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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Cider-Sage Pork Roast

Sometimes dinner just comes together; at least in the beginning; I’ll explain more about that in a bit. I had picked up a pork roast on my last shopping trip. There was a little cider leftover in the fridge and some of my herbs are still going strong especially the sage.
IMG_3582.JPGLast Tuesday I think I was a little over ambitious; I blame vacation and not having a kitchen for a couple of weeks and the weather; fall is coming, well actually weather wise it is here and I love cooking roasts; it helps take the chill out of the air in the house. My husband keeps saying “winter is coming” but he is a Game of Thrones fan and he loves to ski.
IMG_3570.JPGThe front cover of one of my favorite foodie magazines Fine Cooking had a roasted pork loin on the cover that I wanted to try. It does help to actually read a recipe through before jump in and start making it. Which I hadn’t done; thankfully there was exactly 4 cups of cider left in the fridge; it was meant to be. If nothing else the brine was easy and made the pork taste exactly as I thought it would. A little sweet from the cider, just enough salt and very juicy – which you need to cook it to the correct temperature to help with the juicy part.
IMG_3575.JPGI had to run to the store after work to pick up the things I didn’t have on hand and that’s when it went and usually does go sideways. I needed a couple of apples and ended up grabbing enough to make an apple pie. Really Donna on a Tuesday night; what is wrong with me? There were going to be 5 of us for dinner and I started with making the pie crust around 5:30 I think we finally ate dinner around 7:30 – 8:00.
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While the pork was outstanding and cooked to perfection, I will admit it wasn’t because I had a firm grasp of the cooking process. It smelled like something was burning so I checked the oven and my potatoes, apples and onions were mostly charcoal. Since it was getting late I flipped the convection switch and the oven was on a ridiculously high temperature plus everyone was around the island looking at vacation pictures. Needless to say I was distracted and shit happens. But I made apple pie 🙂

Cider-Sage Pork roast

Brine
4 cups apple cider
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
3-5 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 lb. center cut pork loin

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together 2 cups of the cider, sugar, salt and garlic and bring to a simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the other 2 cups of cider and cool to room temperature. Add the roast to a bag or bowl and cover with the brine, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
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Roast
16 fresh sage leaves
3 large granny smith apples, 2 inch wedges
1 ½ lb small potatoes, similar to Yukon gold, halved – I used my potatoes from our garden
1 large red onion, ½ inch wedges
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups apple cider

Preheat oven to 425’F with the rack in the center of the oven
Bring the roast out to the counter to come to room temperature about 20-30 minutes.
IMG_3578.JPGIn a large roasting pan, toss the apples, potatoes and onion with half of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast until they are mostly tender around 20 minutes. While they are in the oven remove the pork from the brine and place on some paper towels. Discard the brine. Dry the pork. Using kitchen twine or if you are lucky enough to have silicon bands like mine. Tie in three evenly spaced spots. Take 12 sage leaves and place them under the twine. Season roast with black pepper.
IMG_3579.JPGWhile the veggies and apples are roasting, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, Add the rest of the olive oil, and when hot sear all sides of the loin, don’t move the pork until it releases from the pan, which will ensure a nice brown crust.

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sorry about the lousy picture – but you get the gist

Place the pork roast onto the apples, potatoes and onions in the roasting pan. Reduce the heat to 350’F (which I didn’t do, another part of my problem) roast for about 60-80 minutes or until the roast registers 145’F check on it after 60 minutes. Once done let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I also missed this step. While the pork is resting, make a pan sauce. Pour off and discard any of the fat. Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, flour and the rest of the sage leaves torn into large pieces. Cook making sure to stir up ant brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cider and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
IMG_3574Remove the twine and thinly slice the pork. Serve with the apples, potatoes and onions along side the sauce.

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Gyros – Greek street food

We had a wonderful time in Greece, looks like we got out just in time though. They have had a couple of horrible storms where they had to shut down all of the ferries; parts of Athens was flooding and some of the Peloponnese islands are getting hit really hard. I guess my ferry ride into Mykonos harbor pales in comparison to what they are experiencing now. Though at the time it was a new experience for me trying to get into the hull of the ship to get ready to disembark being tossed around like a rag doll due to high winds and rough seas. Looks like we had it easy!

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Theirs

Last week I shared some of the food we had eaten on our journey. Bare with me for another week of Greek food I even made some this week at home and shared it with my son and in-laws. Sorry this one might be a little wordy too.

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Ours – first try don’t judge me too hard!

