Friday, June 24, 2011

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Michelle Venorsky

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Michelle Venorsky

I am so, so excited about today's guest!  Michelle is the talented blogger and food writer to the amazing site Cleveland Foodie.  Started back in 2006, Cleveland Foodie is a blog dedicated to the talented chefs and growing food scene right here in Cleveland, OH. She is hands-down the go-to when seeking out the best places to dine here at home.  Like most Clevelanders, she is passionate about our wonderful city and excited of all that we have to offer in our culinary scene.

Right around the time Michelle started writing Cleveland Foodie, I had just moved back to Cleveland after calling Cambridge, MA home for several years.  Although I was born and raised here, with being gone for so long I almost felt like a stranger in my hometown.  So much had changed since I lived here last and I needed a refresher course in where to go, what to do, and of course- where to eat!  After just a little googling around, I stumbled across Michelle's blog and I think I read the entire thing from start to finish in one night!  I couldn't stop!  Here was exactly the information I was longing for.  And the best news- while I was away Cleveland turned into a fantastic culinary scene.  I was so excited and inspired to be back home.  Cleveland Foodie was the very first blog I ever religiously followed and don't ever plan on stopping!  Thank you Michelle for your BIG heart in this amazing little city, your wonderful way with words and giving all of us such a gift in your lovely blog.  You are an inspiration.

What is your favorite thing to cook?
I’m not sure if I have a particular favorite. We cook a lot. And I like to experiment and make all sorts of things. As long as I have a recipe handy, I’ll try it. I love making pancakes on the weekend with my toddler and dancing like silly in the kitchen to braised short ribs when it’s cold outside because it’s such a long, glorious process and the house smells all kinds of wonderful.

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Fish still makes me nervous. I love fish, and with the exception of salmon, always tend to overcook or mess it up. Not sure why as I know it’s fairly easy to make.

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
I don’t really have a favorite per se. When people ask me this – I say favorite for what? We truly are a lucky bunch here and there’s no need to pick just one! But there are some we tend to frequent more, and those include: Greenhouse Tavern, Momocho, Fahrenheit, B Spot (my go-to this pregnancy), Vine & Bean, Umami, Sun Luck Garden and L’Albatros (cheese, glorious cheese!).

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
I couldn’t agree more! It depends on the crowd, theme, etc. But for a recent dinner party of sorts we had, here were my favorite songs on the mix I made: Sha la la (Al Green); One More Saturday Night (Grateful Dead); Surrender (Cheap Trick); Mess Around (Ray Charles); El Cuarto de Tula (Buena Vista Social Club); I am Mine (Pearl Jam); Little Lion Man (Mumford & Sons); Iron Lion Zion (Bob Marley); Driver 8 (R.E.M).

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
I’d like a little bit of all my favorite foods and to be surrounded by an endless pour of cabernet joined by my husband, family and closest friends. Short ribs from Crush in Seattle, buccatini all’ amatriciana from the old Battuto in Little Italy, king crab legs, a clambake and plenty of stinky, creamy cheese to top it all off!

What are you currently reading? Potty training books!

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget? Immersion blender.

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Two apps I tend to make a lot. The dates from Avec (my favorite restaurant in Chicago) and Mario Batali’s chickpea bruschetta from Babbo in NYC. Everyone gets this upon sitting down – it’s so easy and so fantastic! And everyone should dine at both these places!  (please click for the wonderful recipes!)

What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
There’s so much about this city I love! I choose to call Cleveland home. Both my husband and I have had numerous opportunities through the years to take jobs in LA, Chicago and NYC and never gave it more than a second’s thought. The people closest to me are here. I love the weather (yes – I’m serious!). Cost of living. Great neighborhoods and history. The people. The spirit. The belief that we can do anything. The belief that the Brown’s will win it all (and we will!). The food, of course. And that it’s home. Everywhere I go, there’s a memory or a new one to be made. And for all of this, I can’t imagine raising my kids anywhere else.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
My mom was (is) an amazing cook. We never had processed crap or take out anything. She cooked every night and those consistent dinners around the kitchen table are some of my favorite memories growing up. She didn’t make anything too crazy – it was always Italian, or had an Italian spin to it. I loved everything she made. But my favorite memories were coming off the school bus during the winter, opening the door and smelling her scratch chicken soup. Best. Smell. Ever.

