Spinach and Water Chestnut Wontons

Do you ever go to Chinese restaurants and order wontons?

When they get to your table, do you ever stare in fascination at how those sumptuous babies are made?

I do!

I love wontons. Especially cream cheese filled wontons where the filling melts into the cracks and folds of the crispy shell.

I would consider myself to be pretty DIY, and so the other night, I decided, hey, I might as well try to make some.

I had to watch this Youtube video to learn how to wrap wontons, and turns out it’s amazingly easy!

I went to the corner market and got the ingredients I would need. I wanted to make some wontons that were a little healthier than just cream cheese and fried dough (delicious as that is). So in addition to the cream cheese, I stuffed my tons with:

Spinach, lots of it

Green Onion

and Water Chestnuts for crunch

You start with your filling, the measurements are really based on your preference.

I used roughly

4 oz Cream Cheese

3 Green Onions

3-4 handfuls of Spinach

1 small can of Water Chestnuts

Mix all that together

Assembly is simple,

Lay out a wonton on your counter (or cutting board)

Have a dish of water handy

Place a dollop of filling right in the center

To fold them, trace a half moon of water around one side then fold the 2 sides together, squeezing out the air and pinching the sides tightly shut.

I chose to fold my wontons in the “Nurse Cap” style. Its easy as pie. Fold the right edge over the left and pinch it shut with your fingers.

I rounded this one out to show you the bottom, but you can push the folded top flap and the filled portion together.

After you’ve finished, its time to start frying!

In an appropriate sized sauce pan, place about an inch and a half of oil inside and heat on medium, not to the point that the oil starts smoking though.

Place a few at a time in the pot, remember though, don’t crowd the wontons! They need their space to fry.

Your wontons will float on one side, so halfway through flip them over.

I found that turning the heat down a little and cooking the wontons low and slow worked well for me. But if you’re starving go ahead and keep it at medium/medium-high and just watch them like a hawk so they don’t burn.

Yea, they were incredible. The spinach warmed and softened while the green onions maintained their subtle crisp flavor and the water chestnuts were that extra crunch vital to keeping a dish from flat lining.

If you wanted to go a healthier route, you could poach the wontons in chicken or vegetable broth. For me though, I think this method is better suited for a wonton soup, rather than an appetizer, and I think I would prefer a meat and veggie filled poached wonton. I’ll leave my cream cheese crisp.

What are some of your favorite wonton fillings?

RAW Food Challenge Day 3

Hello hello!

I woke up feeling very energized this morning, I was a good girl and went to bed at 10pm (instead of my usual 2am). It’s amazing what a little extra sleep will do for ya, isn’t it? Oh and I wasn’t even that cold this morning, ’cause I’m a smarty pants and slept with 2 pairs of socks on, a sweatshirt, and 4 blankets! Gosh, it was great!

I got up and noticed it was a little dark in my room. A little background, I have a large 5 sided bay window in my room, and I shut the blinds every night so that the sun doesn’t wake me up, so my room usually is a little dark. I guess what I meant to say was, I noticed my room was a little darker than usual.

I took this photo on a sunnier day

(My comment about my 5 windows and all that sunshine was NOT me complaining! I am blessed, beyond blessed to live where I do. I love my bright windowed room!)

I pull up the blinds and surprise surprise, it had rained last night. Not a big deal, but it gave everything that rainy greyish tint to it, which is not motivating in the morning. I needed to counteract that lazy grey feeling, immediately.

What better way to fight the grey rain than with a tropical breakfast?!

(There is no better way)

Breakfast: Mango Smoothie and Banana Nut Bites

I really liked my smoothie from yesterday, like a lot, a lot a lot. But I’m trying to not repeat recipes until this challenge is over, so I can really highlight just how much can be done if you choose to try or adopt the raw food diet.

I kept the almond milk and the frozen banana and upgraded that peanut butter from yesterday to the very tropical mango!

Sometimes I can really make a mess

If you’re like me, clean up your counter and then start blending your smoothie!

Recipe goes:

2 fresh Mangos

1 frozen Banana

1 1/2 cups of Raw Almond Milk

4 ice cubes, optional (I did this ’cause I only used 1 frozen banana and I like my smoothies cold)

Blend it together for a minute

So bright and sunny! Exactly what I needed!

But, it was lacking protein…so I whipped up some little Banana Nut Bites

Its as easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Slice 1 Banana into bite sized pieces, on the diagonal

2. Spoon a tiny amount of raw Almond Butter onto each slice

3. Pick up each slice and lay it almond butter side down onto raw hulled Hemp Seeds for a second

Flip them back over, put ’em on a plate and you’re ready to go!

