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Weekly Recipe No. 1 -- Lettuce Wraps

Over the years, I developed a love for cooking.

I am not much of a baker. I can (after many years of failure) make a perfect pie crust and a great chocolate cake. But if I were given a few uninterrupted hours in the kitchen, then I would focus on fixing a spectacular dinner, not making chocolate souffles. (That's not to say that I don't like to EAT chocolate souffles!)

My cooking repertoire has substantially narrowed since my first was born. I started lacking time to cook. Then when he started eating table food, I started looking for things that we could all eat. That has been my goal the past three or so years. Cook a healthy, yummy dinner in as little time as possible. Bonus points if there is some aspect of the meal where my son can contribute in the kitchen.

Reality then hits my ideal world and something has to give. It is usually the "healthy" or "yummy" component that dies an unnatural death in my kitchen given time constraints.

My goal is to try and put up a weekly recipe that fits the criteria and that maybe my kids will eat. And to be honest, when I look at my list of stand by recipes, there are few that fit. So send me links, send me your favorites and I will post one a week.

Here is my most recent successful invention with kid friendly instructions:

Lettuce Wraps Ingredients:

1 head of Romaine Lettuce, washed

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 carrot, julienned (cut into thin strips)

Cilantro, picked over, stems cut off and rinsed

1 package Aidell's Terkiyaki Chicken Meatballs (available at Costco in a double pack and I did see them at Safeway in the organic freezer section)

1 package of rice noodles (Asian section, also called Mai Fun)

Dipping Sauce for two -- no way will my kids touch this, ketchup is their dipping sauce:

1 tablespoon (or to taste) chili garlic paste (Asian section)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar (Asian section also)

1/4 cup water

Warm the meatballs in the microwave according to directions. Boil the rice noodles until soft, and then drain and rinse with cold water. Mix dipping sauce together. Pretend like you are at PF Changs and be creative, add some hot mustard if you like, more chili garlic paste if you like it hot. Assembly:

For the adults -- take a lettuce leave, add the veggies you like, toss on a couple meatballs and add some rice noodles dip in sauce and eat.

For the kids -- if your kids are at all like mine they are going to balk at eating them as wraps and no way will they eat the lettuce. I am lucky because both my kids love carrots though (weirdos, I can't stand carrots) and I can usually convince my son to at least take a bite of bell pepper. So my kids get theirs "deconstructed." This is the hip thing to do anyways. On their plates they get two chicken meatballs with ketchup dipping sauce. Carrots, rice noodles and bell pepper slices.

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