G.A.W. Travel: We Went to Portland!

Or: There & Back Again: A Roadtripper’s Tale

 So, A and I took a roadtrip, and it was amazing/exhausting/awesome…let’s call it amaustsome.

Bloggers note: I’ve decided to not even waste your time addressing my absence, and instead just jump into my awesome adventure.

I had been thinking it was about time for us to have a little escape from the daily grind, and A has this not-so-secret interest in the fine city of Portland. So, we hatched a plan to drive North to the hipster capitol of the world City of Roses and enjoy the sights along the way.

We were in Portland for less than 24 hours, but I’m telling you, I’m already in love with it. The sights, the sounds, the smells (good and not so awesome); they all come together to make this perfect big city/small town feel love child.

We took off early as hell on Friday morning a week or two ago, and drove in an upwards direction, stopping off in Redding, CA for a much needed big ass breakfast at Deja Vu.

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Bearded A, flanneled up and prepared for Portland

The service was amazing, and the food was even better. I had a mushroom omelet with a big warm cup of tea, and A had a breakfast scramble with a peach smoothie. It was perfect road tripping food, as we didn’t really have to stop for food for the rest of the trip! They also have a little cafe attached to the full restaurant where they serve coffee and tea drinks to go as well as a host of delicious looking pastries.

I’ve neglected to mention that at this time, I had a full on monster head cold, and A being the champion that he is, dealt with my sneezy, nose blowing, whiney, tea drinking, omg-please-stop-I-have-to-pee self. In the car. For 12 hours. The man is a saint.

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We took turns driving  – I took the first and last portions of the trip, and A drove the majority of the middle – i.e. the really pretty, but otherwise fairly boring bits – sorry, babe. Along the way, not far North of Redding we drove past the beautiful monstrosity that is Mt. Shasta. Obviously, I took about 2 million photos, but here’s my personal favorite…

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I’ve been told that one of the ideal places to view Mt. Shasta is from McCloud which is this really picturesque town south of the mountain, but this picture was taken just north of Weed, CA, so you try telling me that this isn’t a great view.

There are so many gorgeous sights throughout this particular drive – A really enjoyed the sights between Lake Shasta and Medford, OR, as there were tons of gorgeous trees and hills full of lush green leaves, in addition to the autumn colors present. It almost felt like miniature New England in some spots.

We, of course, stopped off in Grant’s Pass at the Grant’s Pass Caveman – I couldn’t help it. I’m a sucker for a good roadside attraction, and there are few things that scream roadside attraction better than a gigantic fiberglass caveman.

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#Twinsies

After Grant’s Pass I don’t remember much, as I was in a bit of a sleep induced blur. We stopped a couple of hours outside of Portland, and I took the wheel once more, and completed our ascent into Portland.

We stayed at the Hotel Vintage Plaza in Downtown Portland – perfect for walking around everywhere as we did both that night and the following day. The room was perfect – comfortable, with lots of great little amenities, plus wine tasting in the lobbying the evenings, coffee/tea in the mornings, awesome friendly staff and a pretty great restaurant (Pazzo Ristorante) that provides room service!

We arrived, checked in, and went up to our room for a quick rest, refresh and RedBull (the 3 R’s, obvi), before heading out to check out some of the local bars and restaurants!

I (true to form) did a bit of research before we left, and found out about these “pods” of food carts/trucks that are located around the Portland area (more info here).

As there was a bit of a wait at our first stop, we wandered around the neighborhood to find something to nibble on. Lo and behold we happened upon the Alder Street Food Cart Pod, and acquired what I can only describe as the best Lamb Gyro I’ve ever had in my life from the gyro stand on the corner of SW Alder & SW 9th. Seriously. The best. I wish I had a picture to show you, but A and I destroyed that thing. A giant gyro and a water to share and a baklava for A came out to $8. A steal!