All together now!

I know its only Day 3 and I have quite a few more breakfasts ahead of me, but oh my gosh, this might be my favorite! Like most of the stuff I’ve been eating, this really filled me up without giving me a food coma, but the creaminess and richness of the mango, banana and almond butter really left me feeling SO satisfied!

Snack: Kombucha

Breakfast was so filling I never even needed my snack today, so I just drank my Kombucha, today’s flavor was Botanic No 7. I’ve never had it before, it was a little “spicy,” nevertheless tasty.

Lunch: Fruit Salad with a Coconut Lime Puree

The grey weather today was touch and go, so I wanted to continue to ward it off with my tropical theme, I have all this fresh fruit laying around so I started chopping it up to make a fruit salad.

Then I sliced the cantaloupe in half and cleaned out the guts and it hit me

THIS CANTALOUPE WOULD MAKE THE PERFECT FRUIT BOWL!

To fill with all of this good stuff

By the way, look at how closely these grapes grew together!

I don’t know about you guys, but every time I see a coconut I start singing “you put the lime in the coconut and drink a bowl up, you put the lime in the coconut…” (you get it) in my head and sometimes out loud.

There I was hacking at my coconut with the biggest knife I had singing when all of a sudden, another brilliant idea hit me! I should put the lime in the coconut!

Wait, what?

What is this crazy girl talking about?

Well my friends, I was just gonna use the coconut water and meat to make a nice puree to use as dressing, but my subconscious was attempting to and succeeded in steering me in a different direction.

I grabbed a lime out of my fruit bowl, zested that thing SO good and then juiced it!

I also gotta ask, does anyone know an easy and good way to remove coconut meat? My arm was exhausted after scraping just part of one half

I am pretty pumped because when I do finally scrap all the coconut meat out, I will be halfway done constructing a coconut bra. So, someone, please throw a luau.

Back to my lunch

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I used my trusty food processor to blend the coconut water, meat, and lime

This may be the most beautiful shade of green

I scooped some of the puree on top of my fruit, and wouldn’t you know it, I had enough of the water left over to drink!

This was a GREAT lunch! I didn’t take a photo of it, but I sprinkled some sunflower seeds on top for some extra crunch!

Dinner: Vegetable Sushi Two Ways

I had work tonight, so right after I finished lunch I set to work on making my dinner so I could take it with me. I really like the idea of something easy and utensil free to eat at work, since tonight I was working up front, I wanted something I could sneak bites of from under the counter without the hassle of a fork and knife.

What’s easy, utensil free, and raw?

Sushi!

Almost

If you make it without rice

And cooked fish

So, that’s what I did.

I started by making another batch of Pico de Gallo (tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime, salt)

Then I took a piece of Nori and put it on my sushi roller, like I really knew what I was doing

Then I laid a gorgeous piece of red chard on top of that

Scooped a few big spoonfuls of pico de gallo on top of that and smeared it into all the cracks

The rest is history

Then I rolled it and sliced it in half, like so

This roll was bright and complex with all the flavors going on, for real, this thing is packed with flavor, but it lacked a certain richness. Sushi, in general, is only momentarily gratifying since its such a light dish. I decided to make another type of roll to really fill me up.

Avocado seemed like the best way to add some substance to the sushi, since I didn’t have any sashimi lying around!

I didn’t want to just do the typical slices of avocado, I wanted to leave out the pico de gallo on this roll and make the avocado a spread. I must admit, my food processor has never had this much action before, it’s great! I scooped 1 avocado into it and then squeezed the juice of 1 orange in too, because I wanted this roll to still have a citrus brightness that would be absent otherwise since the pico de gallo was the vessel that brought citrus in the last time.

Boy, this was AMAZING! You all will be seeing this pop up in other recipes the rest of this week, as dip, as dressing, you name it.

I repeated the Nori on the sushi roller, laid down a chard leaf and then smeared this ‘cado spread all over it

Red bell pepper, carrot and sesame seeds completed this medley. At the last minute I popped a couple slices of avocado in there, cause I love it so much.

Mmmmmmmm

(Well, I knew this would come out sooner or later…I am not the most expert sushi roller/sushi slicer. Please don’t hate me)

I think I much preferred this wrap since it was smothered and covered in avocado.

Overall, today was good. I got lots of work done and I never felt lethargic or real icky. I will admit, work was a struggle. For those who don’t know, I work in a Brazilian-Italian restaurant as a waitress mostly, but sometimes I work up in the front on the phones and doing take out orders. Hearing all the customers tell me all the things they were gonna eat was hard. Smelling all the wonderful scents wafting out of the kitchen was worse. Much worse. I still have 2 more days of work while I am on this challenge, its gonna be a rough. Wish me luck!

