Saturday, December 29, 2012

Egg Rolls

My favorite blog lately has been Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I don't think this is the first time I've mentioned this lovely little blog.  There are so many fantastic recipes and last night I might have spent a sizeable chunk of time laying in bed and reading recipes online.  Man, I love Christmas break!   

I made these tonight and they did not disappoint.  I made a few little adjustments and will most definitely be making them again. 

The recipe below made about 50 egg rolls.  I made some to take to a post-Christmas get together tomorrow.  I rolled them and stuck them in the fridge.  I'll fry them up tomorrow before the party.  I also fried and then froze some.  The frozen ones reheated nicely.  Put them in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.    

** Update & LESSON LEARNED:  When I went to fry the egg rolls that had been in the fridge overnight, they were really delicate and some fell apart while cooking.  It was pretty frustrating.  I will not be going this route in the future!  You can refrigerate or freeze the filling, but once wrapped, I would suggest cooking them before they sit for too long.   

SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE:  Using the right kind of wrapper is uber important here.  Typically egg rolls are made using wonton wrappers which can be a little on the heavy side.  This recipe suggests using spring roll pastry (specifically Spring Home brand) which make them a little lighter and crispier.  I found these, along with several of the other ingredients, at Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery store in Bellevue (for Seattle folks).  They are in the frozen section.  They only had one package so I also used Lumpia (Filipino egg roll) wrappers that I found at the regular grocery store.  I preferred the spring roll pastry because it had a little more stretch to it, but the lumpia wrapper ended up being a good substitute.  This is what the spring roll pastry and vermicelli look like:


I also realized that I put twice the amount of sauce that I was supposed to, but it tasted just fine to me so I'm editing this recipe to be a little saucier than the original. 


  • 50 sheets spring roll pastry
  • sweet chili sauce for dipping (from Trader Joe's, this is KEY!)
  • 2 ounces vermicelli (mung bean thread noodles) noodles
  • 2 pounds ground pork (you can use a combo of pork and ground turkey if you so desire)
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded finely
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites (save the egg yolks for sealing the egg rolls)
  • 10 ounces shredded carrots
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (use the food processor to get the onion minced, if you want)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 4 tablespoons black soy sauce (or regular soy)
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Put the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour hot water over noodles and let soak for 15-20 minutes.

Once soaked, drain well and chop noodles up a bit into 2-3 inch pieces.

Mix all the filling ingredients (noodles, meat, cabbage, whole eggs, egg whites, carrots and onions) in a LARGE bowl. Use your hands to mix well. 

NOTE:  I used the biggest bowl I have and it still was a little tricky so I mixed in two batches. 

Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and add to filling.  Mix well. 

Pull apart spring roll pastry wraps.

** Leave main stack of wraps covered with a damp towel while rolling egg rolls.

Lay the wrap so it is a diagonal in front of you.  Put a large spoonful of filling about an inch above the bottom diagonal. Fold up the bottom triangle and tuck under the filling then proceed to roll up the egg roll, folding in the sides and tucking them in.

Moisten the top triangle with the remaining egg yolks (I used a silicone brush for this) and roll/press to seal.

Heat 1-2 inches of canola or vegetable oil to 375 degrees.

Fry egg rolls until golden brown and cooked through. Constantly turn the egg rolls so they don’t overcook on one side.

Drain on paper towels and serve with sweet chili sauce.

Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pretzel "Salad"

It's pretty hard to justify that this is a salad, hence the quotation marks. I'd definitely say it's a dessert considering it has sugar in all three layers. Either way, it's delicious.  It's salty, sweet, a touch tart, fluffy, and yummy.   

I made this "salad" for Christmas dinner this year.  For the last several years, per my sister-in-law's idea, we've had a very casual Christmas day dinner. We do fancy on Christmas Eve (ham, turkey, all that jazz) and down home comfort foods on Christmas day.  We usually have pulled porked sandwiches with cole slaw (made by my SIL) and other yummy fixings.  It's nice to have a laid back, low key Christmas day with a nap or two squeezed in.  I didn't get out of my pajamas this year, which worked well since I stuffed my face with pulled pork and Jell-o salad that's really a dessert, not a salad.  Stretchy pants are the way to go in such cases!  

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels (I use the food processor for this.)
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped
  • 1 (6 ounce) package raspberry or strawberry Jell-o gelatin
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 20 ounces frozen raspberries or strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. 

For the crust, mix the pretzels, butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Press this mixture into the pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of additional sugar.  This will help form a crust and prevent the pretzel layer from getting soggy.

SIDE NOTE:  Do you have a tart tamper?  I really love mine and think it's a pretty essential kitchen gadget.  It makes jobs like pressing the crust into a pan so much easier.  Maybe you should get one if you don't already have one.   

Bake for 7 minutes.  Set aside and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat together softened cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar.

Fold in whipped cream and spread over the cooled crust.

NOTE:  Be sure to spread the cream cheese mixture all the way to the edges of the pan to prevent the Jell-o from seeping down and making the crust soggy. 

Refrigerate until well chilled.

Heat the pineapple juice in the microwave and then add the gelatin. 

Dissolve and allow to cool slightly. 

Add the raspberries and allow the mixture partially set before pouring over the cream cheese mixture.

NOTE:  I put the frozen raspberries in the food processor and pulsed it a few times so the berries were a little less chunky. 

Refrigerate until serving time.

Source:  slighly modified from Paula Deen, Food Network

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Muddy Buddies

This is a good ol' classic.  I'd forgotten how delish it is until I made it for my kids at school a while back.  There's something very addictive about this little peanut buttery-chocolate-crunchy mixy mix. 