Our next stop was one of A’s favorite places on the whole trip – the Multnomah Whiskey Library. This place doesn’t mess around – all of the servers are bartenders and are required to know their spirits. With a collection of 850 types of whiskey, plus gins, vodkas, and all manner of wines – it’s clear from quality of the service, food & drink that these folks know their stuff. We shared oysters and sipped on excellent drinks prepared by a mustachioed man in old school bartender attire. It was delightful – definitely worth the wait!

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We also visited Swine Bar (the bar portion of Swank & Swine) not far away from MWL, and greatly enjoyed the “Bacon Cheesecake” and a few delicious cocktails. Finally, we topped off the night with a glass of wine/Manhattan and a big slice of Tiramisu ordered from Pazzo Ristorante as room service! It was an excellent first night in Portland, albeit an incredibly long day!

The next morning, we bundled up and walked to a place we had heard LOTS about — Voodoo Doughnut! And let me tell you, it lived up to the hype.

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Mmmmm…..doughnut…

We also heard from one of the staff members at our hotel that Blue Star Donuts is the locals’ donut of choice. While I can’t speak to the validity of that, I checked out their website/instagram and they look equally legit. If we had more than 24 hours in Portland, you can bet we would have checked them out too!

Anyways, we took our giant pink box of donuts (in and of itself, the pink box is brilliant marketing; no less than 10 people over the course of the morning stopped A and myself to ask how close they were to Voodoo) and made our way to the Portland Saturday Market, where we walked along the river, enjoyed the scenery and checked out all the cool arts & crafts on display. There were lots of delicious looking food carts/trucks – coffee, cider, elephant ears, and all various types of cuisines, plus beer and cider tasting!

We so enjoyed strolling about Portland that morning – fall was in the air, and the streets weren’t too terribly busy at all. A great way to start the day!

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At that point, we checked out of our hotel, and drove out to check out Multnomah Falls, which is about 30-40 minutes East of Portland. This was the part of the trip that I would say, I was the most pumped up about. My mom and I had thought about visiting Multnomah on a previous trip, but weren’t able to due to timing constraints. Needless to say, the waterfall did not disappoint.

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I mean, come ON.

Like I said – it was amazing. 620 feet of gorgeous cascading water. The autumn colors. The salmon on their grind in the river. We asked some poor fellow-tourist to half lean off the bridge so that we could have this perfect cheese-tastic picture (I not-so-secretly adore it).

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I, of course, needed some sort of kitschy keepsakery from our time – so I ventured into the gift shop and emerged with a Christmas ornament and a huge jar of huckleberry jam for K (she’s hooked on it!).

The drive, BTW, between Portland and Multnomah is completely picturesque. Rolling hills, the lazy wind of the Columbia River Gorge; it’s breathtaking, and almost in and of itself makes the small trek worth it.

We made our way back to Portland, and ventured into Powell’s City of Books where we picked up a couple of fabulous autobiographies (A got Neil Patrick Harris’s Choose Your Own Biography and I picked up the majestic Amy Poehler’s Yes Please). I wish we would have had more time (and less hunger) to explore this store — a city block and 3 stories worth of reading material. It’s a book nerd’s dream.

For our final stop, we dropped in at Deschutes Brewery for a surprisingly remarkable burger and a beer, before hitting the road back home. But I’m serious about the food – we were expecting mid-level pub/bar fare, and were pleasantly surprised with a couple of really solid burgers.

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“Books, Burgers, and Brews” – I think I’m so clever – Just kidding, it was all A’s genius.

Despite our original plan to drive halfway home, rest, and then take the rest of the drive Sunday, we went beast mode and drove the whole way back. A took the first leg while I napped, and then I, fueled by Red Bull and the fire of my general stubbornness (plus the desire to save the $50 we’d otherwise throw down on a sleep & run hotel), made the rest of the trip.

Honestly, we had such a blast – Portland left a huge positive impression on us both that we won’t soon forget. I know we’ll be back – perhaps via plane next time though, so we have more time (and less road).

I would love to hear about some of your favorite road trips! What went well, what was a disaster; share your stories!!

xoxo,

G.A.W.

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G.A.W. Quickie: Simple Kale Chips

Or: It started to cool off and it’s safe to use the oven again

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HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

White wine and kale chips are a healthy balanced dinner right??

