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    One of my greatest friends used to make these spring rolls when we shared an apartment, and I couldn't get enough of them. She gave me the recipe, and now my kids and husband can't get enough of them, either.  I like to make the spring rolls early in the day, so that I have a great appetizer or side dish that I don't have to worry about at dinner time. I like to serve them cold, but you can fry them in peanut oil if you like the crunchy skin. 


Ingredients:
rice wonton/ spring roll wrappers
1 T vegetable oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T grated ginger
1 block of tofu, cubed (I use extra firm, because I like the texture)
1 c shredded carrots
1 c bean sprouts
1/2 c shredded cabbage, or coleslaw mix without dressing
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 T sesame oil
4 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
Peanut oil for frying (optional)

Directions:

    Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large wok or pan. Add green onions, garlic, ginger and tofu, and saute for a couple of minutes. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, carrots, bean sprouts and cabbage, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots and sprouts are tender. Stir in the cilantro, and then remove from heat. 

    To wrap spring rolls, soak one wrapper in warm water for about 20 seconds to soften it a little. Then lay it flat on the counter, and spoon the filling into the wrapper. Fold the sides in, and roll it up. Continue until you run out of filling or wrappers. 

    You can either refrigerate them, and serve as-is, or you can fry them in peanut oil just before you serve them. Either way, they're delicious. I like to dip spring rolls in Soy Vey teriyaki sauce, and serve with broccoli beef or chicken chow mein.











    Image courtesy of John Kasawa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
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    Hummus is one of my family's favorite foods. Everyone congregates in the kitchen when I make it, stealing a little bit whenever they can. I don't know why, because this recipe makes plenty, and it doesn't take long. My daughter will eat it on anything, but prefers to just lick it straight from her fingers. It's a super healthy snack, mild enough for even the most sensitive palate, but it has a nice bold, satisfying flavor.   
    I like to make pita chips to go with it, because home made pita chips are infinitely better than any brand I have ever tasted from the store. Once you make your own, you'll never buy them again. 
    I have made the pita from scratch, which is also delicious, but that's a long process that has to start well before you're hungry, so I usually just make the pita chips from store-bought whole wheat pita bread.

For the Hummus:
Ingredients:
1 lemon, juice only
1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
1/4 c tahini (you can also substitute peanut butter, for a nutty flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t olive oil
1/2 t ground cumin
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 t salt
1/4 c water

Directions:
     Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and serve with pita chips, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, crackers, bread, or anything else you have on hand. It's also great as a spread on a sandwich!

    Hummus can be kept at room temperature for up to four hours, but if you prefer it cold, chill it in a refrigerator before serving. 

For the Pita Chips:
Ingredients:
1 package pita bread 
1/4 c olive oil
garlic salt
pepper
dried basil
dried oregano

Directions:
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

    Cut pita bread into slices, like a pizza, and peel apart the pieces. Lay them out on a baking tray with the inside part of the bread facing up. Brush the olive oil on the pita bread, and sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.

    Bake for about 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, so they cook more evenly. They go from not done at all, to burnt within a few seconds, so you have to watch them closely after about 5 minutes. When the pita chips are  nice and toasty golden brown, take the pan out of the oven, and place it on top of a wire rack to cool.  


    This is my version of a recipe I found in Disney's Family Fun Magazine in May of 2011.




Photo: © Lizmoore15 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

 
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    Everybody needs a go-to salsa recipe, and this is mine. I got it from a very good friend a while ago, and tweaked it to make it my own. I always make it when we have company, and everyone always loves it. It's a good thing the recipe makes a lot, because everybody always wants some to take home.





Ingredients:
1 large can of Rotel, drained
1 small can of tomatoes, drained
1 onion, peeled and quartered (since the Rotel is kind of spicy, I use sweet onion to balance it out, but white onion is also great)
1 bunch of cilantro
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lime, juice only
1 t cumin
1/2 t salt
1/4 t sugar

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor. If you put the cilantro in first, it blends together better. Then, pulse everything in the food processor until it reaches your desired consistency. Pour into a bowl, and refrigerate for a few hours, until everything is nice and cold. It tastes best after the flavors have had time to mingle, but I don't blame you if you can't wait that long.

 
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    I think that Avo-de-gallo is the main reason people come to my house. I serve it every time we have a party, and everybody always hovers around it until it's gone. So, if you're going to make it, make a bunch. It makes any burrito better, and goes great on Black Bean Burgers. You can put it on tacos or nachos, or just eat it with chips. Trust me, you'll eat it.







Ingredients:
2 large tomatoes, or 1 small package of cherry tomatoes, diced
1 sweet onion, diced (it's ALL about the sweet onion)
2 avocados, diced
1/4 lime, juice only
1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
garlic salt, to taste

Directions:
    Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a spoon. Pretty simple, right?