Top 3 Movies of all time?
It’s a Wonderful Life. Rocky 1 (I’m Italian – I think it’s sacrilegious not to name this one). Back to the Future.

What was your happiest moment in life?
Impossible to pick one. Marrying my husband, Jamie. The most amazing man, husband, friend and father. He always jokes and asks me what it’s like to win the lottery. But as corny as it sounds, that’s how I feel.

And the day our daughter, Natalie, was born. And in just a few weeks, we’ll have that same feeling again as we wait for the arrival of our second daughter. Every day is fantastic. I truly feel blessed – through the good times and bad. Life is good what’s not to be happy about?

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Heinen’s, Miles Farmer’s Market, Whole Foods, West Side market and farmers’ markets. Though you can find me at the first two practically daily.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Ok – I realize this will gross many people out – but I love Miracle Whip! I know, I know – it’s not even food. But I can’t stand mayo and this stuff is just great.

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
Get my knives sharpened – I’m so behind.

One word that best describes you is: My word: Passionate. 
Others word: Stubborn.

And now for your recipe:
Right now, I am addicted to making strawberry rhubarb pie. I just attempted my first one last month and have made several since. The rhubarb from The Chef’s Garden is out of this world good! And I’m hoping by this weekend, I’ll have enough strawberries from our garden to make another. The recipe I’ve been following is from Smitten Kitchen:

print this recipe

Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Recipe taken from Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1997
Serves 8

For crust
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Make crust: Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. [Alternately, you can use a pastry cutter to make your dough, as I did.] Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

Make filling: Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Assemble Pie: Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish [er, I used a metal one and it was just fine]. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about another 25 minutes. [The original recipe suggested a total baking time of 1 hour and 55 minutes. No joke. Mine was done in just shy of an hour.] Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Warm Layered Mexican Dip

Any fun plans for Father's Day this weekend?  We will be picnicking with the family, of course!  Me and the boys are looking forward to letting daddy and the grandpa's know how loved they are.  Raising two young men myself just solidifies my grateful heart for being raised by an amazing father.  And watching my own husband be the example of a good man makes my heart break wide open every single day.  I am a lucky girl- so, so blessed!  

This dip is a yummy choice to take along to any picnic's you may be attending this summer.  it is a definite crowd pleaser- who doesn't love a good mexican dip?!  And trust me, this is a great one!

print this recipe

Warm Layered Mexican Dip
1 can refried beans
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 pouch taco seasoning
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ear of corn, cooked and kernels removed (or 1/2 can whole kernel corn, drained)
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combo of cheddar and mozzarella)
fresh cilantro for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the creamed cheese and taco seasoning well with a fork.  Warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds and set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the black beans, corn and salsa.

Spread the refried beans evenly on the bottom of a round pie plate or an 8x8.  Top with the taco-cream cheese mixture and next layer the corn, black bean and salsa mixture.  Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over top of layered dip.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

I linked up my recipe here:
 A Little Nosh

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greek Pasta Salad with a Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

I love a nice chilled pasta salad for a summer lunch and they are obviously the perfect side dish for any picnic or BBQ.  But I am not always all that crazy about those that are doused in mayo.  Talk about wasted calories! I would much rather have an extra glass of sangria then mayo-laden pasta salad.  This is a lovely alternative. Totally guilt free and absolutely bursting with flavor.  I used my sister's Roasted Tomato Salad Dressing and it went perfect with the feta and olives.  So yummy!  And actually I felt that the salad tasted even better the next day after all of the flavors got to hang out with each other a bit.  If I was making this for a party, I would definitely put it together the night before.

print this recipe

Greek Pasta Salad with a Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette 

For the vinaigrette:
Roasted Tomato Dressing
Container of cherry or grape tomatoes
Small red onion (I used 3 chopped green onions, since that is what I had on hand.  Any onion would work really)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 1/2-2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Empty and entire container of tomatoes on a baking pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast in the oven until they start to split, about 15 min. While roasting, mince a small red onion & put in large bowl. Take roasted tomatoes and juice from the pan and put in bowl with the onions. Mash the tomatoes with potato masher or fork. Stir in dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. In a slow steady stream, stir in olive oil while stirring with a whisk or a fork.  Stir until well blended, add salt & pepper to taste.

