Larb, or Ground Meat Lettuce Cups

While you may not have heard of larb by that name, you are likely familiar with the variation known as “lettuce cups”. Lettuce cups often feature Chinese flavors while larb tends to be spicier, with flavors of Thailand and Laos.

This ground meat dish features lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, and herbs. You can use any type of ground meat, though chicken seems to be the most traditional. Serve in lettuce cups and make a little extra sauce for spooning over the completed dish if you’d like.

Once interesting ingredient in this dish is ground toasted rice. It can be optional, but the rice powder adds a bit of crunchiness that is surprising, so I suggest going for it. You can toast the rice on the stove, but I prefer the oven method because it’s less hands-on — I do all the other meal prep while the rice is browning away!

Chili con Carne

When the craving for chili hits, you gotta go with it. Otherwise, it haunts you. There’s nothing in the world that can be substituted.

The process of making chili ranges from complex to very simple. My recipe is in the moderate range. Do a little work upfront, then let it simmer for a while. It’s very customizable (see the Notes and Meal Suggestions). This recipe calls for beef, but you can go with ground turkey (or shredded turkey). You can use pork. You can use chicken. Don’t want beans? Don’t have to have ‘em.

In fact, there is only one, unbreakable rule when it comes to chili-making: do not skimp on the cumin! You can adjust this seasoning, that ingredient, but the cumin is essential.

Once we were at a friend’s for a Super Bowl party. I took one sniff of his chili and knew it would be good. The cumin was right there. He seemed surprised that I knew about the cumin rule. I think he doesn’t get out enough.

A note about heat. My husband loves his food very spicy. I am more of a medium, and this recipe reflects my tastes. As you review the list of ingredients, take your personal tastes into consideration. You can always start on the careful side and adjust the seasonings as you go.