Tag Archives: vegetables

Spring Rolls

9 Jan

I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  For me, they are usually a long list of things I think I ought to do instead of the things that actually get done.  The notable exception to this is the year I resolved to pair up socks before putting them away.  Totally manageable, and not so hard to achieve and repeat.  So this year, instead of making a resolution that is hard to set into regular action, I’ve decided to give myself a challenge.  Introducing, the 2012 10 Food Challenge.  My goal is to make my way through the following two lists.

Six Items I’ve Never Made Before:
1. Beef Wellington
2. Spring Rolls
3. Non-Dairy Banana Cream Pie
4. Sunday Gravy
5. Spatchcocked Chicken
6. Croquembouche

Four Items, A Search for the Ultimate Recipe:
1. Hamburger Buns
2. Pizza Crust
3. Pizza Sauce
4. Italian Sausage, for Pizza

I’m worried about some of these more than others.  To start, I decided to tackle Spring Rolls – manageable ingredient list, not a ton of prep, and something my family will eat.

Turns out, Spring Rolls are not that hard at all.  Most of the ingredients can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble.  To me, this is a big deal.  Most nights the time between when I start cooking and when we eat is pretty short, so if I can have most of the work done ahead of time it makes dinner much less stressful.  One other thing I really liked about this recipe is that since each one is assembled separately, it makes customizing the spring rolls to the palate of the eater super easy.  For example, Sophie hates shrimp and cilantro and carrots and cucumbers, so I made hers without those items.  Martin hates rice wrappers, so he ate chicken and cucumbers while his Party Pizza was baking in the oven.  Please note: Party Pizzas are not in the ingredient list for this recipe, but it never hurts to have one on hand.

The thing that kept me from making Spring Rolls for so long is the rice wrapper.  How would I know when it was soft enough?  Could I assemble them without tearing the wrapper?  Would they hold together?  Like many things in life, I worried about this far too much.  Rice wrappers come in a package that looks a bit like a frisbee, and a quick soak in hot water is all it takes to turn the disk into a pliable wrapper.  For me, this transformation took about 15 seconds (longer as the water cooled).  I placed the soft wrapper on a flat surface, lined the ingredients in the middle, and folded over the top and bottom (see above).  Then, folded one long end completely over the ingredients in the middle and tucked and rolled until I reached the end.  I had a one roll learning curve to assembly confidence.

There are lots of variations on Spring Rolls, and this one is most like the Vietnamese variety.  However, I added more vegetables, and adjusted the sauce to be more like the one served at a nearby Thai restaurant.  So while not totally traditional, we thought they were delicious.  I think it is a very flexible recipe – feel free to add other vegetables, use beef or pork, or omit meat for a vegetarian roll.  As long as the ingredients are cut into strips and are cooked, it should work just fine.

Spring Rolls
Serving size: 1
Serves: 8

SAUCE
1/4 c. water
2 T. lime juice
2 T. sugar
1 T. fish sauce
1 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. sriracha
1/4 t. chili flakes
1 clove garlic, minced

SPRING ROLLS
4 oz. chicken breast
1 oz. bean vermicelli
8 medium-sized shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined, halved lengthwise
2 c. lettuce, shredded
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1/2 c. carrots, julienned
1/4 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped
8 rice wrappers

Place all of the sauce ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped and everything is incorporated.  Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

Cook chicken breast in a pot of boiling water for 5-7 minutes until fully cooked.  Remove and shred or cut into thin strips, set aside.  In still boiling water, add bean vermicelli and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove and drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.

Prep all other ingredients and set up like an assembly line.

Add very hot tap water to a large bowl.  Take one rice wrapper and place in the hot water and move it around so that it is fully coated.  The rice wrapper will begin to soften.  Remove the rice wrapper once it is just soft enough (a bit stretchy, flexible, but just before it starts to tear).  When the water is hot, this takes about 15 seconds, and a bit longer as the water cools.  Place the wrapper on a flat surface and add little bits of ingredients to the center.  Fold down the top and bottom sides, then fold over one remaining side to completely cover the ingredients.  Tucking as you go, roll as tightly as you can without tearing the wrapper.

