SImple Clean and Homemade I Lettuce Wraps 4

Do you like lettuce wraps as much as I do? They are one of my favorite things to order in a restaurant especially for lunch. I can eat some lettuce wraps and not feel overwhelmingly full for the rest of the day. The last time I made lettuce wraps, I could not wait to eat them for lunch the next day. The warm chicken mixture is a nice contrast to the cold lettuce. It is something to get excited about at work.

SImple Clean and Homemade I Lettuce Wraps 3

The other part that I like about lettuce wraps is that I can eat them with my hands. They are messy and meant to be that way. I can change the flavors and textures easily and make them any style I want. These ones happen to be asian inspired.

SImple Clean and Homemade I Lettuce Wraps

My favorite part of these is the crispy, crunchy water chestnuts. Try these for a healthier lunch.

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes


Ingredients (2-4 servings)

  • 1 pound lean ground chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 can diced water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce


Brown the chicken in a pan. Add remaining ingredients except lettuce and allow to cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve with large leaves of iceberg lettuce.

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SImple Clean and Homemade I Chocolate Cupcakes 2

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope all of my friends have a day filled with love and celebration. You know, after work. The husband and I don’t like going our for Valentine’s Day. I am not a fan of the pre fixe meals that often do not offer what I want from the regular menu. We like to make a special meal together. Usually one that takes a while to prepare and is something we would not typically make.

SImple Clean and Homemade I Chocolate Cupcakes

I can’t even believe I have not shared this recipe with you. I have been making these chocolate cupcakes for over a year, but never photographed them. I even typed the recipe in July. Today is the perfect day to share them with you. These chocolate cupcakes actually taste like rich chocolate, in large part because of the mixture of cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate.

SImple Clean and Homemade I Chocolate Cupcakes 3

To top off the Valentine’s Day treat, I piled on the chocolate frosting. And I am OBSESSED with these Valentine’s Day sprinkles.

Chocolate Cupcakes

by Jessica

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 18-22 minutes

Ingredients (12 cupcakes)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Dutch Processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup of flour plus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a large, microwave safe bowl, add butter and unsweetened chocolate. Microwave for about 2 minutes until the butter is melted and the chocolate is mostly melted. Stir the chocolate and butter until the chocolate is completely melted.

Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir until the sugar is completely incorporated. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Stir well until incorporated.

Add cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir for about 1 minute. Add boiling water and stir to incorporate. The batter will become very thin.

Equally fill the muffin cups with the batter. Spray the top of the pan with cooking spray. It prevents the tops from sticking. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until the cupcakes are firm and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

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Chocolate Frosting

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: dessert chocolate birthday

Ingredients (enough for 12 cupcakes)

  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


In a large bowl, add butter and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.

Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. With the electric mixer on low, add the milk a little at a time until the frosting is the desired consistency.

Mix on high 2-3 minutes.

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SImple Clean and Homemade I Orange Chicken and Broccoli

Let’s talk stir fry. It it is probably the perfect meal. Especially for a week night. Seriously. What other meal can you pull together in under 20 minutes with protein and a mixture of veggies? It is healthy and can taste different everyday depending on sauce, veggie, and protein combinations. We could probably survive on stir fry. There was a week over the summer, while we were living with my parents, where we had stir fry everyday at my mom’s request. It was ALOT of stir fry, but I was able to make them all taste different, and they all were fantastic.

SImple Clean and Homemade I Fried Rice 5

I developed this stir fry recipe on Friday because our little friends declared that they like chicken and broccoli in their stir fry. I know that kids like things like general tso’s chicken because it is a little sweet and savory. I decided to use orange juice as a flavoring and sweetener in the dish to appease a child’s palate.

SImple Clean and Homemade I Orange Chicken and Broccoli

This turned out so good, I made it again on Sunday to make an official recipe and share it with you. It makes fantastic leftovers and includes enough sauce for people who love extra sauce poured over rice (I know I do).

Orange Chicken and Broccoli

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes


Ingredients (4-6 servings)

    For the Sauce

    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1/3 cup soy sauce
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, not packed
    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (I use light)
    • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch
    • red chili flakes to taste
    • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

    For the Stir Fry

    • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, thinly sliced in bite sized pieces
    • 2 bags frozen broccoli florets (10 ounces each) or 1 bag fresh broccoli florets (12 ounce bag)
    • Sauce
    • Salt to taste


    For the Sauce

    Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

    For the Stir Fry

    Heat a wok or late skillet until water sprinkled in the pan evaporates immediately. Add half of the oil and cook the chicken until lightly browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

    Add the remaining oil. Add broccoli and cook until tender. Return the chicken to the pan and add the sauce. Cook until the sauce gets thick. Serve with rice or noodles.

