Copycat Starbucks Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap 

Back in college, when I was a Starbucks barista, our RTE and bakery case had a nice selection of goodies. Over the years since my time with the ‘Bux, they have definitely expanded and improved their selection. Whether it’s a baked good to compliment your coffee or one of their sandwiches or protein boxes for lunch, they have upped their game significantly since I worked there.
I recently stopped by Starbucks on my way into work and noticed they offered a Thai Peanut Chicken wrap. It looked really good. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn’t grab one, but I was intrigued enough to decide to try to make it myself.

The other night, the hubby was out so I decided to do some kitchen experimenting. I only had the description on the package to go by, not a recipe, so I bought the ingredients I thought I’d need and went to town.

The result? Not bad at all! I want to play with the veggie part a bit because something seemed to be missing, but all in all it was really good! And fairly healthy too, so you can’t beat that. Fact: if you call it a wrap instead of a burrito, it’s healthier.

I made one for dinner and one for my lunch the next day at work. I wasn’t sure if the pre-made wrap would hold up, but it did. It was actually a bit better the next day. Maybe all the flavors hanging out all night in the fridge got all happy and even more delicious.

It seems like a lot of steps because you have to make all the components separately before you build the wrap, but it is actually really easy and comes together quickly.

Ginger Cream Cheese:

4 oz softened cream cheese (I used low fat)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Chili lime slaw:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ½ teaspoons chili powder

Zest of ½ lime

Juice of whole lime

1 package shredded lettuce

Carrots, sliced thin

Handful of peanuts, chopped

Red bell pepper, sliced thin

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked chicken (grilled, poached, baked, roasted, a $5 one from the grocery store… doesn’t really matter)

This peanut sauce

Tortillas (Starbucks uses the red tortillas, which I think are sun dried tomato. I couldn’t find those, so I used the spinach ones)

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and ginger. If you like it more gingery, add more. If you don’t like ginger that much, add less. Set aside.

In another bowl, add the olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, and lime juice. Whisk together.

Add the lettuce, carrots, bell pepper, and peanuts and toss with the dressing. Set aside.

Make your peanut sauce.

Chop up your cooked chicken into small pieces.

 Assemble:

Spread a layer of the ginger cream cheese on the tortilla.
Top with the chicken and pour some peanut sauce on top to blend in with the chicken. Or you could make life so much easier and put the chicken in a bowl with some of the peanut sauce so it’s already mixed together. Next time I will do that.

Top the chicken with the veggie mixture.

Wrap and enjoy. Serve with a little extra peanut sauce on the side.

Like I said, it was actually better the next day, so maybe even letting all the ingredients sit for a while before assembling would be good. If you try this and add something that makes it pop, I’d love to know what you did. It was really good, but I think it could have used a little something I can’t quite put my finger on.

Crispy Lemon Chicken 

Fried chicken has to be one of my all-time favorite foods. When it’s done right, of course. Which is why I don’t make fried chicken. 

Can I confess something? This is a safe place, right? I know how to make fried chicken. I can walk you through the steps and tell you everything you need to know about fried chicken. I just have a difficult time actually putting my direction into practice. 

Here’s a confession to my confession: I’ve only actually tried making fried chicken myself twice. And it has been a really long time. But both those times really did a number on my fried chicken confidence and I have been scared to try again ever since. 

After having the world’s best fried chicken in New Orleans and knowing that that this the only place you can get that particular chicken, I feel like I will have to get over my fears and try again. OK. I’ll say it here and now… New Foodie Goal: Make fried chicken! 

In the meantime, I’ll stick with this easier version. Really, it is fool-proof. And it’s delicious. I make this a lot because it is the perfect weeknight meal. You can pair it with anything you want and change up the flavors however you want. 

It’s nothing fancy. It is more-or-less a chicken schnitzel, which is just a thin piece of meat, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried.

Feel free to change up some of the flavors if you want: garlic, spice, etc.

2 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise 

2 eggs

2 cups panko 

Zest of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of one lemon 

In a bowl, combine the panko, lemon zest and some salt and pepper.

  

Set up your dredging station and dip each chicken piece into the egg then breadcrumbs.

  

In a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add your breaded chicken and cook until crispy and golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
  

When the chicken is done, remove to a plate and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the top.

  

Serve with a salad or potatoes or whatever your favorite side is. 
 

Makeover!

I spent the morning doing a little blog makeover and I’m loving how colorful it is now! 