For the pasta salad:
1/2 box cavatappi pasta, cooked according to directions on box (or another ridged pasta; penne, fusilli or gremili would be nice)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 english cucumber, sliced into rings and then cut into fourths
1 can black olives, sliced into rings
1 block feta, crumbled
a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

Cook pasta to al-dente, according to directions printed on the box.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside to allow to cool down.  This is a good time to make up your vinaigrette.  Once your vinaigrette is made, combine all ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.  Pour dressing on top and mix well.  Chill for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to combine.

I have a hard time waiting to eat this yumminess, but I have to admit it tastes best chilled.

You could definitely add cooked chicken or shrimp to make this more of main course.  It would be delicious!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baked Chipotle Panko-Crusted Chicken Tenders

It is no surprise that children love chicken tenders- but lets be perfectly honest here.... so do us adults!  Especially when they are super crunchy, totally healthy and with a little kick of smokey spice.  These Baked Chipotle Panko-Crusted Chicken Tenders are just that.  Do you see how amazingly crunchy they are?!  There is seriously no need to fry these guys thanks to the panko bread crumbs. The flavor of the Chipotle chiles adds just the right taste profile to satisfy us grown-ups. If you aren't familiar, Chipotle chiles are smoke dried jalapeños. Just a sprinkle gives no heat just smokey flavor. But go a little too heavy handed and you will be in for a surprise.  So please be sure to taste this stuff before seasoning too heavy.  The heat can catch up on you!  You can definitely leave the Chipotle chili spice out if your children are sensitive to strong flavors, but my 4 year old loved them.  Don't be afraid of introducing your kids to new flavors.  You will be surprised at just how complex their tastebuds can be if you give them a chance!  

Baked Chipotle Chili Panko-Crusted Chicken Tenders

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast tenders (if you can't find already prepared tenders use chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2" thin and cut into 1 1/2" wide strips)
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper spice (I love McCormick's brand)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and lightly spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a shallow dish, add the flour and season with salt and pepper.  In another shallow dish, season the eggs with salt and pepper and lightly beat.  In a third shallow dish, combine panko breadcrumbs with oregano, chipotle chili pepper, garlic salt, and pepper.

Dredge tenders in the flour to coat, shaking off any excess flour. Dip the floured chicken tenders into the egg and then coat the chicken tenders with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips.

Bake chicken tenders for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping once part way through the cook time. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Un-fried, "Fried" Ice Cream

I got together with the girls last week for another yummy dinner.  Mexican was the menu and I was in charge of dessert this time.  I had fried ice cream for the very first time not too long ago at a fantastic restaurant here in Cleveland called Momocho.  It is crispy, sweet, and although fried, the ice cream is still super cold and totally frozen.  It's a fun concept!  I wanted to try recreating the dessert tonight, but thought maybe I could make something similar without the added fat that frying would give.  I found this recipe at Christie Jordan's blog, Southern Plate.  It was so yummy and couldn't be easier!  We all loved the sweet and crunchy cereal topping paired with the french vanilla ice cream.  I totally sprinkled extra cruchies on my ice cream once I ate the rest off- it was the best part!  

print this recipe

Unfried Fried Ice Cream
from Southern Plate

Container Vanilla Ice cream
3 Cups Honey and Oats Cereal*
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoons cinnamon

Scoop frozen ice cream out onto waxed paper lined baking sheets and place in freezer for at least an hour, or until hardened.

