Appetizer Idea: Southwestern Egg Rolls

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Another egg roll wrapper recipe comin’ atcha!photo (42)

Why? Because I had a bajillion of them and a hankering for some crispy appetizers! Yes, the egg-roll-wrapper saga is not over. And I question whether or not its crispy goodness should.

Since I’m headed to Texas, I thought I’d try a Tex-Mex recipe, for festivity’s sake.

And like anything I do, this recipe is simple, easy, and fast. Planned for the live-alone girl (or guy) in mind, and made to pack a flavorful pop the “Everything’s Bigger” state can love.

Ingredients

2 egg roll wrappers, sliced in halves

1/4 cup black beans (or pinto)

1/4 cup fresh corn kernelsphoto (41)

1/2 small Roma tomato or 3-4 grape tomatoes

1 T chopped onion

dash of minced garlic

dash of: cumin, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro

twist of lime

optional: Chipotle Ranch dressing

Directionsphoto (39)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

In a small skillet, combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, garlic, spices, and lime. Saute until veggies appear fully sauteed and seasoned.

Transfer veggies to your four eggroll strips. Parcel out less than you think to each. Divide evenly, but “eyeball,” as my mother would say, to see if you might add a bit more. Before you start to roll, be careful to overlap to create a longer roll and make sure the ends connect up so none of the filling comes out. This is also why you have to underestimate how much veggie filling is needed because more often than not, you’ve added more than can fit.

Bake until crispy and the wraps start to flake up with air bubbles. Serve hot in cool dipping sauce if you like. Que bueno!

Burgie in a Nest

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Burgers are coming in all kinds of packages these days. I’m always happy to see restaurants that offer whole-wheat bun options, less happy when I see disgustingly indulgent bun options, like the fried mac-and-cheese buns at Zombie Burger. Yes, ZB in downtown Des Moines is an excellent restaurant, very tasty choice with lots of creations, but the mac-and-cheese burger that has mac on a burger between two fried mac-and-cheese patties as buns: disgusting.CC Pics 018

And then there are those who offer protein-style options, like lettuce wraps, which I really like. Quesadilla wraps are big now, too.

So in my quest to use up all 21 egg roll wrappers purchased for a single-serving recipe way, way back at the start of summer, I had another idea. Most have been appetizer ideas, but this is a wrapper idea. Wrap a burger in an egg roll wrapper for a crunchy alternative to buns that adds a nice texture.

And it’s just cute. To me it looks like a little infant burger poking out of a little nest.

The reality is that it’s actually a substantially-sized venison patty that packs a lot of delicious flavor, but back to being cute…

Here’s how to wrap your burgie in its nest for an alternative to the bun that’s a little more fun.

Ingredientsphoto (27)

1 egg roll wrapper

4-6 oz. burger, cooked

toppings of choice

Directions

Preheat broiler to high or set your oven to bake at 450 degrees. Lightly grease a broil-safe pan. Set aside.

Lay the burger on the egg roll wrapper, in the center. Now slide it down closer to one corner. Not all the way, but close. Fold the two perpendicular corners over the sides of the burger, tuck the closest corner over the top of those and fold under. With the flap that hasn’t been folded yet, curl that underneath the burger for extra support/ crunch.CC Pics 038

Note: Make sure your burgers aren’t dripping in grease as that’ll cause the wrapper to not crispy up, just stay soggy.

Broil for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. If baking, expect the crisping to take a little longer, more like 6-7 minutes.

Let cool a tad and then tuck in your favorite toppings. Crunch in and enjoy!

 

Appetizer Idea: Healthier Mozzarella Sticks

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Guess who was still trying to eat her way through 20+ egg roll wrappers after a month or more of coming up with egg roll wrapper ideas?CC Pics 016

This girl.

When my own creative mind fails, Pinterest does not. I took to the pin boards and happened across lots of recipes using cheese sticks to make baked mozzarella bites with an egg roll wrapper coating. I’ve already tried the breaded bites, so I thought why not the wrapped ones. Let’s see which is better.

Well to no surprise, they were both equally good. I think my baked mozz bites made with whole-wheat breading looked a lot prettier, but these had a nice crunch.

And these egg-rolled-wrapper ones are super quick, easy, and mess free. If you’ve got some wrappers to use or company coming over and not a lot of time on your hands, I’d go for these. CC Pics 032

1 serving (Double or triple for more company)

Ingredients

2 organic or soy mozzarella cheese sticks

2 egg roll wrappers

optional: Marinara sauce for dipping

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Cut the cheese sticks into three equal parts. Lay on one edge of the egg roll wrapper, and then slice the wrapper into three’s, too, to fit with each of the mini sticks.CC Pics 030

Roll up! I rolled mine sort of at an angle and then tucked in the sides at the end. Use a drop of water or less to seal the egg roll wrappers in place.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. The cheese may begin to bubble out of the sides, and if so, that’s just a sign that you did something right. They’re ready to go!

Hatch Chiles & Cheese Over Easy

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Since arriving in Fort Worth at the start of this month, I’ve been less consumed with being the new girl in town and more into all the new things this town can offer. My foodie favorite is Hatch Chiles from an awesome new grocer called Central MarketScreen Shot 2013-08-15 at 2.20.42 PM

The Hatch Chile Festival was not the traditional festival I thought it to be–more of an in-store roasting and celebration than an off-site extravaganza. Nevertheless, my spicy side had to try, so I picked up some of those big green chiles, the “Hot” ones, one night before a Rangers game.

