Monthly Archives: March 2012

Baked Pork Egg Rolls

Happy birthday to my wonderful Dad!  I know it has been a hard couple of weeks, but you have been ver strong.  I love you, and I hope today is a happy one!

I would show you pictures of his birthday cake {Marble Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting}, however when I was icing it, it was pretty much just falling apart.  It still tastes great, it just looks like a big old mess.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right?

Anyway, on to today’s recipe!

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Nearly every night, some version of the following conversation happens in my kitchen:

Chris: “What’s for dinner?”

Becky: “_____________” {fill in the blank with what ever meal we are having}

I get one of two responses, either “Do I like that?” or “Oh, I like _____________.”

Last night was an “Oh, I like that.” night.  How couldn’t if have been?  We were having baked pork egg rolls!

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Chris even went as far as to say that he thinks egg rolls are his favorite food ever, because he “has never ordered 8 of anything else before.”   I think he would order 8 steaks if I (and our bank account) would let him!

Well, considering that egg rolls are his favorite food, I supposed I should try to make them a little healthier than the fried version from our local Chinese restaurant.  This baked version uses a fraction of the oil that deep fried egg rolls would have, and they pack all the flavor that we’ve come to know and love.

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To begin, brown up 1 lb of ground pork with 1 medium onion.  

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I found this broccoli slaw at Trader Joes.  I actually used a combination of this and shredded cabbage.  You want about 4 cups of shredded veggies total, and you can use all cabbage if you can’t find the broccoli slaw.  

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Add your cabbage and broccoli slaw, a little garlic, fresh ginger and soy sauce…

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And cook until your vegetables are softened.  This took about 10 minutes.   I also covered the pot to get the cabbage to steam and soften faster.

Then you want to set up your rolling station, like so:

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You’ll need a small bowl of water, your egg roll wrappers (found in the produce section of the grocery store), your filling (that has been cooled), and a foil lined, olive oil sprayed baking sheet.  

Lay your egg roll wrapper so it is a diamond shape with one of the points facing toward you.  Put about 2-3 tablespoons of your filling in the middle of the wrapper.

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Dip your finger in the water bowl, and run it along the outsides of the wrapper.  Fold the corner that is closest to you towards the middle  and press down.

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Fold each of the side corners in towards the middle, and roll the egg roll away from you over the far corner, creating a nice little package! 

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Place your egg rolls on your baking sheet, and spray the tops with a little more oilve oil to help get the out sides nice and crispy. 

Bake for 15 minutes, and you will have a  cripsy treat to rival your favorite Chinese take out place.  And these egg rolls are much healthier, so they won’t leave you feeling greasy and weighed down!

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Baked Pork Egg Rolls

makes about 18 eggrolls

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw  (you can use an additional cup of shredded cabbage if you don’t want to use this)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 18 egg roll wrappers
  • olive oil spray (or vegetable spray)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Add ground pork and begin to brown.
  3. After 5 minutes, add onions, cabbage and broccoli slaw. 
  4. Cook this mixture for 10 minutes, or until cabbage has softened.  Cover with a lid to force the proccess along and help steam the vegetables.
  5. When vegetables are soft, add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.  Cook for an additional minute.
  6. Let the filling mixture cool while you prepare your rolling station.
  7. Lay an egg roll wrapper so it looks like a diamond with one point facing toward you. 
  8. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture in the center of the wrapper.
  9. Dip your finger in water and run it around the outside of the wrapper.
  10. Fold the corner that is closest to you towards the center and press down.  Fold each of the two sides toward the center and roll the egg roll away from you, creating a sealed package.  Continue rolling until all filling is used.
  11. Place egg roll on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil or vegetable spray. 
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping egg rolls halfway way through.

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Why do you love to cook?

I don’t have a recipe today.  I have been spreading myself pretty thin this week.  I mentioned that my mother passed away (it will be three weeks tomorrow), and her memorial service is this weekend.  Between preparing for that, my normal activities (work, etc) I didn’t have time to get anything together for today.  But no one is interested in excuses. 

Insted of a recipe, I thought I would write a little about why I love to cook.  Or, acutally, why I began to love to cook.  I love to cook because combining ingredients and preparing them into something delicious is truly satisfying.  I like making people happy through food, and in turn, making myself happy.

But I began to love cooking at an early age.  I remember being very young and watching television with my mom.  Way before the Food Network, she would watch cooking shows.  I remember watching them with her, and loving to see the chefs with all their personalities cooking and making fantastic dishes!  She would scribble down recipes as the chefs called out the ingredients (remember, this was before the internet was so readily available for us to go and look up any recipe we were interested in!).  

