Appetizer

Bacon wrapped Dates

Hope you are well and still healthy!
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How often do you take a look at what is in the back of your cupboards? Me not very often. Take in point I had bought duck sauce at the store quite some time ago. At least I thought I bought it, I recall it on my list and that was that.  I had some left over fried rice that could use a little sauce to spruce it up again. I “looked” which means basically I took a look around and ended up making my own with some apples sauce.
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I had purchased it and it was not a small jar so I have no idea how I missed it. too late for what I wanted but there it is.
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The other day I went through the cupboard between the stove and fridge and moved things to the front, threw out a couple of things and found a package of dates that apparently don’t go bad because they have been in the house for a long time. I personally do not have a love or hate for dates, my daughter was the one who buys them and she is the one that made these for a snack for us this past Wednesday. They were really good so here you go! Try them or make up your own very easy and just enough sweet and salty.
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bacon wrapped dates

sweet and salty appetizer
Course Appetizer

Ingredients
  

  • 20-24 dried dates
  • 4 ounces goat or bleu cheese
  • 12-16 ounces bacon
  • add an almond for a little crunch

Instructions
 

  • pre-heat oven to 375'F. Arrange rack in the middle of the oven.
    Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a cooling rack on top of the tinfoil
    Cut a slit the dates with a pairing knife. Use your thumbs to open the date slightly. Remove the pits if your dates still has them
    Stuff with your date using a spoon with your cheese; use the back of the spoon to press the cheese into the date. Press the date closed.
    Wrap the dates with bacon. cut the strips of bacon in half crosswise. Wrap each date with a half strip of bacon.
    Arrange the dates on the baking sheet. Evenly spaced.
    Bake for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when the bacon is crispy.
Keyword bacon stuffed dates

 

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Pesto & One pot pasta

Happy Father’s Day – I hope you are all safe and able to spend a little time with your some of your family today! It is a sunny day here in NH but it is a very warm and humid day. I am currently sitting on the couch writing this blog listening to Psych. That is one of my favorite TV shows to play in the background. I cannot tell you how many times I have been through the entire series. Enough to know pretty much all of the snarky little comments. Image

I don’t know how well your gardens are going, mine are a lot of hit and misses. I went to to local gardening shop yesterday, the same one i have been going to for many many years and was shocked at the lack on inventory they had on hand. I know I probably shouldn’t have been. I know a lot of people took up gardening this year but it was still a little alarming. They have always had a plethora of hanging plants and I could always find what I needed and sometimes things I didn’t know I needed.

Here are a couple of things I use up my basil in. Though basil is one of my favorite summer herb and can be used in so many dishes.  These two are worth checking out!

Basil Pesto 

6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nuts
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper

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Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything!

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One–Pan Pasta 

 1 lb. Linguine
1 lb. Cherry or Grape tomatoes halved
1 Onion diced
4-6 cloves of Garlic
½ tsp. crushed Red Pepper Flakes
6 Cups Chicken Broth
1 bunch of Basil
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and the chicken broth in a large straight sided skillet

Bring to a boil over high heat, boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and broth has nearly evaporated.  About 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with basil.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

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General Tso’s Cauliflower

I hope you are all doing well – I seem to be saying that with almost every blog, every email, every text and when I happen to see someone; though that is pretty rare as I work from home and don’t really need to leave the house very often. Pretty sure 2020 is going to be a year of reflection, a year of hope, a year of change and a deep look into our own  priorities and hopefully we are open to make some adjustments where needed.
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I am pretty sure it was a couple of weeks ago; time seems to be flying and standing still at the same time. When NH opened up restaurants to outdoor seating;  we met up with a few (6 maximum) friends at a Taproom for dinner and drinks. We ordered some apps for the table and one of them caught my attention and I knew; actually a couple of us mentioned we could totally make this. I was already planning on it in my head I would be making this at some point.
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That point happened last night and I am a little obsessed with them.  General Tso’s Cauliflower is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy plus a little healthy and unhealthy.  I will be making this again and I will also be making the sauce for chicken in the near future.

General Tso's Cauliflower

sweet and spicy snack
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil plus more for frying
  • 3 scallions thinly diced save some for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 strip orange zest thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon go chu jang Korean sweet & spicy hot pepper paste
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger or 1/4 tsp ground
  • 2 teaspoon plus 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large head of cauliflower cut into large florets

Instructions
 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the scallions, garlic and orange zest and cook, stirring, until the garlic has turned golden, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, sriracha, go chu jang and 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves completely and the sauce become fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir 2 teaspoons cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk the mixture into the boiling sauce until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Fill a large Dutch oven halfway with peanut oil and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss with the egg mixture. Sprinkle in the remaining 3/4 cup cornstarch a little bit at a time until the cauliflower is well coated
  • Fry the cauliflower in 3 batches; gently place the cauliflower in the hot oil and cook, keeping the pieces separated and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the oil temperature at 350 degrees F, until light brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with a spider or slotted spoon and set on the prepared wire rack to drain briefly. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl while it is still hot and toss with the sauce to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving plate and top with scallions.
Keyword cauliflower, fried cauliflower, general tso's cauliflower

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Stay healthy and strong!