Were they as “Hot” as advertised? I didn’t really think so. But these once-a-year peppers from New Mexico are fresh and tasty. I thought they’d be the perfect compliment to eggs. Some simple cheese and red pepper spice later, I had an excellent Southwestern breakfast. It’s not novel, but it is good. Lots of egg-white protein and some capsaicin make for a delightfully healthy mix.Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 2.20.16 PM

Ingredients

1/2 small Hatch chile, sliced into rings

4 egg whites or 1 egg + 3 egg whites

1 oz. fresh cheese, crumbled or sliced

1 T fresh salsa

optional: Red pepper flakes

Directions

-Lightly grease a skillet. Add in eggs one at a time after the skillet has reached medium-medium heat. Cook until almost all of the egg white has hardened, and then using a wide spatula, flip carefully.Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 2.21.04 PM

-While eggs are cooking, prepare other ingredients as necessary. When egg is cooked through, plate it. Top with cheese first, then chiles, then salsa and spice. The egg should be hot enough for the cheese to melt down a bit on it’s own, but if not you can microwave on high for about 30 seconds.

Appetizer Idea: Thai Flatbread Pizza

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The egg-roll wrapper saga seemed like it would never end. I’d tried my hand at every wonton-wrapper-inspired idea I could imagine.photo (38)

And then one day I had lunch at a cool little cafe-bistro in Cedar Rapids, IA called Brewed Cafe. It was at this lunch meeting that I found myself torn between a vegetarian chili and a Thai flatbread pizza. Concerned that the flatbread might disappoint, I went chili. Curious still the next day, I recalled the ingredients and tried making my own version of the ‘za.

It was great. The wrapper I used was a perfect flaky crust to make several mini pizzas. And I’d have never thought cucumber would have worked so well on a warmed crust, but I was mistaken. Slice it thin enough and it can surprise you.

Ingredients

2 egg roll wrappers

2-3 T Trader Joe’s red curry sauce

1/2 cup cucumber, thinly sliced

a few dashes of basil and caraway seed

Directionsphoto (36)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Spread the curry sauce over the wrappers, being sure not to use to much or the crust won’t crisp up at all. Place on sheet. Arrange cucumbers as you like and sprinkle on seasonings. Bake until wrappers have crisped, about 5-6 minutes.

Simple and tasty, just the way I like it.

Healthier Thin Mint Cookies

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While in the process of going through EVERYTHING I own for my big move down to Texas, I also had to go through a lot of separation. I let go of bags and bags of clothes, books, and surprisingly some food stuffs I’d never used up. With the food, though, I was able to eat my way through a lot of the dried goods I’d accumulated during my two years in this apartment. One of which was a bag of pitted dates. So yummy, and bought with equally yummy intentions for a dessert I had in mind in the spring.CC Pics 009

But that idea passed. The dessert went unmade, and then I remembered a Thin Mint Brownie recipe from the Fabulous Chocolate-Covered Katie, whose cookbook comes out soon, I hope (Katie?).

Well these tasty treats are really good. Just ask the friends I made them for, for a summer picnic in July. And you could ask the other group of friends who tried them, too, at a fireworks show. They were happy to indulge, and I only felt bad when they looked at my little thin mint cookies and then looked at the big, sugary-frosted store-bought ones they bought with a twinge of remorse.

Okay, I didn’t feel too bad about giving friends a healthier alternative they liked just as much. I didn’t want anyone to feel embarrassed about the cookies they brought though. CC Pics 010

To share this positive embarrassment/ healthy kindness with your own friends, check out the recipe I’ve adapted from CCK’s version for a slightly chewier, cholate-ey-er cookie recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts

1 and 1/2 cups pitted dates

1 t vanilla extract

1.5 T cocoa powder

A few drops pure peppermint extractCC Pics 033

scant pinch of salt

1 t stevia

Directions

-Combine all ingredients in your food processor. Blend ’til a dough forms.

-Roll into bite-sized balls and flatten between your palms for a flat cookie.

-If you wanted a small pan of brownies, simply press the dough into a small pan and slice.

-Serve cold or even frozen if that’s how you like your thin mint cookies (I do!). Enjoy.

Healthier Banana Split

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Happy Monday! The day that follows the best day of the week, in my opinion, Sunday, when we recognize the importance of relaxation. No work is to be had on Sunday. I wish I could say I was better about obeying that commandment, but I’m not.CC Pics 035

What I am good at doing on Sundays is caring for myself however I see fit. Usually, this means some time spent talking to my higher power in church or alone, watching 60 minutes, relaxing before the week to come, and spoiling myself with something really delicious for dinner and dessert.

People like the cute “Sundaes on Sunday” idea. Me, too. But I like mine wholesome and nutritious. I’m not saying that’s for everyone, but let me send a little divinely delicious inspiration your way.

You’ve probably heard by now that frozen banana chunks are so sweet and smooth it’s like biting into ice cream. If you follow this blog, you’ve read about my successful experimentation with this and with freezing yogurt for homemade froyo. Both have major yum factor.

So I started putting them together.

With some fresh strawberries, of course–and in another instance, dark chocolate chips–and just made an all frozen, holistic banana split I like quite well.

IngredientsCC Pics 037

1 banana

2-3 T chopped strawberries

1/4 cup yogurt of choice ( I like vanilla coconut)

optional: chocolate chips, nuts, etc.

Directions

Slice the banana to your likely. For a split classic, I split mine down the middle and then in halves to fit in my dish. You might also chop or chunk them and layer your yogurt on top.

Next comes the yogurt. Top or drop as you like on your banana split slices or chunks.

Last is the berries. Sprinkle as desired.