During that time, place cereal in gallon zipper bag and crush. Melt butter in microwave and stir in sugar and cinnamon, pour into bag with cereal and seal. Knead with hands until well mixed. Pour out onto lined baking sheet and place in oven at 350 just until toasted, about five minutes. Keep close watch as cereal will burn easily. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Roll hardened ice cream balls in mixture, pressing lightly as you do so. Place coated ice cream in 9×13 dish and return to freezer or serve immediately.

For serving, drizzle with honey and top with whipped cream and a cherry.

*Can also use corn flakes or cereal of your choice. Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, etc.
Yields about ten scoops of ice cream.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kitchen Tip of the Day- How to Make an Iced Coffee or Enjoy Fresh Brewed Iced Tea at Home..... without melting your ice

When the summer months come around, aside from a nice "adult" cocktail there isn't much I want more then a wonderfully icy cold Iced Coffee with lots of milk or a glass of Fresh Brewed Iced Tea (no instant for me!)  The only problem is the heat factor.  Did you ever wonder how to make one of these at home without watering down your beverage or having to wait forever until it cools down enough to not melt your ice cubes?

When I mentioned my little trick to some friends the other night, they said right away I needed to share it on here.  It's quite simple really, and only uses one little piece of equipment-  One metal teaspoon.  Yep, that's it!

sorry about the spill... it is tricky to pour and take a picture at the same time...haha

Fill your glass all the way to the top with ice cubes.  Stick a metal teaspoon into your glass of ice.  Slowly pour your hot coffee or tea into the glass.  Metals are the best thermal conductors, because of this all of the heat from the beverage will be attracted to the spoon, leaving your ice cubes mostly in tact and will quickly cool down your once hot beverage.  Remove the spoon and enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Soft and Chewy Trail Mix Cookies

What an exciting weekend this past one was!  Early Saturday morning my beautiful sister gave birth to my very first nephew!  As with many births, especially those that begin with an induction, was a very long process.  Baby Neil was just so comfy in there he wasn't sure he was ready to come out.  So all day Friday and well into the early morning on Saturday my brother in law, my parents and I waited patiently for his grand arrival at the hospital.  Lots of magazines, chit chat, fidgeting and of course bad vending machine food helped pass the time.  I tried to make a good decision, but after 10 hours of hospital lighting it was increasingly difficult.  There were these cookies by Sunmade that sounded super yummy. They were Trail Mix Cookies, crunchy little cookies full of all the great stuff you would find  in a bag of trail mix.  Although they tasted great, they were anything but healthy.  So once I got home I was determined to recreate these guys in a more healthful way.

These cookies are pretty healthy, replacing the fat with applesauce, using only egg whites and full of lots of stuff to bump up your energy level but also satisfy those mid-day cravings.  They remind me a ton of a granola bar, but the nice thing is that they are small so there isn't a big commitment that a whole bar has.  You get to eat a cookie and not feel too bad afterwards.  Nice trade off!

I think I will be playing around with the recipe, replacing some of the brown sugar with white sugar to give more of the "crunch" that I like in a cookie.  But this recipe is definitely a keeper.

print this recipe

Soft and Chewy Trail Mix Cookies
makes 3 dozen cookies
recipe adapted from allrecipes

1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg whites
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup sweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with silpats, parchment paper or grease with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until they are frothy and begin to firm up. Fold egg whites into applesauce mixture. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold into the egg mixture. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut and raisins. Drop by heaping teaspoons on prepared baking sheets.  These cookies don't spread out at all remaining in a mound after baking.  If you would rather have a flatter cookie, press down lightly with greased finger tips.

Bake cookies in preheated oven until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove immediately to wire racks to cool.

I linked up!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eggy Sandwich topped with a Spicy Black Bean and Tomato Guacamole

OMG. I just had one of the most delicious egg sandwiches. Ever. Scrambled egg topped with a spicy black bean and tomato guacamole, a slice of mild cheddar cheese, served on lightly toasted Italian bread. This was one of the best ideas I've had in a long time. I SO had to share!!  Go make this tonight- it will make a fantastic dinner!

