Monday, May 20, 2013

faith & food

Tears came to my eyes when I heard of the devastation in Oklahoma. To think of all the loss, both physically and emotionally, brings me to my knees in prayer. Which is where we should always be, regardless of the situation. I cannot imagine what the families and communities are experiencing right now. But I do hope that they feel the love sent their way and the prayers said on their behalf. May they be comforted by The One who is close to the brokenhearted and feel His peace that passes understanding. Let us continue to lift up this community in prayer as they will be facing a difficult process of healing in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.

When deciding what recipe to share next, I decided that since I have made lettuce wraps twice in the past couple weeks, I better post it. I am a HUGE fan of lettuce wraps, especially the ones at PF Chang's! I have tried several different recipes and combinations but none quite match the flavor of PF Chang's lettuce wraps. However, this recipe is my most recent favorite!

As you will begin to notice, I use recipes that I find online or from my cookbook collection, but I put my own spin on things. I use ingredients that we have in the pantry/fridge or that we enjoy. My grandmother--I call her Meme--says that I am "pulling a Meme" when I alter recipes and make them my own. I just tell her that I learned from the best!

My husband Dustin and I enjoy foods that are high in flavor, especially those of the Chinese and Thai variety. One of the first meals he ever cooked for me when we were dating was beef stir fry. Nearly three years later, I still love when he prepares his spicy signature dish. We also love ordering sushi or curry when we go out to eat. We argue about the location and date of our "first date" but according to him, it was at a local Thai/Sushi chain, Jasmine. (I remember it being at a downtown restaurant in a nearby town, but we just agree to disagree!) Regardless of our debate, we love the combinations of savory, sweet, and spicy flavors. Since going out to eat can be so expensive, we like to recreate our favorite restaurant meals at home. Not only does that save a bit of money, it is definitely a ton of fun to experiment with different ingredients. Plus, cooking with and for my husband is one of my greatest joys!

This recipe was inspired by one posted on While we are not following the Paleo Diet, I enjoy using Paleo recipes as they are gluten free-- our home is a gluten free one! My photo is not the most beautiful one, but I can assure you the meal was quite tasty!

Paleo Lettuce Wraps

Boston Bibb or Butter Lettuce
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 pound ground beef 
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp dark sesame oil

Rinse and dry the lettuce leaves. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Drain and set aside. In the same pan add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic, coconut amines, hoisin sauce, and vinegar to the onions. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and browned beef. Stir to combine and cook jut until the green onions begin to wilt. Serve the meat mixture on lettuce leaves. Enjoy!

Notes: If available at your grocery store, use the butter lettuce-- it is the best! If you wanted to use ground turkey/chicken that would also be yummy. For those who may be wondering what in the world coconut aminos is, basically it is a gluten-free/soy free version of soy sauce. Since soy sauce can often include gluten, we use Bragg's Liquid Aminos-- a gluten free soy sauce. We love it just as much as soy sauce in our house! Hoisin sauce can be found in the international section of the grocery store. I definitely recommend buying this pre-made. I have tried making it from scratch and it is simply not as tasty. I omitted the green onions because I don't care for them. I also added peanuts for extra protein and texture. Also, if you have any leftovers but not enough lettuce, this recipe is delicious over rice. Next time I may add some shredded carrots for some more crunch and nutrients!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Use it as a date night dinner or as an appetizer for a party. It is sure to be a hit!

To the people of Oklahoma, you are in our prayers.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
{Psalm 34:18}

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 
{Philippians 4:7}

Monday, May 13, 2013

simple strawberry crisp

Some mornings call for a sweet treat. Sweets are my favorite, hands down. No matter what time of the day or how much I've already eaten, I always have room for dessert! When I came across this recipe while reading Shauna Niequist's Bittersweet (a must read, along with her other 2 books Bread & Wine and Cold Tangerines) I knew I had to make it! Her recipe calls for blueberries but any berry/fruit that you have on hand or prefer would be equally delicious (I used strawberries since I had them). I tweaked her recipe just a little since I didn't have all of the ingredients but was determined to make it work!

Simple Strawberry Crisp

4 cups berries/fruit

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Pour fruit into the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Combine remaining ingredients to form the topping and pour over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and golden. 

*Notes: I didn't have any pecans, so I used extra almonds instead. To make the almond meal, simply blend whole almonds in a food processor until fine. Since I was almost out of maple syrup, I just used 1/8 cup maple syrup and 1/8 cup raw local honey. In place of the olive oil, I used 1/4 cup coconut oil. I also added about a tablespoon or so of ground flaxseed just for some extra omega-3's! 

This recipe is so simple, versatile, and delicious! I love when I find recipes that use whole, natural ingredients and I wish there was a way to share how heavenly our house smells right now! This crisp would be great as a dessert or--as I am enjoying it now--a sweet start to the day! Enjoy! 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


For some time now, I have debated starting a blog. I enjoy reading-- blogs, books, novels, magazines, you name it! If you asked those closest to me, they would tell you that words of affirmation is my love language. More than anything, I enjoy giving those around me words of affirmation as a way to show love. Words help people express themselves and  connect with others. Words can make or break a person's day. Words are so powerful and must be chosen with care. I pray that my words in this blog will be encouraging, genuine, loving, and fun!

I chose the title "taste & see" based on one of my favorite verses in the Bible: 

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! {Psalms 34:8}

As a lover of all things that involve cooking and eating, I believe we can literally and spiritually taste how good our Lord is through delicious food and fellowship with others. The Lord's goodness is all around for us to see-- in the changing of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the everyday interactions with loved ones and strangers. My hope is that this blog will be an outlet to highlight His goodness by sharing some of my favorite recipes, photos, special moments in life, and random everyday happenings. 

Have a blessed day!