Leftover Recipe: Turkey Spring Rolls

I was searching for a new way to use up leftover turkey when I stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman, showing her spring roll recipe and I knew I had my inspiration.

I started by letting a small round of rice vermicelli sit in hot water until they were soft (this is, by far, the easiest thing to do!).  I then created a turkey mixture using thin sliced turkey, a spoon of apricot jam, some rose’ wine (white wine would be just as good, but I had leftover rose’ from Thanksgiving and I think it goes beautifully with turkey), a dash of sesame oil, a blob of ketchup, a little commercial orange sauce, salt & pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.  I set this aside and then sliced some cucumber into thin sticks for crunch and opened a bag of broccoli slaw.  I was now ready to assemble these delicious spring rolls.TurkeySpringRolls

First thing was to pull out a few rice spring roll wrappers.  These things are great…. just soak them in hot water until they are limp and you can wrap them around anything.  They are a little tricky when you first start playing with them, so be ready to have an extra or two on hand, just in case.

I laid out the soft wrapper and assembled each of the spring rolls by layering a little of the soft vermicelli, then the cucumber sticks, a bit of the turkey mixture, and topped it with the colorful broccoli slaw.  Once they were assembled, the creative part had to happen…. I had to roll these things into logs!  I started by pulling the bottom of the wrapper up and over the filling, then folded each side in, and rolled the whole thing into a log.  The first one was a bit funky-looking, but they got better as I went along.  NOTE: I had two spring rolls that each got holes poked in the sides from the broccoli slaw, so I just added a second wrapper around the original spring roll.  No biggie… 

Once all six rolls were done, I made a dipping sauce out of a mixture of apricot jam, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, and a drizzle of honey.  Calling this a “dipping sauce” is sort of a mis-nomer… it was more like a “spooning sauce”, but you get the idea.  I could have made it runnier by warming the jam up a bit, but this was so yummy that I left it alone.  I liked the thick texture of the sauce when spooned onto (or into, after a bite) the spring roll, so it was all good.  I also sprinkled a tiny bit of sesame seeds over top to make it look pretty, but that was totally unnecessary.  These things were gorgeous in their own right.

Try this recipe sometime… you’ll be amazed, just as I was, at the fresh twist you get from using turkey in such a unique way.

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Recipe: Chicken Veggie Gris

Ok, I’ll admit that this is a strange name for a recipe, but at least it gives you an idea of what you’re getting… right?

Let me share a little background before launching into this recipe with you.

We recently relocated to a new state, in a new town, in a furnished corporate apartment.  Have you ever had to do this?  It’s sort of like cooking in “your own” kitchen, but it’s not.  The pots and pans are different… the utensils are unique (even though I *did* bring my own)… and even the cooking vessel (an electric stove instead of my beloved gas range) is different.  Challenges to be sure, but I was determined to make our transition to this new place as smooth as possible… which meant cooking dinner each night.  

Yesterday, our first weekday in our new apartment, brought on my first challenge.  I had to purchase *enough* food and seasonings without purchasing *too much* because, remember, this is only our temporary home.  I already have the necessary pots, pans, seasonings, etc to make the meals that I want to make… but they’re currently sitting in a Jessup, MD storage unit.  So, in the meantime, I’ll be doing my best to create delicious meals without purchasing too many items that will end up being duplicates if I don’t use them up before we move from our current residence.  I hope you find my journey to be interesting and maybe even a little helpful!

Dinner on Monday was a challenge.  I went to the local Walmart to pick up some things, but this particular store was rather sparse in selection, especially since it carried no fresh produce or proteins.  This is where I bought the kitty litter, toilet paper, skim milk, orange juice, spaghetti sauce, canned chicken, a loaf of bread, foil, and a large bag of individually packaged chips. While I could have stopped at the Fresh Market store a block from our apartment, I was on a particular mission to find something that would help me get groceries (and cat litter) from my car to our new home, so I was traveling around town with this goal in mind.  I eventually found a collapsible cart that will be perfect for my needs and darted into the closest grocery store to stock up on some fresh items.

Since this was my first venture out for supplies, I was trying to mentally flip through a number of meal options that could create the most amount of duplicate ingredients.  I ended up choosing two packages of ground turkey, two packages of chicken breasts (with three in each, which could yield three meals for the two of us), some broccoli slaw, a bag of onions, romaine (for my lunch salads),  a bag of onions, a small box of frozen meatballs, cooking spray, and spices (garlic salt, herbs de provence, dry mustard, italian seasonings, pepper, and Hungarian Paprika).  Using these basics, I decided to go with something very simple for dinner… and my Chicken Veggie Gris was born.ChickenVeggieGris

I started by seasoning two chicken breasts with garlic salt and herbs de provence.  Using the apartment’s skillet, I turned the electric burner to “8” and allowed the pan to heat.  Clearly, this is not the way to do things with an electric oven because when I added some margarine and a thinly sliced onion to the pan, there was entirely too much smoke in the apartment. I quickly turned down the heat and turned *on* the vent fan to keep from setting off the fire alarm so things calmed down a little.  NOTE: there was never any real danger, but it really did freak me out a bit. 

