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Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

27 Jan


My love for Southwestern style egg rolls started a few years ago when our restaurant at work had them on the menu. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on that crunchy exterior filled with spicy goodness, dipped in a zesty sauce.


Sadly we don’t serve those egg rolls anymore, so I just decided to make my own version! The main difference is that these are baked rather than fried. You don’t get quite the same texture on the outside, but they’re still plenty crispy. One nice thing is that you can customize these with whatever flavors and ingredients you prefer or have on hand. You could sub beef for the chicken or load on the veggies and go totally vegetarian. Or if you’re a spicy natured person, add some peppers and extra spices to kick it up a notch.


Feel free to eat these plain, but I definitely suggest dipping them in something. You could stick with a simple salsa or guacamole or go with a zesty creamy choice like a salsa/sour cream combo or some salsa/ranch dressing mixed together. Just some food for thought – enjoy!!

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

1/2 bag frozen corn, thawed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
1 package egg roll wrappers
Water for sealing edges

Yield: 1 dozen

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with silicone liner or spray with non-stick spray.

Combine all of the ingredients (except the wrappers of course!) into a large bowl and mix until fully combined. Lay out an egg roll wrapper in a diamond shape and put about 1/4 cup of the filling in the center. Have a small bowl with water nearby and use a brush to line the edges with water to make them stick.

To roll the egg rolls: fold the bottom up to cover the filling, fold the sides in tightly, then roll it up tightly and press the edges to seal. (or see the package for instructions!) Lay the folded egg rolls on the baking sheet, seam side down, and spray/brush the tops with a little olive oil.

Put them in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they’re light brown. Serve while warm with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Nutritious Eats

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

12 Aug


A few years back, myself and a group of girlfriends would get together often at one of our houses for a girl’s night. Every once in a while, we’d get some Vietnamese food from a place in Fort Worth, either via take out or dining in. My absolute favorite thing to get were the shrimp spring rolls with a peanut dipping sauce. I would order a double serving and call it a meal!

Eventually the group unofficially ended because several of us were moving to different states/cities and pursuing new and exciting things. I look back fondly on those times and it’s crazy to see how different our lives are now. Lots of new adventures, jobs, marriages, and babies!

In honor of my fabulous female friends, I made some homemade spring rolls with a spicy peanut sauce during my recent Asian cuisine phase. I used some shredded chicken, but you can definitely use shrimp instead or make an all veggie version. The rice papers were fun to work with and after a few tries, I got the hang of folding them. But just a warning – don’t leave the rice papers in the warm water for too long, otherwise they’ll get too soft and sticky and will tear when you try to fold them. (I learned this the hard way) There are a lot of good photo and video tutorials out there; Not Enough Cinnamon has a good step by step demo too.

Besides the meat variations, you can toss in whatever vegetables you prefer. I saw some recipes that used cabbage instead of lettuce, and some that added fresh mint or cucumber too. The peanut sauce is such a perfect addition. You can turn up the heat or leave it more subtle, depending on how much sriracha you want to add. These rolls are much easier to make than they look, so muster up the courage to give them a shot and enjoy!

Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Rice papers/wrappers
1 cup cooked vermicelli rice noodles
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
1 cup lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
A few dashes of sriracha sauce (to taste – can add more if wanted!)

Yield: 4+ rolls

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Take a rice paper and dip the entire sheet into the bowl of water and pull out immediately. The rice paper may still feel hard now, but it will soften up while you work with it.

Lay the rice paper out flat. Place a little of each filling ingredient on the middle of the rice paper sheet. Use a good amount, but make sure there are still a couple of inches around the edges to roll.

First fold in the sides of the rice paper. Then fold the top part of the rice paper sheet over the ingredients. Tuck in the fillings and roll the rest tightly. Repeat the above until you run out of filling ingredients.

To make the peanut sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well combined and use as a dipping sauce for the spring rolls.

Source: Adapted from Spoonful of Sugar Free

Thai Chicken Pizza

19 Jul


Friday has always been pizza day in my home – we had pizza for dinner every Friday night growing up and I’ve still carried on that tradition. I bookmarked this recipe for Thai Chicken Pizza a while back and knew it was the perfect fit for pizza Friday of Asian week.

I always use my favorite homemade crust (I’ll post that recipe one of these days!) but you can use store bought or whatever recipe you like. Just a tip, because my crust used to sometimes be too soft and flimsy: to get a crispier crust, I actually bake the rolled out dough by itself for 3-4 minutes before adding the toppings.

The sweet chili sauce makes for a nice tangy base. Then lay out a layer of the sliced zucchini and load on the cheese, peppers, shallot, and chicken. If you’re in a meatless mood, you could always throw in some other vegetables – I think some mushrooms would be a nice addition! When the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, take it out to cool for a minute or two, then top with some chopped cilantro, slice, serve, and enjoy!


Thai Chicken Pizza

Pizza dough (store bought or your favorite homemade recipe)
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 shallot, diced
1/2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2-3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Yield: 2-4 servings

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. (If you want a crispier crust, bake the crust alone for 3-4 minutes before topping) Spread the chili sauce over the crust in an even layer. Layer with the zucchini, cheese, shallot, peppers, and shredded chicken.

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Sprinkle with cilantro before slicing and serving.

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Homemade Orange Chicken

14 Jul


I’ve been trying out some Asian infused recipes this past week and the first thing on my docket was homemade orange chicken! This is one of my absolute go-to entree when eating Chinese food (like most people, I think!) and I thought it would be a good meal to try and attempt at home. I had no idea how this was going to turn out, but you guys, it’s amazing!!

