Simply Sweet Home

Recipes, Decor, Crafts, Product Reviews, Giveaways and more.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fun Quiz: What kind of Flower Are You?

Here's something kind of fun for you. I found a link to this quiz on 3 Sides of Crazy. I found it interesting because the description fits me exactly. In fact, I should have known I'd be a "shy violet," before I even took the thing!

Here were my results:
"You have a shy personality. You tend to hesitate before trying new things or meeting new people. But once people get to know you, you open up and show the world what you are really all about."

(They left out pensive and overly analytical and cautious. But then again, maybe that's just me! )

I am a

What Flower
Are You?


Works for Me Wednesday: Bundinos, A New Snack to Try

Hello everyone. For the first time, I'm doing a Works for Wednesday post. It is a blog carnival on Rocks in my Dryer. Since I already have MPM, Recipe of the Week, and other posts to do every week, for right now I won't be participating in WFMW every week, but I'll try to participate as much as I can.

For this post, I wanted to introduce a new product to you. It is called Bundinos, and it is found in the frozen section. After a little research I found that these are made from the same company that makes Michelina's frozen dinners, which has a great line of frozen pastas.

Bundinos are sort of a cross between mini pizza rolls and hot pockets. They are essentially meat, cheese, and other fillings inside of grilled, oven-baked bread. They are a little over in an inch wide in diameter, and they are a great for a quick, tasty, mess-free snack. They are also reasonably priced at a little over $2 for a box of 9.

There were a few flavors available (and sorry I can't remember them all). But I purchased the Chicken, Swiss, and Ham flavor, and I was highly impressed. The cheese was very creamy, and all the ingredients had a great taste. And unlike a lot of these kind of snacks, none of the filling leaked out during the cooking process, nor did it ooze out after being bitten into. So you don't have to worry about a mess, and you can cook them up in 2 minutes or less.

Usually I'm a little picky about microwaved foods, but these were a great value, and I'll definitely buy again! They were very flavorful and different, and I think they're great for a quick snack or meal. And I think the kids would like them too. Overall, I give them 5 stars out of 5.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for April 28

Last week of April already? how the year is flying by. This week I've included a recipe for Chicken Taco Soup, sort of a variation on another recipe that I came up with. And I've included a link to a recipe for Cheesy Chicken w/ Pasta. Happy Meal Planning!

Monday- Grilled Ham, Turkey, and Cheese Sandwiches w/ french fries
Tuesday- Chicken Taco Soup w/ chips (recipe below)
Wednesday - Cheesy Chicken w/ Pasta & steamed veggies
Thursday - Leftover soup and fajitas
Friday - Lemon pepper porkchops, herb rice, and green beans
Saturday - Pizza
Sunday - eating out...I'm thinking Chinese

Chicken Taco Soup

A while back I decided to take a casserole recipe and change it up a bit to make a soup/stew. My husband loves the casserole and was very surprised and impressed by the soup. This is very tasty recipe for anyone who likes spicy food.

I must confess, I didn't write down how much salsa I used in the soup. I believe I mixed in a cup and then added more without measuring, so I just made an estimate here. But my dad always lived by the rule that "a recipe is just a suggestion," and I like that rule. The amount of salsa used for this recipe is really an issue of personal preference, so I think you can be your own judge.

2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans Tyson all white chicken breast (or 3-4 cooked chicken breasts, chopped)
1 1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 tablespoon chilipowder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 to 1 3/4 cups of salsa (depending on your preference for spicy stuff, and on how thick you want the soup to be.)
2 cups cheese
1 can rotel tomatoes (optional)

Mix all ingredients together, heat to boiling, then lower the heat, stirring occasionally till the mixture is cooked through. Serve with chips, and top with cheese, sour cream, and/or salsa if desired.

Visit for other ideas and more info on MPM.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Bacon, Caesar, and Mozarella Panini

In case anyone was wondering, the reason I didn't post anything for Menu Plan Monday this week is because my husband is out of town for half of this week. Since it's just me here, I didn't really have a need to plan a big menu. But MPM will be back again for this upcoming week.

