Baked Southwest Egg Rolls with Creamy Salsa

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I have a major weakness for Southwest egg rolls. It’s my kryptonite. Just one whiff of them can bring me to my knees, and every time I see them on a menu (and that’s a lot since our move to Texas), I have to order them. I’m not sure who it was that first came up with this Asian fusion work of art, but they should be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for brilliance in food discovery. Alright, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but that’s how much I love them. Now, with that being said, I realize that these fried little goodies aren’t the most nutritious things you can put into your mouth, and with bikini season still in full swing, I’m not yet willing to abandon my healthy eating habits and devour these by the handful, like I inevitably do once sweater season strikes. But just because the weather is warm and the clothing trends skimpy, doesn’t mean I should completely sacrifice my favorite go-to appetizer, right? At least that’s what I was thinking last weekend when I was having a serious snack-attack. Hungry for something savory and satisfying, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own less fattening version of the Southwest egg roll. Made with brown rice, lean chicken, and baked instead of fried, I feel better (at least a little bit) about attacking these guys with reckless abandon. Which I did. — Don’t judge.

Baked Southwest Egg Rolls

Makes 14

  • ½ cup dry brown rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1½ cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1½ cups corn kernels, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup precooked rotisserie chicken (white meat, skin removed), roughly chopped (*omit to make this a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or orange), chopped
  • ½ cup jarred salsa
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 Tbsp diced canned jalapeños (substitute mild diced green chills for less heat)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 14 flour tortillas, fajita size
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
  • parchment paper

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Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add rice and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until rice is soft and all the water has evaporated from the pot. Once rice has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour half of the black beans into a medium bowl and mash with a fork until most of the beans are crushed.IMG_9237

To the same bowl, add cooked rice and all the other remaining ingredients (except the tortillas and egg wash), and stir until combined.IMG_9254

Fill a ¼-cup measurer with egg roll filling and drop it into the center of a tortilla.IMG_9259

Bring 2 sides of the tortilla upward, then use your other hand to press on the outside of the tortilla, forming the filling into a log running down the center of the tortilla, stopping ½-inch from each end.IMG_9260

Fold the bottom of the tortilla up towards the center, then fold both sides inward, creating an envelope.IMG_9261

Brush the open end of tortilla with the egg wash and fold inward, sealing the egg roll.IMG_9266 IMG_9263

Place egg roll seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then brush the top of the tortilla with egg wash, covering the entire surface.IMG_9265

Repeat with the remaining tortillas.IMG_9268

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until egg rolls are golden brown and crispy to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with Creamy Salsa for dipping (recipe below).IMG_9270

Creamy Salsa

  • 1 cup jarred salsa
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • smoked paprika for garnish

Mix salsa, sour cream, and salt together until smooth. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Creamy Salsa can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.IMG_9287

Sidekick: Serve with a light and refreshing beer, preferably of the Mexican variety: Pacifico, Modelo, Sol, Dos Equis, Victoria, or Carta Blanca.

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Super Easy Sopapillas

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Sopapillas are a traditional Mexican dessert consisting of fried dough that’s been sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar then drizzled with honey. Ohmygod my mouth started watering just typing that sentence. Okay, now you’ve all had elephant ears at the fair, right? Yeah, well these are so much better. I don’t know why, but they are. Maybe it’s the honey. Maybe it’s the Mexican flare. Or maybe it’s just me. But this dessert is the single most thing I look forward to whenever we go out for Mexican food. Forget the chips and salsa, I’m all about the sopapillas.

Now normally I like to do things the right way. I’m about making the dough by hand, letting it rise, rolling it out, and frying it in small batches. When time permits. But when you have a house full of hungry guests who have been drinking daiquiris and noshing on street tacos, there’s no way you’re gonna to want to pull yourself away from the party to cook up a labor-intensive dessert. At least I wouldn’t. So why not opt for something simpler. Let’s all just agree to skip the kneading and rolling this Cinco de Mayo and throw a bunch of tortillas into the fryer instead!

Super Easy Sopapillas

  • vegetable oil, roughly ¼-½ cup
  • 4-6 small flour tortillas (fajita size works well)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • honey

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Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges, set aside. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Pour oil into a straight-sided skillet until it’s ¼-inch deep. Set heat between medium-high and high. Allow oil to get hot (you’ll know it’s ready when a couple drops of water pop when they hit the oil).

With kitchen tongs, carefully place 4-5 tortilla wedges into the oil and cook, occasionally pressing down on the tortillas, until they brown on one side, then flip and cook on the other side, approximately 1 minute per side.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges.

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Either drizzle with honey and serve immediately, or allow to cool, then store at room temperature in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 day. Drizzle with honey just before serving.

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Side note: In case you were wondering what happens to all this delicious food after I’m done with my photo shoots, I can tell you that everything goes directly to my Quality Assurance department (a.k.a. my stomach). So yeah, I ate this entire plate of sopapillas as soon as I put down my camera. And no, I didn’t save any for my toddler who was napping at the time. Don’t judge me.