Making Fried Wontons at Home

Looking to mix it up next time you have friends over for dinner? Having fried wontons  as the appetizer or main entree can be the answer.  It’s certainly different than the regular old pizza and wings party!

They are also extremely easy to make, so you can get a batch ready before your guests arrive and still have some time to relax.

Easy, Tasty Fried Pork Wontons

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 1 cup of minced pork
  • 1/4 cup of minced scallion
  • 1/2 finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 Tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup of stemmed, seeded, and minced red bell pepper
  • 1 Tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp of dark sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 48 wonton wraps/skins (no big difference- I’ve seen both used)
As far as wraps go, there are thin, medium, and thick options. Go for your perference, but I’d stick with medium and thin to avoid getting a doughy feel with my wontons. If you have an wrapper leftover, then toss them in the freezer, they should last for about a month.

Preparation

  • Fill deep saucepan with vegetable oil until 2 inches deep.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high.
  • With the exception of the wonton skins, combine and mix all the ingredients.
  • Fill the center of the wonton skin with 2 Tsp of your filling.
  • Fold into a triangle and seal with a bit of water.
  • After you’ve filled all the skins, go ahead and place your wontons into the pan a few at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes or so, turning it once during the process.
  • Dry on paper towel.

My tip on folding the wontons is to keep it simply and fold it diagonally to get the triangle shape. If prepared right, they’ll be gone quickly anyways, so no need to stress over folding like the restaurants  The recipe makes enough for about 10 people, give or take their appetites.

Thoughts on Frying Wontons

I’d love to hear from you. How do you like to prepare your wontons? What other dishes do you serve with them?

Photo Credit: jeferonix

How to Cook Dried Beans and Make an Awesome Meal

Once with cooking at home is to optimize our spending and still have great meals. I don’t want to go cheap on ingredients and sacrifice taste just to save money. Instead I’d like to learn ways to prepare meals that

How Much Do I Need

One of the first questions I had before preparing the beans was figuring out much I need to use to make the right amount for the 3 of us. I found a handy guide online that I used as my reference point.

1/3 cup dry beans = 1 cup cooked beans
1/2 cup dry beans = 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
2/3 cup dry beans = 2 cup cooked beans
1 cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans
2 cups (1 pound) dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans

Soaking the Beans 

There are different schools of thought when it comes to soaking beans. Some let them soak for 6-8 hours or overnight. I prefer the ‘quicker’ method of bring a pot to boil, adding your beans (boiling them for about 3 minutes), removing them from the heat and letting them soak for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  You then cook them as usual.

If I can get my beans tasting well and ready to go in a shorter period of time, then that’s method I’ll use. However there are many who feel strongly about soaking their beans longer before cooking, so try both and see what works best for you.

Espresso Black Bean Chili

How can I have a post about preparing beans and not share a fantastic recipe that uses them in bold way? I came across this wonderful Espresso Black Bean Chili on Bittman’s site and instantly fell in love with it.

Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours, largely unattended

  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 1 1/2 pounds whole; canned is fine; don’t bother to drain)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, 1 to 2 cups brewed coffee, or 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar or 3 tablespoons molasses
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 pound dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2.  Stir in the tomato, espresso, chili powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and beans and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily but not violently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  3.  Continue cooking until the beans are tender, anywhere from another 45 minutes to 11/2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper. Serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

With colder days already here in many parts of the country, this recipe is even more appealing to me.

Thoughts on Cooking with Dried Beans

I’d love to get your cooking tips and tricks. For those who’ve cooked with dried beans before, how you like to prepare and season them? What are some of your favorite dishes that you use them in?

Photo Credit: ohbernadine

Freezer Essentials

cook and free meals

Last time I shared some pantry essentials that help us whip up healthy and tasty meals quickly and easily. Today I want to share some of our essentials that we stock in the freezer. We have a side by side model, so space is a bit awkward and limited for the freezer. However for us, it fits our needs.