Once the onion had time to saute in the margarine to soften, I opened a bottle of white wine (I used a Pinot Gris, but only because I couldn’t find a bottle of James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay fast enough) and added that to the onions to allow them to soak up some of the yummy wine flavor.  I then moved the onions away from the center of the pan, placed the chicken breasts in the center to brown, and seasoned the underside of the breasts with the same seasonings as mentioned above.

Dinner was looking a little bleak at this point so, after I flipped the breasts over to cook through, I added some broccoli slaw to the pan for color and veggie-goodness.  Seasonings were now the priority… dinner couldn’t be bland, especially for my first attempt.  I opted to add a few dashes of soy sauce, some balsamic vinegar, and about a half cup of the wine to create a sauce that would make things come together.  I then cooked everything until all the flavors combined, about 10-15 minutes.  The chicken was poaching nicely and, while I would have preferred to have the veggies with a little more crunch and color, the softened broccoli slaw suited my husband’s tastes and still looked pretty on the plate.  To finish off the meal, I cooked a packet of brown and wild rice and used that as our starch for dinner.  It wasn’t exactly the meal I’d planned, but it was tasty and home-cooked… the best way to finish out a stressful “first day”.

I’ll continue to add recipes, both from before and during our move, so I hope you’ll check back to see how things are progressing.  I have some recipes that I never had the chance to share, so I’ll let you know when those are posted.  My attempt tonight is going to be something along the lines of a lasagna, without lasagna noodles…. will that even work?

Follow me on this journey… I promise to share both the highs (yummy recipes) and lows (how in the world am I going to learn to cook without a gas stove?) of the coming weeks.

Recipe: Teriyaki Shrimp Stir Fry

I have to give my husband credit for the inspiration for this recipe.  I asked what he wanted me to make (using a pound of shrimp) for dinner and he rattled off a list of options that included the name of this dish.  I wasn’t thinking “teriyaki” until he threw that idea out… but it sounded yummy to me, so I set about rifling through the fridge to come up with ingredients that might work as a teriyaki sauce.

What I found, already in my fridge, were the following items:  half a jar of orange marmalade, Bragg Liquid Aminos (something like soy sauce, that *isn’t* soy, that my niece mentioned once on her blog so I bought it), homemade BBQ sauce, and a bottle of James River Cellars Montpelier wine (this new vintage is 100% Cabernet Franc, made as a semi-sweet blanc/rose’ wine… soooo yummy).  Since I hadn’t cooked with Montpelier yet, I was eager to try and find a way to use this fun wine.  NOTE: If you don’t have access to this specific wine, you’re welcome to substitute your favorite semi-dry/semi-sweet white wine or a lightly dry rose of your choice.  You could also just substitute chicken stock, if you prefer, but I really like the back note of wine in this dish.

TeriyakiShrimpStirFry

I defrosted a pound of frozen shrimp (I always like to have this on hand for quick and easy dinners that I know my husband will love) and sliced them in half, length-wise.  I love doing this with shrimp because they end up looking like little cork-screws of shrimp and they cook so quickly.  Feel free to cut them up or leave them whole… it’s entirely up to you!

I sauteed the shrimp in good olive oil until they were slightly toasty and browned.  Again, cook your shrimp according to your family’s preference… this is simply the way we like to have shrimp.  I wanted to add some sort of vegetable into dinner, so I used about a cup of broccoli slaw and tossed that with the cooked shrimp until it started to look a little glossy from the olive oil.  NOTE: If you’ve never used broccoli slaw before, you can find it in most grocery stores in the bagged vegetable area.  I love this stuff and try to keep it on hand to add to dinners whenever possible.  It cooks amazingly fast and is a nice addition to stir fry dinners.  I also like to use it in egg rolls, but that’s for another post on another day…

Once the veggies were well incorporated, I added the sauce that I’d made, using the ingredients i found in my fridge.  To be more specific, I used the half jar of orange marmalade, a few tablespoons of liquid aminos (this stuff is really salty, so go slow when adding and taste as you go), 2-3 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce, and 1/4-1/3 cup of Montpelier wine.  I tasted the sauce to make sure all the flavors combined well and adjusted as needed.  I let the sauce simmer with the shrimp/veggies until it had reduced a bit and didn’t look quite so wet in the pan.

