Tag: party

Vegetable Egg Rolls

The last time I posted about egg rolls was over 2 years ago, when I made Hungry Girl’s Sassy Veggie Egg Rolls.  I’ve surely indulged in plenty of egg rolls since then, including some from the Chinese takeout place down the street.  But, I have been meaning to make these Vegetable Egg Rolls from Budget Bytes for ages.  The recipe promises that you can bake the egg rolls right away, or freeze them to bake later.

If you don’t have garlic ginger paste, feel free to substitute freshly minced garlic and ginger.  I found a jar of garlic ginger paste at an ethnic grocery store a while back, and it’s come in handy quite a few times.  I took one other shortcut and bought pre shredded carrots but as someone pointed out, a food processor could do all the dicing and shredding very easily.  After that, you just spend some time at the stove cooking the mixture.  If you’re intimidated by working with the egg roll wrappers, check out Budget Byte’s post with step by step instructions.  She also has some suggestions for turning the egg rolls in the oven to make sure they brown evenly but I threw caution to the wind and mine turned out fine.

I baked about half the egg rolls right away, and froze the other half in small batches to bake later.  Of course, I tried the filling before I made the rolls, so I knew I was going to like them a lot!  The rolls are crispy but not hard to chew, and the filling is quite tasty.  I can’t wait to bake some of the frozen ones to see how they turn out.

 

 

 

Vegetable Egg Rolls

1 T oil
1 T garlic ginger paste
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 (8 oz.) package mushrooms, diced
1 (8 oz.) package shredded carrot
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 t cornstarch
1/4 c. soy sauce
20 egg roll wrappers

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add garlic ginger paste and scallions.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add carrots and cabbage.  Cook until mixture is fairly soft, about 20-30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch into soy sauce.  Pour into frying pan and stir well.  Remove pan from heat and allow filling to cool.

Place about 2-3 T of mixture in each wrapper, and roll.  Seal the edges with water.  Place on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly brown.

-Lightly adapted from Budget Bytes

 

Spinach and Tomato Strata

My two nephews came to visit for Easter, and I wanted to make sure I spent time with them, instead of the kitchen!  So I put together this Spinach and Tomato Strata early in the morning, and popped it in the refrigerator.  We went to the park and played, and then came home.  I put the dish in the oven, and we played some more.

A short while later, brunch was served.  The strata was accompanied by chicken sausage, fruit salad, and Hot Cross Biscuits.  The consensus was that the strata was good, but could be even better.  My sister suggested adding Parmesan cheese to the spinach/tomato mixture, and adding more salt and pepper.  I also think it would be better if the bread was torn into smaller pieces.  But it was certainly nice to have almost the whole meal prepared in advance.  We’ll have plenty of opportunities this summer to try out those changes and I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

Spinach and Tomato Strata

1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained well
1 loaf sturdy whole wheat bread
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 T Garlic Gold toasted garlic bits
5 eggs
2 1/2 c. skim milk
Salt & Pepper
1 c. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

Spread half of tomatoes in a 13″x9″ dish coated with cooking spray.  Place one layer of bread slices in the dish, tearing the pieces to fit around the edges.  Mix remaining tomatoes with spinach and garlic.  Scoop evenly onto bread.  Add another layer of bread slices.

Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper  in a large bowl and pour over everything.  Top with shredded cheddar.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and bake uncovered at 375F for 45-50 minutes, until set.

-Adapted from Cooking Light

Spinach Rice Balls

Sorry to leave you hanging last week, I was a bit under the weather.  I am feeling better now, but I still can’t deny that I’ve been cooking less than usual this year.  Or at least cooking fewer ‘blog-worthy’ dishes!  But I was invited to a dinner party on Saturday night and the host asked me to bring an appetizer.  I was instantly inspired to find something good, but I also knew the crowd was full of generally healthy eaters.

I found these Spinach Brown Rice Balls on the site Cooking with My Kid, and made just a few changes.  I used Garlic Gold toasted garlic bits in oil, but you can use regular olive oil and minced garlic.  I also used Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella for a sharper flavor.  I think they turned out really well, and everyone seemed to enjoy them.  Even adults like finger food, and the Spinach Rice Balls were full of flavor.  Although they were an appetizer on this night, they will be making more appearances in my lunch bag.

 

 

 

Spinach Rice Balls

2 c. cooked brown rice
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 c. seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T Garlic Gold toasted garlic bits in oil
2 eggs
Dash of black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Form into balls, and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

-Lightly adapted from Cooking with My Kid

 

Spinach Crustless Quiche

I posted a version of this recipe a long time ago, but over the years I’ve made some updates.  This is one of my favorite brunch recipes because you can prepare it in advance and then just pop it in the oven in the morning.  It’s become a Christmas morning tradition in my family, but it’s good anytime of year.

Even if you don’t normally eat cottage cheese, you’ll like it here because it makes the quiche rich and creamy.  You can vary the vegetables according to what’s in season, and make it colorful.  I served the quiche with salsa on the side, which was a hit.  I hope it becomes part of your brunch tradition.

 

 

Spinach Crustless Quiche

1 T olive oil
2 Vidalia onions, chopped
1 (16 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 (1o oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 (16 oz.) container fat free cottage cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1 c. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a frying pan.  Saute onions for 10-15 minutes, until softened and just starting to turn brown.  Add mushrooms, and continue to cook until mushrooms are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Stir in spinach.  Allow vegetable mixture to cool.