Our favorites were Julia Child (of course!), The Frugal Gourmet, Yan Can Cook (if Yan can cook, so can you!), Cajun Cooking (I gawr-an-tee!), and Two Fat Ladies.

These shows (and my mom) were my teachers for learning the basic skills and techniques involved in cooking.  I remember the first time I made Chicken Parmesan (when I was in college), I just knew how to do it.  I didn’t follow a recipe, I just kind of made it up as I went along.  But I knew how to bread chicken from seeing the technique so many times.  I knew what ingredients were involved.

My mom would make us dinner every night growing up, and we would eat sitting at the kitchen table.  Sure, sometimes it was heated up chicken nuggets and Kraft macaroni and cheese, but there was always a meal on the table that we would eat as a family.  Looking back, I really appreciate that she took the time to do this and make it an important thing.  I didn’t really cook much with my mom, but we did bake together.  I speficically remember making peanut butter cookies and talking to her about the criss-cross fork marks that go on top. 

Cooking and baking makes memories.  Whether watching it on TV or participating in the kitchen, I have great memories of food and cooking.  And that is why I love it.

Why do you love to cook?

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Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

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Let me tell you a secret…

I didn’t have buffalo chicken wings until college. 

I know!  I can’t believe it either.  It was just not something that my parents ever made, or ordered in restaurants.  I never saw any of my friends eat them, either, so I never thought to eat them. 

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Until happy hour when I was in college.  That’s right.  I was at least 21 years old when I first had buffalo wings. 

We had two main places for happy hour in college.  Tia’s, a Mexican restaurant with free chips and salsa and $1 beers and margaritas, and Chili’s, where they served $2 beers, but had free buffalo wings.  More expensive beers, but an arguably better free food choice!  After those {very} happy {many} hours in college, I can say I was hooked on those spicy little wings.

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Let me tell you another secret…

A few years ago, I got 4th place in a local wing eating contest.  I am truly embarrassed to admit that I ate 40 wings in 10 minutes during the qualifying round, and at the main contest, I ate 78 wings during 2 rounds totaling 17 minutes. 

wings

Yea.  It was disgusting.  And trust me when I say it was a looooong time before I ate wings again.

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Eventually my love for those little wings, and the flavor combination of spicy buffalo sauce and blue cheese, returned.   I won’t eat 78 wings as fast as I can, but I will enjoy an order here and there, especially during a football game!

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These burgers combine the classic flavors of buffalo chicken wings (even the celery!) into a tasty, mess free sandwich.  (Isn’t getting your hands and face all sauced up the worst part of wings!?) 

Top your burgers with this special creamy blue cheese sauce for an all out wing-like experience!

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Buffalo Chicken Burgers

makes 4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb extra lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp hot sauce*
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 Hamburger buns

*A note about the hot sauce-this amount will vary depending on the heat of your sauce.  I used a hot sauce from Aldi, which I would compare to Franks Red Hot in the level of heat and its taste.  If you are using a hotter sauce (like Tabasco), use less (unless you like it really spicy!

Directions

  1. In a medium pan, sauté the onions and celery in the olive oil.  Do not brown them, but cook them until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except buns!) with cooled onions and celery.  Mix until well combined and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Form meat mixture into 4 equal sized patties.
  4. Heat a grill pan or grill to medium high heat.  Cook burgers for about 6 minutes a side until cooked through (you don’t want to eat raw or undercooked chicken!). 
  5. Serve on buns with creamy blue cheese sauce.

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Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

 

Ingredients

  • 2 stalks celery, very finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 8-oz container light sour cream
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients until well combined.
  2. Serve on burgers, or with additional celery and carrots for dipping.

 

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How many wings do you think you can eat in 10 minutes?

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Easy Roasted Asparagus

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Have you ever spent all day cooking a recipe?  You know, the really time consuming, multiple step, have-to-buy-ingredients-you’ve-never-heard-of kind of recipe?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love spending time in the kitchen.  It is my favorite place to be.  But while those recipes are sometimes fun, and the results can be spectactular, sometimes you feel… like its just not worth all the effort. 

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Sometimes simple ingredients, prepared in a very basic way yield the freshest and tastiest dishes that leave you with the satisfaction of a dish that has taken all day to prepare, but without the feeling that was not worth your time.

This simple roasted asparagus does just that. 

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To prepare youe asparagus, hold each end and bend until it snaps.  Discard (or compost, or save for stock!) the “woody” part at the bottom and save the beautiful tops.

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Place your asparagus spears on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

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Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, flipping half way through.  Top your asparagus with a sprtiz of lemon juice and shavings of parmesan cheese (I just make these with a vegetable peeler).