Eggy Sandwich topped with a Spicy Black Bean and Tomato Guacamole
Makes 4 sandwiches

For the sandwich:
6 eggs
6 tablespoons milk
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 slices mild cheddar cheese
8 slices Italian bread, or any other soft yet crusty bread
freshly prepared spicy black bean and tomato guacamole (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon butter, plus a bit more to spread on toasted bread

In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk the eggs and milk together for about 2 minutes. This will make sure your eggs are light, fluffy and super yummy. The American Egg Board describes well beaten eggs as being "frothy and evenly colored". It takes about 2 minutes to get them like this. Everyone will ask you how you got your eggs so fluffy and pretty looking!

In a nonstick frying pan melt 1 tablespoon butter until the very last of it is just liquifying. Pour in the eggs. Do not scramble right away. Just as they are beginning to set, using a spatula or a flat wooden spoon, push eggs toward center while tilting skillet to distribute the runny parts. Season with salt and pepper. Once cooked remove from heat.

While eggs are cooking, toast and butter your bread. Evenly distribute the eggs across 4 slices of buttered bread. Add one slice of cheese to the top of each egg. Dollop with a good amount of guacamole (I LOVE guacamole, so I used a lot. It was messy, but sooooo good!) Add the remaining slices of toasted bread, slice in half and enjoy!

Spicy Black Bean and Tomato Guacamole
1 Haas Avocado, roughly mashed
1 tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
the juice of half of one lime
1/2 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
a few dashes Tobasco Sauce
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except the black beans and with a fork, roughly mash to combine.  Stir in the black beans.  Squeeze a little more lime juice on top to stop the oxidation process and keep the beautiful bright green color.

tip: If tomatoes aren't in season and are looking a little too "pink" for your liking, a can of diced tomatoes with green chili's is a great substitute for the tomato and jalapeno pepper (I really like the Ro*tel brand). You may wish to omit the Tobasco Sauce as well , as these can have a god kick to them . Be sure to taste the guac first to get the spiciness it to your liking.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Winner of the "Tastefully Simple" Giveaway!!

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for the Party Pack from Tastefully Simple!  It was such fun seeing all of your lovely comments.  I hope all you newbies stick around a while!

And now for the moment that all of you have been waiting for... 
drum roll please......

True Random Number Generator  Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Congratulations my entry #9, who was KarenP.  You are my winner!!

KarenP said...

The Garlic Garlic seasoning sure sounds good - I think I would use it on everything!

Karen, I have sent you an email through your blog (very cute by the way!) and I look forward to hearing back from you!  You have 48 hours to get back with me or I will have to choose another winner.  I hope you enjoy your goodies!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Simply Southwest Egg Rolls

Ok, so these are super yummy!  It was such a fun twist on Mexican food.  This egg roll recipe is from the Tastefully Simple website where they have lots of fun recipes to use along with their products.  The items used in this particular recipe were the Simply Southwest Seasoning & Rub, their Corn, Black Bean Salsa and the same Hoppin' Jalapeño & Bacon Dip Mix that is in my giveaway.  This was definitely a favorite recipe of all the ones I have tried so far from their website.

The Simply Southwest Egg Rolls are very simple to make- took me probably no more then 20 minutes to prepare, plus the time to bake or fry.  I decided to try both methods.  Frying obviously was delicious- what isn't yummy fried?  But in my quest to loose my "baby weight" I also wanted to see if baking would produce still the nice "crunch" you are looking for with an egg roll and reduce some of the added fat that frying can add. The baked ones were definitely great, but I did have a problem with the cheese oozing out of many of them.  I probably overloaded my egg rolls, considering that the recipe states that it makes 15 rolls and I only got 12. This I am sure had a lot to do with my oozing.  Other then that, I don't feel we missed out on anything that the fried ones had.  It takes a smidge longer, but I can live with that if it means a healthier option.  I will definitely make them again and will choose the baking method (less mess, less added fat).

