the quality of PF Changs in the privacy of your own home

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Have you ever longed for the cheesy appetizers of your favorite chain restaurants but are too lazy to figure out wtf is up with suburbs? I hear you loud and clear. The good thing about trying to duplicate them in your own home is that you decide what goes in them- for example, Eric hates water chesnuts so I substituted slivered almonds- and you don’t have to worry about creepy additives in mass produced foods.

These are my versions of the lettuce wraps from PF Changs.

First, season a chicken breast with garlic, ginger, five spice, salt and pepper and brown it in olive oil, then transfer to a 350 to 400° oven to finish.

Add more oil to the skillet if needed and saute half an onion, diced, along with a few more tsps of minced garlic and ginger.

While that’s going on, quickly blanche some shiitake mushrooms, baby corns, red pepper, julienned carrots and bean sprouts.  I did about a cup each to have enough for leftovers.

Drain well, roughly chop and add 3/4 to the skillet, reserving the other 1/4. I stirred in a little teriyaki sauce and a few squirts of siracha in, but use whatever condiments you like. I imagine hoisin or peanut would work equally well.

Once the chicken comes out of the oven and cools a bit, chop or shred and stir into the skillet, along with a handful of slivered almonds and green onions.

Serve with butter lettuce and extra teriyaki, and plenty of napkins for slobs like us!

This along with some egg drop soup made quite a tasty and more or less healthy meal with lots of vegetables, protein, and strip mall panache.

Egg drop soup

(this is where the other half of that onion comes in handy, and also the reserved vegetables)

Saute onion, garlic and ginger in a tbs or two of olive oil.

Add two cups chicken broth and one cup water.

Stir in reserved blanched vegetables from above and bring to simmer.

Stir a tbs of cornstarch into two tbs water, drizzle into soup to thicken.

Beat together: 1 egg and a few tsps vegetable oil (I used sesame here). Drizzle into hot soup, stirring to break up the egg mixture.

Garnish with green onions and wonton crisps if you have them. We skipped the crisps, but you might miss them as egg drop is a little on the boring delicate side. Or just throw in a little salt and pepper like I did. You are still saving yourself a bundle of sodium and msg just by not ordering takeout.

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