Summer Food on a Stick

I was interested to know a little more about this idea of ‘food on a stick’. It seems its a fairly wide spread way of eating food. In Indonesia there are many forms of chicken satay and of course the shish kebab originating from Turkey. It all comes from a culture that has been around since before the 1840’s.

The North American classic ‘corn dog’ was patent in 1929. The patent cited that it was for a ‘combined dipping, cooking and article holding apparatus’ and was intended for ‘impaling foods such as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced fruit, etc., on a stick, covering them in a batter and deep frying it’.

This food on a stick phenomenon has grown greatly over the past 20 years or more. It has become some sort of extreme ‘sport’ on a stick. For entrepreneurs, its whatever I can put on a stick that nobody’s done before. I was reading an article that listed 83 different possibilities!

Here’s a couple of ideas I found interesting to try. TURKEY MEATBALL BREADSTICKS  and BACON WRAPPED MUSHROOMS ON A STICK.

Turkey Meatball Breadsticks/ Bacon Mushroom Kebabs
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Turkey Meatball Breadsticks/ Bacon Mushroom Kebabs
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Ingredients
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
Servings:
Instructions
Breadsticks
  1. In a large bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil & salt. Allow to become frothy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough forms a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise about 1 hour in a warm, draft-free place. While bread sticks are rising, prepare turkey meatballs.
Turkey Meatballs
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper & garlic. Form into 36 - 1" diameter meatballs. When dough is ready, turn out onto a floured surface. Press or roll into a 12 x 8" rectangle. Cut into twelve strips about 1-inch wide x 8-inches long.
  2. Starting with one bread stick, thread dough then a meatball, repeating process with 2 more meatballs alternating dough-meatball, ending with dough. Make sure to spread dough & meatballs away from each other by about 1/4", so the meatballs bake through & the dough has room to expand.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir together garlic powder & melted butter. Brush bread stick dough ONLY with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven & sprinkle each skewer with 1-2 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese. Place back in oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve while hot with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
  1. Soak skewers 30 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap each mushroom with a bacon strip & thread 4 on each skewer. Grill on medium heat until bacon is done, about 10-15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.
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Almond Poppy Seed ‘Sheet’ Cake

Sheet cakes are sometimes thought of by some as a lazy man’s cake. Yes, they are easy to bake and contain no fancy layers or have intricate decorations but ….

Traditionally a sheet cake refers to a cake baked in a large, shallow rectangular pan such as a jelly-roll pan. They are single layer and almost always frosted on both top and sides.

The famous ‘Texas Sheet Cake’ that is very popular in the US seems to be referenced as far back as 1936. I understand it started out as three layers and ultimately became a one layer, large sheet cake. By the 1970’s these recipes were using sour cream instead of buttermilk and alternative ingredients had evolved.

Today, if you are wanting to make a sheet cake you can find over 300 recipe choices on allrecipes.com alone. At this time of year with so many people hosting block parties, barbecues, family gatherings etc. I thought it would be nice to post a favorite recipe of mine. If you like poppy seed, you will absolutely love this cake. 

Almond Poppy 'Sheet' Cake
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Almond Poppy 'Sheet' Cake
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Ingredients
Cake
Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Beat egg whites until stiff, set aside in fridge. In a small bowl, combine flour, poppy seed, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, gradually adding sugar, followed by oil, milk, flavorings & dry ingredients.
  2. Gently fold in egg whites. Pour into 2 unbuttered 9 x 13" pans or onto an unbuttered cookie sheet 18 x 15 x 1". Bake on middle rack for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool completely.
Icing & Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine icing ingredients & beat until smooth; spread on cake & cool completely. Melt chocolate & margarine in microwave. QUICKLY spread topping over cooled cake.
Recipe Notes
  • I was only needing a small amount today so I made a quarter of the recipe & baked it in an 8 x 8-inch pan. It cuts nicely into 9 or 18 pieces.
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German Plum Cake / Tart

I know it sounds quite ordinary but we are not just talking about just any plum cake. Variations of the German specialty, ‘zwetschgenkuchen’, exist where some versions are made with a shortbread pastry verses a yeast dough, some have streusel – some do not – some are round, other’s are rectangular. One thing for sure is that they all use the plump, sweet, juicy European plums also known as Italian Prune Plums or Empress Plums. This variety is ideal for cooking not only because of their texture but also because their flavor becomes more complex through cooking.

Fruit and yeast-based cakes are a German hallmark with this cake being a perfect example. Its not overly sweet, has a touch of tartness to it, a small hint of cinnamon and that tender yeast dough.

When I was growing up and my mother used Italian Prune Plums in her canning or baking, I just thought it was because they were available at the time. I had no idea that they played such a special part in German baking until I was older.