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, eggs, and shredded cheddar.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in vegetables.  Pour into a 13″x9″ dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Muffuletta

Our cooking club theme this month was Mardi Gras, and we had quite the feast!  Our party was scheduled just ahead of actual Mardi Gras, which gives me time to share the recipes with you.  The table was colorful, and filled with gumbo, Mardi Gras slaw, and muffuletta of course.

My friend Susan made this muffaletta sandwich which was awesome.  First, you make an olive salad with black and green olives, peppers, celery, onion, and capers in a vinaigrette. Then, you assemble the sandwich with salami, ham, capicola, Provolone, and the olive salad.

 

 

 

I never would have made this on my own, or ordered it off a menu, mostly because I am not a fan of olives or peppers.  But somehow when the sandwich was all together, it tasted great.  That’s one of the things I like best about our cooking club, it pushes me to try new things sometimes, and usually I end up really liking them.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  Our Christmas Eve buffet was splendid, featuring a beautiful antipasto salad, stuffed shrimp, meatballs, kielbasa and sauerkraut, and homemade manicotti.  And of course, a dessert buffet featuring fruit salad, apple cranberry crisp, candy, and lots of cookies.

Christmas dinner was a much smaller affair, and so we planned a simpler meal centered around these stuffed chicken breasts featured on the Today Show.  If you’ve ever struggled to cut a pocket in a chicken breast, you need to watch this video and see Mark Bittman’s easy method for making stuffed chicken.

The stuffing in the original recipe calls for pine nuts and raisins, but my Mom made a more savory stuffing.  We started with Connecticut-grown spinach purchased from the Billings Forge Farmer’s Market in Hartford.  After the spinach was sauteed, we added panko breadcrumbs, pancetta, vegetable broth, and Parmesan cheese.  Then my Dad pounded the chicken breasts and placed the stuffing between two pieces, securing it with string.  We sauteed the chicken breasts on each side until lightly brown.

This pan went right into the oven, and in about 15-20 minutes, the chicken breasts were cooked through.  The chicken was removed from the pan, and we made the sauce with balsamic vinegar and mustard as indicated in the original recipe.  Accompanied by potatoes, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce, it was a great meal.

 

We all loved the chicken, and this method of stuffing the breasts was so much easier than traditional methods.  The vegetable recipes are coming up next!

 

Stilton Walnut Dip

The hardest work of the semester is done, and this weekend it was time to have some fun!  I made this Blue Cheese Walnut dip to take to a party back in November, but I wasn’t totally satisfied.  It tasted fine, but the texture wasn’t quite right.  So I changed a few more things and brought it to another party yesterday, where it was served with both apple slices and crackers.  I am happy to say that it went over well, and a couple of people even asked for the recipe.

I really like the White Cranberry Stilton from Trader Joe’s, and it has less ‘bite’ than traditional blue cheese.  Plus, cranberries fit with the holiday theme.  But if you like stronger cheeses, go for it and let me know how it turns out.

 

 

 

Cranberry Stilton Walnut Dip

8 oz. White Cranberry Stilton Cheese, crumbled
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. light mayonnaise
1/3 c. skim milk
1 t white vinegar
Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a food processor.  Season to taste with black pepper.  Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

-Adapted from Food & Wine

 

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

While many people have Black Friday traditions that involve shopping and decorating, I prefer our tradition of a fairly lazy day, followed by a big family party in the evening.  We were asked to bring a dessert, and settled on these Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies from Smitten Kitchen.  (Yes, that’s two Smitten recipes within the span of 3 days.)

The dough was easy to put together, but must be refrigerated for at least 2 hours prior to baking.  You place the dough in a gallon size Ziploc bag, and then press it flat which eliminates the need for a rolling pin.  This was a neat trick!  And, it’s amazing how the texture of the dough changes in the refrigerator, making it easy to slice with a knife.  I don’t generally use a ruler for baking projects, but we had some confusion as to the correct dimensions for the shortbread squares.  Then there was confusion over whether the lines I cut were crooked.  You can decide.

 

 

As it turns out, the cookies that were irregularly shaped were just as good as the perfect squares.  I really liked this shortbread, and the small pieces were perfect to bring to a party.  The espresso flavor was fairly subtle, so I might try using stronger coffee next time.  The original recipe also suggests substituting toffee chips for the bittersweet chocolate.  Now that we know the tricks to making shortbread, I’ll have to try another version soon.

 

 

 

 

Fig and Cranberry Compote

My sister brought two additions to the Thanksgiving table this year, my new nephew and this Fig and Cranberry Compote from Real Simple.

 

 

 

 

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the compote before dinner because it was too hectic, and this is all that was left after dinner.  I was really surprised that this recipe only got 2 stars on the Real Simple website, because we all loved it.  The fresh cranberries are sweetened with both figs and honey, but the final product is still quite tart.  Perhaps other people prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, but we thought this was the perfect complement to turkey.  Both additions will be back at the Thanksgiving table next year!

 

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

The good news is that I have a week full of posts which highlight some great recipes, even if I can’t take credit for much of the cooking.

I took note of this Red Wine Chocolate Cake from Smitten Kitchen a couple of months ago.  Then my friend Susan made it, and told me it really was that awesome.  So when my sister asked what cake she could make for my birthday, this seemed like the perfect choice.

This cake also requires relatively little effort for such a large reward.  You need just one bowl and one cake pan.  The cake itself was really good,  like a flourless chocolate cake with a hint of sweet.  But the mascarpone and whipped cream topping was even better.  The instructions say to “dollop generously” and so we did, even though this was the night before Thanksgiving.  Although I love apples and pumpkins and cranberries in the fall, chocolate is always in season.