So I’m at the store, doing my thing, right? I have a cart full of food and am just getting the last things for dinner – egg roll stuff. The egg roll wraps are right under the coleslaw bags at my Walmart, which makes it super easy. But today I look up and the first thing I see is not coleslaw, but broccoli slaw. And I. Love. Broccoli. I also love egg rolls. It only took me about half a second to realize I was on to something BRILLIANT. And if this is old news for you, then don’t laugh. I had no idea broccoli slaw was even a thing. So I’m just going to be super pumped about it for the next month is all. Then I’ll move on with my life. Spoiler Alert: It’s delicious.
Egg rolls also happen to be one of the easiest side dishes ever! Especially if your meal already has some chicken in it that you can pull from.
Cooking with Toddlers
My son is nearing 3 years old and LOVES to help in the kitchen! But frying food and toddlers are NOT a mix worth testing out. So once the hot oil comes out, he knows he has to go watch from a distance. Up until the frying part though, this is a great meal to let your kids help with!
I gave him a bowl with a little vegetable oil and marinade brush in it, the ingredients, and some different tongs for him to choose from. Voila! I can check off fine motor skills activities and science for the day with this meal!
His job was to take whichever set of tongs he wanted and get a pinch of the slaw in the wrap, and then the same with a pinch of chicken. We worked together to fold the wrap up, and then he could take the marinade brush and gently touch it to the wrap so that it didn’t come loose and unfold.
1/2 lb boneless/skinless chicken
1 bag of broccoli slaw (I found mine in the produce section at Walmart Supercenter)
Cook the chicken with salt and pepper to taste for about 4 minutes on each side and then shred or dice it. Or, if you have 15 minutes, throw it in the oven at 425 degrees for a hands-free option!
Heat a Tbsp of vegetable oil in a small pan and cook the broccoli slaw until it is limp. This should take about five minutes.
Mix the chicken and slaw together. Place a large spoonful of mixture into each eggroll wrapper. Fold the wrapper and rub a little water or oil on the last corner so it sticks closed.
Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil again in your pan.
Place 1 egg roll at a time in the oil. Let each cook for about 10 seconds on each side, turning them four times, or until the egg roll is crispy and golden brown.
Set the finished egg rolls on a plate with paper towels.
Serve hot! Enjoy!
Need More For Chinese New Year?
If you are ready to go all out now that you’ve gotten some good ol’ fried food in ya, and you need some more activities to do, then head over and check out some of my other posts about Chinese New Year!
My first experience eating sarmale was in the homiest Russian apartment with my favorite Armenians in the world. This is a popular Eastern European dish, and today’s recipe is inspired by a dive into Moldova’s beautiful culture! Maybe I just have a bizarre love for cooked cabbage, but this dish was honestly one of my favorites during my seventeen months in Russia! And I had a lot of foods from a lot of different places in that time period! I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did.
Prep Time = 30 – 45 minutes Cook Time = 40 minutes
1 1/2 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 lbs pork, diced
1 lb carrots, chopped
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
5 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
1/4 cup of a subtle oil- sunflower seed, vegetable, or corn
2 Tablespoons parsley
I medium cabbage
If you’re like me, you can probably be happy with just about any kind of rice. In this recipe, I won’t dictate how you should do your rice. Minute Rice, Jasmine Rice, even Brown Rice is a favorite in our house. You can get crazy and mix it up a little. Just follow the directions on the rice bag/box, and you’ll be fine. It’ll be mixed in later.
Heat 2 tablespoons of your oil of choice in a large pan, preferably a skillet, and add the onions, carrots, parsley and tomato paste. Cook until the vegetables are tender. If your rice is ready, add the vegetables in with the rice. Otherwise, put these in a bowl to the side.
Heat 2 more tablespoons of oil and add the pork. Cook it through. Again, mix this in with the vegetables and rice, if the rice is ready. Add your dill now and stir the mixture.
Peel apart your cabbage leaves gently and bring to boil in a couple inches of water until they are soft. This should take about 10 minutes after the water boils.
Remove most of the cabbage leaves, but leave just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. They will offer more flavor, and also keep your rolls from burning.
On each of the cooked leaves, place a spoonful of the pork/vegetable/rice mixture, and then roll the leaf like an eggroll.
This was my first time cooking sarmale, and though my cabbage leaves fell apart when I tried to roll them, it tastes great and was so easy to do!
Enjoy this with your friends, family, neighbors, and don’t forget to tell them all a few new facts about Moldova, where your delicious meal was inspired! Then, be sure to share your experience below! Let us know any tips, tricks, successes, or funny failed attempts you may have!
If you want more recipes, book suggestions, song, games, and learning activities from around the world, then be sure to join my monthly newsletter!