I must warn you, it’s a little time consuming, especially if you’re making it for the first time and are constantly double checking the recipe so you don’t mess up. (that was totally me) But the end result is worth the effort and tastes just like restaurant quality. Actually…I’d argue that it’s better, because it’s super fresh and you know exactly what’s going into it, which is always a plus. I kept it simple and paired the chicken with some white rice and steamed broccoli.

By the way, don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to drizzle a few extra spoonfuls of orange sauce onto your meal. This is totally normal and definitely encouraged – the sauce is beyond delicious and was probably my favorite part of the meal. So get a little courage and spare time and treat yourself and others to an impressive homemade version of a take out favorite!

Homemade Orange Chicken

For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
Zest of 2 oranges
6 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (any kind – I used dark brown)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (plus more minced, if wanted)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups oil (I used vegetable oil, but can use canola, peanut, etc.)

Yield: 4 servings

To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well. Measure out about 1/3 cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag or a dish. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well. Or if using a dish, evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate and let it marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Place the saucepan with the remaining sauce mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add this mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy. In a second plate or bowl, combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken from the marinade in a colander or large strainer and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice and add some vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

8 Jul


Pesto sauce has become one of my favorites – between eating it with pasta, using it as a pizza sauce, and spreading it on sandwiches, I can’t get enough! This dish is a favorite simple go-to meal in my house. Just cook some jumbo pasta shells, stuff them with a combination of shredded chicken, mozzarella, and pesto, and bake them for just over 10 minutes. If you have some extra garlic on hand, feel free to add that too. (it’s hard to have too much garlic, in my opinion) You can eat them as they are or drizzle with some extra pesto sauce. Serve with a salad or vegetable and enjoy this delicious meal!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

12 jumbo pasta shells
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken (about 3 chicken breasts)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
5-6 Tbsp pesto sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan and basil for garnish (optional)

Yield: 4-6 servings (12 shells)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the jumbo shells in boiling water for 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, mozzarella, pesto sauce, salt, pepper, and additional garlic if wanted. Mix until well combined. Stuff a spoonful of the mixture into each shell. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and line up the shells. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with grated parmesan, fresh basil, or extra pesto sauce if wanted. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Source: A Beckster Original

Gnocchi with Sweet Corn, Spinach, and Chicken in Cream Sauce

24 Jun


This meal really serves up a great combination of flavors. You get a little sweetness from the corn, some hearty chicken breast, tender potato gnocchi, a bit of spinach which adds some color and extra nutrients, and a light creamy sauce to bind it all together. You could even toss in extra vegetables like mushrooms or arugula to really beef it up.

This dish is actually quite simple to make. The sauce comes together in about 10 minutes. Just boil some gnocchi and add it to the finished sauce with some frozen corn (or fresh, if you have time!), chopped or shredded chicken, and a few handfuls of fresh spinach and wait for them to wilt a bit. Dish some into a bowl, sprinkle a little parmesan on top, and you have yourself a tasty meal!

Gnocchi with Sweet Corn, Spinach, and Chicken in Cream Sauce

1/2 bag frozen sweet corn (or you can use fresh corn)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
3 cups fresh spinach, whole leaves or chopped
1 lb package of potato gnocchi
3/4 cup half and half
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Yield: 4 servings

In large pot, boil water and cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain the gnocchi, but make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. (Don’t rinse the gnocchi)

For the cream sauce, combine the half and half, cream cheese, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring until the cream cheese has evenly dispersed throughout sauce. Stir in the reserved pasta water. Add the corn and chicken and cook for a few more minutes.

Fold in the spinach and gnocchi until everything is evenly combined. Dish it up while it’s hot and top with shredded parmesan cheese if wanted. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Baking with Blondie

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

5 May


Tortilla soup has always been a favorite to eat, but I’d never made it myself! Leading up to Cinco de Mayo, I tried out a few new Tex Mex recipes, including this one for spicy chicken tortilla soup. It was love at first bite – very easy to toss together, super colorful, somewhat healthy, and has amazing flavor with all of the peppers and spices.

I slightly adapted the original recipe, excluding hominy and adding some corn and crispy tortilla strips. Side note: to make crispy tortilla strips to top your soup, simply slice a few corn tortillas into strips, put them on a lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Super simple and adds a nice texture when you dig in.


Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 cups chicken, shredded or chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, roasted and diced
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
8 cups chicken broth (2 quarts)
1 4-oz can diced green chilies
1 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 14-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
4 corn tortillas, cut into strips (plus more if making crispy strips)
Juice of 2 limes
Shredded monterey jack cheese, optional for serving
Chopped cilantro, optional for serving
Sour cream, optional for serving

Yield: Serves 6-8

First, roast the poblano pepper over a burner on a gas range stove or under the broiler. You want the pepper to be very dark and charred— almost black. Set aside on a plate to cool then dice. (you can either leave or remove the seeds)

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Once hot, add the diced onion and jalapeno and cook for five minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and diced poblano pepper and cook for another minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, and coriander and mix until well combined.

Pour in the chicken stock and add the tomatoes, corn, black beans, green chilies, chicken, and salt. Bring to a boil.

Finally, add the regular tortilla strips and lime juice and cook until tortillas soften. Serve with chopped cilantro and shredded cheese, plus crispy tortilla strips and sour cream if wanted.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eat Live Run