Just kidding, I had a hummus & avocado in a whole grain wrap for dinner and it knocked my socks off. (Mom, please don’t worry.)

It’s been cooling off a great deal the past few days, which has been so nice. Gwen has been enjoying it in particular – as characterized by her increasingly cat-like happy/spastic behavior.

Anyways, you know how this works…

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Here are the stupidly simple ingredients for these kale chips that I made and then scarfed down.

Ingredients
  • Kale – rinsed, pat dry (like super dry – I’ll talk about this in a sec), and ripped into 1.5″ (or so) pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Yep. That’s it.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F, and while it’s heating up, rinse your kale and pat each and every leaf dry (seriously, it makes a difference – that’s all that stands in between you and slightly soggy kale chips. PROTECT YOURSELF). Remove the leaves from the hard stem, and rip into 1-1.5 inch chunks – keep in mind that they’ll shrink in the oven, and you don’t want tiny chips. NO ONE wants tiny chips.

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I used about half of a bunch of kale for just myself (A was off on grand adventures) but if you don’t plan on chowing down on the whole bowl and you actually want to share, upwards of half of a bunch would do just fine.

Next, I broke out my secret weapons…shhhhh it’s a SECRET….

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Just kidding, it’s not a secret at all. Misto is like the light of my life (sorry, A). The tool on the left has turned my lovely olive oil into a “mist” (eh???) that I can spray on whatever I desire – coating a cookie sheet, preparing a salad, or in this case, spraying about a tablespoon of olive oil onto my now perfectly dried and torn up kale pieces and tossing by hand. If you want to get your hands on a set like this, go here.

Next, I took the second part of my Misto set (an awesome double ended salt/pepper grinder), and ground up some kosher salt (about 2 teaspoons, probably) and tossed again to get every piece equally coated and avoid biting into one singular violently salty kale chip. You can also use other spices, if you like – a little garlic powder or cajun spice are particular favorites of mine.

Tossed them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350F and I was in absolute heaven. I can’t be expected to handle this sort of simple, delicious responsibility.

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Let me know if you have any other favorite kale chip variations!

Stay cool and healthy my darlings.

xoxo,

G.A.W.

G.A.W. Sips: Blended Watermelon Gimlet

Or: It’s still hot, and summer produce is for blending with ice and spirits.

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IT HASN’T STOPPED BEING HOT SINCE LAST WE SPOKE.

In fact, it’s gotten hotter, if possible.

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Anyways, those little “personal” sized watermelons were on sale this week at the grocery store, and I’ve taken it upon myself to share my blending obsession with the universe and simultaneously will try anything to keep from melting. So here’s what I concocted!

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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 of a “personal” or mini watermelon
  • 1 lemon (I know two are shown, this was before I tried the recipe, so hush).
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of fruit juice (in this iteration I used Raspberry Lemonade, but I used mango juice the second time I made it, for more of a tropical taste. It’s all up to you!)
  • 1 tray of ice
  • Optional (to make it a gimlet): Gin – I used Bombay Saphire because it’s my favorite and it’s also what I had on hand. So there’s that. You could also use tequila or vodka! For this recipe I used three shots (Made a huge pitcher), but honestly, use however much you deem best depending on if you like your drinks more or less strong. BUT drink responsibly, if you choose to gimlet-ify this blend!
ENOUGH – LET’S DRINK

Okay, so I chopped up half of the watermelon and shoved it all into my blender (it’s worth noting that I had to actually pour some of the blended watermelon juice out of the blender to be able to add gin and ice, so compress and reduce portions as needed).

photo 2 Squeezed in my lemon juice…

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Added the fruit juice – like I said, this time was Raspberry Lemonade, but any lemonade, berry or tropical based fruit juice would probably be very good!

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If you’re making it sans booze, go ahead and add ice, then blend and enjoy at this point…however if you’re here for the party…

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Add in your favorite gin! Other potential spirits, if you’re not into gin like myself, include tequila or vodka. I’d stay away from rum, but that’s mostly because I generally despise it. So, gin it is!