Game day fare

So today is the big day! The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs should be a pretty good game I think most of us New Englander’s are rooting for the 49ers since there quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo used to be a Patriot though I am torn because last year I thought and said out loud that Patrick Mahomes from the Chiefs is someone to watch and here we are – just saying!

Are you already preparing for the game later today? I haven’t started yet but I do have a plan and will be starting some Crockpot Chicken Chili once I finish writing this blog. The only thing my husband asked for was some wings. I am going to be doing some name dropping here. Franks Hot Sauce is our families favorite hot sauce. Which is saying something, we are not really hot sauce kinda people. We all like a little heat but there is a fine line and we all tend to stay away from ordering anything spicy out just in case their fine line is much higher than ours.

Last Friday at the office we had a tailgating party of sorts in preparing for the Super Bowl – yes even though the Patriots are not in it this year; not to say that everyone at work is a Pats fan but the majority is but we all like food so there’s that! I brought Espinaca dip which is always a hit. We will be having the rest of it a little later today.

I haven’t shared this dip recipe before so here it is. 32 ounce brick of Velveta, 1 brick of cream cheese, 2 cans of Rotel, 1 block of frozen spinach, thawed and drained. Add everything to a pot for the stove top or a slow cooker and heat until everything is melted and mixed together.

Here are a few other items I think would be awesome to share with your football fans, or the people who like to socialize with the people who like football fans. Or the ones that just show up to watch the halftime and commercials. Spam Bacon Bites would be a perfect fit for a party as well as Chicken-Parm Sliders to name a few. If there were more than just a few us I would make the seven layer dip Huevos Rancheros and 7 Layer Mexican Dip but since there isn’t I will just make some Guacamole & Sweet and Salty Wings for the big game

I do hope JLO and Shakira rock the house this year!

Charcuterie board

I hope your 2020 has started out as well as you had hoped! If you are one of those that makes resolutions I hope you are staying on track; if you are not there’s always next year wink wink! I am just hoping for this damn cough/cold to go away! It is getting better but I am SO done with it!

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My daughter assembled this beauty!

I’m writing this Saturday morning because the family is gathering for a wedding later today. My beautiful niece is marrying her best friend tonight surrounded by family and friends. I can’t wait to see everyone and share a tear or two. I’m an old softy when it comes to weddings. Who am I kidding I am just an old softy period!

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my husbands idea of a light dinner!

A few weeks ago we had our annual Christmas party; which is always so much fun and this year did not disappoint. I recreated our song booklets, while the old ones were great, they were pretty impossible to navigate and I won’t miss the binder clips. The new booklets are numbered and bound all neat and orderly plus I added some of the non Christmas songs we usually sing. I think we had the most singers this year, I would like to think it was because of the new books.

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less glamorous but still very tasty!

 

My dining room table is almost 12 feet long; my husband made it for the room which is why it is not a standard size. Anyway for the Christmas party I try to make sure it is covered with all kinds of different pick up and go or grab a plate and chill type items. I have this pretty cool board I found in the garage and I usually just add my fall decorations onto it and place it in the middle of the table. I decided to put it to another use for the party this year. I hope you like it!

Charcuterie board

What is a Charcuterie board? The wikipedia definition is. Charcuterie is a branch of cooking involving prepared meats, such as ham, sausage, bacon, confit, or other pork products. The word originated in France, and it translates to “pork-butcher shop.” … The correct French pronunciation of charcuterie is “shar-coo-tree.”

A typical board has the following on it. The amount depends on the size of the board and the number of people. 

  • Cured meats.
  • Cheese.
  • Olives.
  • Nuts.
  • Dried Fruit.
  • Crackers or baguette bread.
  • Jelly or jam.

 How to assemble a cheese board:

  • Add your cheeses spaced around your board.
  • Add your salami or other meat in a few different places.
  • Place bowls of olives or honey or jam down the middle.
  • Add crackers and vegetables in large open spaces.
  • Place bunches of grapes, nuts, and chocolate in all the cracks.