Once the stir fry was done, I plated dinner in two different ways.  My husband really likes rice, so I like to keep microwaveable brown rice in the cupboard for meals.  I heated his rice and chose to put my dinner over a bag of Shiritake (tofu) noodles.  Let me say that I really like substituting regular pasta with these spaghetti-shaped noodles.  They’re low cal, low carb, gluten-free, vegan, and only about 30 calories for the entire bag (which is the amount I always eat).  They need to be rinsed REALLY well, as they are kept in a brine of some sort, but I find them to be a fun substitute that works well for me and how I want to eat.  I’m very visual, so I want to see a big plate of food or I feel like I haven’t eaten enough (no matter what my stomach actually says) and will snack more later.  NOTE:  The link I’ve included is the the Google search page for Shiritaki noodles… I didn’t want to limit you by suggesting a specific brand, since I’ve tried a few and don’t really have a favorite.

This dinner was super-simple and used things that I already had in my fridge or pantry.  I love being able to create something for dinner that doesn’t need tons of unique/single-use ingredients.  Orange marmalade is a terrific example of something that I keep on hand for tons of different uses.  Find your favorites and you’ll be able to pull dinner together in a snap – this was even faster (and cheaper) than take-out!

Enjoy!

Recipe: Shrimp Stir Fry

Dinner tonight was one of those “I’ve got 15 minutes to make dinner… let’s go!” meals and it was fabulous, if I do say so myself.  You should try this recipe and use The Force to make your own amazing 15 minute dinner.

I started with a pound of frozen shrimp (the bagged stuff from my local grocery store that is usually on sale), a bag of broccoli slaw, and a sauce mixture of hoisin sauce, James River Chardonnay, spoonful of flour, a thumb-size amount of lemongrass and a thumb-size amount of garlic.  When I walked in the door, I started peeling the shrimp that my husband had pulled out of the freezer and put in water.

 

Once the shrimp were peeled, I put some good olive oil in a large skillet and sauteed the shrimp until they were pink and a little toasty.  I then added half the bag of broccoli slaw and sauteed everything together.  Once the vegetables were slightly softened, I added the sauce and gave the entire meal a moment in the pan to allow the flour to cook a bit and thicken.  I had popped some brown rice into the microwave just as I added the vegetables, so dinner was ready in just about 15 minutes.

Dinner was served over brown rice and it was amazing…. so simple and quick, yet the flavors melded together nicely and made for a great meal.  Try playing with wine when making dinner.  It can be fun to come up with different ways to utilize wine in place of chicken stock.

There’s something so wonderful about creating a dinner that makes your loved ones happy…  wishing you a lovely evening and a grand meal!

Recipe: Chicken Stir Fry

Stir fry is one of my favorite things to make for dinner for a number of reasons.

  1. I love being able to get dinner on the table in a relatively short amount of time.
  2. I like using whatever I have in the fridge for the vegetables.
  3. I love using broccoli slaw for the vegetable when I don’t have anything “bigger” on hand.
  4. I’ve learned to make a fairly consistent sauce with wine that my whole family enjoys.

Tonight’s dinner was no exception. I started with chicken tenders, slicing them into bite-sized chunks and saute’ing them in a pan sprayed with Pam until browned. I then removed them from the pan, added a little bit of olive oil, and popped in the vegetables. Tonight’s assortment included broccoli slaw and fresh green beans. Once these were cooked to crisp-tender, I added my sauce.

The sauce for dinner tonight was a standard for me, albeit unique from most conventional stir-fry sauces. REMEMBER: I USE THE FORCE WHEN I COOK! Using a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup, I poured in about 1/4″ of hoisin sauce, a small amount of oyster sauce (seriously using The Force on this sauce), a large amount of an oaked Chardonnay (maybe 3/4-cup?), an inch of pre-crushed garlic from a tube, an inch of lemongrass (again, from a tube), a spoonful of flour and a smaller spoonful of homemade pesto. I had mixed this together earlier so the flour wasn’t glumpy and stirred it occasionally until it was time to add to the saute’ pan.

Once I added the sauce to the veggies in the pan, I dropped the chicken back into the pan and popped a package of Uncle Ben’s Microwave Brown Rice into the microwave. 90 seconds later, the sauce was thickened and the brown rice was done… dinner was served!

There are tons of ways to make this recipe your own, but this is one of my favorites. I’ve substituted shrimp, pork, or beef for the chicken. I’ve used Vidal Blanc, Chardonel, or even a Sauvignon Blanc if that’s what I had on hand. I absolutely love the tubes of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, basil, or Italian herbs that I can find at my local market, so usually add a variety of flavors from those handy items. There’s enough salt in the ingredients already that I typically won’t add more, but I have been known to add paprika or some lemon thyme if I want a different taste to come through. It all depends on my mood as I’m cooking.

Dinner in a flash… it can certainly be done, but it does take some thought and a little planning. I’m just grateful that my family enjoys most of my experiments. It’s not a 15 minute dinner, but it doesn’t take that much longer to go from fridge to table.

Try this with your family and see where The Force might lead… a totally unique dinner might be just around the corner!

Cheers!