Anyways, add in your ice, if you can make the space, then blend and prepare to witness magic.

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Is it not glorious?

These are SUCH a delicious treat, with or without the alcohol. A and I tried these first this past weekend, and then enjoyed them again with O in celebration of their completion of a full first year in graduate school (congratulations, gentleman).

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Try this recipe out and let me know if you discover any great tricks with other spirits!

xoxo,

G.A.W.

Mean Green (Chocolate Peanut Butter) Protein Shake

Or: HULK SMASH

all i want to do is eat an entire pint of ben & JErry’s is that so bad?? Look at it. it’s lonely.

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So, here’s something you may not know – I’m sort of huge into fitness, particularly endurance races. In early 2012, a dear friend of mine introduced me to an amazing local gym, and then to weight lifting, and I was off to the races (PUNS).  This year I’m training for my 3rd Tough Mudder (August), and joining the Mudder Legion!

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ANYWAYS. All of this is to say that, I worked out last night. And it was leg day. And I got home, and was not looking forward to the inevitable clumpy/watered down protein shake. And thought…well, I have these bananas…

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IT’S TIME TO REBUILD IT.

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INGREDIENTS
  • 2 Scoops of Chocolate Protein Powder (I love EAS, but whatever works best for you!)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Creamy Peanut Butter (Because I have a soul – please don’t even bother me with that chunky garbage.)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of spinach
  • A tray of ice cubes
DON’T FREAK OUT ABOUT THE SPINACH OKAY?? IT’S NOT AS SCARY AS IT LOOKS.
Bad example...

Bad example.

This should be fairly obvious, but for those of us out there that need the guidance…

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I will say this – it looks like a shamrock shake. THIS IS NOT A SHAMROCK SHAKE. And it also doesn’t taste like you’re being force fed spinach, I promiseeee.

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Protip: LIQUIFY this bitch. Seriously – the more you get those spinach leaves blended in, the less you’ll even notice that they’re there. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU I SWEAR. Bonus: It tastes like a friggin’ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and it’s perfectly smooth and refreshing – plus, on top of the protein, you get your little Green Iron boost.

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Enjoy, my lovely readers! Happy Friday!

xoxo,

G.A.W.

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Summer Fruit Crisp

Or: Let’s see how fast I can run out of money and/or gain 20 pounds.

I’ve recently started inheriting Bon appétit magazines from My  illustrious (saintly) BFF k – she is ruining me

Unsuspecting me – thumbing through the most recent issue of Bon Appétit on an empty stomach (what’s the worst that could happen??) and I come across this amazing summer inspired fruit crumble/crisp/cobbler. And suddenly….it’s all I can think about…

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As someone who grew up with a culinary obsession, I’ve always coveted Bon Appétit (and their culinary magazine classmates – Food & Wine, etc) cover to cover. Even when I couldn’t reproduce the exact recipes that they described, I dreamed about them and (more commonly since I’ve become a G.A.W.) adapted them for my own abilities.

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I have a problem…

Most people think (and for some of the recipes, recommendations and reviews included in BA they’re right) that the content in magazines like Bon Appétit is too advanced for the culinary hobbyist; more to enjoy and try in a restaurant someday than to recreate at home. So imagine my surprise when I came across this phenomenally cost effective, simple and delicious recipe. Refer to above Tony Stark gif.

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A’s level excitement upon hearing that I was going to make this was pretty hilarious, and to be honest it motivated me even more to give it a shot. Spoiler alert – he loved it. AND ate the cold leftovers. Commitment, friends. Commitment.

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The gist of this dessert is a bunch of summer fruit (I used raspberries, strawberries and peaches, but any stone fruit and berries would do nicely) plus sweet sugary heaven, with a delicious warm, buttery, sugary granola-type topping on it. You can’t lose, really…

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If you want to check out this recipe, click here. Bon Appétit (recipe by Senior Associate Food Director and my personal Instagram hero, Alison Roman) just knocks it out of the park as usual. This crisp perfectly sweet and wonderful, and just drenched in summertime. It practically  begs to be accompanied by a big old scoop of vanilla ice cream or freshly made whipped cream (and a cold beer or chilled glass of white, if that’s your thing).

