Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad


Inside-out Vietnamese spring rolls

I made this about a year ago and it was delicious! The problem was, I didn’t write down how I made it and more importantly, what the dressing comprised of. Ugh, I hate when I do that, or don’t do as was the case here.

So in order to be able to make this again, as many times as I want, I decided to make it again and write it down this time. With much research, (and much eating, lol) I finally (FINALLY) got it right.

Note: As is the case of many Asian recipes, and fresh food in general, there is a fair amount of knife work here but I promise you, it is totally worth the time and effort it takes to do this right. Also, I highly recommend the Tsang Bangkok brand peanut sauce – oh my!

Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad

1 bunch Asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large Red Bell Pepper, julienned

2 Carrots cut into 2-inch pieces then julienned

½ pound Snow Peas stemmed and strings removed, left whole if small, or cut in half if large

8-ounces Rice Vermicelli

1 tsp. Salt

1 pound of medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked

1 medium jalapeno or 2 Thai chilies, stemmed, seeded and minced, optional

½ cup each, loosely packed basil, cilantro, and mint, coarsely chopped

½ cup coarsely chopped roasted salted peanuts, optional

Ingredients arrayed


1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 tablespoons purchased Peanut Sauce

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Dressing Ingredients

Blanch the asparagus and snow peas in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and place in cold water to stop the cooking.

All chopped and blanched

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in salt and rice vermicelli. Cook until noodles are tender but not mushy, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse under cold running water until cool. Drain again and transfer to large bowl.

Combine the first 5 ingredients of the dressing in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and season as needed. Once emulsified, add to the rice vermicelli and toss well.

Making the dressing

To the large bowl, add the red peppers, carrots, shrimp, jalapeno, and peanuts, if using. Toss well to coat. Finish with the fresh herbs and toss. If possible, let sit for 30 minutes before serving. (On the counter or refrigerated)

Salad complete - large bowl

Yields: 6 main course servings

Finished serving

Chicken & Dumplings

chicken and dumplings 2

This recipe originated from Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking,  a book I had borrowed from my Father in law.  I have since made a few modifications that suit our taste more, like adding the carrots and celery directly to the cooking liquid instead of roasting on the side, etc.

chicken and dumplings 3

When I went and looked this up in my old personal recipe book, I discovered that I first made this back on February 8th, 1989 when I was pregnant with Chelsea and the first year of our marriage.

chicken and dumplings 4

Turns out I really have been making this for a long time! And I will confess – I don’t even look at the recipe anymore! But, I thought you might be in need of a really good recipe for comfort because at the end of the day, isn’t that what this really is – Comfort in a bowl? It is for me!


Chicken and Dumplings…

1 Poached chicken, reserve stock

8 Tbls. butter

1 C. chopped onion

1 1/2 C. chopped fresh mushrooms (or as many as you like)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 C. flour

6 C. reserved stock

1 to 1 1/2 C. each coarsely chopped carrots and celery

1/2 C. heavy cream

12 drops Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Melt the butter over medium heat in heavy 5 Qt. Dutch oven.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the moisture evaporates, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Make a roux by adding all the flour to the onion mixture at once.  Whisk in 1/2 to 3/4 cup stock.  Continue stirring until smooth, about 3 minutes.  The flour will take on the color from the mushrooms; do not let it brown from the heat.

Pour in the remaining stock and stir to blend. Add the carrots and celery and let simmer until tender.* In the meantime remove the meat from the chicken, and roughly chop.  When vegetables are tender add the chicken and heavy cream.  Simmer for 15 minutes, do not let boil. Season well with salt, pepper and the Tabasco sauce.


1 1/2 C. flour                                          2 T. chopped fresh basil or 1 T. dried

2 t. salt                                                    4 T. chopped scallions, green & white parts

2 T. chopped fresh parsley                1 egg beaten, with enough milk added to equal 7/8 cup.

1 t. sugar

2t. baking powder

Stir the dry ingredients together twice.  Add the herbs and scallions and stir to coat with flour.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and quickly stir in all of the liquid.

Drop by large spoonfuls into the simmering broth.  Cover pot tightly and reduce heat so that the liquid bubbles but does not boil.  Cook approx. 15 minutes.  Dumplings will appear “dry” when done.

* Carrots and Celery can be pre-cooked in the microwave if desired.

**  If you have left-over sauce, heat the sauce in the dutch oven and make another batch of dumplings.  (I always have to do this!)

chicken and dumplings


Meatloaf with Mushroom-Garlic Sauce – aka The very best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten, bar none.

Meatloaf with mushroom gravy

Last night while I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner, I discovered 2 packages of mushrooms hidden behind the lettuce. Apparently I forgot I bought them the week before. For some crazy reason I thought of meatloaf with a mushroom gravy.  It was crazy because I usually only make meatloaf once every 6 or 7 years. I’m NOT a fan. Boy did that ever change! Continue reading “Meatloaf with Mushroom-Garlic Sauce – aka The very best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten, bar none.”