Simply Southwest Egg Rolls
Submitted by Rosemary (MN) HQ Resident Chef

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small dice
2 tsp. olive oil
2-3 tsp. Simply Southwest™ Seasoning & Rub or Fiesta Party Dip Mix
1 cup Corn, Black Bean Salsa
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Cheddar cheese
16 oz. package egg roll wraps
Vegetable oil
Prepared Hoppin' Jalapeño & Bacon™ Dip Mix

Sauté chicken in olive oil and Simply Southwest Seasoning™ & Rub or Fiesta Party Dip Mix™ until chicken is no longer pink; cool. Add next 2 ingredients to cooled chicken. On work surface, place one egg roll wrap with a corner pointing toward you. Place 1/4 cup filling on egg roll wrap, roll egg roll skin over filling. Fold in sides, wet inside edge of egg roll skin with water; press to seal like an envelope. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in frying pan over medium heat. Fry egg rolls in hot oil until browned on all sides and heated through. Slice egg rolls in half; serve hot with prepared Hoppin' Jalapeno & Bacon Dip. Can be made ahead and reheated by baking at 400° for 15 minutes or until hot and crisp. Makes 15 egg rolls.

**Added note: if you want to bake instead of fry, line baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and arrange egg rolls on top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win this party pack from Tastefully Simple!  Click {here} to enter the giveaway! Drawing ends on June 6th, so hurry up!

For ordering information, please contact Melissa Kroft, Independent Consultant ID# 0060063 at or email her at She will be more then happy to hook you up with all of your needs or set you up with a local consultant in your area.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Spinach and Herb" Green Beans

Going along with my awesome giveaway for a Party Pack from Tastefully Simple, all week I am going to feature recipes using different Tastefully Simple products.  Today I am featuring the Spinach and Herb Dip Mix.  Although it makes a wonderful dip for veggies and pita chips, I tend to use it most often as seasoning while I cook- especially in the cooler months when fresh herbs aren't as plentiful.

There is tons of flavor in this seasoning mix, combining spinach flakes, onion, minced green onion, dill and garlic, making it completely versatile in cooking.  There is also only a very, very small amount of salt, so you can pretty much season your food as you would do so normally without worrying about sodium overload.  Love that!  It is also completely All Natural- no additives to get in the way of a healthy meal.

This quick recipe for green beans was a huge hit at Easter Dinner.  Everyone loved them.  The left overs (if you have any) are wonderful cold, tossed into a green leafy salad with a lemony vinaigrette.  Yum!

"Spinach and Herb" Green Beans
1 lb green beans, steam-end snipped
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 whole shallots, diced
1 Tablespoon Spinach and Herb Dip Mix, like Tastefully Simple's
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large rimmed saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft and translucent. Remove shallots from pan and set aside. Add green beans to pan and enough water to come up half way on the green beans. Cover and steam until beans are crisp-tender and bright green in color. Drain beans and return to pan. Add remaining olive oil, shallots, Spinach and Herb Dip Mix and stir to combine. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.  Sauté 3 minutes to allow spices to rehydrate and flavors to combine.  Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Other suggestions for the Spinach & Herb Dip Mix
• Serve dip in a blossom of purple kale.
• Add dry mix to scrambled eggs before cooking.
• Perfect on broiled or baked fish.
• Make herb bread by adding 1–2 Tbsp. to Bountiful Beer Bread Mix®.
• Toss dry mix with cooked carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.
• Add prepared dip to seafood pasta salad.
• Toss with hot, cooked fettuccine noodles.
• Spread prepared dip on finger sandwiches.
• Dollop prepared dip on baked potatoes.
• Sprinkle on cottage cheese.
• Look for more recipes at

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win this party pack from Tastefully Simple!  Click {here} to enter the giveaway!  Drawing ends on June 6th, so hurry up!

For ordering information, please contact Melissa Kroft Independent Consultant ID# 0060063 at  or email her at  She will be more then happy to hook you up with all of your needs or set you up with a local consultant in your area. 


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