  • 9 cups Chex cereal (I like to use rice Chex.)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Measure cereal into large bowl. (I use the biggest bowl I have. It makes mixing much easier.)

In bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter for 1 minute. Stir.

Microwave for 15-30 more seconds and stir until smooth.

Add vanilla to chocolate mixture.

Pour mixture over cereal and mix until well coated.

Add powdered sugar and mix well.

NOTE: You can put the mixture into a plastic bag and add the powdered sugar and shake. I feel like this can easily be done in the bowl instead.

Spread on wax paper and cool.

Source:  Chex Website

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Peppermint Pie

I had some leftover Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joes and wanted to make something festive.  This is what happened: Candy Cane Joe-Joe crust, thin layer of ganache, chocolate silk pie filling, peppermint fluff, topped with crushed candy canes!!  I combined a few things that I love to make up this little number that I will call peppermint pie.  I'm not really sure that it's a pie, but don't know what else to call it.  I made it in a springform pan and like the way it looked when finished.  You could definitely make it in a pie pan if you don't have a springform.  I'm going to make it again for Christmas Eve and can't wait to enjoy the fluffy goodness.   

This was really easy, but just a little time consuming because it needs time to freeze and set up.  The nice thing is you can make it ahead of time.


Before starting, line the sides of a spring form pan with foil.  This will make removing the pie in the end easier and less messy. 

  • 2 cupsTrader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe crumbs (about 20 cookies)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter.

Press into the bottom of a spring form pan. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. 

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Pour 1/2 cup cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering.

Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and set aside (without stirring) for 3-5 minutes.

Whisk until combined and glossy smooth. Cool the ganache to room temperature by whisking quickly for a few minutes.

Spread the ganache over the bottom and place in the freezer while you make the next layer. 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and oil in a mixer and beat for a signficant amount of time.

NOTE: The sugar will not be dissolved yet. Don't be alarmed.

Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each egg and scrape the bowl several times.

Mixture will get lighter and fluffier as you continue to beat.

Add mixture on top of the set ganache and smooth evenly. 

Place in freezer for several hours. 

  • 1 (13 ounce) bottle marshmallow cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract OR 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped
  • 1-2 candy canes, crushed

Mix together marshmallow cream and milk using a whisk.  (It takes a while to incorporate the milk into the blob of marshmallow cream.  Stick with it, it'll eventually come around.)

Add peppermint oil.

Fold in whipped cream.

Spread mixture on top of frozen chocolate silk pie.

Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top.

Return to the freezer and freeze for several more hours. 

Let sit out for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Remove spring form pan and foil from sides. 

Cut into generous slices. 

Source:  Megan Porter

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Potato Latkes

In 2nd grade right now we're reading a bunch of books about different winter holidays.  Every time I read, "Latkes, latkes good to eat, cook me up a Hanukkah treat!" I think to myself that I should do that.  Tonight I did.  Potato pancakes.  Mmmmmmm.  Potatoes, onions, oil, and salt.  So simple, so delicious.

  • 2 pound potatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • oil for cooking

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  

Peel potatoes and grate by hand. 

Transfer potatoes to a large bowl of cold water. 

Soak potatoes for 1-2 minutes after last batch is added to water.

Drain well in a colander. 

Spread grated potatoes and onions on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. 

Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.  
(NOTE:  I did this in two batches.)  

Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.

Seat 1/4 cup oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  

Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a spoon.  

Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes.  

NOTE:  Let the latkes cook well on the first side.  If you flip too soon, they might fall apart on you.  This may have happened to me a few times.

Turn latkes over and cook about 5 minutes mores.    

Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt.  

Add more oil to skillet as needed.  

Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.  

Source:  Epicurious 

Mediterranean Rice

This is pretty much just another rice recipe.  Not super exciting, but still important in its own way.  It has nice lemony flavor that goes nicely with gyros.     

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion (1/2 large onion), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups rice (I used Basmati)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped and divided

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil in a medium pan.

Add rice and cook until rice is browned. 

Add chicken stock, lemon zest, cumin, salt, peppper, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley.

Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. 

Add additional 1/4 cup of parsley. 

Source:  Megan Porter

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chicken & Corn Chowder

I really only like soup when it is hearty and filling.  I'm not a fan of watery, brothy soups.  This one is chunky, super hearty, and filling.  You can't go wrong with roasted corn, potatoes, BACON, and chicken.  Oh, and cilantro, one of my all time favorite ingredients. 

  • 4 ears fresh corn OR 2 cans corn (15 ounces), see note below
  • 1/2 pound bacon (about 8 slices), diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken meat (from a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Tobasco sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
For Garnish:
  • crumbled bacon
  • chopped cilantro

Roast corn.  Put whole ears of corn, in their husks, into a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Cool briefly, then peel back the husks and cut the kernels off the cobs.  Set aside.

NOTE:  I used canned corn.  To roast the corn, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and add the drained corn.  Stir corn occasionally and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

Saute bacon.

Transfer 1 tablespoon of bacon fat to a soup pot and cook onions and garlic until transparent. 

Add the corn, bacon, potatoes, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. 

In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat. 

Add flour, incorporating with a wire whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring.  Let cool slightly. 

Add the butter/flour mixture to the simmering pot.  Stir occasionally to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add the cream, chicken, salt, pepper, hot sauce (to taste) and cilantro and simmer for another 10 minutes. 

Garnish with crumbled bacon and chopped cilantro. 

Source:  Modified from Disneyland Resort cookbook