Archive for ‘Lunch’

February 22, 2011

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls

My mom has a fabulous friend named Thuy. Thuy makes really, really good spring rolls. Thuy is also a hairdresser. And she does nails.


This weekend I went home to spend time with the fam and Thuy taught me how to make Vietnamese Spring Rolls, painted my nails and put highlights in my hair! Thanks Thuy.


Now my friends. I will teach YOU how to make the best Vietnamese Spring Rolls you will ever lay your mouth on. It just might be impossible for you to order these at restaurants ever again after you make your own.

Mint, basil, cilantro, spicy chives, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, bean sprouts, and shrimp. All these ingredients are so fresh and crispy, it just might make the most perfect lunch ever.


And the dipping sauce. Oooo that sauce. It was so zesty and flavorful. The perfect pairing for the fresh veggies and shrimp that are all rolled up in rice paper.

I was scared to try it after Thuy told me where fish sauce comes from. Don’t Google it – you will regret it. Don’t smell it either. Just know that it tastes good and use it.

Boil your shrimp and toss them in ice water to stop the cooking and create the crunch factor.


Slice the shrimp in half.


We also split the lettuce down the middle so that it laid flat inside the roll.


Rice noodles are also traditionally added to these rolls. I opted out this time because the noodles are filling and frankly, I needed to to save room so I could eat more of spring rolls.

Shrimp Spring Rolls

makes approximately 12 rolls


24 shrimp, split length-wise

1/2 cucumber, julienned

1 carrot, julienned or grated

2 cups bean sprouts

1 bunch mint

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch basil

1 bunch spicy chives

6-8 leaves lettuce, split down the middle – romaine or red leaf

10-12 sheets rice paper


Boil a pot of water. Add the shrimp and boil for 2-3 minutes, until pink. Pour into an ice bath. Remove the tail and halve the shrimp.

Wet your rice paper. Layer on the veggies. Typically, lettuce is first then the herbs – stems and all. Then add the cucumber and carrot. Top it off with your halved shrimp pieces and roll it up.

Dipping Sauce

6 servings


2-3 cloves of garlic

1 small jalapeno

1/4 cup lime juice

2-3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 + tablespoon cup fish sauce


Mash garlic and jalapeño together with mortar and pestle. Add sugar. Pour in fish sauce and mix.


From the Little Yellow Kitchen,


February 8, 2011

Chicken Fajita Quesadilla

Living in the most southern part of California has given us unparalleled access to great Mexican food. From Los dos Pedros taco shop on the corner with the best breakfast burritos EVER to Funky Garcia’s where we frequented all summer for $1 Taco Tuesdays, we definitely take advantage of the fact that SoCal has genuinely delicious Mexican cuisine.

Sometimes Quite often we get the urge to make our own Mexican meal. Quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, and tacos are all perfectly quick meals to satisfy our Mexican food cravings at home. We even put a healthy spin on ours this time around. One of the newest items on the shelves at Trader Joe’s is a tortilla filled with fiber (at only 120 calories per tortilla!).  Gotta love TJ’s.

Yesterday we combined two of our favorite Mexican meals: Quesadilla & Fajitas = Fajita Quesadilla

First you’ll need to slice up your veggies — onions and bell pepper. Then crack open that can of fiberlicious black beans.

Hmm, we really were getting our fill of fiber last night.

Toss the onions and bell pepper into a pan to cook them down, then add fajita seasoning.

Slice and season chicken breast and add that to the pan for your daily dose of protein.

Ok, it couldn’t all be so healthy. Sorry folks.

Add a hearty helping of Pepper Jack and Cheddar cheese on to the tortilla. Top with beans and green onions and add it to a pan over medium heat.

Let the tortilla crisp up then add your chicken fajita mixture and top it with another tortilla. Then, oh so carefully flip it over and crisp up the other side.

Little Yellow Note: Cheese and beans have a tendency to slip around or fall out during the big flip. No worries though, just squish everything around until its evenly distributed.

Grab your choice of dippings, hot sauce is a must on just about everything Mexican in the LYK. My most recent favorite is the corn and chile tomato-less salsa at TJs.


  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4-5 chicken tenders, sliced (or 2 chicken breasts)
  • 1/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup black beans, drained
  • 2 Tbsp fajita seasoning
  • garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • (2) whole grain tortillas
  • choice of hot sauce/salsa


Cook sliced bell peppers and onions until soft. Add half of the fajita seasoning and half of the green onion. Add sliced chicken breast sprinkled with the other half of the fajita seasoning. Cook through.

Put cheese, beans and the rest of the green onion onto a tortilla and cook in pan until cheese is melted and the tortilla is just slightly crispy. Top with the fajita mixture and another tortilla.

Flip the quesadilla over and cook until the other side is slightly crispy. Cut into fourths and serve with your favorite hot sauce and/or salsa.

February 2, 2011

Perfect Potluck Pasta Salad

With inspiration from Superbowl recipes all over the food blogging world, I thought it necessary to create one as well. As I’m forced to watch  10 4 hours of football I will need a lot of really good food to keep me smiling. Is it totally horrible that I appreciate the commercials more than the prime time show during this event?


While I definitely plan to make mostly not-so-healthy dishes like buffalo chicken dip, chocolate peanut butter bars, and nachos I will also be making the Perfect Potluck Pasta Salad. Doesn’t everyone like pasta salad? It’s one of those infamous potluck dishes that no one passes up in the buffet line.





The only problem – which really isn’t a problem at all – is that I always seem to make far too much of it. Which is why I had it for dinner last night, lunch today, I’ll have it again for lunch tomorrow, and I may or may not be snacking on it right now as my after work snack.




Oh, and the dressing. Simple and divine. Simply divine.


