Monthly Archives: June 2010

Baked veggie egg rolls


I travel a lot for work, and frequently spend Monday through Friday in a small town with a Best Western or Holiday Inn and a few chain restaurants. But one thing I’ve found is that no matter where you are in Wisconsin, no matter how small the town, there is a Chinese restaurant nearby.

Eau Claire, for instance, has a large Hmong population.  Hmong beans and sprouts are typical grocery fare, which recently inspired me to grow my own bean sprouts. It’s super easy and they’re a delicious, nutritious crunch on sandwiches or in stirfries.  However, like a typical middle American, my favorite way to eat them is wrapped in carbs and deep-fried– egg rolls!

But I prefer my egg rolls vegetarian. Small pieces of minced mystery meat has never excited me particularly. And really, why couldn’t one bake egg rolls? Why must they go for a swim in a large vat of hot oil? Couldn’t they simply be brushed with some oil and put in a very hot oven instead? For heaven’s sake, why not?! 


In stepped my father-in-law’s favorite TV chef, Emeril. I didn’t follow Emeril’s recipe exactly- no pork or cilantro, sauteed the sprouts with the rest of the veggies, no fancy dipping sauces- but I did use his step-by-step instructions for wrapping and baking the rolls. I ate these with a mixture of soy sauce, teriyaki, and a few tiny drops of oyster sauce stirred in.

Overall, these were really tasty, easy to prepare considering they’re egg rolls, and they freeze REALLY well.  I’ve got a bag in my freezer and it’s easy to pop them in a hot oven for an afternoon snack or quick meal.


Baked vegetarian egg rolls
Inspired by Emeril’s baked egg rolls

1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 pound nappa cabbage,  outer leaves removed and rinsed well
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cup finely chopped green onions (green and white parts)
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
Twenty 6-inch square egg roll wrappers (about 1 package)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the soy sauce in a small bowl and stir well to dissolve.

Stack the cabbage leaves on top of each other. Trim off and discard the bottom 3 inches of the leaves. Roll the leaves up tightly and slice into long thin strips. (This should yield about 5 loosely packed cups.)

Heat the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the cabbage, salt, and cayenne and stir-fry until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the green onions, carrots, garlic, sprouts, and sesame oil and continue cooking until just slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir well to blend and thicken, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Transfer to a wide bowl and let cool completely.

Pour ½ cup water into a small bowl and place next to your work area. Lay 1 egg roll wrapper on the work surface, with one of the points toward you. Dip a finger in the water and wet the edges of the wrapper. Put 1/4 cup of the veggie filling just below the center of the wrapper, above the bottom point. Pull the bottom point up over the filling, fold over the sides, and roll up to completely enclose the filling. Place seam side down on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining wrappers and filling.

(Note: If the egg rolls will not be cooked right away, lightly dust them with cornstarch to prevent them from sticking together, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the egg rolls on all sides with the vegetable oil and place on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Bake the egg rolls for about 20 minutes, or until they are light brown and crispy on the outside, turning them over and rotating the baking sheet once.

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Filed under Main dishes, Side dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Popping my ‘beet’ cherry

The only beets I’d had in the past were those gelatinous, perfectly round wobbly red discs that come out of a can. I was little and had to try a bite during Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ before I could eat my cookie salad.  I can’t imagine that went over very well.

But beets are in season and plentiful at the farmer’s market, and I am not one to pass up a nutritious, cheap vegetable. Besides, I have very little adventure in my life, and I figured trying beets would shake up my routine. [man, I am LAME.]

I got home and gave the beets a rinse and started my quest for an easy, safe recipe that would introduce me to the basic essence of beets. I checked out Kate’s and Elise’s sites, and was really surprised to find out that Deb doesn’t like beets. The same lady who has a scarily-long yet impressive list of vegetable recipes?! I was starting to get scared off by beets.

In the end, I decided to simply roast them with some oil and kosher salt. 99% of the directions I found for roasting beets tells you to roast them whole, then peel them afterward, and in the process, stain your fingers dark pink. But a few random places suggested peeling the beets with a potato peeler, quartering them, wrapping them cozily in little foil packets with a teensy bit of oil, and roasting for 20-30 minutes, as opposed to 30-45 minutes for whole beets. Less stainage and less roasting time? Sounds like a winner.

And like a good girl, I washed and saved my beet greens instead of adding them to the compost pile– they will be a great addition to my green monsters this week. :)

The verdict: surprisingly good! They smell like a combination of roasted broccoli, corn, and carrots, and taste like it too… except with an almost potato-like consistency. Oh, and they look like they’re bleeding, which is slightly creepy. However, at $1 for a large bunch of beets, easy prep and cooking, and a handful of recipes I want to try, I will definitely be stocking up on these in the coming months.


Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Side dishes, Vegetables

rhubarb-strawberry cocktail


YES, more rhubarb.  This is not just a shallow crush, some fickle spring-fling sort of deal.  I have an honest love affair with rhubarb.  Deal with it.

