Travel Inspired

Light Chicken Lettuce Wraps — PF Chang Style

It’s been a good 3 months since I’ve last posted, I had to leave the goodness in Andrea’s capable hands for a time. But I’m back, I’m alive, I’m here! Three months… hmmm…. why would I avoid food-blogging for that specific amount of time? Oui, Oui, the obvious, I’m “with child” yet again! A majority of the women that exist in the world who’ve done it I’m sure can agree on one thing: food is the enemy for a minimum of 3 months. The kitchen is the enemy. Anything with flavor or smell within a 10 mile radius is the enemy.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

The food you see above I refused to touch with a ten foot pole. Had I posted something before now it might be titled “Look How Much I Love Grazing on these Cardboard Crackers.” Unfortunately my family insists on eating every single day, THREE times a day no less, so I was forced into the kitchen to make food stuffs. I doubt it tasted any good because I wasn’t testing it along the way myself…

This was my survival method. Not a joke. Ninja style. It’s very uncomfortable and difficult to breath as a grossed-out ninja. It goes without saying there were many buttered toast and sliced fruit dinners for the fam-damly.

Then about a week ago I got interesting in doing the whole chef thing again. Finally! I’d been resurrected. Pregnancy is so weird and irritating. Any-hoo, I started off cautiously by following a few saved recipes from some of my favorite fellow food-bloggers just to make sure I still knew how to chop, fry, and mix ingredients together. First was a veggie filled white bean casserole  from my number one blog crush, An Edible Mosaic. If humans could marry blogs, I might go for this one. (This was easy to make GF, simple replacement)

The second attempt at dinner was also a success, and the idea came from a new found blog I’ve been very much enjoying called Urban Baker. These Mini Gluten Free Corn Dogs were FUN to make and a huge hit with the family–particularly with Phil. They were surprisingly easy &  satisfying. As she recommended,  I froze the left-overs and used them in Teya’s school lunch later that week. I really like smart people….. Thank you smart people, you make us all very happy. (I was also able to make this sans gluten and without eggs, using EnerG Egg replacement)

Now back to that intro pic. Comfortably back in the saddle, Phil and I worked in tandem tonight to come up with a chicken wrap that mimics one of our favorite places, PF Changs. We’ve made these several times before, but they’ve always tasted a tad too Ammrrrcn. With the use of some new ingredients true to traditional Japanese cuisine and flavors, and cutting out items they’d never use like peanut butter, this time we hit it on the money. They’re very light and healthy when made true to form. Using just one chicken breast instead of two and then throwing in a heaping pile of  sugar snap peas in place also improved upon the weight of this meal.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

You know those white crispy rice noodles called Maifun rice sticks? Don’t skip on those! Not only do they add the necessary dry crisp, they’re a total blast to fry. It’s like a magic trick in your kitchen; a surprising confusing magical trick to make the burliest of manly men giggle. I witness it. Really, they’re in the Asian section of any store (bottom shelf usually) and only a couple bucks. Invest in the fun. When you fry them, make sure the oil is blazing hot (400 degrees) or no magic happens. Test one little noodle at a time: if it sinks its not ready, if it explodes in the blink of an eye it’s ready.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

This meal is extremely simple to prepare. It looks like a long list of ingredients, but that’s mostly sauces and spices which mix up in a jiffy. Yes, jiffy is still a cool word to use. The 90′s are making a comeback, don’t ya know. When it comes down to it this meal took no more than 30 mins from beginning to end. Bon appétit…  or in true Japanese fashion, douzo meshiagare!


Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

Light Chicken Lettuce Wraps — PF Chang Style
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons mirin**
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • about 3 tablespoons coconut oil- used in separate intervals
  • 1 chicken breast
  • one 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and minced
  • sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (or freshly grated, ½tsp if using powder)
  • 3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  • ½ bag of maifun rice sticks, fried**
  • large leaf lettuce for the cups, either iceberg, butter, etc.
  • For the Dipping Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons agave (regular sugar can be used)
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Amino or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • a smidgen of spicy mustard
  • a small splash of mirin sauce
  • 1 – 3 teaspoons siracha chili sauce, depending on your level of heat pref.
  1. Begin with the chicken breast. In your saute pan/wok, fry it up on med-high in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 to 5 minutes each side until it’s nearly finished. When it’s done, set on a plate to rest and cool as you work on frying the veggies.
  2. While the chicken is cooling, prep the stir-fry sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl (this doesn’t include the coconut oil).
  3. Dice the water chestnuts, snap peas, and mushrooms. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, dice it as well (very small bits). Now add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the saute pan/wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, water chestnuts, peas, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan. Cook the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the stir-fry sauce to the pan and saute for a couple more minutes, then stir in the green onions at the very end before removing from the heat.
  5. Fry the maifun sticks according to instructions on bag — usually in just a couple inches of oil (we use coconut here) on super high, 400 degrees, for a few seconds. Flip once so the other side of the noodles can explode. Let cool on a paper-towel or rag. TIP- the sticks are crazy stiff before fried, use kitchen scissors to cut them in half before frying. You’ll only need to use half the bag, save the other half for next time.
  6. Whisk together the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a serving bowl.
  7. Serve the chicken with a side of lettuce cups and the sauce drizzled on top with loads of crunchy maifun sticks.
  8. *If you’re unfamiliar with Braggs Liquid Aminos, it’s a gluten free soy sauce replacement, tastes practically the same.
  9. **Mirin is also easy to find in the Asian isle and only a couple $ per bottle. It’s sweet, and slightly alcoholic, so use lightly in dishes, but it’s quite necessary when going for a balanced authentic Japanese flavor. It’s also always used in teriyaki sauce, so there’s another good use for it once you’ve bought it.


