Chicken Noodle Spring Rolls

IMG_2131During the height of summer, fresh spring rolls are a refreshing afternoon lunch. Spring roll wrappers used to be tricky to find, but as Asian cuisines have increased in popularity throughout the US, these wrappers have become readily available in supermarkets and online. This recipe uses other easy to find ingredients as well. For the cooked chicken, either a can of chicken or part of a supermarket rotisserie chicken will work. For the noodles, feel free to experiment! I really enjoy Japanese sweet potato noodles, but a cooked package of instant ramen noodles will work just fine.  Have fun!

Ingredients (Makes 12 Spring Rolls)

IMG_212712 round spring roll wrappers (rice paper)

1 cup cooked chicken cut into small cubes

3 ounces cooked noodles cut into 2 inch pieces

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 large carrot, grated

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons chili vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated


IMG_2126Step 1) In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the five sauce ingredients. Fold in chicken, noodles, cabbage, carrot, and peanuts.

Step 2) Place about 1 inch of water in a 12 inch skillet and bring to a simmer (not a boil) over medium heat.

Step 3) When water is hot but not boiling, place ONE spring roll wrapper in the water for 2 SECONDS (really… just two seconds). Use a spatula to gently remove the spring roll wrapper from the water and place it on a wood cutting board. Gently smooth out the wrapper; a few wrinkles are fine. If parts of the wrapper are still hard, you can dip the wrapper in water again for an extra second.

Step 4) Place 1/4 cup of filling in a small rectangle near the center of the wrapper.

WIN_20160502_170716Step 5) Fold the sides of the spring roll wrapper over the short sides of the rectangle of filling, as shown. Then, gently roll the spring roll from top to bottom, sealing the filling inside of the spring roll. The wrapper will stick to itself and form a nice seal.

Step 6) That’s it! Repeat steps 3 – 5 until you run out of filling.

Spring rolls are a FRESH food and are best enjoyed within a few hours of rolling (store in the refrigerator if not enjoying immediately). Try dipping your spring rolls in soy sauce, plum sauce, or peanut satay sauce – delicious! Spring rolls are inherently low in fat and are gluten free. You could also omit the chicken and add some shredded greens for your vegan friends. Have fun!


HOORAY! The Global Recipe Project Cookbook is now available!

cookbook-cover-imageFinish your holiday shopping AND support a wonderful cause!

Available on Amazon, 100% of the profits from The Global Recipe Project Cookbook will benefit not-for-profit organizations which feed people as a central part of their mission. Cooks and food bloggers from around the world have generously contributed to this amazing book. Over 170 recipes from 65 countries are included!
Pick up a copy today

, and support a worthy cause!


8″ x 10″

(20.32 x 25.4 cm) 

Black & White Bleed on Cream paper
136 pages
CEK Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0998191607
ISBN-10: 0998191604
BISAC: Cooking / Regional & Ethnic / General

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag!


Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, the kiddos are home all week for their holiday break. This vintage post offers up a fun and easy activity to keep your little ones safe from boredom until they return to school!

Making homemade ice cream is a lovely pastime. Just pull out that antique wooden, hand cranked ice cream maker and… Oh Wait… you don’t happen to have one of those? Well, never fear! A pair of zip lock plastic bags will work just fine.

Plastic bags?


Don’t believe me? Give it a try! Just make sure to post a comment about your fabulous ice cream, OK?  🙂

WIN_20150622_145042Ingredients and Supplies (Makes 2 servings)

2/3 cup whole milk

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon flavor extract (vanilla, peppermint, etc.)

WIN_20150622_1503134 cups ice

1 cup coarse salt

2 “zip lock” sandwich bags

2 “zip lock” gallon size freezer bags


WIN_20150622_150328Step 1) Add 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup cream, and 1/2 teaspoon flavor extract to each sandwich bag. Gently squeeze out the air and carefully seal each bag.

Step 2) Add 2 cups ice and 1/2 cup coarse salt to each gallon size bag. Add a sandwich bag from step 1 to each gallon size bag. Carefully seal the gallon size bag.

