Recipe: Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Spicy BBQ'd Shrimp
For our 4th of July party several years running we’ve done spicy grilled shrimp on the barbecue.  Here’s the recipe we used this year, and I thought it was really yummy. Since I forgot to get a picture either year, though, the photocredit belongs to a different recipe I found on ifood.tv.  As pretty as this shrimp is with the tails on, we did go ahead and take the tails off ours before skewering them, to make them easier to eat.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 pounds medium or large shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Peel and devein shrimp and remove tails.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a ziplock bag and marinate for 1 hour.
  3. If using wooden skewers, soak in water while shrimp marinate.
  4. Thread shrimp onto wooden or metal skewers.
  5. Heat grill to medium-low.
  6. Grill shrimp for 3-5 minutes per side, or until they are opaque and pinkish in color.
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Berry-Pudding Dessert for a Crowd

Berry Oreo Dessert

Last month we had our annual Bible camp in the mountains with a bunch of other families from our church.  As usual, I was in charge of getting the food planned and bought, then handed off much of the actual cooking to others once we got to camp.  Though much of the menu is the same from year to year, each year I try a thing or two that’s new.  This year it was dessert. Usually we use the camp’s soft-serve ice cream machine, but it was broken, and it’s kind of a hassle to take ice cream for 80 on a three hour car ride in the summertime. I also had a handful of gluten free people to feed.  So what could I make that was creamy and yummy and ice-cream-like, and also gluten free?

I decided to adapt an old favorite recipe, ‘Dirt’ Dessert, into something easier to pull together for a crowd. The bottom layer is chocolate pudding mixed with raspberries or blueberries.  The white layer consists of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cool whip.  You can sprinkle crushed Oreos on top if you like, or skip the Oreos to make the dessert completely gluten free. Frozen, it was a cool and delicious dessert that seemed to please a lot of folks.

 

Berry-Oreo Yumminess

Yield: Two 12x16 pans (serves 80)

Berry-Oreo Yumminess

Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 packages cream cheese
  • 28 ounces chocolate pudding mix (dry, boxed)
  • 3 quarts milk
  • 3 large cartons of Cool Whip
  • 3 pounds frozen berries (I used blueberries and raspberries)
  • 1 large package of oreos (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bottom layer: In a very large bowl combine pudding mix and milk. Mix well with a wire whisk. Let sit ten minutes in refrigerator, then gently stir in frozen berries. Divide the mixture between two 12x16 pans, spreading it as evenly as possible.
  2. Top layer: Whip together powdered sugar and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. (A hand mixer would probably work best.) When well mixed, fold in Cool Whip. Use a large spoon to drop mixture as evenly as possible across the pudding mixture.
  3. To serve: Cover pans with wax paper or plastic wrap and freeze until serving, at least two hours. Half an hour before it's time to serve, roughly chop oreos and sprinkle lightly across the top of the pans. If you are serving folks who are gluten free, leave part of one pan plain, without Oreos. Cut into squares and serve.
  4. Tip: If you are making this for folks who are gluten free, be sure to select pudding mix that use cornstarch, not wheat products as thickening.
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Here are a few other recipes we did for camp this year:

Molly’s Chicken– we did this one this year instead of our traditional ham dinner, for half the cost that ham usually is.  Lots of people came back for seconds, and even little children seemed to enjoy it.  We served about 140 chicken legs to 80 or so people, and only had bout 20 left over.  I used nicely-trimmed chicken legs that you can buy at Costco in multipacks for about $1.29/lb.

BBQ Meatballs–  We served these in hot dog bugs or over rice, and people seemed to enjoy them.  For 70 people, we used 15 pounds of pre-made frozen meatballs from Cash and Carry, and also made about 5 pounds more of meatballs that were gluten free.  I also found a gluten free BBQ sauce to serve over them, but ended up deciding that the BBQ sauce recipe in Family Feasts for $75 a Week is more to my taste.  Ah well.

Chili for a Crowd–This is the second year I’ve made this recipe.  People like that it is very hearty and full of meat.  We made a turkey roaster full of mild chili and a crock pot full of spicy chili, and had only a little left over when serving about 75 people.