Posted on by Tawny in Dairy Free, Gluten-Free Meals, Main Dishes, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Fois Gras My Burger Please!

What is Fois Gras? Well, how can I best describe it… it is a smooth, rich, buttery indulgent delicacy that everyone must try in their life time-and that is about all you need to know.  A thin dollop will turn a dish from good to mind blowing in an instant. It isn’t a pretty thing, and it actually comes in a simple can, but don’t let that fool you, and don’t worry, the price will remind you of its novelty.

I will never forget the first time I tried it. I looked at it and thought, hmmm, no thanks, but gave it a try anyways and basically fell off my chair. All you need is a tiny spread and it will turn anything from good to ‘oh my gosh, what in the world is this’ incredible.

The Mr. Fois Gras Burger…

fois gras best hamburger ever, France, Bordeaux

The Mrs. Fois Gras Burger…

Fois Gras Hamburger, France, bordeaux burgers

So the reason I bring up Fois Gras is because Shem and I have been slightly obsessing over finding a good burger these days. I guess being away from home can bring out certain cravings, and for my husband, this one was just not budging. Basically we gave ourselves the project of discovering a ‘Great Hamburger’ in Bordeaux. Hamburger joints are starting to pop up as of recently and so we were curious of the French’s interpretation of an American Burger. Let’s just say… the fries are always good…. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Living in France, Main Dishes, Meats, Sandwiches, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Gateau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie aka BEST Chocolate Cake EVER

Gateau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie, best chocolate cake in the world, french chocolate cake
 What do you get when a oooey gooey  and perfectly chewy chocolate brownie makes sweet passionate love to a moist and rich chocolate cake?  This baby right here. Her name: Le Gateau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie. I am telling you right now, there is NO chocolate cake in this WORLD that is better than this one. I dare you to challenge it.
If you look at any other blog that features this cake, they say the same thing.
This cake is from its own planet and if finding this recipe is the only thing we leave with from France- well, it has all been worth it!
And get this, the original recipe can easily and unnoticably be transformed into a completely gluten free item because this cake only has a tablespoon of flour as is! Click here to Read More
Posted on by Andrea in Cakes and Cupcakes, Desserts, Gluten-Free Meals, Living in France, Travel Inspired, Uncategorized We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

A Few Things To See Around Bordeaux

Cap-ferret, Bordeaux, France

Well I have to say, I am liking France more and more as the days go on. I have always liked it but it is becoming a deeper richer like every day. First off, I am calling B.S. on the concept of ‘French people are cold,  or to themselves, or rude. I just have not seen it-not with a neighbor or any shop or place we have been. According to my experience thus far, it is the polar opposite. People are extremely genuine, nice people. Even the French say that most are like this but so far, no sign! Maybe its against the law to be mean to a pregnant lady in France… Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Living in France, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Thai Dessert: Coconut Mango Sticky Rice

Yesterday I was all ready to be a big-fat-grump and share my pessimistic thoughts on the concept of perfection. Luckily I couldn’t finish this post in time, ironically I read some similar thoughts (but in nicer words) from a favorite food blogger of mine, and then I slept on it.

Well I woke up on the right side of the bed today. Fewf! Mind you I still feel the same way, I just don’t feel as inclined to spew all my blabbering thoughts onto this space Andrea and I share. Just in case you’re curious, I’ll still give you the cliff-notes and you can let me know if you’ve ever felt the same way:

I hail from a land where achieving perfection in all walks of life is greatly stressed. It’s a combo of religious pressure and micro-cultural social pressure. Confessional: I do try for perfection in the things I’m passionate about.     But I wish I didn’t.    It irritates me.  I almost hate letting other people see my paintings because to me, they’re never finished… there’s always something imperfect about it that “if I just spent more time on it” I could improve.     But in my point of view, imperfection is better, in a way, when I’m seeing other people and the fruits of their labors. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Dairy Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free Meals, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Samoan Cocoa Rice Drink

Samoan Cocoa Rice Drink

I know the word cocoa and chocolate are the most frequent flavors mentioned in my post titles… but hey, such is life. C’est la vie!

And you’ll thank me for this one.

