Tag Archive | homemade

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

Growing up in a mixed culture home provided many advantages, one of which was a wide variety of foods and flavors.  From a very young age, I learned to enjoy many different types of dishes.  One of our favorites and one that isn’t eaten very often, is my Mom’s version of Grandma’s vegetarian spring rolls.

Be warned, these are not a low calorie food! However, for a once in a while treat, these are great to add to the weekend menu.

A food processor will speed up the process, but I have found from past experience that it chops the veggies much to small.  For me, hand chopping everything is relaxing for me and I can control the size of the cuts.


Vegetarian Spring Rolls

1 small head of green cabbage

1 medium onion

5-6 whole carrots

1-2 stalks celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks green onion, sliced, including the white bulb

1 block organic firm tofu

small section of ginger root, chopped fine, optional

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional

about 3-4 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or big pinch kosher or sea salt

big pinch sugar

Begin first by cutting the tofu into small blocks and browning them so they don’t fall apart.  If you would rather they “disappear” into the eggrolls, then don’t brown them, just dump the cubes into the bowl and as you mix everything together, they will break up into smaller pieces and crumble.

Morristown Horse Show 9-22-12 137

Finely chop the onion, green onion stalks, garlic and ginger root.  Place them in a big mixing bowl.

Morristown Horse Show 9-22-12 139

Cut the cabbage, shred your carrots. Halve the celery down the middle of the stalk lengthwise and thinly slice so that the pieces are small and won’t cut through the wrapping as easily…

Morristown Horse Show 9-22-12 143

At this point add the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or salt and big pinch of sugar. Let the mixture “marinate” for about an hour. You will see juice in the bottom of your bowl.  That’s when it’s ready to roll.

Fill a frying pan half-full with canola oil or other frying oil.  Make sure your oil is hot.  You want the egg rolls to fry almost immediately and not sit in the oil for very long.

I got so involved with making these that I forgot to take photos of rolling them!  So, please accept my apologies for that.  To wrap the egg rolls:

Take the egg roll wrapping and lay it like a baseball diamond on a clean surface. (Tip: keep the wraps covered with a damp dish towel so the air doesn’t dry them out while rolling.)

Place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle.  Fold the bottom up over the filling and roll once.  Fold in the sides to make and envelope. Pinching lighting, roll and then dip your finger in water and seal the flap.  Roll only enough to fill your pan.  I usually have 4 across the middle and 1 on each side for a total of no more than 6 in my pan.  Fry until brown and flip one time. I stand them on end in a colander with a paper towel underneath on a plate to drain as much oil as possible.

No worries if they break and the filling comes out.  It happens.  Those ugly ones you get to eat first!

Continue rolling until you are done.  This batch usually makes 1-1-1/2 packages of wrappings depending on which kind you use (grocery store vs. Asian market).

I’ve had friends vary out the stuffing with curried veggies and rice/potatoes! I’ve not personally tried it, but you can get really creative with these!

Serve with duck sauce, plum sauce, nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce), peanut sauce or just by itself. Great appetizer with rice and other Asian dishes.

To reheat and make them crispy – lay in a single layer on a baking dish and reheat in a 350F oven turning as they re-brown and re-crisp. Serve hot!


Banana Bread

One of our favorite breakfast items is homemade banana bread.  I’ve been making it for years, tweaking the recipe and messing around with it changing out the bananas for other fruits.  It has become a family favorite and my husband requests it for the guys at his office every now and then.

Banana Bread 002

Gather together all your ingredients and grab a big mixing bowl and your favorite wooden spoon and let’s make banana bread!

I have found a fantastic new use for my potato masher….mashing bananas! This wonderful tool pictured below was a gift from my thoughtful friend, Tonya.

Banana Bread 001

One of my “secrets” to having plenty of bananas ready for baking at any given time: freeze those overripe Produce Manager’s specials. You know, the ones where you can buy a whole bag of bananas for 99c! Every time they are on sale at the market, I buy 1-2 bags and peel them, lining them up in a large freezer bag. Lay the flat and you’ll have bananas ready at any time!