Perfect Potluck Pasta Salad


6 servings

  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow crookneck squash, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 green onions
  • 3 asparagus
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • A handful of broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s is awesome!)
  • 2 cups of mini farfalle pasta salad

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. Add the chopped zucchini, squash, and asparagus to the boiling pasta 1-2 minutes before they pasta is done (to quickly blanch them). Pour into strainer and immediately run cold water over them to stock the cooking.

Mix together the other vegetables with the pasta in a large bowl. Pour Garlic Balsamic Dressing over it and toss gently.

Garlic Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (I used a little less)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and use an immersion blender to create a thick and creamy dressing.

Little Yellow Note: I always make extra of this dressing because it saves well and works on almost every kind of salad.



January 26, 2011

Crispy Eggplant Spinach Parm

Eggplant. I repeat, Eggplant. Do not be scared of it! It is so delicious when prepared the right way. I promise.

Here, have a look for yourself…

Since Lauren and I prepared some Mediterranean-style, grilled eggplant sandwiches for work yesterday, we still had a large portion of the eggplant hanging out in the fridge. On occasion, the remaining eggplant half might just end up pushed to the back only to be found during an intense cleaning session, thus resulting in a mass exodus of forgotten leftovers. We tried to steer clear of this from happening (again), so it was time for an eggplant parmesan creation.

Here are a few rules of thumb when preparing Eggplant:

1) Make sure you pick a fairly solid eggplant; if it is squishy in spots or feels hollow, steer clear.

2) Cut thick slices (about 1/2 in.); if slices are too thin, then they will turn out soggy and mushy and you will be so sad.

3) Soak up moisture. Use an old towel to press each side of the eggplant slices, before breading them, which will ensure a crispy and firm baked eggplant result.

Note: this is a messy task, try to only dirty one hand.

For the Eggplant:

Prepare a dredging station consisting of the following:

  • bowl with a 1/2 cup flour
  • bowl with 2 eggs, beaten
  • bowl with breadcrumb mixture (2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, additional dash of oregano, thyme, basil)

Don’t be shy, smother eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on foiled cooking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes on each side in a 400 degree oven.


Meanwhile, start preparation For the Sauce:

1/2 Jar of  tomato & basil marinara

1 Mexican squash (zucchini is fine too)

1 Medium onion

6-8 Small crimini mushrooms

1 Can drained diced tomatoes

Handful of fresh spinach

Garlic powder, salt, pepper (to taste)

Directions: Saute onions for a few minutes. Add in the diced squash and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and let simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Turn off the heat and stir in a handful or two of spinach.

Now, for the layering!

Start with a base of sauce. About a cup covered the bottom of our casserole dish.

Then put first round of eggplant slices atop the sauce. Follow with a few handfulls of spinach and cheese (we cut back on the mozzarella this time, and used a pre-shredded, 6- cheese Italian mix, along with some grated Parmesan & Romano.

Now, its time for the last layer of crispy eggplant slices. Lastly, top with a thin blanket of shredded cheese (mozzarella or the 6-cheese blend that we used) and grated Parmesan.

Put it in the oven and let cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is looking golden brown. Remove, and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into it, so that its not so messy when dishing it up.

Seeeeeee... Eggplant is good enough to eat! (or scarf down, in our case...)




From the Little Yellow Kitchen


January 23, 2011

Broiled Salmon and Zesty Yogurt Sauce

Layers of love!

We have been dying to cook salmon, so we just went for it. For the side dishes, since the loaded baked potato was a hearty addition, we also had a light, citrus and olive oil dressed, arugula salad. BOOM BABY! Instant meal fit for a king, queen, or jester.

Arugula Salad Preparation:

Directions: Grab a handful of cleaned arugula and an equal amount of fresh, clean spinach and put in a bowl. We added sliced roasted red peppers (from TJ’s), perfectly ripe avocado, and some chopped scallions. We dressed with a little drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper.


  • Roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 Scallion
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Arugula
  • Spinach Leaves

Loaded Baked Potato: Deconstructed

Baked Potato Preparation:

Directions: Clean potato and stab with a fork multiple times. Place in microwave for 4-5 minutes , turn it over and repeat–this will help get it going if it was a big potato. Then place in the oven on the bottom rack (underneath the salmon).  Cook 5-7 minutes on each side. When it’s time to eat, pull out the baked potato (but be careful, it will be screaming hot!), and place on plate. Slice it open, throw in a few pads of butter, a dollop of non-fat plain yogurt (cottage cheese or sour cream works wonders, if you have it on hand), a pinch of chopped scallions and crumbled bacon pieces.  Yum Yum Yum!


  • Large potato
  • 1 Scallion
  • 1 Strip of extra crisp bacon, crumbled
  • 1-2 Tbsp Non-fat plain yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream
  • Butter

Zesty Yogurt Sauce Preparation:

Directions: Whisk all of these loverly ingredients together and you will have an instant, amazingly zesty sauce! It goes great with fish or feel free to use as a salad dressing!

The perfect sauce to accompany fresh Salmon


  • 1 Cup non-fat plain yogurt (Greek yogurt would be best!)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 1 tsp fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Now for the star of the meal….Drum roll please….

Broiled Salmon Preparation:

Directions: Preheat oven to “Broil” and rearrange the top rack, if necessary, to be sure that it is at least 4-5 inches from the top of the oven. Drizzle olive oil over salmon, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dill. Place onto a foil-covered cooking sheet and put on the top rack in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until it looks crispy. Then, loosely cover fish with another sheet of foil and let cook for another 5-7 minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven, and then serve with Zesty Yogurt Sauce.


  • Salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried dill

    A meal fit for a King

From the Little Yellow Kitchen