I was having serious blog-envy for other people’s more aesthetically-pleasing blogs, so I decided to checkout the WordPress dashboard and really figure this thing out! It took some time, I’m not going to lie, but I think I got it! Technology and I are still working on our relationship.

I even updated my About Me page. 

What do you guys think of the new-and-improved Food on the Table??image

Spinach and Bacon Salad 

My relationship with salad has become stagnant. Boring. Dullsville. I have been relying on my standby of plain ol’ “side” salad for too long. That’s not to say I don’t still like the old classic: crunchy iceburg lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, maybe a little cheddar and diced avocado for a little treat, all joined together by everyone’s favorite, Ranch dressing. 

Sure, that little salad has gotten my through life so far, but we’ve reached a plateau. It’s about time I upped my salad game, dear readers, and this simple little dish is just what I was looking for. 

I wouldn’t say that I like spinach. I don’t dislike it by any means, but it’s not my favorite. If it is cooked in something (like a dip or those spinach tortillas or made into noodles), I’m all about it, but raw spinach? Eh, I could take it or leave it. 

My husband loves spinach. I make him salads a lot to eat for lunch throughout the week and they are always spinach-based because spinach is really so good for you. It is high in folate, vitamins, iron, dietary fibers… I could go on. That all being said, when it came time to see what kind of salad-trouble I can get into, I started with a simple google search: Spinach Salad. 

There are soooooo many combinations out there! They all look really good too! I found a few recipes that look really good and I can’t wait to try. The best part is they are all so simple. Only a few ingredients and a dressing and you’ve got yourself a healthy salad. I figure you could serve any of them as a side dish or even a main meal, if you wanted. 

This warm spinach salad is the most common one I found, with lots of different recipes for it. The first recipe I came across was from Alton Brown, so I knew it would be good. I was right, it was delicious. And calling “warm” is a bit misleading. The dressing is warm, but the salad was more room temperature. 

Heed my warning, though, and don’t make the same mistake I did. This makes a lot of salad. I broke the cardinal rule of all salad-making and I dressed the whole thing right away, even though I knew we weren’t going to finish it that night. The next day, the texture was way off and it was just not good. I mean the flavor was still there and the rest of the components were yummy, but the spinach itself did not hold up. So, unless you are planning on finishing the whole thing, just dress individual portions. Or make less. 

Alton Brown’s Warm Spinach Salad 

8oz package of baby spinach

8 strips of bacon, diced

2 eggs, hardboiled and sliced

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

*walnuts

**4 large white mushrooms, sliced

**3 ounced red onion, thinly sliced 

*This was my own addition and it was delicious 

**Note: I do not like mushrooms, so I didn’t include them. I didn’t include the onion either because forgot to pick one up from the store and I didn’t want to go back just for one thing. You understand.** 

Wash and dry the spinach. Put into a large bowl with the walnuts, egg, mushrooms, and onion. Set aside. 

In a pan, fry the bacon, remove from the pan and dab with a paper towel. Add to the spinach.

  

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pan. You can get rid of the rest. To the grease, add the red wine vinegar, sugar, mustard, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Wisk over low heat until well combined.
  

Pour the dressing on the salad and toss.

Serve as an entree or side.

 

Fruit Tart with Vanilla Cream 

Springtime. The word conjures up images of tweeting birds, colorful flowers, bright sunshiny days. As nice as Spring is, it isn’t even my favorite time of year! Sure, I don’t hate it, my seasonal love is reserved for Fall and Winter. When it becomes socially acceptable to watch Hallmark Christmas movies in April, we’ll talk. 

One thing I do really like about the Spring is all the bright colors everywhere, and that goes for food too. Fresh fruit, especially, is perfectly in season right now and that’s why this tart is perfect for this time of year. It makes for a really yummy treat that can be changed up, depending on what type of fruit is available to you and what you like. You can also use smaller shells and make individual tarts! Who doesn’t love their own personal dessert, right?? 

Another good thing about this dessert, is that it looks really impressive. There are a lot of steps, but it is actually pretty easy to put together. It will look like you slaved over it and everyone will love it. Go with it. My father-in-law always used to tell me not to reveal my secrets. If people think it was hard, let them. 

(Sorry for the lack of step by step photos. I was concentrating on not messing up my pastry cream!)

For the tart shell:

1/4 cup whole almonds

1 cup plus two teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until light golden and fragrant, seven to 10 minutes. (Or you could just buy roasted almonds) Let cool completely, then finely grind in a food processor. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth and light, about one minute. Add almonds, egg yolk, and extract, and beat on medium speed until well combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined to form a dough. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap; pat into a flattened disk. Wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour or overnight.