 

 

Recipe: BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

meatball subs

When all our kids are home for Sunday dinner, I’d much rather be visiting and playing with babies than cooking.  Because of that, I’m always on the lookout for meals that I can prep ahead of time.   A few weeks ago I made a big crock pot full of meatballs, and topped them with my homemade barbecue sauce.  I served them with hoagie rolls and hot dog buns, so that everyone could make their own meatball sandwiches.

Here’s the recipe I used.  It’s enough to serve two dozen people generously.  Any leftover meatballs can be frozen for later, or added to spaghetti sauce on spaghetti night. To make this recipe gluten free, serve over rice instead of on rolls, and use gluten-free oats and gluten-free soy sauce.

BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

Yield: 24 servings

4-6 meatballs per serving

BBQ Meatballs for a Crowd

Ingredients

    For the meatballs:
  • 8 lbs lean or extra-lean ground beef
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 T. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • dash of liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • For the barbecue sauce:
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspood dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

    FOR THE MEATBALLS:
  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in a very large bowl. Mold into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter and set on a large cookie sheet in a single layer. Broil in the oven about 8 inches from the element for 6-8 minutes, turning once. Keep a close eye on them during the last few minutes to avoid burning.
  2. Broiling meatballs first helps them hold together while being cooked in the barbecue sauce. By the time you remove them from the broiler, they should be cooked through, with no pink in the center. At this point you can refrigerate or freeze them until they will be used. If you choose to make the barbecue sauce at this point, you can go ahead and pour it over the top of the meatballs to marinate together in the fridge or freezer until you heat them up again for serving.
  3. FOR THE BBQ SAUCE:
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium size saucepan, whisk together, and simmer over medium heat 10-15 minutes. This sauce may be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  5. TO SERVE:
  6. Combine thawed meatballs and barbecue sauce in a large crock pot and cook until hot. Use the high setting if you would like to serve the meatballs within an hour, or low if you'd like to let them simmer 2-4 hours. Serve in hoagie rolls or hot dog buns, or over the top of rice. Enjoy!
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Recipe: Beef Stroganoff

A NYT article Putting Meat in its Place captured my philosophy on meat perfectly. We don’t NEED huge slabs of meat on our dinner plates every day! In that spirit, here’s a recipe that I posted a couple years ago but just now got around to photographing. We only make this once a month or so– it is NOT low fat– but it is a favorite at our house! This recipe does not call for canned soup, which helps make it more affordable.

Hamburger Stroganoff

30 minutes

Yield: 5-6 servings

Hamburger Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package egg noodles
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 of an 8 ounce container of sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms, optional

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. While pasta cooks, in a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no pink shows; drain and set aside. If you are using fresh mushrooms, fry for 1-2 min in same skillet that you used for the hamburger. Set aside.
  3. Again in the same skillet, melt butter on medium high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute. Then add flour. Whisk well to break up any clumps of flour. Add milk and heat till bubbly and starting to thicken.
  4. Add ketchup, and sour cream. Whisk til smooth and heated through. Add ground beef and mushrooms back into skillet. Blend hamburger mixture with pasta. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once you've made this recipe a few times, you'll probably be able to get the whole thing on the table in 20-30 minutes. It is a quick, easy and very delicious meal. We serve the mushrooms on the side, since not all our kids like mushrooms.
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Frugal Friday – Thai Beef Wrap Recipe

Here’s another rambling story of things that I did this week to save money. For starters, though, a fail: I frittered away $50 on TWO different fast-food dinners. Both times I was out doing things with a bunch of kids, and it felt like the best way to finish what we needed to do before getting on home. We ordered off the dollar menu, drank water, shared fries, etc.  But feeding 8 people adds up, especially when most of them are hungry teens.  Looking back, I’d rather have spent that money on something more lasting.

I’m thinking I need a stash of errand-food — stuff that’s really easy to grab out of the fridge at home, toss in a cooler, and take along when I know errands are going to take awhile.  We almost never buy anything individual and snackish, so granola bars, cheese sticks, yogurt cups, or peanut butter cracker packs would still be a treat, but at a much lower cost to the wallet. The trick would be to hide those goodies at home, so they wouldn’t be gobbled up before we needed them.

Now. On to the successes of the week.