My whole life I have been fed Navajo tacos. Whenever there were big events or guests, my mom had a few go-to recipes to feed a crowd, and one of those options was Navajo tacos! My husband thought it was a weird joke when I told him that my mom used to make us sort the pinto beans and acted like it was a fun game or competition. But that was my real childhood! When my family was done with the beans and toppings, we’d move in on the leftover fry bread for dessert. Some good ol’ multipurpose fry bread and honey!
The first time I tried to make it myself was years ago in Russia! My dear Navajo companion was crashing at my apartment that weekend, so we decided on a little taste of home for dinner. It was a disaster. I don’t remember what went wrong, but I know that we were embarrassed at the outcome. So every time I’ve thought about making them since then, I just think that if the two of us couldn’t do it together, then there’s no way I’ll manage on my own and toss the plan.
That is, until this last weekend.
I did it! And it was so easy! My mom have me the recipe and said, “Just follow this exactly. It’s tried and proven!” I was like, sweet! This looks super easy! Any recipe card as dirty as the one she sent has to be good.
Buuuut it was also written 20 years ago by a small town woman, who is a much more confident cook than myself, and I had so many questions about the cooking instructions.
So let me help fill in the gaps with things I was told by my mom and sister who patiently answered my phone calls all day as I prepared for this meal.
1. If you are using dried pinto beans, they’ll need to sit in the slow cooker for about 8 hours so start early! You’ll want to check your dried beans and make sure to sort out any small rocks that may have found their way into the bag. Then put the beans in the slow cooker and cover with water for 8 hours. Brown the meat and add it and onions in with about 2 or 3 hours to go. If you are using canned beans, do NOT drain them. Just pour the entire can in.
2. Brown the meat and sautee the onions before throwing them in.
3. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste. (My sister suggests lots of salt and pepper.)
4. Cook all ingredients together for 2-3 hours.
Fry Bread Instructions
Put 2 cups of warm water in a bowl and add the yeast, slowly mixing it until it dissolves.
Mix in the other ingredients, withholding the flour til last.
Add in the flour immediately after the other ingredients. (If you’re like me and realize you have to run to the neighbors to borrow some flour, the yeast will start to rise even without the flour)
Knead it together by hand or in your kitchen aid until it’s nice and stretchy.
Let sit for 15 minutes.
Roll into balls and then stretch them into 6-8 inch circles.
Warm up about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil on the stove to medium-high heat, and fry the dough on each side for about 20-30 seconds.
I remember the first time I had Olivye in Samara, Russia with a woman who became a dear friend and tutor – Marina. She explained to my companion and I how she’d prepped it, and then mixed in some mayo with her bare hands in front of us. She had stored some of the food in buckets in her kitchen, and it was all so different than anything I was used to as far as hygiene and storage goes. Now, this may not be representative of the norm, but it also was not uncommon to see people store food in buckets. Sometimes dry foods in dry buckets (nothing weird to me there), but sometimes also wet foods in buckets of cold water. Like pickles. People also didn’t always have special utensils for every type of food, and if they did, it wasn’t always worth getting them dirty when you could just dig in with your hands. Mayonnaise and all. Luckily, I’m no germaphobe, but I had a few American companions who were less than comfortable with the cooking setup at times.
Living in Arizona today, I’m already starting to feel summer coming on strong and am thinking about barbecues and potlucks. And if you’re looking for a dish that your friends will love, you can’t go wrong with potato salad. But showing up with a potato salad doesn’t sound all that gourmet, right? Next time you BBQ with friends, why not try this Russian take on a potato salad and tell your friends that you’re serving some gourmet Olivier/Olivye (uh-liv-yay).
Olivye has evolved slightly over the years, and is most popular on holidays like Easter, Christmas, New Years, as well as at restaurants. And with those especially generous hosts/hostesses, like Marina below, you might even find yourself dished with a random Tuesday brunch of olivye as a house guest.
A Fun, Family Easter Dinner Idea
With Easter just next Sunday, what else could be better than trying a new dish with the family! And because it’s got hard boiled eggs, you can make a whole day’s worth of activities leading up to this meal! #savethehardboiledeggs Russians often dye their eggs in natural colors, like beets or red onions, and decorate them with flowers and leaves. I go into more detail in my post on Russian Easter celebration ideas. So, why not throw a Russian Easter party, and when you’re done dying eggs, you can shell them and cube them up for a more colorful olivye salat! Click here or the link below this image to check out the post about Easter traditions!
Personally, my husband and I agreed that a potato salad is just a side dish, but I only have patience to read through one new recipe at a time. So we served it up with some good ol’ BBQ chicken and corn, and it was delicious. But if you want to go all-out Russian, then there are tons of other easy recipes you could mix with this. I love pirozhki (with meat OR cabbage, carrots and onions OR potatoes), shi (a soup), and cabbage rolls. All of these are super easy recipes that you can find.
I’m not very talented in many domestic tasks, especially in the kitchen. So here are a couple things I learned or changed when cooking this meal.
