while your guests are there and still serve a bad ass sandwich.

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

Makes: 8-10 servings

Active Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork butt/shoulder roast
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 4 tbs salt
  • 4 tbs pepper
  • 4 tbs chili powder
  • 4 tbs garlic powder
  • 12 oz light beer (we used Blue Moon)
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce (pick your favorite kind!)

Directions:

  1. Trim off any excess fat from the pork shoulder. It doesn’t need to be perfect but will help ensure that your pulled pork isn’t completely saturated with oil when you are done.
  2. Create holes in the pork using a knife and insert the garlic cloves. Try your best to evenly distribute the garlic on all sides of the pork the best you can. We literally stick a knife straight into various parts of the shoulder to create the “pockets”.
  3. Season the pork with the salt, pepper, chili and garlic powder evenly on all sides. **
  4. Set the Instant Pot on saute and sear the pork on all sides until the sides are seared brown. You do not need oil at this point as the pork has enough fat naturally.
  5. Change the setting to pressure cook on high and add the beer. Cook on the high setting for 75 minutes. Release the pressure when done. Open the Instant Pot and flip the pork over, submerging the other side of the pork, and cook on the high setting for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. Release the pressure and using two forks, shred the pork. Be sure to discard any bones during this process which should only be the shoulder bone depending on the cut you purchased.
  7. Add the BBQ sauce and serve with buns, coleslaw, pickles and cheddar cheese!

**If you want to use a Crock Pot, sear the pork in a pan on the stove and transfer the pork to the CrockPot. Add the beer and set the Crock Pot to cook on High for 8 hours. Continue with Step 6 and enjoy!