  • Made three loaves of Harvest Grain bread and stuck one in the freezer.
  • Resisted the urge to do fast food for dinner yet another evening when the kitchen was torn up. Instead I cleared a space on the stove, warmed up soup  (yay for double batches!) and served it with bread and salad.
  • Now, on to the reason the kitchen was torn up. This week I’ve been staining our 90′s honey-oak kitchen cabinets a deeper, richer color.  I am sooo excited about this project. The stain was $16 for a pint.  I applied it with old socks, and that little pint literally did the entire kitchen. To make this project even more exciting, months ago, when doing our bathroom stain, I bought drawer pulls and knobs enough for the kitchen, which my husband is going to install this weekend.  So this will be a really affordable facelift.  Hoping to be able to show it to you next Wednesday.  Fun!
  • I took the time to look at the booklet sent by our bank about their merger with a new bank.  I think our accounts won’t have monthly charges, but it seems I need to look for a new bank for most of the kids’ savings, as it looks like they would be charged $6 a month unless they keep above a $1000 balance, which isn’t realistic for several of our kids.  Treasure Valley folks– any suggestions for kids’ accounts?
  • After looking at MANY thrift stores, we finally found a prom dress for my daughter at a nice consignment store that was having a 40% off sale.  The dress was literally new with tags (original price $179) but thanks to the sale, it was $55.  It looks beautiful on her and will only take a tiny bit of altering (by moi– wish me luck.)
  • I sent off a baby gift for a friend’s daughter that consisted of things I’d sewn from my newly organized fabric stash.  Very fun!  I also finished sewing several more purses that I cut out last winter.  Thinking they’d make a fun gift for a wide variety of ladies.
  • I’ve been working hard to not waste any of the veggies from last week’s Bountiful Basket.  Most challenging has been THREE large heads of lettuce.  The BB lady said they had a couple extra lettuces and offered them in my box, so of course I accepted. We used most of the last head today, in Thai beef wraps (recipe below). Along with the usual grated carrot and minced onion, I also diced a zucchini really small and mixed it in with the ground beef, which makes it much more bearable to the ones of mine who don’t love zucchini.  I’ve shared the recipe before, but included it again here, in case you want to try it.  I’m always pleased at how happily kids eat their veggies when I serve this.

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • big bunch of chard, spinach, or lettuce – probably a pound or so
  • 2 carrots, grated or minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to taste (about 1/4 cup?)

Instructions

  1. Wash chard or lettuce leaves, shake off extra water, and set aside in a bowl. Shred carrot, onion, garlic, and any other veggie that you desire using a food processor. Cook ground meat in a large skillet with a little slosh of sesame oil, if you have it. If you are using ground turkey, you will probably need a tablespoon or two of oil as you cook it.
  2. Once meat is cooked, remove from pan and cook chopped veggies in the remaining oil until soft.
  3. Return hamburger to pan and mix with veggies and a good slosh of teriyaki sauce or soy sauce (probably around 1/4 cup). Add a cup or two of cooked rice, if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for a few more minutes, til ingredients are well mixed and heated.
  4. Serve by wrapping leaves of chard or lettuce around several tablespoons of meat. Let people take their own lettuce and their own serving of meat/veggies and wrap right on their plate.
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How did your week go?  I enjoyed reading the frugal accomplishments from the Prudent Homemaker earlier this week and I’d love to hear yours too.  Would any of you like me to add a linky to these frugality posts?  That way those of you who blog could easily share the links to your frugality posts, and it’d be easier for everyone to hop around to see what others are doing.  Let me know what you think, and if there is enough interest, I’ll add a linky next week.

Organizing sewing and craft supplies (and a recipe for homemade laundry detergent)

In my laundry room, I am fortunate to have quite a bit of high shelving above the washer and dryer, on which I store craft and sewing supplies.  I’ve been struggling for awhile with my fabric storage.  I’ve tried just folding it and stacking it.  I’ve tried keeping it in clear bins.  But inevitably when the girls or I are hunting for a particular piece of fabric, everything gets jumbled, and (apparently) none of us are terribly good at re-stacking things neatly on a routine basis.  Same with the crafts, kept in bins on the top shelves.   Things get pulled out, put away improperly or not at all, and the longer it goes between straightening, the messier the whole area gets.  Pretty soon pulling out even one tiny thing makes an avalanche of mess highly probable.  (Please tell me this doesn’t only happen at my house??)