In the meantime, here is this week's recipe of the week. This was a featured recipe on recently. These are great for a snack, appetizer, or quick lunch and dinner. And since I'm on my own this week, it seemed like an easy and tasty meal for me to make for myself. Yum!

1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated classic pizza crust
4 teaspoons basil pesto
1/4 cup Caesar dressing (creamy or vinaigrette style)
8 oz water-packed fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into 8 slices, or 8 slices (1 oz each) regular mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 slices cooked bacon
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices
8 large fresh basil leaves
1/4cup Butter

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray large cookie sheet with CRISCO® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Unroll pizza crust dough on cookie sheet; press dough into 16x11-inch rectangle, pulling dough gently if necessary. Bake 9 to 16 minutes or until light brown. Cool about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
2. Cut cooled pizza crust in half lengthwise and crosswise to make 4 rectangles. Remove rectangles from cookie sheet; cut each rectangle in half crosswise for a total of 8 squares.
3. On each of 4 crust slices, spread 1 teaspoon pesto; set aside. On each of remaining 4 slices, spread 1 tablespoon Caesar dressing. Place 2 cheese slices on each crust slice with Caesar dressing. Top cheese with pepper, 3 bacon slices, 2 tomato slices and 2 basil leaves. Top with remaining crust slices, pesto sides down.
4. Heat 12-inch skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in skillet. Place 2 sandwiches in skillet. Place smaller skillet or saucepan on sandwiches to flatten slightly; keep skillet on sandwiches while cooking. Cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until bread is golden brown and crisp and fillings are heated. Remove from skillet; cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sandwiches.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sweet Thursday: The Great Powdered Donut Experiment

I realize that the posts on spring cleaning, taxes, and other stuff have caused me to neglect my Sweet Thursday posts, so I decided to do one for this week. And I honestly couldn't decide what to post on for the longest, and then I got inspired this morning and decided to have some fun and do a little "taste testing."

My husband loves powdered donuts and bought a bag at the store the other day, and as I struggled to think of what I would post on today, I saw the bag of donuts on the counter and decided to be a little wacky and put some toppings on the donuts to try out. The toppings included chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, peanut butter, pancake syrup, and strawberry syrup. (yes, I just happened to have all of that on hand, and no, I don't weigh 500 pounds. But I do love ice cream and sweets, as you can probably tell! Luckily I have a high metabolism.) Well, anyway here are the "highly scientific" results of this experiment.

Chocolate Syrup Donut - This was quite good. It reminded me of a chocolate turnover in a lot of ways, and it reminded me of a lot of the chocolate desserts w/ powdered sugar that you get in resturants. I actually think you could make a plate of these, and it would be a really cute (and easy) dessert for the kids.

Caramel Syrup Donut - This was not bad, but somehow the powdered sugar just seemed to overpower the taste of the caramel. Maybe if I had some of that extra thick caramel like the kind they use at some resturants and fast food joints, it would have been better. But in this case, I wasn't very satisfied.

Peanut Butter Donut - I actually used some peanut "syrup" that they sale in a bottle for ice cream. It basically tastes just like regular peanut butter, only maybe a little sweeter. I really did this one just for fun, but it was actually a lot better than I expected. It had an "interesting" taste that I'm not sure how to explain, and it was actually one of my favorites over all.

Pancake Syrup Donut - On this one, my results are inconclusive. I didn't really care for this combination. However, this was the last thing that I tasted, and I think by that time I was getting a little "donut-ed out." Also, it may not have been the combination but the kind of syrup I used. I had a different brand of syrup from what I usually get, and incidentally I tasted the syrup by itself and didn't care much for it. So perhaps with my usual brand (log cabin) I would have liked the combination better.