Repeat with remaining rolls.  Serve with a side of sauce.

Estimated calories:  106 cal/serving

Print it: Spring Rolls

Notes:
– Feeling nervous about the assembly part?  I was.  Until I watched this, then I felt ready to give it a go.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw-7pYq7wSc

Lunch Log

5 Aug

This week, we had a conversation about packing school lunches that went something like this:

Grace: My mom packs peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day.
Sophie: Mmmm, that sounds good.  My mom packs different stuff every day.
Grace:  Mmmm, I love different stuff.

The lesson to learn from this exchange is this: Someone else’s mother always makes the best lunch.  So, what’s a kid to do about it? Get a new mother?  Unlikely.  Hire a personal chef?  Fat chance.  Eat Lunchables every day?  Nice try.

Lunch Log
Write it down! Keeping track of what is packed and consumed can help kids to learn more about their own eating habits, the foods that appeal to them, and helps to them to start to understand what they need to consume in order to be strong and healthy.  It also gives them a way to tell you about the foods they love, the foods you should stop packing because they end up in the trash every day, and the good loot that other kids get in their lunchbags. 

The Lunch Log provides you and your child with a way summarize and talk about the contents of each day’s lunch.  The top section includes the very basics – the date, who packed the lunch, an area to list the contents, and a box for drawing/photos/diagrams.  Younger kids can focus on drawing the contents of their lunch and add words as they become more proficient writers.  Older kids might use this space to create food collages, write recipes used to create an item in the lunch bag, or to paste a photo.  Much older kids can leave this space blank in protest of having to bring a lunch in the first place.

The middle section of the page focuses on nutrition and balance by using two simple concepts – vary the colors of your fruits and vegetables each day as a way to mix up the kinds of nutrients you consume, and try to pack something from each of the major food groups in each day’s lunch. 

The bottom section is where the kids get to let loose and tell you how you’re doing, and how much better someone else’s parent is at doing the same job.  You can use or ignore any of the comments in this section, but pay close attention to the last bit – it might give you some new ideas for lunchbag items.

Items you will need:
• Mini binder (holds 5.5” x 8.5” sized pages)
• Adjustable 3-hole punch or hand-held paper punch
• Scissors or paper cutter
• Pencil
• Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
• Tape or glue (optional)
• Printed cover and inside pages (see links below)

Printable Pages:
Cover, directions, and inside pages
Inside pages only

Lemon Tomato Bruschetta Mixture

8 Jun

 

 

Last week, the kids and I went to the Farmers Market for the first time this season.  It is very early in the growing season, but there were a few greenhouse grown tomatoes on hand.  They were giant, heirloom varieties in beautiful colors.  The tomatoes were packed with flavor, had few seeds, and were perfectly ripe – such a welcome change from the grocery store variety that we’ve been eating for the past few months.  Seasonally available tomatoes are such a treat that I wanted to make something that would bring out the full flavor.

I diced the tomato, added some lemon juice and threw in some herbs from the garden.  Originally made to top asparagus (that recipe will come another time), I was lucky enough to have some of the tomato mixture leftover the next day.  I added a scoop to a pita, topped it with goat cheese, and baked it until the cheese was just melty.  It was delicious. 

This mixture is very versatile – use it as a pizza topping like I did, place it on sliced baguettes for bruschetta, spoon over grilled vegetables, or eat it straight out of the container.  As written, this recipe is both low-calorie and dairy-free, which could change depending on how you use it.

Lemon Tomato Bruschetta Mixture
Serves: Approx. 1-1/2 c.
Serving Size: 1/2 c. 

1 large heirloom tomato (yellow, purple, red)
1 t. lemon zest
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh chives, chopped
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Chop tomato into 1/2” cubes and place in bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Let sit at room temperature for 1-3 hours.

Estimated Calories:  55 per serving (tomato mixture only, not including any of the serving ideas)

Print it: Lemon Tomato Bruschetta