Reheat oven to 350 degrees. On a work surface that is lightly floured, roll out dough to the size of your tart pan, about 3/8 inch thick. Trim flush with edge of pan. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. 

Place tart pan on a baking sheet; bake until crust starts to brown around the edges, 13 to 14 minutes. (Dough will be slightly puffed in spots.) Transfer to a wire rack. Using a metal spatula, gently press on dough until it is smooth and flat. Let cool completely.

For the vanilla bean pastry cream:

3 cups milk

Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Set up: In a pan combine the milk and vanilla bean seeds. Combine the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift the cornstarch onto a piece of wax or parchment paper.

Scald the milk, which basically means to bring it to a boil but don’t let it burn. Meanwhile, beat the yolks and sugar until they lighten in color. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the cornstarch. Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously to incorporate. Whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk, and place the pot back on the heat. Cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly but gently with the whisk, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce heat and let it boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the butter. Strain the pastry cream through a strainer into a bowl, place plastic wrap right down on the surface, and chill completely. This can be made up to 3 days ahead. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it’s easier than it sounds. If it all seems too daunting, just use instant pudding. It will still be delicious and beautiful. 

Now, this is my little secret: a thin layer of chocolate! Melt 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips with 1/2 tablespoon of milk in the microwave and pour a layer over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has reset. Pour the pastry cream over the chocolate. Decorate with your choice of sliced fruit in whatever pattern you want. Put in the fridge for one hour or overnight until the fruit has set in the filling.

Serve and get ready for the “oohs and ahhs” to come you way.

  
**Vanilla beans are kinda expensive ($10 or $12 for 2 beans!), but the flavor is ridiculous! I’m sure you could substitute vanilla extract which most people have on hand. I’ve heard one teaspoon of extract is the equivalent to one bean, but I’ve also heard that one teaspoon is the equivalent to only 1 inch of bean and vanilla beans are usually much longer than 1 inch, so you’d have to play around with the measurments.

 

Chinese Chicken Salad 

There’s this little café in my office building that makes pretty decent food for relatively cheap. Plus, it’s really convenient. 

I usually only get the same few things there, but recently I had their Chinese Chicken Salad. You guys! It was really, really good! I already like Chinese Chicken Salad, but I’ve had it where it was just sort of blah. This was not blah! It was delicious!

 

I wanted to try to recreate it at home, but I sort of opted against a direct recreation. Being the junk food lover that I am, the fact that I view a salad as a treat is a good thing. I think I’ll leave this particular recipe to the pros.

 

I did end up creating my own version of a Chinese chicken salad using my leftover teriyaki chicken. It may not be quite as good as the one from the café, but it was still quite tasty, if I do say so myself.

 

This is what I put in mine, but feel free to riff on your own with what you like: 

Lettuce

Carrots

cucumbers

Prepared teriyaki chicken

Sliced water chestnuts

Mandarin orange segments (from the can)

Fried wonton wrapper, cut in slices (or I think you can buy them in the produce section already crispy)

Chinese chicken salad dressing*

Other optional ingredients that would be good: sesame seeds, sliced almonds, green onion, baby corn, bell peppers, crunchy chow mein noodles (those are soooo good! I could eat the whole package by itself!)

 

*I used Joey D’s brand. My friend at work uses Soy Vay. The café using a sesame ginger dressing, which I’ve also seen in various brands at the store.  

Perfect use for my leftovers!


 

Mix everything together and enjoy! 

Spicy Shrimp and Ham Pasta

Whenever I have a really good meal somewhere, I like to try to recreate it at home. Eating out can get expensive, so sometimes it’s nice to be able to satisfy a craving for something you had out without having to spend the extra cash.  

Also, you get to stay home and eat it in your sweats and watch TV, so just go ahead and add that to plus column too.   

I especially like to try to recreate yummy dishes we have on vacation. This is a fun way to relive those moments when you were blissfully away, not ruled by the clock or responsibilities. If the recreation is successful, you just have to try not to book the next flight out at the dinner table. 

If you remember, on the last night of our vacation a couple weeks ago, we ate at a restaurant called Saints & Sinners and I had this amazing shrimp and tasso pasta. Channing Tatum apparently owns the restaurant, and while I doubt he had much to do with the creation of this dish, I will give him a shout out for hiring the chef who did because it was one of my absolute favorite meals of the whole trip. I was so full but I couldn’t stop myself from eating it because it tasted so good. I didn’t want to waste a single bite. (PS I did my best, but my husband ended up finishing up the last few bites.) I knew as soon as I took my first bite, I was going to have to figure out how to make this at home.

