Appetizer

Strawberry cheesecake love bites

Who else has a large bowl full of fresh strawberries from their garden that they need to do something with?13442327_10206663286565524_7175707329866589239_n

June is strawberry season around here in NH and our plants have been pretty busy this year. We have hulled washed and eaten many of them but then what? On Father’s day my daughter made up some Jell-o cheesecake pudding and she was going to hull out the strawberries and dip them in a graham cracker crumb. The day got away from us and it never happened. The next day my husband decided to take things into his own hands and he sliced the strawberries in half, put some of the cheesecake filling and roll in the crumbs. While they tasted good, they were a pain to pick up and the proportions were all off.

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With larger berries you could scoop out some of the inside flesh to make room for the filling. My berries are not that large so I was playing with a few ideas, my final decision was to take the crumbs and put them on a plate. Take my cleaned berries and put a dollop of the cheesecake filling on the top and then place them upside down in the crumb mixture – BRILLIANT!
Proportions were perfect and everyone loved them and talk about easy; not sure why it took me so long to make these little nuggets of love bites. Try them you won’t be disappointed.

Make as many as you want to eat or serve
Strawberries
Jell-o cheesecake package – make as directed
box of Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs

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Cover the bottom of you plate with the crumbs, put a small dollop of cheesecake on top of the strawberry and place it cheesecake side down on to the crumbs and enjoy!

 

 

 

Pork Spring Rolls – Baked not Fried

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mom’s out there who have baked brownies or cupcakes at the last minute for a class bake sale their kids forgot to tell the about. For all the mom’s who make dinners that their kids won’t eat for one reason or another. For all the mom’s who spend many hours in the kitchen and around the table sharing food and stories. I raise a glass to you all! Mom is a tough job but I am proud to do it!

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Even though my kids are young adults now, if they are home we all sit down at the table for dinner together. One of the many proud Mom traditions I started when they were born. Our meals have definitely evolved over the years and have become not only a meal to fill the void, it has become a journey of food and ingredient discovery.

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My daughter just came back from a weeks long trip to Iceland. She brought back native hot dogs and mustard for us to try; she said she never had a better hot dog. After making one of her favorites last week, it seems that there is more to a hot dog than ketchup, mustard and relish. This one had potato salad, fried onions, Icelandic mustard; which is kind of a sweet mustard, and some BBQ sauce layered in a hoagie bun. It truly was delicious and piqued my interest in hot dogs, which I didn’t think was possible.

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I have also been intrigued by egg rolls, spring rolls and dumplings. A few weeks ago I made egg rolls that I shared with you; last week I pulled some spring roll wrappers out of the freezer and while I love the fried version, I found a baked recipe I thought looked promising and a little better for us. See still being a Mom and wanting better for my family.

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Bake Pork Spring Rolls

1 pound ground pork
½ head finely shredded cabbage
½ cup finely shredded carrot
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger root
2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon chile sauce

2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
12 – 7 inch square spring roll wrappers
4 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425’ F

In a medium saucepan over medium heat brown the pork, remove from heat and drain.

In a medium bowl, mix together pork, cabbage, carrot, green onion, cilantro, sesame oil, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic and chile sauce.  Make sure to taste the mixture and adjust seasonings if needed.

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Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl

Place a large tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of the spring roll. Roll wrappers around the mixture, folding edges inward to close. Moisten fingers in the cornstarch water mixture, and brush wrapper seams to seal.

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Arrange spring rolls in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Brush with vegetable oil. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes, until hot and lightly browned. For crispier spring rolls, turn 10 minutes.

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Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com by Rayna

Egg Rolls with Asian dipping sauces

I realize I write a weekly food blog and have hosted food classes in my home so it may seem to some that I know what I am doing in the kitchen. I do know my way around and enjoy making and eating yummy food but there are so many things I have never attempted for fear of intimidating ingredients or the process seems out of my realm.

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I pulled some egg roll wrappers and a package of ground pork out of the freezer last week in hopes in trying my hand at making egg rolls. This is one of those times where I have always wanted to try but had a little fear that maybe this is one of those things I leave to my local take out joint. Boy was I wrong they couldn’t have been easier and tastier; plus I knew exactly what went in them. That in itself made me wonder why I took SO long to make them. Sometimes I cut open those tasty little packages and inspect what they put inside. Somethings are undetectable to the naked eye but they must be there for a reason. They add flavor or texture. I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t really look at your food. Not sure who said that but I always look at my food most times so I could potentially recreate the dish at home. 

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I added to this week’s groceries list; fresh artichoke; this is another one of those ingredients that is a little intimidating to me but I have wanted to check it out. I do hope if you ever had an interest in making egg rolls with a couple of super simple dipping sauces. This one is easy and delicious!

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Egg Roll

1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground garlic powder
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 quart peanut oil for frying
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
8 7 inch square egg roll wrappers

Season pork with ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly. Heat medium skillet with a little bit of oil, fry pork till no longer pink. Taste and adjust before you set aside

In a large skillet heat oil to 375 F degrees or medium high heat.

Combine water and flour in a small bowl to make a paste for closing the the wrappers

In a separate bowl combine the cabbage, carrots and pork mixture till combined.

Lay the wrapper with the corner pointed toward you. Place about ¼ cup of the mixture folding the corner over the pork, the fold left and right corners toward the center and roll to opposite corner. Brush a bit of the paste on the final corner to seal the edge of the egg wrapper.

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Fry rolls, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels or a rack.