We rented a car for the day on the island of Mykonos no sure my husband was thrilled with this idea; especially since he was driving; but I wanted to and they say if you are going to rent a car, ATV, or side by side; this is the island to do it as there is less traffic that some of the other ones. My husband might disagree a bit with this. The roads are narrow, the traffic was less but the uneven stone walls leaning in make for a scary ride at times. We did get a little too close to some bushes while a bus was coming at us. Thankfully no damage. Sorry back to food – I read about a few restaurants that you Must Visit while here. We came a across one of them and decided to check it out for dinner; after we handed in the car; no one wants to or should drive there at night especially after a glass of wine or two.
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Our dinner at Bill and Coo was the most expensive meal we had but what an experience in fine cuisine. I’ll share the photos of what we had but I couldn’t begin to tell you how to make any of it. There are several high end restaurants that might break the bank but you can also eat on a dime and still enjoy some great tasting food and have a wonderful experience. After having several gyros on the islands and mainland my husband asked “why are these not more popular back home?” I’m sure they are somewhere in the states, just not anywhere near us.

Enjoy some Bill and Coo food porn!IMG_1245IMG_1246IMG_1247

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The night before we were leaving I wanted to bring back 2 things from Greece. I loved their Pistachios and their pita bread. I found a shop for the nuts but had to ask one of the bellhops at our hotel where a grocery store was so I could get some pita to take home. He tried not to laugh at me but found it hard while saying “um don’t you have pita bread back home?” I get it, of course we do but I have never come across thick ones that wasn’t a pocket; if that makes any sense? for 1.5 euros I packed a 10 pack of pitas in my luggage.

Here is my first attempt at making a chicken Gyro – it won’t be my last; everyone loved them!

Souvlaki is marinated meat skewer which you then take the cooked meat along with some other ingredients; roll everything up in a grilled pita and you got yourself a Gyro
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Souvlaki dry rub for marinade – combine all the below in an airtight container

2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Take 1 tablespoon of the above mixture and combine it with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Cube up your chicken, pork or lamb and add to a ziploc bag along with the marinade. Make sure all pieces are covered and let sit up to 24 hours.
I made mine in the morning and had it ready for dinner that night.
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I didn’t skewer them or cook them over the grill only because it was getting dark out and I didn’t want to 🙂 I did grill my Greek pita over an open flame on my stove top. You can eat this as a deconstructed gyro but I think you need to try it as I made it at least once.
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Tzaziki
1 medium Cucumber – grated and drained
1/2 cup Greek yogurt – plain
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice – fresh is best
1 -2 garlic cloves – minced
2 teaspoons dill or mint – fresh
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Grate unpeeled cucumber seeds and all. squeeze out as much of its liquid that you can.
add all the ingredients together. Let it sit for 10 minutes to let it meld. Adjust the ingredients above to your taste. It should last about 4 days in the fridge, that is if you have any leftover. Before serving drizzle a little olive oil on top.
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Gyros
Meat – marinated and cooked
Pita
potatoes – french fries
tomato – chopped
red onion – sliced thinly
Tzaziki

Grill the pita bread, layer the rest of the ingredients, top with fries and tzaziki – roll and enjoy!

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Easy no-fry Eggplant Parm & Garden Salsa

OK so you are probably wondering when she is going to stop writing about her damn garden; but this year was a super year and I need to use up or give away what I pick; plus the season is winding down. It is Labor day weekend, there are school buses everywhere and we are supposedly not supposed to wear white anymore – pfff I wear what I want!
IMG_3103.JPGSo this week was another one of those busy weeks but I had a plan to use up what I have for tomatoes and peppers. I came home from work on Wednesday and started chopping. Halfway through we lost power so I finished chopping by candlelight. I made a pretty large bowl of salsa with my tomatoes, green peppers, onions and jalapenos. It was pretty cool since I haven’t been able to make it in a couple of years; it was a terrible year for green peppers last year and the year before I didn’t get any tomatoes. Yeah I know I could have gone out and bought some of what I needed  but that just doesn’t appeal to me for making “homemade salsa” I have issues I know!
IMG_3094Tonight (Thursday) I wanted to use up all the eggplant that was in the fridge. This is only the second year of growing eggplant and who knew there were SO many kinds out there. I had only seen the large oblong ones from the store but mine are long and thin. Which is great for slicing up and adding them into things. I know I have shared this recipe before but it is worth repeating since it comes together fast and tastes excellent with probably the fewest iIMG_3095
I add Sweet Italian sausage basically because I love it, and I think it brings a lot to the dish and my husband won’t ask why there is no meat. I very rarely keep the sausage link as a full link. For this recipe I sliced a couple of the links into coins or minim meatballs. I do this for spaghetti sauce sometimes; or I’ll remove the casing and smash the sausage up and brown it. Either way I am all in.
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I deglazed the pan with a little leftover red wine – totally optional

 

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I put this a baggie for another use – fridge or freeze it for another day!