When I got home, I started researching two components of this dish: 1. how to make the rosé sauce, and 2. Where to get tasso. 

Tasso is a smoked ham found most specifically in south Louisiana cuisine. It’s actually made from the pork shoulder (ham is from the hind leg), which is cured and then covered in a spicy rub and smoked. It can be eaten alone, but it is usually used for the delicious flavor that it adds to other dishes, like pasta, seafood, and jambalaya. 

Tasso is such a specialty item, I wasn’t even sure where I could get it. It wasn’t at the regular grocery store, but I figured a place like Bristol Farms or Whole Foods might have it. Nope. I looked on the website for a butcher called Huntington Meats at the LA Farmer’s Market. This place is really pretty amazing for all the different meats they have. They have it all from beef and chicken to pheasant and alligator. According to their website, they do in fact carry tasso ham. The only problem is that it really isn’t all that convenient for me to go there. It’s not that it’s far, but it is a bit out of my way. Maybe if I was making this dish for a dinner party with, say, Channing & Jenna Dewan Tatum, or something, I would take the extra step and head over there, but since it was just for us, I went a different, easier route and just got regular ham and added the spicy seasoning separate. Plus, if I want to make this more often, I’m definitely not going to Fairfax every time I want tasso. 

I was actually really pleased with how this dish turned out. I’m going to tell you how I made it and then give you a few notes at the end for what I would different next time. And there will absolutely be a next time. 

Copycat Shrimp and Tasso Ham Pasta 

For the sauce:

Olive oil (just a couple tablespoons)

½ an onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tablespoon dried thyme

½ tablespoon dried oregano

½ tablespoon Cajun/creole seasoning

Pinch of red pepper flakes

7 oz can of tomato sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup white wine

¾ cup heavy cream 

For the ham:

Olive oil (just for a light saute)

2 smoked ham steaks, diced small 

For the shrimp:

Olive oil (just for a light saute)

Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed

Cajun/creole seasoning 

1 pound Rotini pasta, cooked to package directions

¼ to ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese  

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In a large skillet, saute your ham in some olive oil until warmed through and slightly browned on the outside. Set aside on a paper towel to drain. I used these Farmer John smoked ham steaks from the store since I didn’t have tasso and I think it worked great.   

  
In the same skillet, make the sauce. Add a little bit more olive oil if you feel like you need it. Add your onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, Cajun/creole seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft and fragrant. 

  
  
Add the tomato sauce, sugar, and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the heavy cream.

  
Add your cooked pasta, the reserved ham, and some parmesan cheese to the sauce and mix together. Let them hang out and the flavors get all yummy while you make the shrimp. 

  
In another skillet, add some olive oil and your shrimp. Sprinkle with more Cajun seasoning. Flip when one side is pink and cook until done. 

Taste the pasta and add salt to your preference and finish with more Cajun seasoning if you want. I did both. 

  
Serve and enjoy! 

Here are a few notes for next time: 

· I would either use chicken broth instead of the white wine or do half of each because I felt the wine was a bit of a stronger flavor in the dish than I wanted. It was still good, I just wish the flavor had stayed in the background more.

· Either double the amount of ham or make less pasta.

· I added Cajun seasoning 3 times: once at the beginning of the sauce, once at the end, and to the shrimp. I never thought it was enough as I was adding it, but then I ate it and it definitely had a kick! If you like things spicy, season away, but if you want it a bit milder, just add it at the beginning of the sauce and then taste it to see if you want more or not.

· I was looking at the picture I took at the restaurant and there is a lemon twist on top. I don’t know if that was strictly for garnish or if they somehow incorporated lemon in theirs. I didn’t taste it in theirs and I didn’t include it in mine.

· I think the salting at the end was a really good idea. There are so many flavors going on in this dish, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. This allows you to salt to your preference.

· Let me explain why I didn’t mix the shrimp into the pasta: one, if I take this to work for leftovers, I do not want to be the person who reheats seafood in the microwave and make the whole office smell like seafood. Also, I thought I had more shrimp in my freezer than I actually did. I only ended up making about 12 shrimp. I would absolutely make more next time. Or, like I said before, make less rotini.

 

The restaurant inspiration!

 
 

My own version! Looks pretty good, huh?