Spam Bacon Bites


Just curious if you take a look and judge what’s in other people’s grocery carts? I can’t help myself and when I buy what I would consider “questionable” items I wonder who is judging me? 

believe it or not I did not have any garlic in the house, I did have garlic scapes in the garden so I chopped up a few of those and added them to the mustard and syrup

 

I remember the first time I used a shopping cart at the liquor store I was mortified. It was for a New Years Eve party I was throwing – I just needed to clear that up. A few years ago I was behind someone who was clearly having some sort of function one where they needed like 6 or more 30 packs of Bud Light? I have NO idea when that much of the same beer is necessary but who am I to judge?
Last weekend I was asked to bring an appetizer and I came across one in a magazine that I ripped out and wanted to give it a try. It looked easy and sounded like it would be quite tasty even though it’s main ingredient was one of those items I would classify as “questionable” in my book. This would be the second time in my adult like that I was standing in line at the grocery store with a can of spam in my cart.
I recall when I was younger my Father would chop it up very small and make a western omelette with Spam and I am not positive but I believe my Mother chopped it up for ham salad finger sandwiches? At least I know I have had finger sandwiches that were definitely made with Spam.
I am going to say even if Spam is one of your no no’s these little bites are quite delicious and very easy to make. When I brought them to the party they were gone within the first 15-20 minutes and I will be making them again!

Spam Bacon Bites

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
a tasty little bite
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 16 strips of bacon cut in half
  • 1 can reduced sodium spam 12 ounces
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove minced

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400'F
  • cube spam into 32 pieces.
  • in a saute pan cook bacon till partially cooked, make sure not to cook them to far they should not be crispy. remove to some paper towels to drain.
  • wrap a piece of bacon around a cube of spam and secure with a toothpick.
  • place each piece on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  • combine the mustard, syrup and garlic and drizzle over each bite.
  • return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Till the bacon is crisp.

Notes

You can use cubed ham if you are afraid to add spam to your shopping cart
Adapted from Taste of Home test kitchen

Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

I hope you had a wonderful day/weekend however you spent your time! We had 9 for Thanksgiving dinner and today (Saturday) will be 11 for homemade pasta (another personal cooking class for my sister-in-law) and Bolognese.
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For as far back as I can remember my family took all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and made them into a casserole of sorts. Basically take a 9×13 container and fill it or several of them with a little bit of everything and then top it with gravy. I still love doing this but this year when the family was cleaning up after eating I asked them to put everything in their own containers. I wanted to try making a thanksgiving leftover egg roll after seeing something similar floating around on FB.

IMG_3658And I had recently had an appetizer couples cooking class and I had them making a typical egg roll; pork, cabbage, carrot and scallions; except I had them air fry them, for the only reason being that there were 6 of them and we had made a lot app’s and it was the last one we made. I was a little worried about all of us being around hot oil. Did I mention that they bring wine with them. Just didn’t think it would be a good idea.
IMG_3659They were good air fried but we all were in agreement that we should have fried them in oil especially since the definition of a egg roll is “a Chinese-style snack consisting of diced meat or shrimp and shredded vegetables wrapped in a dough made with egg and deep-fried.” So egg rolls have been on my mind.
IMG_3661The ones I made were super easy and a big hit with everyone. I made 20 egg rolls and there were 7 of us that made them basically disappear. There were 2 left and my daughter brought them to one of her co-workers who also thought they were awesome. I wasn’t too sure about dipping sauces but they are a must. They just add another level of flavor. I always have thai sweet chili sauce in the fridge, I wanted to use the leftover cranberry sauce I made but my husband threw it away grrrrr. Thankfully I had a can of whole berry sauce that I added some orange juice and sriracha too that made a really nice tart sauce with a little heat. And of course there is always leftover gravy that I didn’t get a picture of but everyone gobbled up all 3 sauces.
IMG_3663Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

Egg roll wrappers
Leftover turkey chopped up
Leftover stuffing chopped up
Cranberry sauce
1 egg – beaten

Oil for frying
Yes it was that simple

Cranberry dipping sauce
whole berry cranberry sauce
splash of orange juice
sriracha to taste
place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil for about a 2-3 minutes

A few comments from the crowd
“what a fun way to eat leftovers”, “you are just amazing”, “these are SO good”

IMG_3662On the back of the package of egg roll wrappers will tell you how to fill, wrap, seal  and fry.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

