Sunday, June 28, 2009

Penne Pasta with Spinach and Bacon

There's a picture of the past dish at the website. It's very appealing.

This post will actually be quick and dirty, I promise. I seem to like to write...on and on. Anyway, likes: quick, easy, cheap. I used some leftover turkey bacon instead of the real stuff. The dish was still very good. No dislikes. I did totally forget to add the diced tomatoes and used about a cup of cottage cheese to add some flavor, see my previous post about the hamburger helper, quick and easy, aka Skillet Lasagna.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hamburger Helper, Quick n' Healthy. Aka "Skillet Lasagna

Click here for the recipe.

There's going to be a lot of posts tonight; I'm trying to catch up on some of the recipes I've made this month...and to save the ones I really liked without having to pack them. I hear you going, "huh?". I keep printed copies of my favorites on a magnetic clip on my fridge, for easy reference. However, I was packing up my kitchen, saw the stack and thought "I should blog about these and that way, I will always have them long as Blogger stays active." So here they are.

I am not normally a fan of lasagna...I tend to pick out the meat and eat the noodles. Weird, yes. I have also never made lasagna because it seems like a lot of work to me....first boil the noodles, then preheat the oven, then get the meat sauce ready, then layer it all up, and then bake it. It's two hours before I'm eating anything. Then I saw this recipe.

I came across this one at I had bookmarked on one of my many "recipes collecting sprees" while bored and online. I'm sure I'm not the only that does this. Okay, maybe I am. I do have an actual "healthy hamburger helper" recipe (Called 'Hamburger Buddy', from the Food Network site.) While I like the Food Network recipe, I like this one better. It's really just a chunky meat sauce mixed in with noodles, and kind of bound together with an egg/cheese mixture. That cottage cheese makes a big difference. I liked it so much I ate one serving (about 1 1/2 cuos)...and kept sneaking spoonfuls from the pot. I probably ate two bowlfuls before I just Couldn't. Eat. Another. Spoonful.

It's that good. I hope that you enjoy it as well.

Spicy Taco Soup

Click here for the recipe.

No pic...I think I packed my camera already!

This post and the next three posts are going to be quick and dirty. I am still packing and moving and so time is tight, as well as room in my house, but that's irrelevant to this blog...

This recipe comes from the site. It is really good. I was surpised...given I wasn't too sure about the spiciness of the taco seasoning (mild) and the taste of the ranch style dressing mix (good addition). This is a crazy easy recipe...there's next to no prep work. I was worried about the actual sodium content, given that that's like 4 cans of various veggies in there. I ran it through the recipe calculator at the SparkRecipes site...sure enough, the sodium content was less than 600mg per serving. It fit my requirements.

Changes that I made: 1) 1 lb of 93% lean ground turkey instead of the ground beef 2) Regular diced tomatoes instead of the one with chilies included. I don't tolerate spicy foods. 3) Leftover black beans from a dish made last week, it had sauteed green bell peppers, onions, and a variety of spices. This was instead of the canned black beans. 4) This is not a change but an endorsement of the serving suggestion made in the is very good with cilantro and a bit of fat-free sour cream!

Next up...Healthy Hambuger Helper.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mom's Eggrolls

     Okay, first off, these egg rolls are not healthy in any way. They are not cheap either...I spent about $18 on all of the ingredients.  But they are darn good. I'm not giving nutrition information because I just don't want to know...

      A friend of mine wanted to make egg rolls, so I agreed to teach her and give her my mom's recipe. We had a great Sunday afternoon getting our hands dirty and rolling about 40 eggrolls. We ate 2 each right away...and could have eaten much more! I gave her about half to take home and then I gave the rest to several co-workers just because I'm that nice. I'm modest, too :) They all loved them.

     There are many egg rolls recipes out there. This is the one I grew up on, straight from my Mom!

     You can use pre-shredded cabbage and carrots as directed below.  If I have the time, I'll "shred" the cabbage in my food processor, using my slicing disk.

     I'll do the same with the carrots, using the shredding disk. 

      Mincing the onion in the food processor is a snap!  Prepping the veggies using the food processor saves money and time! (I threw in some leftover red onion--resulting in the purple flecks you see below.)

     About the bean thread noodles.  These are really thin...about the diameter of a vermicelli pasta.  These noodles can be found in any Asian grocery store.  Larger mainstream grocery stores, like Lowe's Foods or Harris Teeter, also carry bean thread noodles.  They often come in packages of 8-10.  Each of the little bundles can be individually wrapped in plastic, like so:

      This is what the little noodles look like, before they are cooked:

     Cook the bean thread noodles in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes.  The package usually directs you to soften the noodles in hot water.  This never works.  Boil and drain the noodles.  Then snip the noodles into approximately 1" pieces, it's easy to do with a pair of scissors.  I used my food processor, once more.

     One last note.  If you have a stand mixer, dump everything in the bowl.  The meat-veggie mixture comes together in just a few minutes.  I love it!  (Sorry about the messy kitchen table!)