WIN_20150622_150512Step 3) Place the gallon bag on a small towel. Fold the towel over the bag to protect your hands from the cold (ice+salt gets REALLY cold), and gently rock the towel back and forth on a flat surface for 5 minutes. Flip the bag over and gently rock for another few minutes, or until the contents of the sandwich bag are completely frozen.


Chocolate Ice Cream! Use 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup instead of a flavor extract.

Step 4) Remove sandwich bag from gallon size bag and carefully wipe away any salt from zip lock opening. Carefully open bag and transfer ice cream to a serving bowl. Enjoy immediately!

Help fight hunger and win free stuff!

Rafflecopter Drawing – Check out the many ways to win!

***   a Rafflecopter giveaway   ***   a Rafflecopter giveaway   ***

Contest Ends March 31st

How to Win:  Submit your favorite recipe to The Global Recipe Project!  

100% of profits from the sale of The Global Recipe Project cookbook will be donated to nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is fighting food insecurity. Anticipated publication release: October 2015.

Simply share your favorite recipe with The Global Recipe Project to contribute to this worthy project and you will be automatically entered in a drawing for a free, author signed book.  Each recipe counts as a separate entry.  Enter as many times as you’d like by sharing as many recipes as you wish!  Thank you for your help!

Sneaky Leprechaun Milkshake

This vintage post was popular the first time around, and Crowded Earth Kitchen has several hundred new readers (Welcome!) since last St. Patrick’s Day, so I’m sharing this again.  Enjoy!

picture833“Mom?  Can we just stop at the drive-thru and get a (green) shake?”



“Still No.”

“Pleeaassee?  I’ll do laundry.”

I’ll admit, this is where the devil on my shoulder told me that I would be a fool not to cave in just this once, and so what if the child glows in the dark for the next two weeks.  The fact is, the children in my house generate approximately 817 loads of laundry every week, and the offer of complaint-free laundry labor was enticing (that they will end up helping anyway, albeit under duress, is beside the point).  Then I had an idea…

“Still no.  But if you help with laundry cheerfully, I’ll make you a (green) shake.”


Here’s what I came up with.  The kids LOVED it!  Peppermint extract is strong… a little bit can make, well, just about anything taste like peppermint.  😉  Each serving (approximately 10 ounces) contains 113 calories, 4 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.  Each serving also packs an impressive 60% of the Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin A, and 20% of the RDA for calcium.  Compare that to the drive-thru green shake… I dare you.

picture822Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

1 cup frozen chopped spinach (Ha!  Ha ha ha!)

1 1/2 cups skim milk

1 cup “real” vanilla ice cream, without any weird ingredients (I found a supermarket brand that was made from milk, cream, sugar, egg yolk, natural vanilla extract, and nothing else)

1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (Very strong!  You may even want to try a bit less than 1 teaspoon.)

Dark chocolate shavings (Optional)  


Step 1) Add spinach and about half of the skim milk to a blender.  Pulse for a few seconds to thoroughly chop spinach into tiny “peppermint” size pieces.

Step 2) Add remaining milk to blender and blend for a minute or a longer until the mixture is very creamy (almost butter-like) and increases in volume.  The photo, left, shows only spinach and milk – it really does get creamy!

Step 3) Add peppermint extract and ice cream to blender.  For best results, add ice cream in several tiny scoops rather than one large scoop.  Blend until all ingredients are combined.

Step 4) Mixture will be tasty now, but thin.  For best results, pour shake mixture into a shallow container and place in the back of your freezer for one hour.  After an hour, scoop shake mixture into serving glasses (I used half pint jelly jars).  Sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Step 5) Try not to laugh as your loved ones unwittingly eat their spinach.  🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


January Freebie for You!


We’re giving away one free copy of Lizzy & Jane, by Katherine Reay!

Contest Ends: January 30th

How to Win: Mention Crowded Earth Kitchen posts on your Facebook or Twitter accounts!

Every mention/link counts as one entry – enter as many times as you like!