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Fresh, simple and delicious.  Everything a dish should be.

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Easy Roasted Asparagus Spears

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • shaved Parmesan cheese

 Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.
  3. Roast asparagus for 10 minutes, flipping half way thorugh cooking time.
  4. Once asparagus is cooked, sprtiz with lemon juice and top with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Mini Frittata Muffins

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Its breakfast time!  And what a breakfast this is.

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I don’t know if I’ve discussed this, but I am in the savory breakfast camp.  While I enjoy the occasional pancake, waffle, or french toast breakfast, 8 out of 10 times, I’m going to pick eggs and bacon and hashbrowns.

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These mini Frittata muffins are great because you can totally customize the ingredients for each person.  Someone doesn’t like onions?  Leave them out!  Not a fan of ham?  No problemo.  You can mix and match ingredients to come up with your own favorite combinations.

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 These light and fluffy egg muffins make the perfect breakfast or brunch menu item.  And how fun would it be to get everyone in the kitchen together deciding on and adding their ingredients to the muffin pan? 

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 Mini Frittata Muffins

makes 6 muffins (double or triple recipe for more!)

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • you favorite omlet toppings (I used green pepper, onion, ham and cheddar cheese), finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil mister (or cooking spray)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 6 cups of a muffin tin with your oil mister (or cooking spray).
  3. Combine eggs, milk, flour and baking soda.  Whisk until most lumps are gone (some small lumps are OK).
  4. Add your toppings (excluding the cheese, if you are using ) to the muffin cups.
  5. Divide and pour egg mixture equally between the muffin cups.  They should be filled about 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Add your cheese ( if you are using) to the top of the egg mixture.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until eggs are set.

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I went with some pretty “traditional” toppings for this version, but you can really try and experiment with a lot of different flavors.  Some I’ve thought of are:

  • Smoked salmon and goat cheese
  • Herbs and goat cheese
  • Spinach, mushrooms and feta
  • Sausage (pre-cooked) and onion
  • Bacon and cheddar

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What combinations would you try?

 

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Spring Time Fruity Salad

How many colors can you fit into one bowl?

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 This salad is bursting with flavor.  the comibnation of juicy berries, sweet madarin orange segments and creamy goat cheese is out-of-this-world delicious!

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Let me introduce you to my favorite dressing.  I know some people can’t stand bottled dressings, but this Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing is by far the tastiest one out there, corn syrup, chemicals and all ( I just looked up the nutional info and ingredients, and there isn’t any corn syrup!  And I can pronounce most of the ingredients!  Win!  I still might try to make my own version some day…) I have attempted making my own version, but haven’t come anywhere close.

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 And just like sandwiches, I hesitate to call this a “recipe.”  There isn’t even any method or technique.  Just slice up your fruit and put it on top of a bed of greens.   But the flavor combination was spot on, and I havea  feeling I’m going to be eating this salad A LOT through the Spring and Summer months.

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I just had to share this beauty.  I could look at these pictures all day.

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 Spring Time Fruity Salad

serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup canned mandarin orange segments
  • 4 large strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • Dressing of your choice (I choose Ken’s Light Sweet Vidalia Onion, but other good options would be a poppyseed dressing, or a fruity balsamic vinegarette.  I think staying on the sweet side would be best for this salad)

Toss all ingredients together, and enjoy!

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Cucumber, Feta & Dill Dip

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 I was inspired to make this dip while going about cutting coupons from the Sunday paper.  I saw a coupon/advertisement for this, and was reminded of those fast-food type kabob restaurants.  You know, the ones where you can what looks like a piece of poo on rice, but tastes absolutely nothing like that?

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Well, while the kabobs are delicous, can we all agree that the best part of those meals is the fresh, warm pita bread served with tzatziki sauce?  I mean, I can house the whole basket of pita myself!  And the creamy, cool cucumber yogurt sauce?  Delicious!

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 Well, this dip even is better than that.  It is like tzatziki sauce on crack.   It is pumped up with salty crumbled feta cheese and finely chopped dill and severed with grilled warm pita bread.  

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 Who needs those kabob restaurants when you can make something even better at home?!

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 Cucumber, Feta & Dill Dip with Greek Yogurt

makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch fresh dill (about 2 tbsp when finely chopped)
  • 6 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • Pita bread
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Grate your cucumber into the bottom of a medium bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well until combined.
  3. Chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving.  Because the cucumber is watery, you will need to re mix this dip before serving with grilledp ita bread.
  4. For pita bread, lightly spray or brush pita bread with olive oil.  Place on a hot grill or grill pan for 15-20 seconds each side, or until grill marks appear.  Cut bread into wedges. 

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