I realize this is probably not the kind of thing you feel like making on a hot summer day. I suggest putting it on hold for a rainy day because it is well worth the effort. Just to encourage you further, I’ve added an alternate yogurt dough you could use instead of the yeasted one which would speed things up.

German Plum Cake / Tart
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
German Plum Cake / Tart
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Streusel
Yogurt Cake Dough (an alternate to use instead of yeast dough)
Servings:
Instructions
Yeast Dough
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm milk & allow to become frothy, about 5-10 minutes. With an electric hand mixer, beat together sugar, salt, warm melted butter, egg & vanilla. When yeast is ready, Combine with egg mixture. Add flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition; dough should become smooth & elastic. It will not be firm enough to knead into a ball, more like thick batter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap & set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Streusel
  1. In a small bowl, combine streusel ingredients. Using fingertips, rub mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
'ALTERNATE' Yogurt Dough
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. In small bowl, beat together yogurt, milk, oil & vanilla. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add wet mixture & combine until dough forms a ball.
To make Plum Cake Tarts
  1. Generously butter eight - 4 x 3/4" mini tart pans or press out a rectangle of dough about 8 x 10" size on a baking sheet or a jelly-roll pan could be used. For tart pans, divide dough into 8 pieces & press dough out over bottom & up sides. For the rectangle shape, dough could be rolled out on parchment paper & laid directly on pan.
  2. Lay plums close together in rows, covering the entire dough. If using YEAST DOUGH, set pan in a warm place & let rise rise an hour. Sprinkle the streusel over the top & bake at 350 F. for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden. If using YOGURT DOUGH, evenly sprinkle farina over dough before placing the plums on the pastry ( it helps to keep the pastry from becoming soggy). Arrange plums on pastry; distribute streusel over cake. Bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes or streusel is light golden.
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Flammkuchen – German Pizza

I guess because of my German heritage I forever gravitate to German cuisine and food history. Although my mother’s cooking was a mix of German and Canadian, I can definitely see how she correlated the two quite well.

When most people think of pizza, Italy comes to mind. That’s why I’d like to talk about Flammkuchen, a crisp, smoky bacon German pizza. The name translates to ‘flame cake’ and comes from south Germany and the Alsace region of France. Originally it was used by bakers to test the temperature of their ovens. A bit of dough was rolled flat, topped with ‘sour cream’ and baked in their wood fired bread ovens for a few minutes. The oven’s temperature was told in the nearly blistered crispiness of the flammkuchen. When it came out just right the oven was ready to bake bread.

The classic version of German pizza is characterized by its thin, crisp, blistered crust. The dough is spread with soured cream (creme fraiche) then topped with partially cooked bacon, caramelized onions and spices. 

Other savory variations include Gruyere or Munster cheese and mushrooms while sweet versions may include apples, cinnamon and a sweet liqueur.

For those of you who enjoy a thin, crispy crust pizza, this one’s for you!

Flammkuchen-German Pizza
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Flammkuchen-German Pizza
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Pizza Dough
Caramelized Onions
Servings:
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, water & oil. Mix until dough begins to form; turn dough out onto lightly floured surface & knead until soft & smooth about 3-5 minutes. Place dough back in bowl; cover & set aside. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt & nutmeg; set aside.
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  2. In skillet, saute bacon until it is half way to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Generously sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal & place dough on it. Spread yogurt mixture over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over yogurt. Top all with a dusting of black pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven & slice.
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Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Nectarine Sauce

As May eases into June and the outdoor work increases, it seems like one area you can simplify in your life is in the kitchen. Making good use of your barbecue, along with the fresh produce that is now available, will help do just that.

Pork tenderloin has always been one of my favorite cuts of meat. One of the easiest ways to transform everyday pork into a special occasion main dish. Its the best part of a pork chop without bone or fat and has that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.

A winner when it comes to versatility in that you can cook it whole, slice it into medallions, butterfly and stuff it, grill, roast, stir fry…..

My recipe today is a roast pork tenderloin served with a nice fruity, raspberry-nectarine sauce. Great little Sunday meal!

Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Nectarine Sauce
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Nectarine Sauce
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a blender or food processor, place raspberries, nectarine slices, brandy & honey. Cover & process about 1 minute, until smooth.
  2. In a large plastic bag, place flour, salt & pepper. Slice tenderloin into 1/4-1/2" medallions & place in bag. Shake to coat pieces evenly. In a large skillet, heat oil; saute pork medallions about 4 minutes or until no longer pink.
  3. Heat sauce & spoon some on a serving plate. Place pork medallions on sauce; drizzle with additional sauce. Garnish with additional fresh raspberries if desired.
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Mango – Orange Chicken Breast

Mango anything always sounds good to me. What isn’t to like about a ripe mango?  Of course, its versatility as a fresh fruit, in salsa, baking, paired with meat etc. makes it pretty appealing. A few years ago, Brion & I spent 3 months in Cuenca, Ecuador. It was quite an ‘adventure’ but a valuable experience for us. If you follow my blog, you may recall the article I posted in July 2016 entitled ‘Dutch Apple Pie’.     