Elizabeth is a talented chef whose personal distractions are interfering with her cooking, which in turn is interfering with the profits of her otherwise admiring boss. Against Elizabeth’s wishes, a celebrity chef is brought in to temporarily assist in turning things around. Elizabeth doesn’t cope with this well, and takes a hiatus from the restaurant.

At this point, the story seemed to invoke plot lines reminiscent of Barbara O’Neal, whose food fiction novels I greatly admire. However, when Elizabeth’s hiatus lands her on the doorstep of Jane, her estranged sister who is fighting a battle with cancer, the story becomes uniquely Katherine Reay’s.

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of cancer themes in fiction novels – not at all. I prefer engaging struggles that are, well, fictional (should the main character follow that amazing guy off into the sunset, or should she take the money she unexpectedly fell into and buy the orchard of her dreams… I like those sorts of fictional struggles!). Reading the gritty details of Jane’s drug treatments, side effects, and resulting family strain made my heart heavy. It was, however, a realistic and gripping portrayal of two sisters trying to repair their relationship, and eventually converted me to the strengths of such realistic fiction.

Throughout the story, Katherine Reay expertly weaves Elizabeth’s cooking struggles effectively into the expanding plot. When Elizabeth turns her cooking talents to the task of preparing meals desirable to the palates of people struggling with food due to the side effects of chemotherapy, the reader is pulled into an aspect of cooking-for-healing that is rarely portrayed in books.

Lizzy & Jane is not a beach read… it won’t make you laugh nearly as often as it will tug at your heart. Nonetheless, for gripping “sister fiction” written with finesse, I highly recommend this book!

Book of the Month Nomination – Please Vote!

We’re pretty excited here at Crowded Earth Kitchen today!

Carly Ellen’s food fiction novel, How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, has been nominated at Goodreads for the January Book of the Month Read in the “Free Pick” category!  If you could take a moment to click on this link and vote, that would be fabulous!

Thank you for supporting Indie Authors!

How to Bake a Chocolate Souffle Blue Cover

Breakfast Cake (Frühstückskuchen) in Fehmarn, Germany

If there is any such thing as a perfect day, I may very well have stumbled upon it the day I first baked this cake. Last summer in northeast Germany, I enjoyed an early morning slice of warm Frühstückskuchen with a mug of strong, black coffee while watching my children play outside in the land of their great, great grandparents.  For an American intent on reconnecting with her German ancestry, it was an amazing moment.

It’s time to bake another Frühstückskuchen and reminisce!


Bridge to Fehmarn Island

Ingredients (makes 1 9″ x 13″ cake)

2 cups grated carrot

1 cup peeled, chopped apple

3/4 cup real applesauce (no corn syrup)

1/4 cup canola oil

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour


Fehmarn Lighthouse (One of several, but the only one open to the public)



Step 1) Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Step 2) Combine carrots, apple, applesauce, oil, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl.

Step 3) Combine spices, baking powder, baking soda, and flours in a second large bowl.

Step 4) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Step 5) Spread batter into the pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick

inserted into the center comes out clean.  Check after 35 minutes; do not overbake.

Step 6) Let cool slightly before cutting.  Serve with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar, if desired.


Roses bloomed everywhere on the island!


Paleo Apple Fritters


Traveling to Austria and not indulging in local desserts would be… why, that would be simply unthinkable!  And so, we indulged…


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile we didn’t find an Austrian dessert we didn’t like (and it wasn’t for lack of sampling!), we were particularly smitten by the apple fritters at a little Salzburg café:


Apple Fritters in Salzburg


The fresh apple rings were decadently battered, deep fried, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, and served with a side of Chantilly crème.  What’s not to love about that?  Well, it turns out that the waistband of my jeans has other thoughts on the matter (sigh).  I can try to blame the ill fit on the dryer, but let’s be honest… the deep fried batter has got to go.

Have no fear!  The jeans-friendly version of apple fritters featured below captures the same wonderful flavors, but lightens things up a bit.  It’s paleo, too!  The combination of salt from the almonds and sweet from the honey is simply divine.  I hope you enjoy this guilt-free pleasure.