Laundry room-- the messy middleAwhile back I’d seen this idea for organizing tissue paper, and realized it’d work perfectly for fabric.  So last week, I pulled all the mess off those upper shelves, wiped everything down, and started folding fabric and threading it through the wire shelving rack. I’m terrible at taking ‘before’ pictures when I do projects– I tend to be way to eager to just leap in– but here’s a picture of the messy middle. Anything would be an improvement at this point, right?

The hardest part about this project was folding the fabric of varying sizes and shapes into fairly uniform sizes, so that it would look nice lined up.  If I had it to do again, I’d probably organize it in the order of the colors of the rainbow– wouldn’t that be just lovely?  I’ve seen books arranged by color on bookshelves and loved it.  But I didn’t have that idea til I was halfway done with the project, so I think I will leave it be as is.  I still think it looks really pretty.

Organizing fabric with wire shelving

You might also be able to see in the photo above that I flipped the lower shelf over so that the lip of the shelf was facing up instead of down.  With the lip up, I was able to use the shelf for gift wrap storage. I’m planning to also add a long wire or a dowel just below that shelf onto which I can thread spools of ribbon, to better organize my gift wrap supplies.

Setting the fabric up this way makes it SO easy to see what I have and grab what I need without disturbing anything else.  I’m delighted with how much better my craft area looks now, and am hoping it will be lots easier to maintain.  And having everything so easy to find makes me want to leap in and use more of my goodies!  Hooray for organizing success.

Organizing craft supplies

 

Here are other posts I’ve written about my laundry room.  It’s a hard working space and has seen several revamps over the years.

Shelf for a mismatched washer/dryer

School-book shelving in my laundry room

Laundry room organization ideas

soapAnd in case you’re curious about our laundry soap, here’s the recipe:

  • 4 cups of borax
  • 4 cups of washing soda
  • 1/2 bar Fels-Naphtha soap, finely grated

We store it in a 2-quart jar onto which I’ve fitted a lid from a parmesan cheese container.  We put 2 tablespoons of this mixture into each wash load.  It does a good job and is much more affordable than regular laundry detergent.  It even worked well when we had a front loader washer.  (The front-load washer died after working long and valiantly on our behalf.)

If you like this post, I’d love a pin on Pinterest. Next Wednesday I hope to share a very exciting, very affordable project that I’m working on in my kitchen! What’s new at your house?  Have you done any organizing lately?

Springtime and Recipes

Flowers
I think I have spring fever this week. I’m weeding flowerbeds, planting petunias, cleaning out the sandbox, going for walks in the spring air, defrosting the freezer and cleaning out the pantry. (I know how to have fun, right? :) ) It feels great to be getting some of these projects done. Here are some more projects — actually, recipes–I have planned for the next few days.

Pakistani Kima

PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

Black Licorice Caramels

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

How’s your spring going so far?

Molly’s 10-Minute Chicken

 

Menu planning doesn't have to be complicated

Folks who haven’t done menu planning before sometimes assume it has to be this big complicated thing. Here’s how it most commonly looks at my house– a simple list of meals in a spiral notebook. (If I’d known I was going to show this list to you, I’d probably have written more neatly.  :) ) I start by listing all the meals that I can make with what I already have in the house.  Then I think about meals for which I already have most of the ingredients.  I want to use what I already have, and keep that grocery store list to a minimum.

As I plan, I list all the ingredients that I still need to buy down the other side of the page. This picture shows just the start of that list, on the left.  I ended up adding more items, but the list still was not huge.  I also think about extra cooking projects I’d like to do, such a baking bread or making cookies, and about items that I have lots of and would like to consciously use more of in the next couple weeks.  For example, I have lots of canned tomatoes in the pantry still, as well as some frozen veggies that I’d like use up before the summer.

Many of the recipes listed above can be found here on my blog– check out my recipe index for details.  And today I’ve got one more really easy recipe to add to that list.  It’s from my friend Molly who found it a website called Paleo Leap, and is so easy that you can literally get it into the oven in ten minutes flat.  It takes an hour to cook from that point, but hooray for 10 minute prep, right?  Even better, it is a recipe that everyone in my family loves, which is kinda unusual.  We’ve made it at least 4 times since Molly shared it three weeks ago.  Below shows my tweaks. Go to the Paleo Leap website to see the original.

