Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cream Cheese Wontons (Pick Up Stix Copycat)

When I was living in Southern California, one of my absolute favorite things was Wonton Wednesdays at Pick Up Stix. So. Good! And so Cheap! 25 cents per wonton. I could easily eat 10 of them. But I didn't. Well, most times I didn't. Now you know my true obsession...

Seeing as how Seattle has yet to become home to a Pick Up Stix, there is no more Wonton Wednesdays for me. Well, that is, until tonight, when I decided to recreate them. Actually, I enhanced them. By the way, I only made these because I stupidly bought 6 bars of cream cheese while it was on sale in anticipation of making a cheese cake for my Adorable Latino. (The recipe I ended up using, which was ah-mazing!, only required one bar. Aka, shit, what am I going to do with all this cream cheese? More cheesecakes? Maybe Most likely.) I based my recreation off of Nerdy Baker's, she seemed as obsessed with them as me, which you can find here. But like I said, I changed it up. Being a connoisseur for many years, I added a key ingredient and one not-so-key, but definitely a game-changer.
These wontons are light and crispy on the outside and warm and gooey-cheesy on the inside. Yum. Yum. Yum. Win. Win. Win.

Let's get started, shall we? Gather your ingredients:
I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself and started mixing before the picture taking. :)

1 8 oz bar cream cheese (Let's be honest, Philadelphia Cream Cheese wins every. single. time. Do your taste buds a favor and use it.)
48 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c. green onion, very finely sliced
1 T. Soy Sauce *key ingredient!*
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, then add more to taste
4 oz. water chestnuts, finely chopped (you can use more, but I personally feel it drowns out all the other awesome flavors you are mixing in, so I recommend the "less is more strategy")
Peanut Oil (enough for 2 inches in your pan or pot)
2 tsp. secret ingredient (shh. don't worry, I'll tell you later)
Sweet Chili Sauce, for dipping (optional)
Chinese Hot Mustard, for dipping (optional)


Step 1. Put peanut oil in pan and heat to roughly 300 degrees; this will take roughly 10 min. I am not very precise with the temperature; I like to test out the temperature with some wonton strips.

Step 2. Place cream cheese, sliced green onion, chopped water chestnuts, soy sauce, and salt in a small mixing bowl and use a fork (or hand mixer) to blend together. You can taste test here, but I recommend that you make a sample wonton and cook it to taste to really get the full flavor profile to know if it needs more salt or more secret ingredient. ;)

Step 3. Are you ready to add your secret ingredient? Cause I sure was! Sriracha sauce!! I love this stuff. I add it to sauces, sandwiches pretty much everything I can. MMM. Mix the Sriracha in well.
*For those of you who do not like spicy food, this does not make it spicy at all, just little extra/different flavor.
**Keep mixture covered with a damp towel so it doesn't dry out at all.

Step 4. To test the oil temperature, cut three wonton wrappers into strips, separate them. Take one strip (with tongs or a skimmer, no getting oil burns, please!) and dip into the hot oil.
If the oil is hot enough, it should rapidly sizzle. If it is hot enough, throw all the strips you cut and fry them until they are lightly golden brown (watch carefully! they will cook quick). Pull them out and let them drain on some paper towels.
If the oil does not react at all or it only reacts a little, it is still too cold and the heat should be turned up a little. Repeat temperature test after 5 minutes. If still not hot enough, continue heat and test cycle until the desired sizzle-y effect happens.

Step 5. Now that the oil is to the correct temperature, it's time to make your sample wonton to cook and taste test. Lay out one wonton wrapper, put roughly 1 tsp. of the cream cheese mixture in the center of the wonton, as shown below. Brush beaten egg around the edges of the wonton wrapper; I recommend using the back side of a small spoon (this helps get a thin even coating). Take one corner and fold it over towards the opposite corner (forming a triangle); leave about 1/4 inch of the bottom showing. Press the edges to get out any air bubbles. Put just a dab of egg in the center of the folded edge. Bring the side edges over to the dab and again, press to seal the edges and get extra air bubbles out. Finally pull the top down (like an envelope) and press to seal. (Please note: the top already has egg from the initial brushing.)

The top corners will fold to the center where I already placed a dab of egg.