Here’s the recipe that I have used:

Banana Nut Bread

Preheat oven to 350F

1/3 c. shortening – note: I do NOT use shortening, substitute canola oil, extra virgin coconut oil or safflower oil – cup for cup

3/4 c. sugar – I cut this back to 1/4 cup

2 eggs – I half this

1 3/4 cup flour – I take the 3/4 cup & change it out to whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. aluminum free baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt – I use kosher salt or sea salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. mashed bananas – as you can see from the picture above, I pour the thawed bananas and the juices in all together, plus I use more than a cup…..makes it extra good!

1 cup chopped walnuts – or your favorite nut – pecans are good for this too.

3 tbsp. milk – I use unsweetened soy milk – you can use whatever you want

In a large bowl, cream together milk, oil/shortening and sugar; add egg and beat well. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and add to creamed mixture.  Stir until well mixed. Fold in bananas and nuts, blending well. Pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and pick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Wrap and store overnight.

Or as we do in our house….slice it up hot and chow down!

Banana Bread 005

Banana Bread 007

Cutting back on the sugar works okay for this recipe if the bananas are super ripe. If you are concerned about any bitter taste, make sure that your bananas are just spotted, not super black. But if they are that ripe, a couple little scoops of stevia will help adjust the flavor and allow the sugar amount to be cut in half or more.  Pure honey also works well as a sugar replacement in this recipe. You’ll need to reduce the oil/shortening amount to compensate for the extra moisture that honey provides.

Banana Bread 009

Won’t you pull up a chair, have a cup of tea and a slice of banana bread with me? I’d like that very much!

Blackberry Fields Forever

When it comes to fruit, it is really hard to find one that I don’t like. And when it comes to Sunday mornings, more often than not, pancakes made from scratch and fresh fruit is the menu choice of the day! Growing up, my dad and mom used to make pancakes for Sunday morning breakfast every now and then. Boy, were they delicious! I never dreamed I would one day own a home that would have blackberry bushes! It took a year, but the harvest was unbelievable! And I never had to plant them! These berries came from my bachelorette pad which we now refer to lovingly as our “other house.” To preserve them, I froze a batch of them and now have them whenever I feel like having one!

Years ago, I quit using box mixes and started learning to make my pancakes from scratch. That way, I can control what goes in and more importantly, what doesn’t go into my dishes! Let’s get cooking!


I don’t measure much once I have mastered a recipe. So to make things easier, I have taken a recipe that I started with that is very good. If you’ve never done this, it’s a great start and as you get this recipe mastered, you can play with it and change it.

The original recipe is as follows:

4 tbsp SACO Buttermilk Blend

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 c. water

2 tbsp. oil

Sift dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Add beaten egg, water and oil. Beat just until batter is smooth. Don’t overbeat! A few lumps in the batter will be fine. Set aside your batter for just a few minutes. Using a non-stick spray, drop by small ladle-full or by tablespoonful onto a heated skillet, turning once lightly browned. Stack and butter.

Now here is what I’ve done with the recipe:


Cyn’s Pancakes (except for the flour, please keep in mind my measurements are approximate)

3 tbsp. SACO Buttermilk Blend

1 tbsp. raw wheat germ

1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 c. soy flour

1/4 tsp. stevia extract powder

1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 egg

1 c. organic soy milk

2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (I love vanilla!)

Sift together all the dry ingredients and add beaten egg, milk and vanilla. Beat just until batter is smooth. Do not overbeat! This recipe makes about 10 pancakes. Just double or adjust for servings needed.

While watching a cooking show which featured homemade syrup, I decided to try it. The first couple of tries, it wasn’t the correct consistency. I’m still working on perfecting the syrup, but here is the recipe:008

1 c. sugar (I used dark brown sugar)

1 c. water

bring to a boil, let cool, serve while warm

You can add your favorite fruits, extract flavorings, like vanilla, and/or a dash of cream to vary the flavors.

By the time our breakfast was ready, the blackberries had thawed and were ready to eat.

I use real, un-salted, sweet cream butter or a vegetarian variety, Earth Balance Spread atop the pancakes. Add a few of the thawed blackberries and finish with the homemade syrup. Mmmmm! So good!


Bon Appetite! Until next time….