Strawberry Syrup Donut - This was made with Hershey's Strawberry Syrup, which I highly recommend to you, if you've never tried it. (by the way, add it to vanilla ice cream and milk for an awesome strawberry shake!) But back to the donuts, I figured that the strawberry syrup would taste good. I mean, if donuts, strawberry, and powdered sugar can't go together, what can? I'm usually more of a chocolate person myself, but I actually liked this better than the chocolate. It reminded me of strawberry shortcake. In fact, I imagine you could top these donuts with a little bit of strawberry syrup, a handful of strawberries, and a little whipped cream, and it would be excellent. So....yeah, I think this was probably the best overall. And again, you could make a tray of these, and it would look like a bunch of little gourmet desserts.

All in all, this was a fun little activity, and the food wasn't too bad either. If you like powdered donuts, you might want to give it a try. Hope you guys enjoyed the post!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Need a Virtual Assistant or a Writer? I'm hiring myself out.

Hey guys. For a while, I've been thinking a lot about home businesses. I don't have kids yet, but I do have hopes of being a stay at home mom. My mother stayed home with me when I was a kid, and I feel that it's important, and it's just something I want to do.

At the same time, I'd like the opportunity to make money. Money isn't everything, but in this day and age, it's just about the closest thing to air. So over the past several months I've been contemplating & considering different business ideas. I've come up with several ideas, some of which I may try if I can get the money & "stuff" I need (& assuming I have the time). But for right now I've decided to try this one.

I enjoy writing and I've had a lot of experience with writing & I've also worked in business for several years, so I decided to set up a website (actually a blog) to market my skills as a writer and an virtual assistant. I'm still in the process of working out all the details and deciding exactly what I'm going to do. (in fact I haven't even posted all my virtual assistant information yet) But I wanted to go ahead and sort of introduce the concept here and hopefully get some input from you guys.

For more details on this, visit

If you need help with anything for your home office, your small business, or your personal blog/website, I'd love for you to hire me. Or if you know somebody that's looking to hire a virtual assistant (for online or offline tasks), a copywriter, or anything along those lines, please send them my way. (and I'll come up with some way to thank you later!)

When I have more details up on the website, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I invite you to check out and let me know what you think.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 21, 2008

In Celebration of National Poetry Month, I Present Some My Favorite Poems

Hello Everyone! Since I'm a big literature fan, and because April is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite poems with you guys.

Poetry may not have anything to do with recipes, organizing, housekeeping or any of the other things I usually blog about, but poetry, art, music, and literature is good for the soul.

Poetry is a great escape from the troubles and day to day struggles of our lives and our world. It gives us the opportunity to explore the past and present, to learn new things about ourselves, and gain insight into the human condition.

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

Bright Star by John Keats

The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

The Widow's Lament in Springtime by Wiliam Carlos Willaims

To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick

Loveliest of Trees by A.E. Housman

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd by Sir Walter Raleigh

The Mending Wall by Robert Frost

The Lamb by William Blake

The Tiger by William Blake

Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

Mr. Flood's Party by E.A. Robinson

Miniver Cheevy by E.A. Robinson


Friday, April 18, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Banana Split Cupcakes

Here's another yummy cupcake recipe, courtesy of Taste of Home. And that's all I've got to say about that!

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 milk chocolate bars (1.55 ounces each) broken into squares, divided

1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
12 maraschino cherries with stems

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the banana, butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients; stir just until combined. Fold in the nuts. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each paper-lined muffin cup. Top each with one candy bar square. Fill the remainder of the cup two-thirds full with batter.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. In a microwave, melt the remaining candy bar squares; drizzle over frosting. Top each with a cherry. Yield: 1 dozen.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Send & Recieve Money for Free, Get a $25 Bonus, & Help Me at the Same Time

Hey Everyone. Near the top of my blog on the right hand sign, you'll find a green graphic that says, "Sign Up Now & Get $25." I don't usually talk much about affiliate programs that I link up to on my site, but this is a pretty good program, so I wanted to mention it.