Using tongs or a skimmer, place in the oil and let it cook for 30 seconds. Turn it over, let it cook over another 30 seconds. Continue turning until it is a light golden brown, pull out and let it drain and cool for 1 minute. (I know it's so hard to wait!! I could barely contain myself. But let me just say, molten cream cheese + my tongue = pain for days.)

After my initial taste test, my cream cheese mixture needed a pinch more salt, which I added, and then taste tested again. Juusssstt right.
Step 6. I did my wonton forming in mass assembly. Lay out as many wonton wrappers on my cutting board as it could handle (6 at a time). Then follow the same process in Step 5. Create all of your wontons before you start cooking them in mass quantities. I don't know about you, but when I am cooking, I can't watch and flip things at the same time as other things off the stove.

Step 7. Cook your wontons no more than 5-6 at a time. Even if your pan can handle more than that, this is a small enough number that you can keep track of each one's cooking progress. Drain on paper towels and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Depending on how many you are making, you may want to turn your oven on to 150 or 200 to keep them warm but not crazy hot.

Step 8. If desired, put sweet chili and hot mustard in a couple of small, shallow bowls or ramekins, place on a serving plate surrounded by delicious cream cheese wontons. And last but certainly not least, enjoy!!

Hearts Always,


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lamp Makeover

I moved into this apartment one year ago, and if any of you DIYers are like me, the improvements are never-ending. I finish one improvement only to discover four more that had been "band-aided" by the original solution quick-fix. Holy shit, I need more space less stuff.
I found this lamp at Goodwill Ballard for $2.99 (yes that's right). It did not come with a lamp shade or lamp harp...I should have put it down, but it's so beautiful! (And I'm stubborn and wanted the beautiful lamp in my apartment.) I saw this $15-$20 lampshade at Fred Meyer and decided to use it as my inspiration piece. Are you ready for a cheap, fun, no-sew lampshade? Read on! (too corny, I'm sorry)

I love the deep teal color on this lampshade and the felted flower. *Love*Love*Love*
I found the perfect bright teal felt and decided to put lots of smaller flowers with pearl centers rather than one large flower. So without further ado, here is the lampshade pre-makeover:
Pretty hideous, right? This was perfect for my lampshade makeover!

What You Will Need:
  • Lampshade
  • 1/2 yard felt (depends on size of lampshade) - $2.49
  • glue gun
  • scissors
  • thread and small needle
  • 10 mm glass pearls - $1.00
  • 1 yard half pearl trim - $1.79

To get the right pattern for recovering the frame of the shade, you take a pen (or piece of chalk) and place the shade seam side down and start rolling the shade and tracing along the bottom until the shade has completed a full circle. Place the seam at the start of the first line and roll and trace the top until the shade has again gone full circle. Allowing for 1/2 inch seam allowance on top, bottom, and sides, cut out the piece. Line up the lampshade so that there is 1/2 inch on top and 1/2 along the bottom. Wrap the piece around the lampshade so the sides connect. Fold over the top side for a nicer edge finish and hot glue in place. Starting on the top fold sections of the overlap over the top edge and hot glue to the inside of the lamp shade. Repeat until all top overlap is glued. Now flip the shade over and repeat with the bottom. Make sure that the fabric is taut before glued the bottom down.
Now for the real fun. Edge the bottom (& top if you wish, but you will need to buy more trim is desired) with the half pearl trim. It should look like this once you have reached this step:
I know I said this was a No-Sew project, but this step is so easy, you will not feel like you are sewing. For forming the flowers, you will need to cut small circles roughly 1" to 1 1/2" wide. Fold a circle in half and pull thread through; repeat for five - six circles. Once you are done adding circles, pull the thread back through the first circle, so that the "petals" come together and actually look like a simple flower. Tie a knot, cut the thread and hot glue onto the shade; then hot glue one pearl in the center of the flower. (See above for a flower sample.) I found this step much easier with the shade already attached to the lamp base. (Think decorating a cake on a cake stand.) Repeat flower making/attaching processes until you are happy with the number of flowers on the shade.
Didn't it turn out great?!? How did your lamp shade makeovers turn out? I'd love to see, so comment below with pictures or links!

Many Blessings!

Joanna Rose