What to Stock Your Freezer With

With that in mind, if you’re looking for ideas on what to pick up for your freezer here are some of my picks: cook and free meals

Meats

For those looking at keeping costs low, grabbing and freezing meat when it’s on sale can be a great savings. Costco usually has some fantastic deals on items like pork chops and ground beef.

Vegetables

Sometimes getting frozen vegetables is the best solution, I tend to keep mixed vegetables bags for stir-fry nights. It’s a really hassle free way to get meal on the table in about 20 minutes and with some herbs and seasonings, it’s usually no leftovers.

Fruits

With the produce deliveries this year, we’ve had some great weeks where we were overflowing with fresh fruits. Since we couldn’t eat all of it, we saved a portion of the fruit for us later.

Desserts

Yep, I use the freezer to pack unhealthy but tasty desserts like ice cream. Besides topping it with fruit, you can also make floats or smoothies depending on your preferences.

Emergency Dishes

When I was pregnant we pre-made a few dishes for the first couple of weeks since we knew we’d probably be too tired to make meals from scratch. Having some frozen pre-made meals can be a lifesaver on the really busy evening when you’re both too tired to cook.

Thoughts on Freezer Essentials

What do you like to have in your freezer for preparing meals at home? What can you not live without? Where do you grab your supplies? How often do you restock them?

Photo Credit: armigeress

Keeping a Stocked Pantry

Years ago, one of my biggest excuses for not cooking more at home was that there was nothing to make. I’d try to think of something to make with what I had around in the kitchen, but I couldn’t think of anything most of the time. If I did finally come up with something, it would be something that would take too long to make. (Yeah I was an impatient college student who didn’t plan out meals.)

Fill Up Your Pantry 

I had a few friends who were savvy around the kitchen – no matter whether they had 20 minutes or a couple of hours, they always had something delicious cooked. When I asked their secrets, most of them mentioned that they stocked their kitchen with some go to ingredients that allowed them to whip up something quick if need be.

I decided to follow their example and copied what they had in their pantry. For one thing, it did help with dinner as many times I could grab a meat from the freezer, some vegetable and something from the pantry.

I noticed however that some ingredients didn’t get used often enough. I discovered while there are some items that are universally necessary for a pantry, there is a bit of personalization that comes with the list based on individual taste.

What to Stock Your Pantry With

With that in mind, if you’re looking for ideas on what to pick up for your pantry here are some of my picks:

  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Goya Adobo
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Ground Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Dijon mustard
  • Canned beans (I prefer black beans and light red kidney beans)
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Paste
  • Rice
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Egg Noodles
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
As far as herbs go, I’d also include whatever you have in your home garden. For us right now we have some rosemary and mint. Having a home garden can also spruce up your options depending on the season.

Thoughts on Pantry Essentials

What do you like to have in your pantry for preparing meals at home? What can you not live without? Where do you grab your supplies? How often do you restock them?

Photo Credit: grammardog

 

Mediterranean Stew for the Slow Cooker

slow cooker stew

One of favorite ways to prepare a meal is with our slow cooker. We can put in all of the items in the morning and when it’s time for dinner we have the one pot meal all ready to go. It’s a simple way to prepare something tasty without doing a ton of work.

A healthy option with the slow cooker is making a Mediterranean Stew. With this recipe you don’t need meat, though some variations include adding some lamb. I’d also recommend making a side of rice to go with the stew.

Ingredients slow cooker stew

  • 3/4 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups and 2 tablespoonscubed eggplant, with peel
  • 1-1/2 cups and 2 tablespoonscubed zucchini
  • 3/4 (10 ounce) packagefrozen okra, thawed
  • 3/4 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup and 2 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 3/4 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 3/4 carrot, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon raisins
  • 3/4 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Preparation

The great thing with this stew is all you have to do to prepare it is throw in the  butternut squash, eggplant, zucchini, okra, tomato sauce, onion, tomato, carrot, broth, raisins, and garlic into the crockpot. Season with cumin, turmeric, red pepper, cinnamon, and paprika.

Cover, and cook on low for 8 or so.

Thoughts on Slow Cooker Meals

What are some of your favorite meals to make in the crockpot?

Photo Credit: Girl Interrupted Eating