Chinese Beef in Lettuce Puffs and Quick Fried Rice

Feel like Chinese food tonight? This Chinese dinner is faster and less expensive than takeout. Stir-fried beef placed in lettuce puffs with tangy scallions and cool cucumbers takes only minutes in a wok or skillet. The meat should be crisp on the outside and tender inside. The secret is to make sure your wok or skillet is very hot before adding the meat.

Use the same wok for the rice. The pan juices from the meat will flavor the rice.

As with most stir-fry dishes, it takes a few extra minutes to prepare the ingredients, but only 5 minutes to cook them.

Helpful hints:

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•Hoisin sauce can be found in the Chinese section of the supermarket. It is a paste made from soy beans, vinegar, sugar and spices.

•To quickly defrost peas, add them to a bowl of water and immediately drain them.

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Linda Gassenheimer is an author of more than 30 cookbooks. Her newest is “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook.”