I am sitting here this morning drinking my tea and trying to figure out what to say. Which is kinda funny for me, as most of my friends and family will gladly tell you; I always have something to say.  Just sharing –  It took me longer to write this than it did to make a platter of these the other night. 
IMG_3590Today is our first frost, last night my Red Sox lost the first game of the series. I used up the last of my balsamic that I brought home from Italy. And I think I might have worn my flip flops for the last time this year. The day has nowhere to go but up – I hope.
IMG_3583I do have a quick and simple appetizer that I probably paid at least 12 euros for 3 little bites in Greece. But I will be adding these to my list of go too App. I have some friends that have been asking me to come up with an appetizer class. They say they always make the same things every time they are asked to bring something. Which I totally understand. You make something that everyone likes why wouldn’t you make it over and over again. I get a sense that I have to bring something different every time I am invited to someone’s home. I am sure I bring most of it on to myself, I write a food blog I can’t disappoint my people LOL.
IMG_3584This recipe is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write a blog about it. But if you want a new app to bring to a party or just make a light snack for yourself; I won’t judge you.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Mascarpone, room temperature
Balsamic vinegar
Greens for decoration

There are packages by the deli with pre-sliced prosciutto, slice each one lengthwise down the middle.
IMG_3585I found it easier to work with the Mascarpone when it got warmer. I put mine in a pastry bag. You can use a ziploc bag or skip the bag and use a couple of spoons to dollop some on the end of each piece of Prosciutto.

Roll each piece and stand them on end, drizzle with the balsamic. Adding some greenery finishes off the simple plate nicely. When I make these again I might roll the meat and then fill with the mascarpone using my pastry bag. I think they would look much nicer. 
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Mascarpone, Cream Cheese
Mascarpone simply put is less tangy than Cream cheese

Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto – I love all three
Now a quick little lesson in the differences between Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto
Three pork products that look alike, taste somewhat similar, and even get regularly substituted for each other.

All three are cured meat products Bacon (usually found sliced) and Pancetta (can be sliced thin or cubed) are from the pork belly and need to be cooked before eating. Bacon is put through a smoking process where Pancetta is unsmoked. Prosciutto (sliced and cubed) is from the hind leg and does not have to be cooked to be eaten.
I hope this simple explanation clears things up a little for you.
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Turkey Lettuce Wraps – give them a try

Why I love lettuce wraps – I believe my first taste was about 5 or 6 years ago and our waiter said it was his favorite app at PF Changs. If we are trying a new place we tend to ask our waiter/waitress what their favorite is and maybe not every time but majority of the time we will take their recommendation. We all really loved their chicken lettuce wraps so much so I actually made a recipe I found online that someone came up with that said they were the ones from PF Changs. They too were delicious but a little time consuming so I have only made them a couple of times.
IMG_2883.JPGThere is an added bonus to lettuce wraps; if you are watching your carb intake you can eat 2 or 3 lettuce wraps without any guilt. Not that I have anything against carbs I mean if you saw me you would be like “oh yeah she eats carbs” but it is nice to know there are other ways to have a tasty filling without having a bun of some sort to hold it together.
IMG_2866This comes together very quickly and would be a great weeknight meal on some hot summer night when you want something quick, light and delicious!
IMG_2873.JPGTurkey Lettuce Wraps

1 package of ground turkey
Olive oil for the pan
Package of white mushrooms – cleaned and chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Boston or Bibb lettuce, romaine and iceberg work too
Shredded carrots
Bean Sprouts
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3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon sriracha sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup water

Thai chili sauce works awesome too
IMG_2867IMG_2868IMG_2870Brown the turkey in a large saute pan until cooked through. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts cook until the mushrooms are soften. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and then add to the turkey mixture. Cook for about a minute or so. Remove from the heat.
IMG_2879.JPGCreate the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together. Once you make your lettuce wrap drizzle a little over the top of the turkey and veggies. Add a little thai chili sauce if you like a little more love.
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Recipe adapted from Melissa d’Arabian Food Network

Cucumber red onion dip

Memorial Day weekend is first most here in the US a day to remember our fallen soldiers. There is usually a parade or two or even three or more within 20 miles of us. Thoughts and Thanks for all who serve!
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Secondly it is the start of summer, the end of black flies the official start of cookouts and camping for some.  I can throw a mean cookout but I am not a great camper; my idea of camping would be a bed and breakfast with a shared bathroom down the hall. My husband grew up camping across the country from California to Massachusetts every summer with his mother and siblings. I can share with you that he doesn’t miss it. He likes my version better.
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At a friends house a month or so ago she had made a light, bright and tasty little dip that I couldn’t eating. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing the recipe because I think it would be a nice addition to everyone’s table over the summer. Especially when the cucumbers start ripening from the garden.
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I hope everyone is able to get outside to pay their respects and enjoy a parade or two and maybe an afternoon BBQ.  
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Cucumber Red Onion Dip

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ finely chopped red onion
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 cups finely chopped english cucumber – remove any seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
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Add everything into a bowl and stir.  Let it set up for about an hour.
Serve alongside plain bagel chips, wheat thins or something