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    Fried Rice

    SImple Clean and Homemade I Fried Rice 2

    Every now and then we are lucky enough to babysit my best friend’s children. It is super fun for both of us and we alway try to pack the evening with activities to keep our friends busy. It almost always includes some kind of cooking because from my babysitting experience I learned that kids love cooking. Plus, everyone has to eat dinner and it is easier to have them help then find an independent activity while you cook. Of the things that we have made together, the recipe for today and tomorrow are my favorite. We have made pizza, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries. But this meal included veggies that they actually ate. Plus, we all had a delicious take out fake out at home for a cozy winter Friday night.

    SImple Clean and Homemade I Fried Rice 3

    I have made fried rice in the past, but this version is the best. It is lightly flavored and mimics our take out favorite the best, but it features brown rice. I think the key to my love of this rice is that it is not overwhelmed with flavors. It is simple and celebrates a few, quality ingredients. In fact, we have already made it twice since Friday. I have enjoyed it in my lunch on Monday and Tuesday. This may just be a new dinner staple.

    SImple Clean and Homemade I Fried Rice 8

    To go with our fried rice, we had some chicken and broccoli. I will share that with you tomorrow. The rice would compliment any stir fry well or, add some protein and you have a yummy meal.

    Fried Rice

    by Jessica

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 10 minutes

    Ingredients (4-8 servings)

      For the Sauce

      • 1/3 cup soy sauce
      • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
      • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

      For the Fried Rice

      • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
      • 1/2 onion, diced
      • 1 clove garlic, smashed
      • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
      • 2 eggs
      • 5 cups cooked brown rice
      • sauce
      • salt


      For the Sauce

      In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar. Set aside.

      For the Fried Rice

      Heat a work or large skillet until water evaporates immediately when sprinkled in the pan. Add the oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is softened. Remove the garlic and discard. Add the peas and carrots and cook until softened. Add the egg and scramble. Once the eggs are cooked, add the rice and sauce. Stir to combine. Cook until hot. Salt to taste.

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      This was a busy weekend, it just seems like we got almost nothing accomplished. Friday night we were lucky enough to spend the evening with our favorite little friends. We made chicken and broccoli stir fry and fried rice with the help of our friends. They did an excellent job of pouring and stirring. I will be sharing the recipe with you later this week.

      Saturday I had enough of wearing sneakers, so we ventured to Squirrel Hill in search of shoes that I can wear with my foot injury. I injured my foot a few weeks ago and comfortable shoes are suddenly a big deal. While we were out, we checked out a new to us restaurant, the Ramen Bar. It was the perfect meal for a cold winter day in Pittsburgh. After, we headed over to Bloomfield to go to the butcher and Prantl’s to get some cake. For dinner, we met family at Nicky’s Thai Kitchen. Sunday was filled with cooking for the week and brunch at E2. Below is what we enjoyed at Ramen Bar.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Ramen Bar

      Our waitress suggested the Tan Tan Men, pictured above. She said it was her favorite and another waiter said the same thing later. This giant bowl of ramen is slightly spicy (adjusted to your level of spiciness). It is rich and peppered with ground beef and spinach. Holy soup was this good. We loved this dish and both agreed that on our next visit it was what we would choose. The ramen came to our table piping hot with perfectly cooked noodles. It was the perfect lunch for a cold winter day.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Ramen Bar 2

      The other dish we tried was a rice bowl. We chose the Kimchee Rice bowl with vegetables. I enjoyed the kimchee mixed into the rice, but I thought it lacked flavor. When sitting next the the Tan Tan Men, it was dull and boring. This might be a good choice for a dinner companion who does not enjoy spice.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Ramen Bar 3

      This is the soup that comes with the rice bowls. I thought this was good as I love clear broth soups, but I would for sure choose the tan tan men instead. Overall, we loved our visit and will be back next time we are in Squirrel Hill.

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      Simple Clean and Homemade I Eggrolls 3

      Tomorrow is Friday. Friday is our most frequent day to get take out. Not this week. This week we are going to my parents’ house to get haircuts and get our staple groceries that we enjoy from their area.

      I have a total love/hate relationship with take out. I LOVE that I don’t have to cook as soon as I get home from work but I HATE that the food usually gives me a stomach ache and isn’t as good as I anticipated. Therefore, I tend to make a lot of our take out favorites at home. One of those things is egg rolls. I grew up eating lots of egg rolls. My best friend’s dad always invited us over for wonton soup and egg rolls. It was one of my favorite meals. My homemade egg rolls bring back memories of those fun dinners. The big difference with theses is that they are baked, not fried.