Castle (Salzburg, Austria)


Horses (Salzburg, Austria)

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 large, firm apples

1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon ground mace (or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped, salted almonds

2 tablespoons honey


Step 1) Slice 1/4 inch off of the top and bottom of each apple.  Slice each apple into 4 pieces, crosswise (through the core).

Step 2) Use a tiny cookie cutter or petit fours cutter to punch out the center of each apple slice.

Step 3) Melt half of the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add half the apple slices, sprinkle with ground mace, and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

WIN_20140905_200333Step 4) Repeat with remaining coconut oil and apple slices.

Step 5) Arrange cooked apple slices in a ring on a serving platter (alternatively, arrange on 4 individual serving plates).

Step 6) Sprinkle chopped almonds over the apple slices, and drizzle with honey.  Enjoy while warm!

“Almost Austrian” Baked Dumplings



Sometimes, when I am inspired to recreate a dish I enjoyed while traveling, I am able to conjure up something remarkably similar without too many surprises.  This… well, this was not one of those times.

Bread dumplings, or semmelknoedel, are a common side dish in Austria.  These large white dumplings, typically cooked in boiling water and topped with a savory sauce, are quite a comfort food.  My travel companions really enjoyed them, so I thought I’d give it a go.  How hard can it be to make a big dumpling out of bread?  Well…

To be fair, I was warned.  Don Chase shared a semmelknoedel recipe online, and specifically talked about how this type of dumpling can fall apart in boiling water if one doesn’t get the recipe just right.  Rather than actually heeding this warning, I plowed forward with my own ideas.  I wanted a healthier, whole wheat dumpling.  I also wanted to ramp up the flavor a bit, perhaps by adding some fresh red pepper and smoked paprika.  Everything seemed to be going fine until I plopped a dumpling in boiling water.  Then, disaster struck:


Ugh. Gross.

My mother happened to stop by during Operation Dumpling Disaster.  After we both had a good laugh about the awful looking contents in the boiling pot, she simply shrugged and said, “Eh. Bake ’em.”  Yes, of course – BAKE the dumplings!  Let’s pretend I would have thought of that.


Baked Dumplings Fresh from the Oven

Well, the baked dumplings turned out FABULOUS, and what was almost discarded as a kitchen blunder has now become a recipe I will make again and again.  I hope you enjoy these “Almost Austrian” Baked Dumplings!

WIN_20140904_154914Ingredients (Makes 6 large dumplings)

1/2 loaf stale whole wheat bread (bread must be very dry), cubed

2 room temperature eggs

1 cup warm milk

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mushroom Cream Sauce:

1 tablespoon butter

1 pound button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup light sour cream

2 tablespoons milk


Step 1) Gently toss together dry bread cubes, eggs, and milk.  Let stand during step 2.

Step 2) Cook onion and red pepper in 1 tablespoon butter until onion is translucent.  Add paprika and salt.  Remove from heat and add contents of pan to bread mixture.

Step 3) Using your hands, shape bread mixture into 6 large dumplings.  You’ll need to really squeeze the mixture into tight spheres, or the dumplings won’t hold their shape.

Step 4) Place dumplings in a greased baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Step 5) While dumplings are baking, cook mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter until mushrooms release their liquid into the pan.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sea salt, sour cream and milk.  If mixture is too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.

Step 6) Spoon mushrooms and sour cream sauce over warm dumplings.  Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and parsley.  Serve immediately.


Goulash in Austria?



Prior to visiting Austria, I had thought of Goulash as a specifically Hungarian dish.  Goulash does have Hungarian origins, but I quickly learned that relegating the dish to Hungary alone would be an error.  Austria and Hungary share a storied history, and indeed were unified under one government for some time.  Currently, Austria and Hungary share a 220 mile border.  It stands to reason, then, that these two countries would share many nuances of their food cultures with one another.  This would explain why one of the best meals we enjoyed in Austria, and perhaps in all of Western Europe, was a perfectly prepared Goulash.