Mollys 10-Minute Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 5-6 servings

Mollys 10-Minute Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 chicken drumsticks

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine garlic, chilli powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper as well as the olive oil or coconut oil. Dump in the chicken and mix well to ensure all the meat is evenly coated with the seasonings. (I slid back the chicken skin and got some seasoning under the skin, then pulled the skin back over the leg.)
  3. Place the drumsticks on a large baking sheet with space in between each to prevent overlap. Cook for about 1 hour, until the chicken is well cooked, turning the pieces once during the cooking process. (I don't turn the chicken and it is still wonderful.)
  4. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes if you wish, along with a nice big salad.
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Molly'sChicken1

 

When you’ve cooked it a hundred times

Pork and Veggie Stir-Fry

In the last few weeks while talking with mommas about the juggling act that is motherhood, inevitably some of the talk is about the stress involved in cooking, especially when lots of people really don’t enjoy cooking.  There’s nothing like uncertainty about your skill level to take the fun out of something. But when it comes to cooking, just being familiar with various cooking tasks will lead to much greater enjoyment of your time in the kitchen.  My friend Daniel Koontz wrote on his blog this week that he thinks a big key to comfort in the kitchen is having half a dozen or so recipes that you’ve cooked often enough that you can just about produce them on auto-pilot. I completely agree with his theory.  Not everyone will end up absolutely adoring their time in the kitchen, but just moving from dread to comfort is a huge improvement.

When you’re deciding on recipes that you’d like to get good at, here are some tips for picking ones that worth your time:

  • The recipe should be one that all or most of your family enjoys.
  • It should feature affordable, easy-to-find ingredients.
  • It should take 30 minutes or less to complete.

Here are some of the recipes I’ve made so many times that I could probably do them while sleep-walking:

How about you?  What are some of your favorite quick meals?

 

 

 

Easy egg rolls

Easy Egg Rolls

 

Here’s a recipe for the egg rolls that I mentioned the other day.  Vary the filling as you wish.

Easy egg rolls

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 20 rolls

Egg rolls are my traditional offering at our family’s Super Bowl party. I fry them at home and re-crisp in my host’s oven for a few minutes before setting them out, with teriyaki sauce and wasabi on the side. If you like spicy food, you can add red pepper flakes to the filling. It is also perfectly fine to steam them instead of frying if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • * 1/2 pound ground beef
  • * 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • * 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • * 1/2 medium head green cabbage, thinly slivered
  • * 1 carrot, shredded
  • * 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • * 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • * 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • * 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • * 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • * 1 package 6-inch egg roll wrappers, about 20
  • * Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until heat. Add the ground beef and garlic and cook until no longer pink, breaking up any clumps. Remove the beef to a bowl and drain the fat off from the skillet. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel to remove most of the beef fat.
  2. Add the sesame oil to the skillet and heat for several minutes over medium heat. Add the cabbage, carrot, and green onion and cook until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together te soy sauce and cornstarch. Add the ginger and pepper, stirring again.
  4. Return the beef to the skillet, add the soy sauce mixture, stir to combine everything, and cook for a few more minutes, until the cornstarch thickens any liquid. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. Prepare a clean work surface, with a small bowl of water close by. Place one wonton wrapper in front of you, with one corner pointing away from you. Imagine that the wrapper is a clock face and that the point furthest from you represents 12 o’ clock. Spoon a couple tablespoons of filling horizontally across the center of the wrapper. Fold the 6 o’ clock point up over the filling, tucking it under the filling after you cover it to make a little rounded log.
  6. Next, fold the 3 o’ clock and the 9 o’ clock points of the wrapper towards the center so that those two points overlap a little. Finally, wet the 12 o’ clock point of the wrapper with a little water, and roll the whole egg roll up toward that point until you’ve formed a tidy little bundle. Gently press the 12 o’ clock point so that it adheres well to the roll.
  7. Heat enough vegetable oil in a medium skillet to immerse the egg rolls halfway. The ideal frying temperature is about 350° F. I usually begin over medium-high heat, reducing the temperature a notch every 5 minutes or so as I cook, since the longer you cook, the faster the eggs rolls will brown. Usually it takes no longer than 3 to 4 minutes to cook an egg roll. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side. Turn carefully and cook 1-2 more minutes on the second side. Watch them, because they can burn quickly. Remove to a paper-towel-covered plate to cool before eating. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all rolls are cooked.
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