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I would have shot a photo of this all loaded up with whipped cream and fresh from the oven, but I’d be lying if I said it lasted more than 5 minutes in the bowl.

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After the overwhelming success that was the delicious outcome of this recipe, I’m pouring over all of my past issues again for more inspiration (plus their Pinterest!) heading into Summer. These Cucumber-Lime Paletas (BA recommends adding tequila for adults – and I approve of this) are blowing my MIND.

Until tomorrow my dears!

G.A.W.

Salmon, Avocado and Spinach Salad with Poached Egg and Balsamic Tomatoes

Or: Sometimes You Have to (Try To) Cook like a Snooty Wine Country Chef

I’m not the first person ever to try to make something homemade look and taste like a dish from the french laundry. it’s time to get fancy ya’ll.

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Breaking the rules of summer weather cooking evidently is my specialty. I had initial plans of sharing a taco recipe (that should have been posted on Cinco de Mayo – NO ONE IS PERFECT OKAY). But A and I were lounging around watching Castle re-runs, and I had a e-PIN-phany to cook salmon for dinner. One thing led to another, and I developed the idea for this recipe. Here goes nothing…

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Ingredients

  • Salmon Filets
    • 1/2  Lemon
    • Olive Oil
    • Italian Spices (using my beloved italian spice grinder)
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
    • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
    • White Vinegar (stick with me on this – it will help with poaching. DON’T RUN AWAY, I CAN TEACH YOU).

SO…

I’ve made salmon and the balsamic tomatoes before in this recipe, and I did the same thing for those portions. But I’ll cover it AGAIN, for you slackers out there. AND TEACH YOU HOW TO POACH AN EGG.

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In a foil pack type situation, lay your salmon filets (we love getting the fresh wild caught ones from the seafood counter at the grocery store!), drizzle on olive oil and squeeze the juice of half of a lemon. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and those delicious Italian spices, then add a couple of slices of the lemon to the pack. Roll the foil together, and throw it all in the oven at 375 (F) for 20 minutes.  Open up the foil a bit so that the salmon can get a little crunch & color, and then broil for 5 minutes after that. Obviously, adjust for your oven as needed!

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While your salmon is cooking, prepare yourself for poaching. EGG POACHING.

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Okay, so I’ve scoured the web for the best ways to poach an egg, and I have absorbed a few of my favorite tips. So, fill up a saucepan with water and add a tablespoon or two of white vinegar. I don’t know….but it’s science. Boil it on up, waiting until small bubbles start to rise to the surface and steam rises to the top (but just before it boils). While you’re waiting for it to boil, crack your egg into an empty mug or small bowl – this is another of those crazy tricks. It mostly allows you to slowly pour the egg into the water…which comes in handy.

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Once it has reached that beautiful point, grab a whisk or a spoon and create a whirlpool in the saucepan by  stirring the water rapidly. Then, while the water is whirling and whirling, grab a spoon or a rubber spatula, and pour your egg into the very center. The spoon or spatula will help with shaping the egg and keeping it all together as it spins into deliciousness.

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Once your egg has fused into one ball-ish shape, let it sit in the water and boil/cook for a minute or two. Then, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside! I swear it’s that easy. Really. Truly. ProTip: Be prepared to try it like 3 or 4 times before getting it down perfectly if you’ve never poached an egg…it’s not that easy. But it’s WORTH it.

Last step, cook up those delicious balsamic tomatoes. Just slice cherry tomatoes in half, place open side down in a skillet and add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Let that gorgeousness boil and reduce and sweeten. It helps if you add a little more balsamic than you think you’ll need (because reduction) and BONUS, the extras are a great dressing.

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Once your salmon is ready, pull it out, remove  the skin, and dice it up. While you’re at it, thinly slice that avocado up and get ready to put it all together. Throw some spinach into a bowl, top with your sliced up salmon, balsamic tomatoes (and extra balsamic reduction), your professionally poached egg, and that crazy good avocado.