I finally just got home and am drinking my daily allotted cup of tea to warm my soul, and fingers, and toes, and body in general. Goodnight my food lovers, I shall write more to you tomorrow.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes with a Goat Cheese Filling

The Friday before Matt left for Germany in July he told me to get dressed in something nice – heels included – because he was taking me out to a fancy dinner. Oo la la. As we were walking toward the Embarcadero I happened to notice a girl with bright red lipstick, straight across bangs and a tye dye shirt walking in the opposite direction. I did a double take and realized it was none other than my friend, Dolly. She and I met a couple years ago and became seriously inseparable, over the past year though we have drifted apart due to moves to the East Bay, far away jobs and hectic schedules. We hung out a few months ago at her new place and had a blast, promising to do it again soon.

Then finals happened. Then then I moved and my second job started. Needless to say, my social life took a few punches.

As soon as I realized it was Dolly walking in my direction I screamed her name and ran over to her. A little awkwardly I might add since I was wearing 5 inch heels and the sidewalk was all brick. Her first words to me were something like “I’m pretty sure finals are over biy-atch. Why haven’t we hung out yet?!” Apologizing profusely, I told her that after Tuesday I would be available since the next few days I would be helping Matt get ready to leave for his month or so long trip to Germany.

We hugged and promised to text.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning. I log into Facebook at 9am and have a comment from Dolly. “It’s after Tuesday. WHERE IS MY KRISTINA RINA TIME?! ♥ Hehe.”

This girl doesn’t mess around. So I text her right then and there asking what she was doing that night. Literally 30 seconds later she text back,  “hanging with choo.”

It was on. We made plans for her to come over after she got off work and I set to thinking of a dinner menu. Dolly is vegetarian and allergic to bananas which is a total bummer cause I have really been wanted to make a banana encrusted pork shoulder. Just kidding.

Last time I was at Dolly’s house she introduced me to the creamy glorious wonder that is goat cheese. Halfway into our log of it, her roommate’s girlfriend explained to me how she used to have a real problem with it. She would go through about a log a night. No joke – for the next 4 days I ate a log a day, going to far as to have my friend who works at the market up the street from my job straight up deliver me some on his lunch break.

Yea, it got real. Fast.

Goat cheese and I had to call it quits, but as old lovers often do, we got back together a few months ago. Things are going well so far, we are just taking it slow and in moderation. But when we first rekindled the flame, Matt was gone, and I’d been feeling a little lonely. So I went and bought 2 large logs of the good stuff and intended to use them both for my dinner with Dolly.

I didn’t want to just make some simple vegetarian dish like pasta, so I did a little searching online and got the idea to mix the goat cheese with garlic and basil and stuff it inside a tomato and then bake it.

I got my oven heating to 425 and put the log of goat cheese in between the burners on the stove (none of the burners were lit) to let it soften a little from the warming oven.

I started with 4 tomatoes still on the vine. I cut the very tops off and used a knife and a spoon to cut and scoop their insides out then I cut off the very bottoms of the tomatoes to make sure that they sat straight.

For the filling I took my cheese off the stove, unwrapped it and put it in a bowl. I then minced 5 cloves of garlic and added that to the cheese. Now the original recipe I saw for this only called for 2 cloves for a lot more cheese but:

1. I love garlic

2. I wasn’t gonna be making out with anyone so I really didn’t care if my breath wasn’t smellin’ like a rose.

I then added a moderate amount of dried basil. I would have preferred to use fresh but when I was at the market they were out of regular and were selling what looked to be 3 leaves of organic basil for 2.49…my dried stuff was just fine.

I mixed this all together and then added 1 egg and beat everything together until it was oh, so smooth.

I then loaded up those beautiful red tomato shells to the brim with the cheese. Actually I filled them up a little more, like half an inch over the top. For good measure. And because I had extra cheese mixture.

Then I took the tops of the tomatoes and put them back on. Like a hat.

I staggered the tomatoes in an oven safe dish like this

I put them in the oven for 35 minutes and until the skin looked a little wrinkled and the cheese was smelling wonderful.

Once on the plate, we barely even needed a fork, let alone a knife, to cut through the tender skin and melted cheese. It took a ton of self control to not just slice the tomato into 4 pieces and pop them into my mouth at the speed of light. But I refrained. I took small, ladylike bites and savored the light, yet bold flavor. All the while sitting on the floor of my kitchen with Dolly and a bottle of wine.

God, I love goat cheese.