I recommend using clear rum, though I’ve seen recipes that use vodka and even gin. If using those, I’d suggest lime juice instead of lemon, and definitely use more sugar in the syrup if using vodka.  I personally always have clear rum around the house in the summer for mojitos… *hint hint!*

Rhubarb-Strawberry Syrup and Cocktails
source: my imagination and tastebuds
Serves: about 3 generous drinks

1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
2 c. chopped rhubarb
couple of strawberries
1 T. lemon juice

Bring all ingredients to a slow boil while stirring frequently. Let the mixture stew for 15 minutes on medium; stir occasionally.  Use a heavy spoon to gradually smash up some of the fruit. Pour this through a fine strainer and use your spoon to press out as much of the liquid as possible.  Let this cool to room temperature.

Fill a tumbler or goblet (fancy shmancy!) with ice. Pour in one ounce clear rum (or liquor of choice), two ounces of the rhubarb syrup, and two ounces of lemon-lime soda (like sierra mist or 7up).  Poke the ice cubes to mix gently. You can add more syrup if you want it sweeter, or more 7up to make it fizzier and less “buzzy”. Looks really pretty garnished with a strawberry on the rim. :)

Coming soon:  Hard Rhubarb Lemonade and Strawberry Rhubarb Mojitos!


Filed under Beverage, Spring, Summer, Vegetables

perfect hamburger buns

Recipe and rant from

“Most of us do not consider how many chemicals we take into our bodies. We watch fats, and eat healthy, but when you are buying prepared foods, like bread, you are getting all kinds of things that are unpronounceable. Even if you are not eating organic (and I really encourage you to do so as much as you can) making your own foods will keep many chemicals out of your family’s bodies.”

I like that little rant. But mostly, I like making my own breads at home. It’s easy and cheap. The majority of the time required is hands-off, as you can knead the dough in a mixer or bread maker, and rising time is the perfect time to start on supper / clean the house / pour a drink / take a nap / all of the above. I like eating things that I know weren’t made in a factory, put in oil-based plastic bags, trucked all over in diesel trucks, and stored for a week or two before being put on the grocery store shelf for me to eat.

Anyway. The recipe rocks. Make these, I implore. (They’re better than Sara Lee, that’s for sure.)

Homemade Hot Dog or Hamburger Buns

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, whole wheat, or a mix) –I use half whole wheat pastry flour, half AP/high-gluten mix flour.
1 package instant yeast
1 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, room temperature

Heat the milk, water, honey and butter until butter is melted. Check temperature. Depending on the temperature, let cool to 120F. Carefully beat in egg.

Mix 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix into the milk mixture. Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition.
When the dough pulls together into a soft ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 5 minutes. (Alternately, you could mix the recipe in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, and once the flour is in, switch to the dough hook instead of kneading.)

Divide dough into 12 -16 equal pieces. This will depend on the size you want for the finished bun. (I usually get 10-14). Shape into smooth balls, flatten slightly, and place on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet. Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes. When buns have almost doubled, bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

You can brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse sea salt, or whatever you like. You can add dry onion soup mix for onion rolls. These are very versatile!

For the record, this is my recipe #1 that I have perfected and recorded for my 101 in 1001!

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Filed under 101 in 1001, Breads

cute corners

My in-laws decided to visit us… with 5 days in advance, during a week I was 150 miles away. I love N’s parents, but of course, I want our house to be clean and tidy and look like a home. I don’t want them to bear witness to the layer of cat hair that accumulates on every carpet, the junk that gets piled in random corners, the stains on the carpet.

I had three places I wanted to decorate before they arrived, and I’m happy to report that even though I was traveling for work, I was able to make it work.

*I am not a photographer with a measly P&S (point and shoot). Don’t judge… I swear it’s all cuter in person!

The Hallway
We have a wider-than-normal hallway that attached our kitchen and living areas to the stairs. It generally is bare, but it used to be a gathering point for lots of stuff.



love these two little beauts.

On the way upstairs we pass some art…

The upstairs nook
Perfect storage place for dust, hangers, and the occasional hammer or book. Now, a focal point between the two bedrooms.

an antique-store globe; porcelain birds protect some favorite titles; more birds in front of a bridge.

The bare bedroom wall
I don’t like bare walls. I really wanted to put the letters above our bed, but the slanty ceilings in our upstairs make that difficult. The large bare  wall next to the bed was a perfect compromise.

ignore the shotgun- not part of the planned decor.

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Filed under house

Blueberry muffins [a repeat of a good thing]

Remember these muffins?

Imagine them with blueberries. Now wipe the drool from your face.

Follow the recipe except use blueberry yogurt and a pint of blueberries. Do not skip the butter/sugar topping if you know what is best for you. Eat and be happy. :)

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Breakfast, Summer

bear with me

Bear with me while I am away from posting. I’m not particularly consistent, but I’m working on it. Life goes in and out of overwhelmingly crazy and horribly slow. I have half a dozen drafts of posts waiting for me to finish, but work is demanding, the building project is demanding, and all I want to do is sleep.

So hang with me. There will be more soon. I promise.

For now, here is a lovely rustic loaf of sourdough that is begging for admiration.

Oooh. Ahhh. :)

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Filed under Just a Thought