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Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

27 Jan

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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.

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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.

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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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

15 Nov

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One of my college roommates introduced me to roasted pumpkin seeds and now I’m quite the pumpkin seed hoarder. Just a warning, if I know you’re carving a pumpkin, I’m probably going to ask you for your seeds. This Halloween, I had a few people who donated their jack-o-lantern seeds for a good cause, aka my cravings.

This recipe is my favorite – very similar to my roomie’s recipe. The seeds are crisp but still a bit chewy and have a buttery and slightly salty flavor going on. And if you’ve never eaten pumpkin seeds before, fear not! Here’s the scoop. You can actually eat the whole thing instead of spitting out the shells like with sunflower seeds, but if it’s too chewy for your liking, you can remove the shells.

I know we’re past pumpkin carving season now, but next year you’ll have to give these a try and get hooked on this savory snack. Just try not to become too much of a seed hoarder…

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Yield: 2 cups

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Rinse the seeds well. Boil them in salted water for 10 minutes. Dry the seeds slightly and place them in a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a bowl and add the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and garlic powder. Pour this mixture over the seeds and mix to evenly coat.

Bake the seeds on a cookie sheet for about 2 hours, stirring at least every half hour, until they’re crispy. Store in a airtight container and enjoy!

Source: A Beckster Original

Italian Quesadillas

9 Sep

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Don’t you love it when you rummage through your fridge for something to toss together and it turns out amazing? This is totally one of those dishes. The other day I grabbed some pesto sauce, mozzarella, sliced baby portobellos, and thinly sliced salami and tossed it on some leftover tortillas to create an Italian style quesadilla. The results were delicious!

The tortilla was the perfect vehicle to get a crispy exterior while the cheese inside got nice and melty. The meaty mushrooms combined with the salami and basil pesto worked perfectly together. I was also thinking that these ingredients would make for a great panini sandwich too! Maybe next time…

Italian Quesadillas

Ingredients:
2 flour tortillas
2 Tbsp pesto sauce
8 thin slices of salami
About 10 slices of baby portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Yield: 2 fold-over quesadillas

Directions:
Spread a Tablespoon of pesto sauce on each tortilla. Arrange 4 slices of salami and half of the mushroom slices on each tortilla and divide the mozzarella between the two. Heat a large pan on medium heat and place one tortilla in the pan, toppings side up of course. Let it sit until the cheese starts to melt a little. Fold the tortilla in half and continue to cook for a minute until tortilla is crispy and cheese is melted. Flip it over and heat the other side for a minute. Serve while hot and cut in half if wanted.

Source: A Beckster Original

Bourbon Blondie Bars

14 Jun

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I’ve had these bars on my mind for a while now and just happened to have them on National Bourbon Day! What an awesome coincidence – I seriously had no idea. This recipe comes from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, which was a gift from a lovely friend of mine from her last trip to Savannah, GA. Besides visiting The Lady and Sons and innocently stalking Paula Deen, this is the one of the main places I’m dying to go when I hopefully visit the town of Savannah someday. The whole cookbook is full of amazing cakes, cookies, and more.

I decided to swap the chocolate chips for pretzel pieces, to give it even more of a sweet and salty crunch. I also added a touch of cinnamon, which I thought would blend well with the bourbon. When I tasted the bars last night, the bourbon was noticeable but not super strong. But I guess these are one of those things that ages well, because I swear the bourbon is MUCH stronger today! But no complaints here. 🙂

Bourbon Blondie Bars

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp bourbon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pretzels

Yield: 12 large or 24 small bars

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2 baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Put the melted butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth and combined. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, mixing until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Then add the pecans, coconut, and pretzel pieces and mix together until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula until it’s evenly distributed. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Cut the blondies into bars and enjoy! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days.

Source: Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Homemade Granola

3 Jun

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Oh friends, I’ve found another awesome homemade food that the store bought version can’t hold a candle to. I’ve always just bought a box of granola at the store to mix with my yogurt and various things. Then I decided to try my hand at making it myself and wow – it’s delicious, SO easy, and a fraction of the cost.

One of the lovely things about this recipe is that you can use whatever kinds of nuts you prefer or have on hand. I have some yummy pecans that I’m planning to toss into an upcoming batch. Also after the granola is baked and cooled, you can toss in some toasted coconut, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or anything else that your granola loving heart desires.

Homemade Granola

Ingredients: 
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup sliced almonds (or another nut of choice)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp maple syrup

Yield: 5-6 cups

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with a Silpat/nonstick liner.

Combine the oats, nuts, brown sugar, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until mixed well.

Place butter in microwave safe bowl. Heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the maple syrup and add it to the oat mixture. Mix together until moistened. Spread the mixture onto the prepared pan and pat down.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a spatula to move the granola around and expose pieces that were underneath. Bake an additional 15 minutes longer, or until the granola is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

If wanting to add other things: when granola is cooled, scrape it into a bowl, add other ingredients, and mix until fully incorporated. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Source: Slightly adapted from Recipe Girl

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

4 Sep

This dip has become a staple at gatherings on my side of the family. I’ve made it several times, always intending to snap a few photos before eating, but then forgetting until after it’s been demolished.

So yesterday, while celebrating the holiday as well as a few birthdays and my parents’ 30th anniversary, (which is today – congrats yall!) I had another chance to capture this tasty dip. Yes, a few bites had already been taken at this point. But nonetheless, here is the spinach artichoke dip that’s won over the hearts and stomachs of my family. My younger brother even agreed to be my hand model. (thanks Matt!)

This dip is the perfect thing to make and bring as an appetizer for a group. It is creamy, cheesy, and still feels a tad healthy with the spinach and artichoke. Dig in with some tortilla chips, pretzels, crackers, or pita chips and you’ll have some happy guests and a requested repeat dish!

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1 Tbsp butter
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese (low fat if wanted)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
Chips for dipping

Directions:
Let the frozen spinach defrost or microwave it until defrosted. Squeeze out as much water as possible and set aside.

Melt the butter in a nonstick pot over medium heat. Add the cream cheese and garlic and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until the cream cheese melts. Stir in the spinach, chopped artichokes, sour cream, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese melts and mixture is fully combined.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish. (I used a 9 inch baking dish) Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes or until dip is hot and cheese is getting browned and bubbly. Serve immediately with chips or crackers for dipping.

Source: Slightly adapted from My Recipes

Mango Pico de Gallo

5 Jun

I never used to be a big lover of pico de gallo, but now I’m a huge fan. It’s such a delicious healthy addition to any meal. The traditional style is great, but this mango version is perfect for the summer with it’s fresh fruity flavor. Pile it on top of a taco or simply scoop it up with tortilla chips and you’re in for a tasty treat!

Mango Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 red onion, diced
1 small jalapeño, deseeded and minced
2 mangos, chopped
Juice from one lime
Cilantro
Dash of salt

Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Add additional salt or cilantro to your liking. Refrigerate until ready to serve and enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from A Zesty Bite