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Honey Sesame Sauce – in a small mixing bowl add first 4 ingredients and top with last two

½ cup honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
Fresh ginger sliced thin
Toasted sesame seeds

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Spicy Soy Sauce – in a small mixing bowl add first 3 ingredients and top with last two

¼ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoon chili sauce
1 teaspoon honey
Chopped green onions
Toasted sesame seeds

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Egg roll adapted from allrecipes.com by Angela Hamilton
Asian dipping sauces Recipe by Culinary Ginger at http://culinaryginger.com/spring-egg-rolls-with-trio-of-asian/

 

Arancini

First day of Spring my ass – it is currently 18’F in my neck of the woods this morning and there is a possibility of snow showers tonight into tomorrow morning. Albeit it is sunny out but who wants to go and do anything out there wearing your winter coat, hat and mittens. Don’t get me wrong I see SO many things I want to get out there and do. My yard needs it’s normal debris pick up and I am already thinking about what and where I will be planting my garden. I do see a few of my garlic fronds peaking up from the straw but even they look frightened to come out from under their covers. Yesterday morning I did order a couple of over the railing planters where I intend to plant my herbs so they are closer to my kitchen; so that has excited me a bit.

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My morning rant is over, my cup of tea has been replenished the fam is home and my husband made biscuits for breakfast life is good!

We are leftover people; there I said it. I know there a many people out there that hate; I know that is a strong word so maybe despise might work better here. But I think sometimes you might not know what you are missing. There are so many possibilities here, you can eat them as is or reinvent them into something else.

This past week I had plenty of opportunities. Sometimes I think I make too many different meals during the week just saying. I had some leftover roasted chicken, my son must have made burritos at some point because there was leftover refried beans. So Monday night I turned into a quesadilla for me and my husband along side some sour cream, salsa and we even had some leftover guacamole 10 minute dinner voila’.

 

Last night I turned some leftover cheese sauce into Mac and Cheese and reheated some leftover chili and served them alongside some baby back ribs. My most favorite leftover reinvent was that I was finally able to make Arancini; which is an Italian rice ball. I have been wanting to try making them for well over a year now. Every time I think there is enough for leftovers by the time I go to make them, someone has eaten all my leftover risotto.

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I also made my first souffle it was spinach cheddar and also delicious

 

They were well worth the wait!!!

 

Arancini

When you make risotto and if you haven’t yet what are you waiting for? Double the batch and once everyone has enough for dinner; take the rest of it and place it on a greased sheet pan to cool; place it in the fridge to dry out overnight.

Leftover dried risotto
Sweet Italian sausage
Mozzarella
Breadcrumbs
Oil for frying
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup Parmigiani-Reggiano cheese grated
Pinch Kosher salt
Marinara sauce

I took my favorite sweet Italian sausage with the casing removed crumbled, browned and placed on a paper towel to soak up some of the grease. Once cooled I added it in a large bowl to the risotto along with the eggs and Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and mixed well.

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Using wet hands, it makes the rice easier to work with. Making the balls about the size of a golf ball roughly 2 tablespoons; with your thumb create an indent and place a small piece of mozzarella in the middle and rework the rice around it.

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Place the balls on the sheet pan and place in the fridge for about an hour, or if you are impatient like me I just rolled them in the breadcrumbs and fried them in 350’ oil till browned roughly 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately with your favorite marinara sauce.
They were a huge hit and I cannot wait to make them again!

Easy Delicious Chicken Salad

I have a full time job and a pretty active social life and I tend to play just as hard as I work. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything and everyone into my schedule. I am a list maker and a calendar keeper; it’s the only way I am able to keep organized. For as long as I can remember there has been a calendar on my desk at home and at work and if you had an appointment or activity it needed to be on the calendar or it wasn’t going to happen.

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We had book club after work and the group was doing a potluck. I had taken out some chicken to make at some point during the week and just didn’t get to it; so in the morning; before work; I chopped, seasoned and cooked the chicken as there would not be time after work to cook and let the chicken cool before book club. I planned on making chicken salad wraps or finger sandwiches whatever I can put together pretty quickly. Not only is this is very easy with very few ingredients; I usually have everything on hand AND it is THE best chicken salad I have ever had. Bonus is the chicken is already seasoned and SO delicious that sometimes I just leave some chicken pieces in the fridge and everyone; mostly my guys; find it very hard to not grab a piece; I will admit on a few occasions where I couldn’t get to making the salad for a couple of days and when I finally do have a few minutes, there isn’t any chicken left.

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This chicken is so yummy that you can also just add it to a tossed or Caesar salad, or to an Alfredo or even a marinara sauce as the protein.

I don’t use specific amounts when I make the chicken, I adjust all the ingredients to how much chicken I have on hand – don’t let that discourage you from trying this.

Boneless skinless Chicken breast or tenders – I took tenders out thinking they were breasts – label label label
Adobo seasoning – generously over both sides of chicken
Fresh cracked black pepper as liked
Garlic powder a dusting is fine
Olive Oil for the pan
Mayo just enough to your taste – add a little at a time, you can always add more, you can’t take any out if you add too much
1 stick Celery chopped medium to small pieces
Chives or Scallions to taste

Cut chicken into small pieces, season chicken with Adobo, pepper and garlic powder. Heat skillet; add olive oil and pieces, do not touch chicken until it browns and releases from the pan on its own. Turn and do the same, make sure the chicken is cook through but not over cooked.

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Let cool and shred with your fingers. Place into a bowl and add mayo, chopped celery stir till combined and sprinkle chives on top.  It tastes even better the next day!!!

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Enjoy!!!

Recipe: Donna Clark – Cooking at Clark Towers