Samoan Cocoa Rice Drink

Look at this Geode of cocoa-ness…

I am dedicating this post to my dear friend and neighbor from Hawaii, Ripeka Fruean. She is the one who taught me this treasure of a recipe… so I take that back, don’t thank me, thank Ripeka. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Drinks, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Gougeres, aka Cheese Puff Pastries (GF)

I’ve been very reminiscent lately. Mainly on Bordeaux. With Andreea and her family moving there, my mind and my heart are frequently exploring all the memories I cherish from the time I also called that beautiful city home. I’m looking forward to hearing all about Andrea’s adventures and stories she will have over there, I think we ALL are. But until she settles into life and we can hear from her again, I’ll keep rambling on about my “back days” (the term my daughter uses to talk about the past). Everyone had a period in their life when they sort of “discover” themselves or “become who they are,” and for me it was Bordeaux…. (well, split that 50/50 with the summer before in the Peruvian Amazonian Rain-forest with the indigenous tribes, but thats another story.)

Gougeres, aka Cheese Puff Pastry

So once again I’m resurrecting some knock out recipes gathered from the good old days when I had a French grandmother looking over each one of my shoulders instructing me on the methods, history, and secret signatures of their favorites. Today we’re making something special to go with dinner: Gougères. (said goojer with your best French accent!) Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Breads, Sides, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Turkish Spinach Yogurt Dip

Turkish Spinach Yogurt Dip

This is a great fresh dip that is so healthy and full of all sorts of nutrients. Not only is it healthy, but it is so tasty! This Turkish Spinach Dip is traditionally known as cacik. The base is yogurt (Greek yogurt works beautifully because of its thick creaminess) and mixture of garlic, spinach and a fresh herb symphony of dill, mint and parsley.

I love spinach dip but if I eat more than a pinch I am in trouble! I immediately feel a stomach ache coming on from all the cheese, and so to discover this awesome healthy version of a spinach dip is quite a treat! I could eat a full bowl of this without thinking twice! It is so good and you can feel good about eating it too!

This is good as a dip for vegetables, pita bread, chips or used as a spread for sandwiches or pitas! Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Snacks and Healthy Treats, Spreads and Sauces, Travel Inspired, Uncategorized We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Summer Vegetable Gratin

We’ve been away celebrating the 4th of July with the whole family. For unknown reasons, this is the first time in many many years I’ve enjoyed this holiday and felt a bit patriotic. Usually the 4th comes and goes without much fan-fair or break from the usual schedule for me. The last time I sat outside to watch fireworks in the sky was 4 years ago, and I was alone in a park on the mountain side contemplating the meaning of life when the fireworks just started going off. “Oh ya, it must be the 4th of July then…”  Those were my exact thoughts.

Uncle Cody hooking the fish, aka prizes, and Teya patiently waiting for one to bite.

But this year was different. First of all we’re spending the summer with family, and with the outrageous heat this country has been experiencing we decided it was necessary to spend the entire day playing in the water.  We set up all sorts of water games for the kids, they got to “Go Fishing” for a prize after each game, the family played old school backyard games together like “Mother May I?”, then we had a monumental feast of classic American cuisine and BBQ, sat around the firepit all night, did the firework thing, had a psychedelic moment with approximately 1 thousand glow sticks, and then finally camped out in the backyard.

Confession… the kids camped out and most of us adults just ended up migrating to our warm comfortable beds inside. We’ve gone soft! Follow all of that with a big breakfast shindig, more nights of games like “Ticket to Ride” and endless leftovers and it was the funnest and busiest 4th I’ve had… ever.

I dunno, not so much more American, but certainly more French!

I think part of it was to prove to Phil that I’m not fully nomadic in nature, that I do have some sense of connection to my roots. I had to show this Canadian husband what it means to be “Amrrrrcan!” And in full support, he attempted to embrace the Amrrrrrcan spirit by shaving his beard down to a mustache (he’s spent two years in Texas, at the heart of it all, and assumed a good ‘ol cowboy mustache would legitimize him.) Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Gluten-Free Meals, Main Dishes, Travel Inspired, Vegetables We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Kahuku Grill-Where to Eat When Visiting Hawaii!

I guess it is time to let our little ‘family-ran, hole-in-the -wall, surfer joint restaurant’ shine. Ran by the 7 Brothers and their ma and pa along with the KG crew, this is a family ran, family friendly joint for all to come and feel welcome and get a taste of  Hawaii!

This is a video my awesome younger brother-in-law, Seek and his darling wifey, Bree made of the Grill! Arn’t they a talented duo? Check it out and get a taste of what the Kahuku Grill is all about.

Kahuku Grill, North Shore, Hawaii

Specializing in local fresh foods and oversized portions, making sure you get every bang for your buck helps make this a charming place on the North Shore to spend an afternoon or evening!

We’ve got specialty burgers with names like The Twice as Much, The Deep Blue, The Paneolo Burger, and The Bruce Irons to name a few. Only the freshest meat and ingredients are used everytime!

Oh and you can’t leave before trying the ultimate jumbo Coconut Macadamia Nut Shrimp with a Sweet and Sour Dipping sauce and the Home Style Cut Seasoned Fries…mmm to die for! Oh and I can’t forget my mother in laws Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with a Sweet Drizzle paired with ice cream, and more coconut and chocolate sauce drizzled all over makes for one scrumptious dessert! (Find the gluten free version recipe here)! Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Hawaiian Grinds, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.