Monday, February 23, 2015

Small Bites, Big Flavor... Kale Balsamic Chicken Rangoons

When the nice folks over at the Bilinski's offered us a chance to sample a new product of theirs, I was thrilled. This brand is difficult to find in my area, so it was a real treat to work with something that I otherwise might not have been able to locate. Their Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage is very healthy and also very tasty. To me, that's a win-win kitchen situation! I decided to try my hand at an Asian-inspired appetizer, my take on those yummy little cream cheese filled nibbles, "rangoons". My version is much richer (my husband said that the filling reminded him of pate), and quite a bit healthier to boot. Yes, there is a bit of cheese involved, but they also include spinach, tomatoes, and other good things. These can be baked (if you're trying to stay healthy) or fried (if you're feeling naughty.) Either way, they are mighty fine little bites of flavor. They are very rich, so a few go a long way. They can be made ahead and frozen until needed, as well. Perfect for a large group or a quick snack!

Small Bites, Big Flavor...Kale Balsamic Chicken Rangoons
by Chris
Adapted from "Sausage Rangoons" from the Eating Well for One Blog

2 ounces olive oil (for sauteing)
1 Tablespoon onion, diced
1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon sun dried tomatoes, diced (dry packed, not in oil)
2 Tablespoons frozen, chopped spinach (defrosted and with as much moisture as possible squeezed/patted out)
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 ounces Neufchatel cheese (or low-fat cream cheese), at room temperature
1 teaspoon mayonnaise (low-fat is okay)
2 links of Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, diced
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Grana Padano)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt, to taste (I used about 3-4 pinches)
1 large package of egg roll wrappers, each cut into 4 even squares/quarters
Parchment paper
Cooking spray or olive oil in a spray bottle

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet and add the onion and sun dried tomatoes, cooking until both have softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic and continue to heat for another minute. Set aside.

Combine the cream cheese (Neufchatel) and the mayonnaise in a microwaveable bowl. Heat for about 20 seconds and stir, mixing well. Add the diced sausage, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice and carefully blend the mixture together. Then add the spinach mixture and gently mix, microwaving for another 20 seconds if necessary. Make sure that everything is well blended, but do not over- work the filling. Also make sure that the filling is not too hot. Warm is okay to work with, but "hot" will create holes in the wrappers when filling them!

Working in small batches (no more than 12 small squares at a time), gently place about 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon of the sausage and cheese mixture in the center of each small square of dough (if you have other squares of wrappers sitting out, cover with a damp paper towel until ready to use them. Leaving them stacked also helps to keep them moist.) Using a pastry brush (or your fingers), moisten the edges of the filled squares. Pull two diagonal corners upward until they meet, and twist them together, closing the top of the rangoon. Gently squeeze the other sides together, closing any gaps where the filling could escape. Use your fingers to create "wings" with the sides, or continue by pinching them upward with the first two corners, creating an enclosed packet of sorts. Again, pinch closed any holes or openings in the wrapper, as to keep the filling inside of the rangoon. Shape as desired.

Line a wire baking rack with a sheet of parchment paper (cut to fit the rack.) Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray the parchment lightly with your cooking spray/olive oil. Place the rangoons carefully on the oiled paper (do not crowd them), and lightly spray the tops as well. Bake at 350°F WITH the convection feature turned on for about 9 minutes. If your oven does not have a convection setting, it will take another 1-3 minutes to completely cook the rangoons. Watch them carefully so that they do not burn.

If you would like to make the rangoons ahead of time and freeze them, be sure to remove them from the freezer at least 2-3 hours before cooking. I do not recommend keeping these in the refrigerator for more than a day or two, as the chicken sausage is pre-cooked and is perishable. Also, the wrappers do not do well in the refrigerator once they have been filled, but not cooked. They are best eaten fresh out of the oven, either alone or with a sweet and sour dipping sauce or a fruit chutney/other sweet sauce on the side (to cut the richness of the filling.) Any that are baked, but not eaten may be refrigerated and reheated the following day in a conventional oven. They do not reheat well in the microwave.

No comments:

Post a Comment