Steamboat Ski Trip

March 5th, 2014

You know you live somewhere miserable when a ski trip is a chance to feel warm. Yes, I’m serious. I was actually looking forward to the 30 degree temperatures in Steamboat Springs, CO this past weekend, because compared to the frigid Chicago weather, this seemed like a tropical vacation.

We skied. We drank. (Lots of Dirty Hippie) We Ate. (Lots of everything). Check out some trip highlights below.

Steamboat Trip

We love Dirty Hippies!

We love Dirty Hippies!

Necessary Ski Selfie

Necessary Ski Selfie

Steamboat TripSteamboat Trip

Ski fuel: Egg +Sausage Casserole

Ski fuel: Egg +Sausage Casserole

 

Chinese Pork Egg Rolls

February 26th, 2014

Pork Egg Rolls

Because I’m always cooking for one during the week, I usually stick to simple proteins and veggies or soups and crock pot meals that can be enjoyed all week. As you would guess, that sometimes limits my creativity at the grocery and in the kitchen. So whenever I go home for the weekend, and know I’ll be cooking for a crowd, I try one of the more complicated recipes from my “to make” list.

Although always tempted to cook Mexican (my love of tacos truly knows no end), I decided to change things up this weekend and try my hand at Chinese Pork Egg Rolls. I had been eyeing a Martha Stewart recipe for some time but knew it yielded around 16 rolls, far too many for a single girl to eat throughout the week. Knowing the combination of fried goodness + spicy pork would be especially pleasing to my dad and boyfriend, I decided it was the perfect choice to feed the fam.

These egg rolls turned out better than I could have ever expected. Our group agreed they were better than any restaurant we’d tasted and far supreme over any frozen option at the grocery. They were fun and easy to roll and I used my mom’s Fry Daddy which produced perfectly golden and crisp results. The original recipe says the rolls can be frozen before frying, but my family gobbled them down too quickly to save any for later.

Because the filling can be prepared in advance, these make for an impressive appetizer at your next party or family dinner. Who makes homemade egg rolls? “You do,” should be the answer! I served mine simply with store-bought sweet and sour sauce, soy and spicy mustard. However, our group thought they would be delicious dunked in a spicy barbeque sauce, too. On the side I made heaps of white rice and stir-fried snap peas, broccoli, red and yellow peppers, onion and baby bok choy.

Pork Egg Roll Ingredients

Shredded CarrotsShredded CabbageIMG_1866IMG_1867IMG_1868Rolls all ready to go!IMG_1871Fried Pork Egg Rolls

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • ¼  cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 medium Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 5 medium carrot, shredded
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 pound ground pork, I prefer a spicy mix!
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Large handful cilantro, thinly sliced
  • 16 egg roll wrappers (found in the produce/refrigerated section at the market, usually near the tofu and meat-substitute section)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups (48 ounces) vegetable oil

For serving (optional):

  • Additional cilantro for garnish
  • Store-bought sweet and sour sauce
  • Spicy mustard
  • BBQ sauce—have not tried, but think it would make a tasty partner!

 

Directions:

Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and add cabbage, carrots, garlic and ginger. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until carrots are slightly tender and cabbage has just begun to wilt, around 3 minutes.

Raise heat to high and add pork and soy mixture. Cook until pork is no longer pink and all liquid has evaporated. Ensure all liquid has evaporated, as you don’t want soggy egg rolls! This should take around 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add scallions and cilantro. Refrigerate mixture for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Assemble egg rolls:

Lay one wrapper on a cutting board with one point facing towards you. Keep all other wrappers under a damp cloth until ready to use. Place around 1/3 cup of pork mixture into the center of the wrapper. Using a pastry brush, coat the edges of the wrapper in egg wash. Fold the point closest to you towards the center over the pork. Fold both side corners toward the center. They do not have to meet perfectly. At this point it should resemble an open envelope. Tightly roll to close the wrapper and ensure it is sealed. Be sure to keep the wrappers tight and sealed—as they can explode or oil can seep inside when frying if not rolled tightly. Fry in small batches. In order to keep egg rolls warm and crisp until serving, keep them on a parchment lined cookie sheet in the oven at about 250 degrees.

IMG_1870

Avocado Tomatillo Dip

February 16th, 2014

I recently made Avocado Tomatillo dip for this past Thursday’s Galentine’s celebration. Thanks to Delicious By Dre for the recipe, it added a light and fresh element to our very…. cheese- and cocktail-heavy table. We all agreed that although it brightened our winter table, we would enjoy it even more in the summer sunshine, margarita in hand.

I’ll be sure to make this delicious appetizer again once summer rolls around. I might even add an extra jalapeno to intensify the spice. Thanks for the recipe inspiration, Dre!

Avocado Tomatillo Dip

Galentine’s Day Mini Chicken Tacos

February 14th, 2014

Last night my gals and I celebrated Valentine’s Day Eve… also known as GALentine’s Day. With lots of food, friends and bubbly drinks we did what girls do best… gabbed about astrological signs, the impending retrograde and each couple’s romantic weekend plans.

Mini Chicken Wonton Tacos

To match the girly-themed evening, I wanted to make something cute, fresh and bite-size. After searching my favorite recipe blogs, I failed to find anything that wowed me. I was stuck on the idea of creating a mini taco, complete with queso fresco and the red onions I had pickled earlier this week. So I took a leap and ventured into “recipe development” land, a place I don’t often explore. But I’m happy to say that the result of this recipe test turned out delicious. The gals approved… so what else matters?

Mini Chicken Wonton Tacos

These tacos were a hit. They’re fast finger food but have complex flavors with the addition of pickled red onions. They can be prepared in advance, (just don’t fill your taco shells!) so they’re great for an after-work evening. I hope you share them with your favorite girl friends, too!

Mini Wonton Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ -1 ¾ lb. chicken breasts
  • Jar of salsa verde (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ sweet onion, small diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1½ cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped,
  • ¾ cup queso fresco
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional:

  • “Quickled” Red Onions—click here for the recipe

Directions:

To prepare chicken, place chicken breasts, salsa verde, cumin, red pepper flake, and chili powder into a slow cooker. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Once chicken breasts are fully cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Place shredded chicken back into salsa verde mixture and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes to one hour. This step can be prepared in advance.

Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place one wonton shell into each basin of a muffin pan, forming small bowls. Bake for five minutes at 350 degrees, until just slightly golden. Meanwhile to make the filling, combine chicken, onion, jalapeno, Mexican blend shredded cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Once wonton shells are done, fill each shell with a spoonful of mixture. Place all wontons on a cookie sheet and return to oven. Bake for an additional five minutes, or until warmed through and wonton shells are golden and crispy.

Top with queso fresco, cilantro, lime juice and red onions, if using. Serve immediately.

Galentine's Day FeastI also made a yummy avocado tomatillo dip, I’ll be posting the recipe this weekend! Happy Valentine’s Day, all!