It’s Time For Those Three Little Words..Back To School

July 19, 2012 by Kari Karch

It’s the middle of July and the signs in most windows read ‘back to school savings’ which signifies that it’s the end of summer. Seriously? I just went to my cousin’s college graduation party like a couple weeks ago. Okay, it was over a month ago but let’s be honest, summer vacation seems to come and go in a flash the older we get. Back when I was going to college, I secretly loved the weeks leading up to hitting the books again and having all new school supplies. The feeling of having new binders, pens, backpacks, and some new clothes to sport made going back to school that much more fun. However, my college days were a little different than most. After high school, I attended a community college while still living at home, therefore the days of cooking ramen in a stuffy dorm room never existed in my late teens. In fact, homemade breakfasts every morning made by the best mom in the world were quite the norm. I had it good.

I sometimes hear stories from my friends about their college days when eating cold pizza 4 days a week and stocking up on those awful noodles loaded with sodium were something they would never regret yet loathed at the same time. But here’s where my chef brain starts questioning why they would even make a package of ‘food’ that contain words no one can pronounce and have absolutely no nutritional value, why would anyone eat that when there are so many cheap and easy ways to get healthy and tasty foods? Well guess who has two thumbs and can make a mean bowl of noodles on the cheap? That’s right, this girl!

If you do like to cook and have access to a kitchen, then look no further for a recipe that can be your go to for cheap and easy eats. I started making summer rolls a while back when I had a refrigerator full of veggies and no money for expensive cuts of meat. These Vietnamese summer rolls not only fill you up, but they can be made for pennies and are a perfect snack or light lunch. The cool trick about this recipe is that the dipping sauce is made from a combination of all those little packets of sauce from Chinese take-outs that have been sitting in your pantry for years. And making these for your college buddies will ensure you invites to all the cool parties during rush and the term ‘freshman fifteen’ will never apply to you since they are super low cal and super low fat. So here’s to happy and healthy eating on a college budget.

P.S. Next week I will be posting some more back to school recipe ideas including my toasted sesame and ginger cold soba dish. Don’t forget to check out my recipe videos to get some great cooking tips too at!

Sexy Summer Rolls with Spicy Dipping Sauce


  • 1 package (4 ounces) whole wheat vermicelli rice noodles
  • 8-inch spring roll wrappers
  • Fresh chives (optional)
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks (3/4 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped


  1. Pour boiling water over vermicelli rice noodles and soak 15 minutes. Drain and rinse. Divide into 8 equal portions. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with cool water. Working with one spring-roll wrapper at a time, soak until pliable, 20 seconds. Transfer to a flat surface and smooth.
  2. Place a layer of fillings on bottom third of wrapper, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Top with a portion of noodles and another layer of fillings.
  3. Fold bottom of wrapper tightly over fillings.
  4. Roll over once, tuck in sides, and finish rolling. Transfer roll to a plate and cover with a slightly damp paper towel. Repeat to make 8 summer rolls. Serve immediately with dipping sauce, or refrigerate, up to 2 hours.
  5. For the dipping sauce, combine 2 packets of hot mustard sauce and 4 packets of duck sauce. Stir and dip away!




Kari Karch

Kari Karch is a 19-year veteran of the culinary industry, creator of Kiss the Cook, and the head chef and spokesperson for the Kenmore brand. She has made many notable appearances on ABC Morning News, on WGN, on the Cooking Channel and as a judge for the World Food Championships.