      Okay, now for the videos.  First, peeling apart the eggroll wrappers.  Eggroll wrappers are often labeled "spring roll wrappers."

     And now, rolling the eggrolls.

     Set the eggrolls on a cookie sheet as you make them:

     I use a Presto Deep Fryer to fry my eggrolls; you can use any medium-large pot.  The oil is hot enough when a bit of leftover cabbage or eggroll wrapper sizzles when it is dropped into the oil. 

     A splatter screen is a must...

     Set the cooked eggrolls on a cookie rack, placed over a cookie sheet.  This lets the excess oil drip off. 

     It is extremely tempting to eat them right away!  Be patient.  Let them rest and cool for about 10 minutes...then chow down!

Mom’s Egg rolls (Cha Gio)
Makes 20-25 egg rolls


1 (1.8 oz) package bean thread noodles, “vermicelli” size (very, very thin like vermicelli pasta)
1/2 head cabbage, shredded. You may also use 1 large package of ready to use coleslaw salad mix (NOT READY TO EAT COLESLAW—you just want a bag of shredded cabbage)
3 carrots, peeled and grated. About 2 cups total, if purchasing packaged, grated carrots.
½ medium sized onion, minced.
1 lb ground chicken
1lb ground pork or turkey. Or just use more chicken
2 tsp of coarse Kosher salt*
½ tsp pepper
2 eggs
2 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 cup cold water
20-25 frozen egg roll wrappers, thawed
8 cups of vegetable oil


1. Bring a small pot of water to boil and drop the bean thread noodles into the boiling water. Allow to boil for a few minutes, 3-5 min, until the noodles are soft and pliant. Drain the noodles. Using scissors, cut the noodles into 1 inch lengths.

2. Put the cooked bean thread noodles, cabbage, carrots, onion, ground chicken, and ground turkey into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.  Alternatively, put everything into the bowl of a stand mixer and let the machine do the hard work for you!

3. Add the coarse Kosher salt, pepper, and eggs.  Mix until everything is throroughly combined.

4. Peel apart the eggroll wrappers.  Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside.

5. Put 1 cup of water into small pot and mix in the cornstarch.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Take the pot off of the heat.  The cornstarch mixture will slowly cool and gel while you roll the eggrolls.  This is fine.

6.. Lay one egg roll wrapper diagonally across a dinner plate. Brush the cornstarch mixture onto the corner of the wrapper furthest away from you. Place 4 tbsp of meat mixture (I use an ice-cream scoop with a trigger handle) on one corner of the wrapper closest to you.  See the video above.  Form into a log. Wrap the sides of the wrapper over the filling, then the corner closest to you over the log.  Roll the filling in the wrapper, gently squeezing the wrapper around the filling to let most of the air out; ensure that the last corner seals the egg roll. Add more cornstarch mixture if needed. 

8. In a large pot or deep fryer, pre heat the vegetable oil to 325 degrees. DO NOT USE olive oil, the smoke point of olive oil is too low and you may get a grease fire.

9. Place 1-4 egg rolls into the hot oil, using a splatter shield if you have one. The egg rolls float once they are done, usually about 7 minutes per batch. Remove from the hot oil and let them drain on a few paper towels laid on top of a plate.

10. Use whatever dipping sauce you desire…hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, nuoc mam…

RE-HEATING INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 325 degrees. Put the eggrolls on a baking sheet and put them into the oven for about 15-20 minutes. This will also re-crisp the eggroll.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Splendid Table Podcast/MP3 Download

Hi fellow foodies:
I am still's ghastly how packing makes my life complete chaos. All of a sudden my house is three times too small because all of the things that were neatly in closets or on shelves is now in boxes...and the boxes are slowly eating up the available floor space.

I wanted to keep up the blog during this time of transition and I have yet another blog (sort of ) to direct your attention to...The Splendid Table. This is a weekly show on NPR and it is aural stimulation for gastronemes. This particular episode highlights a book called "The Vegan Soul Kitchen"...quite appropriate for my blog, no? I had no idea that soul food could even be vegetarian, much less vegan. I don't own the book but it certainly sounds intriguing, especially as the author describes the recipes within.

Click on the link, listen to the show...and listen to other shows in the online archives if you're hooked :)


Friday, June 5, 2009

Simply Vietnamese Blog

Hi Gang:
Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. I am in the midst of planning a big move and it's a complete time-suck. I wanted to post something, however, and I thought of a blog that I've been meaning to highlight for awhile. It's called Simply Vietnamese and it's got plenty of great, authentic recipes from the mother country. I've never met the writer nor have I tried any of the recipes...but the ingredient lists are certainly wonderful and they match up with the ingredients that I use in similar recipes. She always includes great, mouthwatering photos with her recipes. She's clearly a better photographer than I am! The recipes are sometimes adjusted to meet the demands of a busy professional...but always staying true to the spirit of the dish. I hope that you all enjoy reading through her blog.