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Holy. Yes.

This was so good, even Gwen was getting hungry while I was cookin’ away. This was so good, it was worth staying up stupid late to write this blog while A fell asleep on the floor watching Friends re-runs. This was so good…you should make it and then share your pictures…and egg poaching horror stories.

OKAYI’MGONNAGOSLEEPFOREVERNOWBYEEEEEEEE

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xoxo,

G.A.W.

Shrimp Summer Rolls

Or: It’s too damn hot to even consider using the oven.

number one pet peeve: overheating.

Number two pet peeve – being cold, hilariously. Ask me in winter, I’m sure they’ll switch.

I love the fact that I have a gas oven, really I do –  my last apartment, though fabulous, was all electric, and it just….it didn’t work in my best interest. BUT for everything it lacked (and overcooked) it somehow didn’t heat up my old place like this inferno does now.

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Last week our dear friend O came over and we dined on delicious Shrimp Summer Rolls, because it’s too damn hot in this apartment to cook when it’s just me and the cat, much less three people plus feline companionship.

So….submitted for your enjoyment, Shrimp Summer Rolls.

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Ingredients

This will make about 6 rolls total – increase as needed!
  • Rice Paper Wraps (Also called Spring Roll Skin – I used this brand)
  • Cooked Shrimp – I used about half a pound (pre-cooked from the seafood dept.) – slicing each one in half long ways, but lord knows you can always use more shrimp
  • Salad mix or lettuce – I used spinach and arugula
  • About 1/2 cup Shredded carrots – Don’t be dumb like me and assume you can shred baby carrots and keep all 10 fingers. Though, just FYI I do still have all of them – lucky me!
  • Two Avocados, sliced lengthways – We didn’t end up using all of the ones that we sliced up in the rolls themselves, but we did have a delicious pre-meal ‘cado feast.
  • Thinly sliced cucumber – I used half, but use more if you’re a cucumber fanatic or you’re feeding an army!
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Sweet Chili Sauce – we used Trader Joe’s brand, but here is a great recipe if you’re brave!

Ever onward!!!

Obviously it will take you 10-15 minutes to slice up all of the various ingredients for this delectable dish depending on your adeptness with kitchen knives (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T LOSE A FINGER OVER THIS, IT’S NOT WORTH IT). I put everything in bowls in sort of an assembly line type set-up, which made everything pretty easy.

you Oughta know…

Rice paper wraps are pesky as hell. They come all sorts of brittle in the package, then you have to fill a round dish (that is just larger than the wrap) with warm/hot water and submerge your rice paper wrap for just about 30 seconds or less, or until it’s slimy as hell and ridiculously hard to handle (but not quite ripped).

Choosing the surface that you’re going to put the rice wrapper down on is super important, since you don’t want it to adhere there and never let go.

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I used a textured cutting board as my surface, but I’ve also heard that wax paper is super effective.

Anyways, place down your wrapper, and lay your shrimp in a line ~3 inches long down the center of the wrap, leaving plenty of space on all sides so that you can stuff the crap out of this thing, and still manage to get it closed.

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Next, take your salad greens and place them on top – I chose to use about 5 leaves of spinach/arugula per wrap, as to not overcrowd. Then, I added three slices of avocado, a few thinly sliced cucumbers, a pinch of shredded carrots and a few mung bean sprouts to the top.

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Next, the tricky part. It helps to not get stuck to the wrapper and rip it if you dampen your fingertips before wrapping up this delicious pseudo-burrito. Fold the top and bottom of the wrapper to the middle – crossing them if possible. Then, starting from one side, pull the wrapper tightly (without ripping) to just the opposite side of where the stuffing ends, and roll up!

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Of course, you can pretty much make these with any sort of protein you’d like – tofu, chicken, even steak maybe?? Add a little sauce to the plate and nom at will! And, if you’re not a sweet chili sauce fan like you should be, there’s also a peanut sauce recipe here that you can check out!

Stay cool my dears!

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xoxo,

G.A.W.