Cantina Egg Rolls with Southwestern Avocado Sauce

These tasty egg rolls are great for a few reasons. They are easy to make, filling, packed with veggies, a healthier baked version of fried egg rolls, and freeze really well. They’d be a perfect appetizer for a Super Bowl party or eat a few more for a tasty meal. The dip will only keep for about a day but ranch is a good substitute if you want something quick after reheating.

Cantina Egg Rolls with Southwestern Avocado Sauce

Egg Roll Ingredients:

  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers (typically 15 wrappers per package)
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 block frozen spinach, thawed and wrung out using cheesecloth so it’s very dry
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Spray cooking oil

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Mix all ingredients (except wrappers) in a bowl until combined. Make sure spinach has been thoroughly drained before mixing. You can do this by thawing in a microwave, putting into cheesecloth or a floursack cloth, and wringing out over the sink.
  2. Prepare an egg roll wrapper by placing on counter with a point facing towards you (diamond shaped, not square). Place 1/4 cup of filling mixture into the middle of the egg roll wrapper. Wet the edges the furthest away from you with water. Fold bottom flap up, then fold side flaps in, and roll upwards. Push upper flap into roll to seal. Repeat until all egg rolls are sealed. (See silly diagram below.)
  3. Place all rolls on a cookie sheet and spritz the tops with cooking oil. Bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping halfway. Spritz the other side of the rolls once flipped. Let cool a bit before eating as the filling will be very hot.
How to fold an egg roll. I should have been a graphic designer. 😉

Southwestern Avocado Sauce

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Instruction:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Serve with egg rolls.

What’s in a name?

We’ve heard some funny variations of The Carrot Seed over the years from customers that can’t quite remember where they are shopping. A few of my favorites have been “The Onion Seed” and “The Carrot Stick”. But what’s with the name, “The Carrot Seed”? Where did that come from? What other names did we consider? We’ll give you all the details in this blog post, the first of our business-themed article series. We hope this behind-the-scenes look at The Carrot Seed with enlighten you, answer some questions, and maybe inspire you to try small business ownership for yourself.

Gathering Ideas

Back when The Carrot Seed was still just a silly idea, I started working on giving the research project a name so I could stop referring to it as the “maybe-kitchen-store-thing”. I was having a hard time working past my initial name idea of “Peppercorn Kitchen”. Peppercorn is one of my dog Jax’s middle names (along with P.Pup and Mr. Wiggoboddums), chosen because a few years prior I considered starting a wedding planning business named Peppercorn Events and named our dog “Jax Peppercorn Gjesdal” so I wouldn’t have to come up with an elaborate story of where the name came from. I just liked the word Peppercorn. Meanwhile this avoidance of deeper name meaning has become part of a larger elaborate story behind a completely different business’s name… Anyway, there were already a couple restaurants named “Peppercorn Kitchen” and a kitchenware store named “Peppercorn Gourmet” so I was back to day dreaming of new ideas. I compiled a list of other business names that I liked and a list of food terms that appealed to me.

A screenshot of my Word document of names of other stores and words I liked

In September 2014, my husband Mike and I went on a trip to Minneapolis to take a few cooking classes, visit the wholesale market, check out other kitchen stores, talk with a kitchen store owner, and generally gather inspiration and information about opening our own kitchenware store. We were excited (and scared) by the idea and we needed to take this four day trip to focus on obtaining knowledge to make an informed official decision on whether to officially pursue the idea or not. On the way there, I was in a group text with my entire family (mom, dad, two sisters and one brother), where they were suggesting name options for the potential business. There was a number of great ideas shared (NOT!) like “Kitchen Kaboodle” and “Kirsten’s Crap Store.” Clearly, my family was no help but it made for an entertaining drive.

Really truly, this is the only photo I have saved from the entire Minneapolis trip. Haha!

Finding the Name

When we arrived in Minneapolis, our first stop was a store call Hunt & Gather, a vintage amusement store filled with all sorts of new and old quirky items. My eye was drawn to a stack of quote cards that I dove into. The first card said “You should quit your day job.” The second card read “Don’t give up on your dreams.” I can’t remember exactly what the third card read, but it was something along the lines of “You can do it!” And then, the clouds parted, angels started singing, and a ray of sunshine lit one specific spot on the shelf. Just kidding…I turned the corner and there it was. A kid’s book called “The Carrot Seed”. I read the book, bought a copy, and settled on The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. a few days later.

Ruth Krauss’ Book

Did you read Harold and the Purple Crayon when you were little? It was one of our favorites when my family visited our grandparents’ house growing up. The Carrot Seed is written by the same woman, Ruth Krauss, and illustrated by the same man, Ruth’s husband Crockett Johnson, published in 1945. It’s a sweet story illustrated all in red and orange of a young boy who plants a single carrot seed. His mom, dad, and brother tell him not to bother caring for the seed as it will never grow into anything. The little boy weeds and waters his little garden plot until one day he harvests a massive carrot, large enough to fill an entire wheel barrow. The story is very quick, only about 100 words, but it shows the power of persistence, listening to your gut, and the joy of growing your own food, all traits I would need in the journey of bringing The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co. to life.

Since opening the store in Brookings, I have made many connections to others over the name “The Carrot Seed”. Many people have memories of the book growing up or have a copy on their bookshelves for their own kids and grandkids. We have copies available in the shop and one at our kids table for the little ones to read while they wait for their parents. I have been gifted a few copies since opening, including a first edition print that I will cherish forever.

First edition copy is in back. Both of these were well loved in elementary schools before I received them.

Final Thoughts on The Carrot Seed

While I love the story of the little boy overcoming obstacles and sticking it out to prove his community wrong about the fate of his vegetable, it is the exact opposite of my story. The Brookings community, my family, and my business counterparts have been so incredibly supportive of our little kitchenware store. I have never been told “this won’t work” but instead a resounding “you can do this and we’ll help you!” I’m extremely grateful for the kind folks that help keep my little garden growing and hope it can continue to thrive for many years to come.

I leave you with a link to a song adaptation from the 1950’s, a longer version of the book. It’s a cute one! Click here to listen.

— Kirsten

Hearty Tuscan Soup with Creamy Poached Egg

Chicken sausage is an overlooked yet delicious meat that is lean, easy to cook, and flavorful! This hearty soup is packed with veggies while also being filling due to the chicken sausage and beans. The creamy poached egg adds beautiful color and another layer of flavor. It can easily be omitted if poaching eggs isn’t in your skill set! This recipe makes about 8 bowls.

Hearty Tuscan Soup with Creamy Poached Egg

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 carrots, peeled & chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups broth/water with bouillon
  • 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz canned cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 fully-cooked chicken sausage links (favorites are Al Fresco Roasted Pepper & Asiago OR Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Style), sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of kale, ribs removed and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 8 Eggs
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar to garnish

Instruction:

  1. Warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots, seasoning with salt & pepper. Cook until onion is soft & translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a few more minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add broth/water with bouillon to deglaze and get brown bits off the bottom of pan. Add tomatoes, rinsed beans, sliced sausage, seasoning, pepper flakes, and salt/pepper. Bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in chopped kale. Cook for additional 5 minutes until kale is bright green and wilted. Keep soup warm until eggs are cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a small sauce pan with water. Add 1 tsp vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer. Crack egg into a small heat-safe dish. Take a spoon and stir water briskly so it swirls. Pour egg into swirling water and cover with lid. Let cook ~3 minutes and gently remove to a paper towel to drain. (Swirling water keeps egg compact and stops it from “growing legs.”)
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning in soup if needed. Ladle into individual bowls and place poached egg on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.