Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chicken Spring Roll Appetizers

I was invited to a New Year's Eve party with some good friends. When I asked if I could bring anything, their response was, "Something you can eat." I have a new bottle of coconut white balsamic vinegar from Prima Oliva, which is a great little shop just down the street from the wine shop where I work. I wanted to try it out, so I decided to make some chicken spring roll-inspired appetizers. Here's what I used:

For the dressing:

2 T brown sugar
1 clove garlic,  minced
1 cup chicken broth
3 T coconut balsamic vinegar
2 T sesame oil
1 T chili oil
a dash or two of soy sauce

Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces by about half. Allow to cool.

For the filling:

2 cups diced, cooked chicken (or tofu, pork, shrimp, mushrooms, etc)
2 cups prepared coleslaw. You can make your own, but I used a bag from the store. It seemed like the right thing to do.
3 T toasted sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss everything well. When the dressing is cool, toss dressing and filling together until you've got a well coated and damp, but not soggy mixture. Set this someplace cool until you're ready to fill your holders.

For the holders:

Here you have 2 options. You can either make wonton cups (spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Press in wonton wrappers and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove cups and place upside down on a cookie sheet. Bake an additional 5 minutes to toast the bottoms.) Or you can go the easy route and use premade fillo cups from the freezer section of the grocery store. Again, this seemed like the right thing to do. It had been a long day and I was exhausted.

Either way, fill the holders with as much mixture as you can stuff in there. Sprinkle them with some more sesame seeds if the spirit moves you (or cilantro, coconut flakes, red cabbage, crushed pineapple, crushed peanuts, etc.)

Serve these cool-room temperature. I'm taking along a bottle of Segura Viudas Prosecco to serve with these little munchkins. This recipe makes enough filling for 60 little fillo cups, or about 50 slightly larger wonton cups. I have no idea what happened to my finished picture, so unfortunately I can't show you what they look like done. They sure taste good, though!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year! May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white. Love, Cait

Monday, December 23, 2013

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

It's cold, it's wet, and my kitchen is jam-packed with people. It's soup weather in Western New York. We have a couple of vegetarians in the family, so when I make the soup I err on the side of vegan. Family and friends are in town and dropping by throughout the day pretty much every day as we head towards Christmas, so it's always necessary to have something on hand that can either be heated up quickly or simmer for a long while in order to accommodate visitors. Potato Leek Soup is a great way to start. It's easy to make, and it's one of those soups you can make vegan without many people noticing. For the meat-eaters at your table, you can offer crumbled bacon as a topping. I usually put some out as well as a bowl of chopped green onions, one of grated cheese (for those who can have it), and some homemade croutons.

Here's what you'll need to make enough soup for 4-6 people:

2 lbs of potatoes - peel them,cut them into chunks, and put them in a bowl of cold water.
3 large leeks - remove the dark green tops, wash well, and chop
2 Tbsp "butter"
2 cups coconut culinary milk
3 cups gluten free vegetable broth (I love this base)
2 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Tennessee Sunshine (or any other hot sauce you have on hand)
salt and pepper to taste

1) In a soup pot, melt your butter alternative and stir in the leeks. Cook them for about 10 minutes until they are soft, but not brown.

2) Add the broth and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

3) Scoop roughly half of the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the coconut milk, herbs, and salt and pepper. Add a dash or 5 of hot sauce to give it a happy little kick.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful...WINNER ANNOUNCED

It's been too cold and snowy to do much of anything the past couple of days. Yesterday shops all up and down Main Street closed around 3 so that employees could make it home safely. The normal 20 minute trip into work took me 45 minutes this morning and double that this evening.

Needless to say, I haven't made it out to the grocery store in a while and so I've been eating a whole bunch of spaghetti. Not too much fun recipe-wise.

To supplement my carb-fest and make me feel ever-so-slightly healthier, I've been eating clementines like they're going out of style. They're the perfect snack, because they come in their own packaging and don't squish as easily as bananas. (Although trust me when I say you don't want to forget there's one in your jacket pocket until after you've sat upon said jacket...)

Of course everyone knows that clementines are as healthy as they are tasty, but I was surprised to find out just how good they are. Did you know that 2 whole clementines have fewer calories than 1 cup of pineapple, and less sugar and more than twice as much potassium. They're also fat free, which means you can snack with a clear conscience. Of course dipping them in melted chocolate makes absolutely no difference.*

How would you like to win a box of clementines? Just leave a comment below telling me what your favorite snack is, and I'll pick a random winner on Friday, December 20.

*I'm lying.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

I like pretty much any fruits, although we don't have clementines very often.
Congratulations, Katherine! Send me an EMAILwith your contact info and I'll get your prize out to you!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hot Cocoa and a Treat

Today has been freakishly warm. 55 degrees in Western New York. In December. I love it! So of course, on this beautiful sunny day, I've been craving hot cocoa like it's going out of style. I ran over to the local grocery store and was shocked to see that they now carry Almond+Plus milk. This stuff is so tasty. It doesn't taste too much like almonds, so I use it in sweet and savory dishes alike. It's one of the few milks out there that I'll pour a straight glass of and drink. Good stuff!

I had some Archer Farms Dark Hot Cocoa mix from Target on hand, and mixed the two together. Exactly what I was looking for!  A creamy, rich, chocolaty cup of happiness on a not-so-chilly day. Mmmm!