I just signed up for Revolution Moneyexchange. It is a program that is very similar to paypal. Basically you sign up and your account is linked to a bank account, and you send and recieve money for free. (use it to make purchases online, request money from online customers, or send and recieve money from a friend or family member without making a trip to the bank)

When you sign up, you automatically receive $25 in your account. Plus they currently have a refer-a-friend program. For every person that you refer by email or via your blog or website, you'll recieve $10. (not too shabby)

I don't know about you, but I can always use a little extra cash, and it also doesn't hurt to have an alternative to paypal either. So please click on the graphic near the top, right hand side of my blog and sign up. It takes less than 5 minutes, and we'll both get paid!

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Cleaning: The Living Room & Den, Part 2

Just a few more cleaning tips to spruce up you living room area and den:

-Dusting: Remove items from your entertainment center, coffee table, etc. and dust your furniture to give it a clean shine and eliminate allergens. Also, take a moment to dust picture frames and knick knacks, and dust/clean lamps, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures.

-Eliminate Clutter by Creating a Space - De-clutter your living room by creating a space for room-cluttering items. Purchase a media cabinet for movies, video games, etc. Purchase a toy box for quick storage of kid's toys in the living room. Or purcahse a hall tree to hang coats, umbrellas, etc.

-De-clutter by getting rid of unwanted knick knacks and decor.

-Controllers and game clutter- Come up with a place to store video game controllers and tv remotes so that they are out of the way. Perhaps place them in a special bin or basket that looks nice or hide them away in a media cabinet.

Creating a work & hobby space - If your living room is used as a game room, hobby room, or work space, or home office/family computer area, create a designated space that is just for this purpose (perhaps in the corner), and make an effort to de-clutter and organize it.

-Windows - Take down curtains and blinds to be cleaned. Use a vacuum to clean the base of the window. Wash windows inside and out.

-Spruce up walls - Dust walls with a swiffer, wipe down base boards, and touch up scuff marks. And get rid of cobwebs in the corners.

-Rearrange: Change the look of your living room by rearranging picture frames, decor, or furniture.
-Mats & Rugs - Clean or replace rugs and mats in your living room area, especially those in high traffic areas and doorways.

Related Articles:
Creating a Shoe Station

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for April 14

Monday - Ranch Chicken w/ herb rice & veggies
Tuesday - Country Fried steak, mashed potatoes & gravy, peas
Wednesday - Cheeseburger macaroni, corn, veggies
Thursday - Chicken Quesadillas
Friday - Chicken pot pies (& any leftover vegetables)
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - Tilapia Filets w/ french fries, potato salad, hush puppies
For other great menu choices, visit


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

This week I'm on a new recipe "kick" so to speak, and I've found a bunch of new, tasty things to try over the next few weeks, including this lovely cupcake recipe from Kraft. I'm an absoulte cheesecake fanatic and I love lemon pies and cakes too, so I think the combination of these two flavors into a cupcake is just awesome.

1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 pkg. (4-serving) JELL-O Lemon Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 cup water
4 egg whites
2 Tbsp. oil
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

PREHEAT oven to 350ºF. Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, egg whites and oil in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. (Batter will be thick.) Beat on medium speed 2 min. Spoon batter evenly into 24 paper-lined 2-1/2-inch muffin cups.
BAKE 21 to 24 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min.; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.
MEANWHILE, beat sugar, cream cheese, butter and juice with electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Frost cupcakes.

Labels: ,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Cleaning: The Living Room & Den, Part 1

When I think of spring cleaning, the living room/den area isn't the first place that comes to my mind. I think this is because we typically don't store things that get cluttered and need organizing in this room. And speaking for myself, I do a little bit of cleaning every day in the living room, sort of a "clean as you go" plan. Also, I think sometimes everyday-clutter has a tendency to just be natural to us. (like kid's toys)
But I think that since we spend so much time in this room, (particularly our leisure time), we should make a special effort to keep it as clean as possible (while still maintaining a comfortable & relaxing atmosphere). So I got to thinking about some different ways to approach spring cleaning in the living area.