Residenzbrunnen Baroque Fountain in Salzburg


Residenzplatz (Public Square) in Salzburg

What is Goulash? The name sounds a bit off-putting, to be perfectly honest!  Don’t let the name steer you astray – Goulash is a delightful comfort food, perfect for approaching Autumn weather.  It’s basically a stew, but different from an American beef stew in that the broth is much more rich and heavily seasoned with paprika.  I’ve simplified the recipe below a bit, saving the bread dumpling in the top photo above for a future recipe (bread dumplings are really a dish in their own right).  Instead of the bread dumpling, I’ve added additional vegetables below.  The end result captures the flavors of Austrian Goulash with more vitamins and fewer carbs.  You’ll want to start this recipe the night before serving… it’s super easy with a slow cooker, don’t worry!

Ingredients (Serves 6)

4 large, very ripe tomatoes

1 large onion

1 large red bell pepper

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon hot Hungarian paprika

1 tablespoon smoked Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 pounds beef roast

6 medium potatoes

6 small onions, halved

6 carrots, peeled and halved


Step 1) The night before serving, cut tomatoes, 1 large onion, and red bell pepper into chunks.  Place in a crock-style slow cooker.  Add wine, cover, and cook on low overnight.

Step 2) The next morning, puree contents of slow cooker with an immersion blender.  Stir in paprika.  Leave the slow cooker turned on low, and leave the lid off the slow cooker during Step 3.  This will help to evaporate any excess liquid.

Step 3) Cut the beef roast into serving size chunks (cutting a 2 pound roast into 12 pieces works well).  Sprinkle with salt, and brown all sides on a hot pan for 2 minutes per side.  You will probably need to do this in 2 batches.

Step 4) Add browned beef to the slow cooker and sauce.  Place small onions and carrots on top.  Replace lid on slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until meat comes apart easily with a fork.

Step 5) Just before serving, poke potatoes with a fork and microwave until tender (check after 5 minutes, but may take 8 minutes or longer).  Yes, we’re using a microwave.  There’s no need to be all precious about it.  Your potatoes will actually have a more pleasing texture this way, trust me.

Step 6) Place a cooked potato in each serving bowl and arrange a serving of meat, onions, and carrots alongside.  Generously ladle Goulash sauce over the top of everything.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired, and serve immediately.

Have You Entered Yet? Last Chance to Win!

lemon cakeThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender

Crowded Earth Kitchen is offering five – that’s right, FIVE – ways to win!

Contest Ends September 1st


“My mouth – always so active, alert – could now generally identify forty of fifty states in the product or meat I ate. I had taken to tracking those more distant elements on my plate, and each night, at dinner, a U.S. map would float up in my mind as I chewed and I’d use it to follow the nuances in the parsley sprig, the orange wedge, and the baked potato to Florida, California, and Kansas, respectively. I could sometimes trace eggs to the county” (p. 95).

As a child, I loved reading The Chocolate Touch, by Patrick Skene Catling. To me, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is the grown-up, quirky distant cousin of a childhood favorite. Instead of a greedy little boy who learns it really is possible to have too much of a good thing when everything he touches turns to chocolate, Aimee Bender offers us Rose Edelstein, a precocious little girl with a most unusual and unfortunate gift. To Rose’s great dismay, she learns she can taste emotions cooked and baked into her food.

Rose’s peculiar and unshakeable ability might be tolerable if she weren’t surrounded by such an odd cast of characters. But that wouldn’t make for an interesting story, would it? Instead, Rose lives with a detached and clueless father, a melancholy and secretive mother, and an older brother who blends into the background most extraordinarily well. Rose finds grains of sanity in her friendship with Eliza, whose mother can be relied upon to cook happy tasting food, and her unlikely alliance with George, the surprisingly normal friend of her very strange brother.

In The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender accomplishes the extraordinary… she gives her food characters the same depth and development as many fiction authors give their human characters. The textures, flavors, scents, kitchen environment, and baker of Rose’s favorite lemon cake are described in several pages of detail, and lemon cake is just one food of many to receive such grand attention to detail. Foodies and fiction aficionados alike will enjoy this eccentric tale.