Asian-Inspired Appetizers: Baked Turkey-Vegetable Wontons and Asian Chex Mix

A few neighbors got together for happy hour on Sunday evening, and we volunteered to bring an appetizer. Craig suggested one of our favorite standbys, baked wontons. We’ve been making these for so long I have no idea where the recipe originated. They are versatile and delicious with whatever veggies you have in the frig, chicken, turkey, tofu if that’s to your liking, or meatless. Being baked and not fried, they are crispy but relatively healthy and easy thanks to the food processor. The secret ingredient is the cilantro-peanut sauce, loosely based on a Cooking Light recipe, sweet, salty, a little crunchy, and a touch spicy. These are always a hit at parties, as was the case on Sunday (all 24 wontons were eaten between the six of us), and the filling can be made earlier in the day, refrigerated, and the wontons baked just before serving.

Since it was happy hour, some sort of crunchy munch food was in order to make the adult grape juice appealing and keep it flowing (not that much encouragement is needed). In the spirit of the loose Asian theme of the wontons, I decided to make Cooking Light’s Asian Chex Mix (slightly modified). This Oriental riff on the classic party mix is crazy-addictive. This method slowly bakes at a low temperature to result in a crisp mix, but don’t open the oven door to ensure an even temperature.

Baked Wontons with Cilantro-Peanut Sauce
Makes 40 wontons

2 stalks celery
2 small carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
Half a can - 8-ounce can water chestnuts
1 lb ground chicken or turkey breast
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 t grated fresh ginger
1 T low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 C cilantro peanut sauce (recipe below)
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1 package wonton wrappers

In a food processor, finely chop the celery, carrot, garlic, onion, and water chestnuts. The pieces should be small and fairly uniform, but not liquid.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat until it is no longer pink. Add the vegetables, coleslaw, and ginger. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are soft and any moisture has evaporated. Add the soy and peanut sauces and cook for five minutes. Add the cilantro. This may be made ahead and refrigerated at this point.
Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Press one wonton wrapper into each cup of a mini-muffin pan with the edges flared out to the sides (you will need two pans). Place one scoop of the meat mixture into each cup.

Bake for 15 minutes until the wrappers are crisp and golden. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before removing to a serving tray.

Serve with additional peanut sauce.

Cilantro-Peanut Sauce

Yield - 1 1/3 cups

1/2 C balsamic vinegar
3 T sugar
3 T brown sugar
1/4 C low-sodium soy sauce
1 t crushed red pepper
2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C chunky peanut butter
1 C chopped cilantro

Combine first seven ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, stirring frequently with a whisk. Cool. Stir in cilantro.
Asian Party Mix
Makes 8 1/2-cup servings
2 C crispy corn cereal squares
C crispy wheat cereal squares
3 C sesame sticks broken (such as Pepperidge Farms) – you can use less, but these are so yummy that people search them out in the mix
1 C tiny fat-free pretzel twists
1 C wasabi peas
4 C lightly salted peanuts
4 T unsalted butter
T sugar
T curry powder – I use Penzey’s hot curry powder
T low-sodium soy sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t salt
1/4 t
ground red pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 200°.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, tossing gently to coat. Spread the mixture onto a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 200° for 45 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

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