-Cleaning Carpets & Upholstery: Run the vacuum over your carpets and furniture upholstery. Use the hose and an attachment to get in between and behind cushions. If the cushions can be removed, take them off the couch and vacuum the bottom side of the cushions as well as the entire area underneath the cushions. If applicable, consider flipping the cushions over before placing them back on the couch. Take cushions outside for a while to let them air out, or sprinkle baking soda or fabric refresher on cushions before vacuuming to eliminate odors. To eliminate odors on carpets, sprinkle baking soda and leave it overnight. Then vacuum the next day.

-Afghans & throw pillows - If cleaning instructions allow, place these in the washing machine. Or take them to be professionally cleaned. Place throws and pillows that you do not plan to use again till next winter in a vacuum storage bag or other water-proof, moisture-proof container and store them in a closet, under a bed, or in the attic. -Buy or Rent a carpet cleaning machine: Once or twice a year my dad shampoos his carpets with a professional carpet cleaning machine. If you can't afford one of these, you can rent one to use. They work extremely well, and you won't believe how much dirt they keep up. And your carpets will look great. You also hire someone to professionally clean your carpets, but it's much more cost efficient to do it yourself.

Related Articles:
Indoor Air Quality Articles
Eliminating Odors

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spring Cleaning Must-Dos

Some of us don't have the time (or the energy) to thoroughly clean up during the spring cleaning season, but the truth is that a lot of clutter can get built up over the cold winter months, and even if you don't have the time to turn your house upside down this spring, you can do a lot of good by simply concentrating on a couple of problem areas. Here are a few suggestions that I consider to be must-dos for everyone's spring cleaning to-do list:

Pantry/fridge - Empty your fridge/pantry. Go through all your food, throw out items that are out of date & any items that you know will never be eaten. Wipe down shelves, drawers, and other food storage areas. Then restock and organize.

Medicine Cabinet - Clean out your medicine cabinet. De-clutter by getting rid of expired medications. Clean the shelves and any storage compartments. Rearrange your medicine cabinet to make items more accessible and easy to find.

Closet - Clean out your closet. Get rid of clothes that do not fit, or are torn, items you haven't worn in over a year, and anything else that you know you won't wear. Arrange your closet so that like items are together. Move winter coats, dresses, and other items to an extra closet if you have one, or store them in totes or "vacuum" storage bags on a shelf or under your bed. I did a post last fall on storing summer clothes for this winter. This can also be applied in the spring: Storing Clothes.

Bathroom - True, you should clean your bathroom on a regular basis anyway, but when was the last time that you cleaned it thorughly? If you do nothing else for spring cleaning, you should give your bathroom a good cleaning. Scrub your sink, shower, tub, and toilet till they shine. Take down your shower curtain and wash it in the washing machine or replace it with a new one if needed. Do the same with bathroom rugs.

These are just a few spring cleaning projects that you can do to improve your home, even if you have very little time on your hands. And if these areas aren't a problem for you, then find another problem area of your home and tackle it this spring. A little goes a long way.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for April 7

Hey everyone. Hope you all had a good weekend. I'm feeling a little more inspired this week than last week, and I've got a new recipe from Campbells, which I've included in this post for you. Happy Monday!

Monday - Hot dogs, chips, potato salad
Tuesday - Chicken & Stuffing Skillet (recipe below)
Wednesday - Meat loaf w/ mashed potatoes & peas
Thursday - Tator Tot Casserole (& any leftovers from TW)
Friday - Going out for hubby's birthday
Saturday - Grilled Chicken stuffed potatoes
Sunday - Pizza

Recipe for Chicken & Stuffing Skillet
from Campbell's Kitchen

1 tbsp. butter OR margarine
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 box (6 oz.) Pepperidge Farm® One Step Stuffing Chicken Mix
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup OR Campbell's® Condensed 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

HEAT butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 12 to 15 min. or until no longer pink. Remove chicken.