I looked over four or five different recipes before I started cooking, and some suggest making it with chicken. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I ever ate it with chicken while I was in Russia. I always think of this dish as having ham or bologna. And I actually remember really liking it with bologna, which is usually not something I care for. But I didn’t really know how to buy good bologna, and I didn’t want to deal with ham, so I just went meatless in my mix this week.
Don’t overcook the potatoes like I did! I decided to cube my potatoes BEFORE boiling them, and they cooked way faster than I expected, leaving me with something halfway to mashed potatoes, which is not the goal. But no worries if you mess up here, it still tasted great!
Drain the pickle juice by squeezing it with paper towels, or leaving sliced pickles in a sieve overnight before cooking. This keeps the pickle flavor from overpowering the rest.
3/4 lb meat, cubed (optional)
3 potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, cubed
6 eggs, cubed
3 pickles, cubed
1 sweet onion, cubed
1 cup frozen fresh peas
1/2 English cucumber, cubed
1 cup mayo
dill to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
I cubed my potatoes and carrots, then boiled them together. You want them to be just soft enough for the knife to easily poke through, but not so soft that you can easily mash them. With cubed potatoes and carrots, I should have checked them around 10 minutes, and I think they would have been perfect. If you choose not to cube the potatoes, it will take closer to 20-25 minutes, and you can add in the carrots halfway through.
While those are boiling, find another small pot and cover your eggs with water. Allow them to boil for ten minutes as well.
Steam your frozen peas according to packaging or freshness instructions.
Cube the boiled eggs and anything else that has not yet been cubed.
Combine all the ingredients and mix in the mayo gradually to your preferred taste. This can also depend on how chunky your ingredients are, as I just recently learned.
Serve it hot or cold. It’ll stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days and serve about 10 people!
Let me know what you think of this recipe and what improvements you recommend! And if you like it, please don’t forget to share on social media! You can also look forward to more recipes from around the world by signing up for my monthly newsletter below.
Sometimes the most nerve-racking part of experiencing another culture, is being introduced to new foods and cooking styles. But sometimes, you run into some serious soul food.
I think that’s how I’d classify the national dish of the Philippines – soul food.
I’ve actually been putting off cooking this adobo because I’ve had things like Philly cheesesteaks, chimichangas, and chicken curry calling to my palate. When we went to D.C. this past summer, I remember commenting at every meal about how they managed to add a hint of vinegar into everything we ate! Even the Five Guys we stopped at had a vinegar-y taste going on in the sauce! It was just so bizarre to me! Not bad at all, because vinegar is great, but bizarre that things I had never eaten with vinegar suddenly had it. So, when I saw that this recipe called for vinegar, I think that I misread my own memories and was put off a bit by the idea of it. But now that I have made it, I wish we would have tried sooner!
It was SO GOOD, y’all! I loved the flavor, and it was simple enough for my son to eat and enjoy too. And we just went easy and threw in a bag of frozen veggies on the side, added some rice like we seem to do to every meal, and voila! A delicious dinner, and tasty left-overs too! You can also try this recipe with pork instead of chicken.
And what better time to sit down with your kids and talk than at dinner time!? Growing up, I think the most common question at dinner time from my parents was, “What did you learn/do at school today?” Cooking meals from foreign countries is a wonderful and fun opportunity to let your kids share what they know about a particular country! If they don’t know anything, then tell them what you’ve learned, or share a story about someone you met from that place. You could even designate this meal to be eaten on a special holiday, like their Independence Day – June 12th – and share a little about someone like Andres Bonifacio! Bonfacio, among others, played an extremely important role in Filipino history and their revolution against Spain, and became an honored leader in the Philippines. You might even use one of these great videos about the hero that I found on YouTube to learn about him:
Now back to the food. There are so many adventurous foods from the Philippines that I just am not skilled or brave enough to try cooking at home at the moment, but if you find one you like, please share! I hope you enjoy this one!
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (3 pound) chicken, cut into pieces
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 bay leaf (or 3 oz spinach leafs)
Tip: I cut up my chicken into cubes before cooking – partly because I have a toddler, and partly because that’s just how this not-so-sous-chef cooks. And also, it speeds up the process.
Begin cooking your rice according to packaging instructions.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet and cook the chicken to a golden brown. This can be done on Medium-High heat.
Add in the garlic and onion. Cook in until the onion is soft and brown.
Add in soy sauce, garlic powder, vinegar, black pepper and spinach/bay leaf. (I used spinach because that’s what we usually have in our fridge anyway.)
Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat back to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-30 minutes. (Most recipes call for a longer time simmering, but with a hungry toddler, I gave it about 15 minutes and started serving him. It was still delicious.)
Voila! Ready to serve.
If you try this out, let me know what you think! What other Philippine dishes have you tried? Which would you recommend? I would love to hear!
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