Friday, December 4, 2015

Southwest Eggrolls (baked not fried)

Last Year's Post: Beer Cheese
Two Years Ago:  Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I found this recipe online as a Chili's Copycat for their Southwest-Style Eggrolls at a "top secret recipes" website, and the guy really nailed it - the flavor is just like the restaurant version.  I made one important change to make it healthier because I don't want to deep-fry anything:  I made it using phyllo dough and baked it until crisp and brown.  The result was fabulous and reminded me not only of those famous eggrolls, but also of a good restaurant chimichanga.  The eggrolls satisfied my Mexican cravings without a trip to the nearest Mexican restaurant, which always involves mass quantities of chips and salsa in addition to re-fried beans, none of which are healthy.

There are a fair number of ingredients and a good amount of prep in the recipe, so if you like them I would suggest making a double batch and freezing some for the next time.  To minimize the prep, use already-cooked chicken from the deli and use your mini food processor to mince the bell pepper and onion.  Be sure to mince ingredients before measuring.  How do you know to measure before or after chopping?  If the recipe says "2 tablespoons minced green onion", mince it first.  If it says "2 tablespoons green onion, minced" measure it first.  Make sure everything is prepped before you start cooking the peppers and onions because it goes fast from there on out.

The filling can be assembled in advance, leaving just the wrapping and baking for the end.  Don't worry if the phyllo sheets crack a little here or there, they get rolled up so many times that you'll never know the difference.

You can make these normal size and cut them up for appetizers or leave them whole as an entree.  They're actually bigger than an eggroll - more like a smallish chimichanga.  You could also making a small version by cutting the phyllo sheets in half and using less filling which would make them easier to dunk and pop in your mouth.  Phyllo is very flaky and the edges will crumble as you cut or bite the eggroll, but to me the trade-off is well worth it to avoid deep frying.

The other nice thing about making the eggrolls yourself - besides the fact that they're much healthier -is that you can make them as spicy as you want.  This recipe is very slightly spicy (the restaurant version needs to please everyone) but you can make it spicier by adding more jalapenos or more cayenne.  And then you can have your very own, favorite recipe southwest eggrolls piping hot right at home.

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Southwest Eggrolls
Makes 8 large eggrolls

Note:  to freeze for later, assemble eggrolls and freeze, then place in a resealable bag.  To bake, thaw eggrolls and bake as directed.

For the eggrolls:
2 cooked chicken breasts (from a rotisserie chicken or leftovers), diced into small cubes
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
¼ cup minced green onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, finely chopped
¼ cup diced canned jalapeno peppers
2/3 cup frozen corn
½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon minced cilantro (or substitute parsley)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
16 (9”x14”) sheets of phyllo dough (one sleeve from a package of frozen phyllo dough), thawed
Olive oil or olive oil spray, for brushing

For the avocado-ranch dipping sauce:
1 avocado
¾ - 1 cup ranch dressing

Preheat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the red pepper and onion to the pan and sauté 1-2 minutes until tender.  Add the spinach next, stirring to break up clumps, then add the jalapenos and stir to combine.  Next add the corn and black beans and stir gently, then add the cilantro and spices and stir one final time.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  When completely cool, add the shredded cheese and stir to combine.

Note:  the filling can be made in advance.  Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 425d.

When ready to assemble, remove the phyllo sheets from the wrapper and place flat on a work surface.  Immediately cover with a damp towel to make sure they don’t dry out.  Remove one phyllo sheet and place on a second work surface, keeping the remaining sheets covered with the towel.  Brush the sheet with olive oil or lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.  Top with a second phyllo sheet and brush or spray with oil again.  Working with the short side nearest you, place a heaping ½ cup of filling on the lower part of the sheet leaving a 1” margin on the bottom and sides.  Fold the phyllo from the bottom up over the filling, then fold in 1” on both sides and roll up completely.  Place wrap seam side down on a baking sheet lined with foil; brush with oil.  Repeat with the remaining filling, phyllo sheets and oil.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Let stand 5 minutes to cool.  While the eggrolls are baking, remove the avocado from its shell and mash, then combine with the ranch dressing.

Serve the eggrolls with the sauce on the side.

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