PREPARE stuffing in skillet according to package directions except let stand 2 min.

RETURN chicken to skillet. Mix soup and milk. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and heat through.

Serves 4.

TIP: Serve with steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes in vinaigrette. Celebrate the holiday season with an extra-special dessert of a fresh fruit salad--cubed red apples, pineapple chunks and green grapes-and a Pepperidge Farm® Distinctive Cookie Collection.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Pizza Melts

I was searching for some appetizers to make for lunch when I ran across this recipe for Pizza Melts from Pillsbury. Since I haven't posted a recipe of the week, I decided to share this one with you. If you like pizza, then this would be a good quick meal for you. It would also make a great party appetizer and the perfect after school snack. Follow the recipe or mix it up by adding your favorite pizza toppings, and enjoy!

2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/4 cup pizza sauce or 3 tablespoons tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano
1 package (3.5 oz) sliced pepperoni
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 cup pizza sauce, if desired

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheet. On cookie sheet, unroll 1 can of dough into 1 large rectangle. With floured rolling pin or fingers, roll or press dough into 12x9-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal.

2. Spread 1/4 cup pizza sauce over dough to within 1/4 inch of edges. Top with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.

3. On 14-inch length of parchment paper, unroll remaining can of dough. Press to make 12x9-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. While holding paper with dough, turn dough upside down to cover cheese. Remove paper. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and oregano.

4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand on cooling rack 5 to 10 minutes. Move to cutting board. Using pizza cutter, cut into 16 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally. Serve with 1 cup pizza sauce.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Rolls (for spring, get it?)

I've planned on doing a series of "spring" posts, from spring cleaning to spring decor to spring recipes. But since I did all those "informational" posts over the last week or so, I thought it would be a good idea to lighten things up with a recipe or two. And I just couldn't get spring rolls out of my head. I don't know if it's really a spring recipe, but at least spring is in the name, and besides that it makes a great appetizer and a good addition to a Chinese meal.

I haven't really done any Chinese cooking myself (at least not from scratch) but I found this recipe and a lot of other on a website called Chinese Food DIY. They seem to have a recipe for almost everything that you'd find on a Chinese buffet, so if you're interested in cooking Chinese at home, check them out.

Spring Rolls

1 tablespoon oil
2 cups your choice of meat (cooked ham, Chinese barbecued pork, raw pork, or raw chicken, cut julienne; you can also add tiny shrimp or leave out the meat entirely and substitute more vegetables)
6 Chinese dried black mushrooms, soaked to reconstitute, then cut julienne
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, cut julienne
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 small carrot, shredded
1-1/2 cups Chinese or regular green cabbage, shredded
2 scallions, shredded
1/4 cup chicken broth (or vegetarian broth for a vegetarian version)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch (corn flour)
1 package spring roll or egg roll wrappers, thawed if frozen
1 egg, beaten

1. Prepare filling: Heat oil in a wok. Add meat and stir-fry briefly (until cooked through, if raw). Add vegetables and stir-fry about 2 minutes. Combine chicken broth, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. Add to wok and stir-fry until sauce thickens. Let filling cool before filling spring rolls (refrigerate if you're in a hurry).

2. To prepare each spring roll: Position one wrapper like a diamond with one point facing you. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in a log shape across the bottom about 2" from the lowest corner. Fold the bottom corner up over the filling and tuck it behind the filling. Roll the packet up once to enclose the filling securely. Moisten the three remaining corners of the wrapper with beaten egg. Fold the left and right corners to the center and press down firmly to seal, forming an envelope. Finish rolling up, sealing the top corner. Repeat with remaining packets.

3. (Spring rolls may be prepared a few hours ahead and refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to cook. Make sure they do not touch each other or the dough will stick together.)

4. In a deep-fryer or wok, heat 4 cups of oil to 360 -375 degrees F. Deep-fry spring rolls a few at a time, until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve the spring rolls hot, whole or cut in thirds, with plum sauce as a dip.

Labels: ,