      Baking egg rolls gives them a different texture than fried egg rolls. I actually have grown to like the baked version much better. I like the crispy, aldente texture.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Egg Rolls 2

      I start by browning my pork. Once it is brown, I add three bags of coleslaw. In the summer, I buy fresh cabbage and carrots from a farmer, but this is about a million times easier. I rarely buy packaged food, but this recipe is one of those times that I don’t mind a few short cups.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Egg Rolls 3

      I think the hardest part of making this is judging the filing. You want to get as much moisture as possible out of the filling because you are baking and/or freezing these. This is what the filling looks like when I first start with all of the coleslaw.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Egg Rolls

      This is what the finished filling looks like. I have to say, it is so good, you could just eat it like this. But the extra egg roll making step is totally worth it.

      Simple Clean and Homemade I Eggrolls

      I like to serve these with sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard. Sometimes we add a little hot chili oil for the extra spice. This is one of my favorite weeknight meals. It is so quick straight out of the freezer.

      Baked Pork Eggrolls

      by Jessica

      Prep Time: 1 hour

      Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

      Ingredients (28 eggrolls)

      • 2 pounds pork chops or loin, diced
      • 3 pounds bagged coleslaw (fresh cabbage and carrots)
      • 6 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
      • 2/3 cup soy sauce
      • 3 green onions, chopped
      • 2 8 ounce cans water chestnuts, finely chopped
      • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
      • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
      • 28 egg roll wrappers


      In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the pork. When the pork is brown, add the coleslaw and allow the coleslaw to cook down until most of the moisture is gone. Add remaining ingredients except the egg roll wrappers. Cook until the moisture is cooked out. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

      When the mixture is cool, spread egg roll wrappers on the counter. Have a small bowl of water next to your work space. Put about 1/4 cup of the filling on each wrapper. Close the wrappers, sealing with water.

      Heat the oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, spray all sides of the egg rolls with cooking spray. Cook about 15 minutes on one side. Flip and cook until both sides are crispy. Serve with Sweet and Sour Sauce and Hot Mustard.

      To freeze: Wrap the uncooked egg rolls in plastic wrap. Place in a zip top bag and freeze. When ready to eat, follow the above directions with the frozen egg rolls.

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      SImple Clean and Homemade I Shrimp Feta Bake

      It has been so cold and I am so ready for winter to be over. You know what I realized? It isn’t even half over yet. Last week we installed some gas fireplace logs. I can’t even explain how much I am loving our gas fireplace logs. They make the living room so cozy and warm. It is making the below zero temperatures a little more bearable. That and warm clothes.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Shrimp Feta Bake 2

      Today I want to share one of my brother’s favorite meals. He eats tons of this shrimp feta bake when I make it. Like almost the whole batch of it. At first, it was odd because he didn’t eat tomatoes. I think this dish was the gateway to full blown tomato eating for him.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Shrimp Feta Bake 3

      This is a light and healthy dish. I like to serve it over whole wheat orzo.

      Shrimp and Feta Bake

      by Jessica

      Prep Time: 10 minutes

      Cook Time: 30-45 minutes

      Ingredients (4 servings)

      • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 29 ounce can diced tomatoes, about half liquid drained
      • pinch cayenne
      • 1 pound raw deveined peeled shrimp, defrosted
      • 1/2 cup chopped curly parsley
      • 3-4 ounces reduced fat feta cheese
      • juice 1 lemon
      • whole wheat orzo, cooked according to package directions


      In a large skillet or work, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cayenne. Cook until about half of the moisture is reduced. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is slightly under done. Stir in the parsley. Pour into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with feta and lemon juice. Bake at 400 until bubbly (about 20 minutes).

      Serve over whole wheat orzo.

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      SImple Clean and Homemade I Wedge Salad

      We have been working so hard on the house. I can’t believe we have lived here a whole month. We are in a strange place where it feels like home, all comfy and cozy, but we don’t know where all of the light switches are or where we put away some of our stuff. This week we installed some fireplace logs, painted the foyer, organized the garage to set up my treadmill and elliptical (YES!), and had a pet fence installed. Oh, and most importantly, I primed over the neon yellow paint in the third bedroom. That bedroom and the kitchen are the only rooms left to paint.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Wedge Salad 2

      With all this work, it is nice to make a nice meal each week as a special treat. When I was a kid, because my mom didn’t really cook, twice baked potatoes were a special occasion side dish. We had them for any holiday where my mom cooked. They are creamy and delicious, topped with bacon, cheese, and green onions. I LOVED them and looked forward to leftovers. They are still one of my favorites.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Wedge Salad 3

      The best thing about them now is that they are delicious and perfect to make ahead and bake later. That makes them great for holidays or entertaining. Or sometimes even a weeknight meal to prep the night before. They certainly feel fancy to me and they taste so rich and decadent it is a special treat.

      Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

      by Jessica

      Prep Time: 15 minutes

      Cook Time: 1 hour

      Ingredients (3-6 servings)

      • 3 potatoes, scrubbed and poked with a fork
      • olive oil
      • salt
      • 1 tablespoon butter
      • 1/4 -1/2 cup milk
      • 1/4 cup sour cream
      • 2 green onions, chopped
      • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
      • 3-4 slices bacon cooked until crispy


      Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

      Rub the potatoes with olive oil and salt. Bake 30-40 minutes or until fork tender.