Today, I wanted to tell you about the ‘markets’. Ecuador is famous for its colorful indigenous markets. Because the city of Cuenca sits high in the southern Andes mountains, it experiences spring-like weather year round. Small farms that surround this Colonial city grow a variety of lush produce in the rich, volcanic soil. These farmers bring their produce to these markets to sell to the vendors.

Cuenca has at least six major markets that usually entail a mix of indoor and open-air vendors. It is mind boggling when you see it for the first time. They sell a myriad of fruits and vegetables along with seafood, pork, beef and chicken, not to mention clothing, shoes, cook wear, sunglasses, etc, etc, etc. Of course, then there’s the fresh flower markets. All quite an amazing sight to see!!

As a rule, when it comes to chicken breast, I like to stuff them. I decided today,for something different, I would grill them as is and top them with some of those gorgeous mangoes.

Mango - Orange Chicken Breast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Mango - Orange Chicken Breast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
  1. Mix spices on a plate; add chicken, turn to coat both sides of each breast. In a large skillet, heat oil & add chicken; cook 6-7 minutes on each side or until no pink remains.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare couscous as directed on package, omitting salt & oil. Place couscous on serving platter & lay chicken breast on top. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Add red pepper & green onion to skillet; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add mango, orange segments, cilantro & dressing; cook another minute or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken.
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Chicken Wings Risotto

A popular and versatile dish, risotto is served extensively in the kitchens and restaurants of the world. The history of risotto is naturally tied to the history of rice in Italy. Rice was first introduced to Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the middle ages. The humidity of the Mediterranean was perfect for growing shorter-grained rices.

A hearty rice dish, risotto is rich with the flavors of the stock used in its making, as well as saffron, and any of the hundreds of ingredients that pair so perfectly with it.

The key components of this simple but elegant dish are: rice, stock (usually chicken), onions, butter, wine, parmesan and saffron. It can be served by itself or as an accompaniment to other dishes. The starchy component of the dry grain mixed with the stock creates a thick, creamy sauce.

Brion is a ‘wing’ man. He LOVES chicken wings and rice so it seems quite fitting to make a CHICKEN WING RISOTTO.

Chicken Wings Risotto
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Chicken Wings Risotto
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat butter & oil; add wings, cook until golden brown on both sides; Remove from skillet to paper towels & drain skillet.
  2. In skillet, melt extra butter; add onion & garlic; cook until tender. Add pepper, shallots, zucchini, celery & saffron, cook another minute. Add wine, rice, water, chicken bouillon cube & chicken wings, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat & simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in parsley.
Recipe Notes
  • Saffron is extremely expensive to buy in our part of the country. A good trade off would be turmeric or just use the spices that appeal to you.
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Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks

Savored for centuries, crepes are popular not only throughout France but worldwide. Crepe making has evolved from being cooked on large cast- iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to pans or griddles that are gas or electrically heated.

Around the 12th century, buckwheat  was introduced to Brittany, France from the east. Buckwheat could thrive on the  desolate, rocky Breton moors and was high in fiber, protein and essential amino acids. At that point, all crepes were being made from buckwheat flour. White flour crepes appeared only at the turn of the 20th century when white flour became affordable.

Almost every country in the world has its own name and adaptation of crepes including Italian crespelle, Hungarian palacsintas,  Jewish blintzes, Scandinavian plattars,  Russian blini  and Greek kreps.

Although crepes are simple in concept, by creating fillings that are complex in flavors, takes this entree to a whole new level.

 On July 25/2016, I posted a blog featuring both sweet and savory crepes you might enjoy to read. For something different today, I made ‘crepe stacks’ which have a savory filling of my own ‘design’. Hope you find time to make some.

Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks
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Smoked Gouda cheese gives such a nice flavor to these crepes.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks
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Smoked Gouda cheese gives such a nice flavor to these crepes.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Crepes
Gouda Sauce
Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a large container with a cover, beat eggs well on medium speed. Gradually add dry ingredients alternately with milk & oil. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
Gouda Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; add flour while stirring for a couple of minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, chicken broth & spices. Add cheese; cook, stirring until cheese is melted. Set aside to cool slightly then place in food processor. Process until smooth & fluffy.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add ground pork & mix well. In a skillet, saute mushroom slices in margarine; remove from skillet & set aside. Scramble fry pork until no longer pink. Spoon onto paper towels to drain. Add to Gouda sauce.
To Assemble:
  1. Place one crepe on each dinner plate. Top with slices of sauteed mushrooms & some pork/Gouda sauce. Repeat 3 more times on each plate. Garnish if you prefer. It may be necessary to reheat for a couple of minutes in the microwave before serving.
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Spiced Apple & Carrot Scones

Its true that a good scone is a delicate flavor balance of opposites: rich but light, tender but sturdy, satisfyingly sweet but not overly so.

As baking soda and baking powder came into use as rising agents in the mid 19th century, the familiar light, raised scones began to appear in recipe books.

Scones are closely related to biscuits in that they contain much of the same ingredients — flour, baking powder, salt, shortening or butter.

The making of tender scones lies in the technique itself. The ‘secret’ is to mix the dough as little yet as thoroughly as you can. The less you work at it, the more tender the scones will become.

Scones as well as muffins seem to fall in and out of ‘fashion’. For me, I love them both and never tire of making either one.

This particular recipe I developed some time back with a lot of room for variations. My sister, Loretta and I share a common addiction for scones and fully believe it should be a constant in one’s life. This one is for you, Loretta. Enjoy!

Spiced Apple & Carrot Scones
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Servings
16 minis
Servings
16 minis
Spiced Apple & Carrot Scones
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Servings
16 minis
Servings
16 minis
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, pulse oatmeal for a few seconds; transfer to a large bowl. Whisk oatmeal, flour, baking soda, spices, salt, flax & pecans (sunflower seeds) together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk egg, brown sugar, syrup, oil, applesauce, orange zest, orange juice & vanilla together until combined.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stir a few times, then add raisins, carrots & apple. Fold together gently just until blended.
  4. Scoop onto baking sheet & bake 3 minutes at 425 F. then reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for an additional 9 minutes or until they test done. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack.
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Black Bean Soup with Thai Chicken Rolls

Soup seems to be one of those comfort meals synonymous with cooler winter weather. So far, here in northern Alberta, Canada our winter has been very mild. Black bean soup has become one of my favorites. Of course, as usual there’s a little fond memory tucked away that I’d like to share with you.

For the many times Brion and I have spent holiday time on California’s Monterey Peninsula, I’m never quite able to absorb enough of it’s images. There’s something about the sea — the waves, the salt air, the broad expanse of blue, the ambiance of coastal living that forever calls us back.

It was on one of these trips that we were ‘snooping’ around an area called the Barnyard Shopping Village. Built in 1976, this Carmel landmark features more than 45 boutique shops. It’s cascading levels and beautifully landscaped courtyards create such a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. There are about eight locally owned restaurants offering various cuisine options. We came across one called ‘From Scratch’ restaurant. Sounded good, so we went in. There was either outdoor or indoor seating available. It turned out the food definitely had that ‘homemade’  flavor. Over the years we have made a point of always going back to have one of those great meals when we are in Carmel.

One of the first meals I had there was a Veggie Wrap  that in my opinion, was to die for. It consisted of romaine lettuce, avocados, cucumbers, walnuts and cream cheese in an over-sized tomato basil tortilla. For some reason it seemed to disappear from the menu so I tried the famous ‘From Scratch’ Black Bean Soup. It was just wonderful! Upon returning home I started making a very easy version. No need to do any soaking of the beans overnight. One of these 4-ingredient recipes using canned beans. Of course nothing like the one ‘From Scratch’ but still tastes great especially when served with some Thai Chicken Rolls.

Black Bean Soup with Thai Chicken Rolls
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Black Bean Soup with Thai Chicken Rolls
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Instructions
Easy Black Bean Soup
  1. In a blender, place 1 can of black beans, chicken broth, salsa & cumin. Blend for about 10 seconds to lightly puree.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the pureed bean mixture with remaining can of beans. Simmer until hot. Ladle into 2 bowls; top with a dollop of sour cream & a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.
Thai Chicken Rolls (12 rolls)
  1. Unroll dough on a work surface; pinch seams to seal & press into a 12 x 9 -inch rectangle. Cut into 12 rectangles.
  2. In a small skillet, heat oil. Add chicken; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Stir in water chestnuts, carrot, cilantro, garlic, apricot preserves, soy sauce, ginger & red pepper flakes. Divide mixture evenly between the 12 rectangles; placing some filling on long side of each rectangle to within 1/4" of short ends.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Starting with long side, roll up. Pinch ends to seal; place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg & bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Recipe Notes
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