      Cut the potatoes in half for smaller portions (6) of cut the tops off for larger portions. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes and set the skin aside. Mash the potatoes. Add butter, sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste. Add milk until you like the consistency. It should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Stir in half of the green onions.

      Fill the potato skins with the potato mixture. If serving immediately, bake with cheese for 15-20 minutes. To use later, bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees, adding cheese and baking for an additional 10 minutes. Top with bacon and green onions.

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      SImple Clean and Homemade I Canadian Bacon Strata

      I wanted to invite you over for brunch. Because it is impossible to invite all of you to my home, I made you brunch instead. I LOVE brunch. I know it gets a bad rap, but man is it good. You can pick breakfast or lunch and it is stuff I would not normally eat. I don’t think I told you how OBSESSED my mom was with breakfast casseroles for like an entire decade. Especially that one that uses cream of mushroom soup and seasoned croutons. To me it tastes like salt, but I guess for her it is all delicious.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Canadian Bacon Strata 2

      If you haven’t noticed, I steer clear of processed foods, so seasoned croutons and cream of mushroom soup are two things that I do not put in my shopping cart (I am fairly certain they have more than 5 ingredients). In order to feed her cravings for breakfast casserole and stick to my 5 ingredient rule, I had to figure out how to make a lighter, less processed breakfast casserole. To do that, I made a strata.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Canadian Bacon Strata 5

      Stratas are just like breakfast casseroles. They are really just the fancy term for our old favorite. Aside from how fancy it sounds and custardy and creamy it tastes, I love how easy and flexible stratas are. I stick to a general recipe to make a strata, only changing the protein and cheese, sometimes adding some low moisture vegetables. I like to make a small batch (1/2 baguette, 4 eggs, 1 1/2 c milk, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tsp hot sauce, 1/2 lb protein, 4 oz grated cheese, 1/4 c parmesan), but it also works really well doubled.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Canadian Bacon Strata 4

      I like to make it on Saturday night to bake on Sunday for brunch. Then, we eat the leftovers for a few days for breakfast. I love this quick weekday breakfast.

      Canadian Bacon Strata

      by Jessica

      Prep Time: 15 minutes active Overnight in

      Cook Time: 40-60 minutes

      Ingredients (6 servings)

      • 1/2 pound Canadian bacon
      • 1/2 baguette, cubed
      • 1 green onion, chopped
      • 4 eggs
      • 1 1/2 cups skim milk (or milk of choice)
      • 1 teaspoon mustard
      • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Frank’s)
      • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
      • 4 ounces grated cheddar cheese


      In a medium skillet, brown the Canadian bacon. Set aside.

      In a medium bowl, whisk egg, milk, mustard, and hot sauce. Set aside.

      In a 2 quart baking dish, add the bread and green onions. Toss with the Canadian bacon. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

      Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes or until set in the middle. If the cheese becomes too brown, cover with foil. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.

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      SImple Clean and Homemade I Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells 6

      I have wanted stuffed shells for weeks. They sounded so delicious, but I just couldn’t make them because we were spending so much of our time moving, painting, packing, unpacking, and celebrating the holidays in between, that I ran out of time to cook. We ate too much take out and my tummy felt it. We even hit a point where we were eating Easy Mac. I hadn’t had Easy Mac since college. The worst part? It wasn’t even Easy Mac, it was the Target brand which is sort of soupy. It is so nice to be getting settled and have a little time to cook actual meals, menu plan, and grocery shop. It makes me feel like a normal person again.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells 3

      Making stuffed shells is pretty easy. Stuffing them takes a little time, definitely less than layering a lasagna. Plus they are already in servings. You don’t have to wait for it to cool like lasagna. It could just be one of the best entertaining meals ever. They seem super fancy AND can be made in advance.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells 2

      And I seriously packed them with spinach. I might even add more spinach next time. Because I love it.

      SImple Clean and Homemade I Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells 8

      Bake them and serve with your favorite salad or vegetable.

      Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

      by Jessica

      Prep Time: 30 minutes

      Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

      Ingredients (6-8 servings)

      • 2/3 box jumbo shells
      • 1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
      • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
      • 1 egg
      • 1 10 ounce bag frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water squeezed out with a clean towel
      • 10 basil leaves, chopped
      • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
      • 1/2 cup shredded medium sharp provolone cheese
      • 2 pints marinara sauce


      Cook the shells about 9 minutes, until slightly less than ardent. Strain and spread out on a baking sheet to cook.

      Mix ricotta, parmesan, egg, spinach, basil, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl.

      Spread a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 baking sheet. Stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture and place in the pan. Cover with more sauce and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite salad.

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