Mock Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or several small Eggplant(s) diced
Marinara sauce – your favorite jar
1 small Onion diced
1 package Mozzarella
2 links Sausage (optional)

Saute the onions until they sweat, add the sausage if you are using it. Cook the sausage till it is done. Add the marinara sauce, stir and then add the mozzarella. Cover and let it simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some bread

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I posted this recipe way back in 2013 wow I have been doing this a long time!


Homemade Garden Salsa

6 tomatoes (roma)- seeded diced
1 Green bell pepper – seeded diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic – pressed
1 Lime, squeezed
Fresh cilantro – chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
dash Balsamic vinegar
1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style

There were a couple of reasons I was drawn to this recipe. One is I had to use up some of my eggplant, tomatoes and green peppers from my garden, the other is it said it was “Greek style” and my husband and I will be visiting Greece in a few weeks. I figured we maybe we should try to get a glimpse of some of the flavors.
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I honestly had to look up what made this “Greek” as I wasn’t entirely sure. If you did know; bear with me for a few minutes. The spices widely used in Greek food are Oregano yeah that one surprised me too, Cinnamon I am a little nervous about this one as I have never been a fan of it in savory dishes; probably so used to it with sugar and butter I guess I miss the sweet aspect of the cinnamon. Parsley, Mint and black pepper. I am a fan of parsley and pepper; mint not so much. This will be an interesting culinary experience for us. My husband feels the same way about cinnamon and mint so at least we have that!
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I am thinking of writing my blog while I am there but since I won’t be cooking I would only be able to share what I am eating along with pictures instead of sharing a recipe.  If you wouldn’t mind I am game! 

IMG_3072Let’s discuss eggplant just a little. I just started eating it a few years ago and now I grow it in my garden. My first introduction to eggplant was when I worked at our local pizza barn. Lets just say it didn’t look or feel appealing to the teenage me.  I changed my mind when I made eggplant parmesan. The very next year I tried growing it. Oh how I have evolved wink wink!

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style
Directions – preheat oven to 400’F

1 large or a couple small Eggplant
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 large cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes – I used my own tomatoes and added a small can of tomato sauce
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas – I didn’t have any so I used great northern beans  
Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Dice the eggplant into cubes and place in a colander, sprinkle with some salt and let it sit and drain out some of the bitterness while you chop the rest of the veggies.
IMG_3070In a dutch oven add a little olive oil with the onion, pepper and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplants and beans. Bring to a boil 8-10 minutes and then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes.
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Keep an eye on the liquid so set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry. 
If it is add ½ cup of water – or a little of the red wine you are drinking.
IMG_3079.JPGServe alongside some warmed up pita bread if you have some on hand.


Adapted recipe  – the Mediterranean dish

Ground Turkey Asian Stir Fry

Dice, slice, swirl, chop, shred, scoop, steam, saute, grill, bake, fry – I am pretty sure I have exhausted the ways to use a zucchini. I honestly never really gave it much thought of how versatile this little green squash actually is. It is quite impressive the different forms it can take and still add a lot to the party.  I would love to hear your favorite ways to use up the abundance of your summer zucchini!
img_3026.jpgBecause my gardens are rewarding us with plenty of veggies this year. I have been in search of ways to utilize as many of them as I can. I have also been sharing them with family and friends but they can only eat so many too.
IMG_3011One of the easiest ways to clean out your fridge is a stir fry. Last weekend I made this quick stir fry with what I had on hand and I will be adding it as one of my food prep lunch ideas as it was sooooo good. There were 2 containers of leftovers in the fridge and I initially grabbed one for lunch and went back for the other to bring both to work so I could have them both. Leftovers in my fridge are free range. Meaning whoever gets to them first, it’s theirs. If you want something there the next time you open the door, you better hide it – that’s all I’m saying!
IMG_3012This is how I made mine, you can substitute how you wish

Ground Turkey Asian Stir Fry – makes 4 servings

1 package of ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon minced ginger
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium summer squash, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
handful of pea pod’s sliced
Handful of broccoli florets
Handful of shredded carrots
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
¼ cup Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Rice wine vinegar
Scallions diced for the sprinkling on top before serving

Add the oils to the pan, non stick might be better unless you have cast iron like I used.
Brown the turkey, add the onion about halfway through and at the end add the ginger and garlic. Remove from the pan and set aside.
IMG_3016If needed add a little more oil, I threw all the veggies in the pan at once and let them cook up. If you are using say diced carrots instead of shredded one, they tend to take longer so start with those and then add the rest, constantly stirring so they don’t stick, cook till tender but not mushy.
IMG_3018Add the turkey back in and the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Stir to combine and cook for another 3-4 minute until everything is cooked and combined.
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Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

I brought out my slow cooker again –  we were going to busy and dinner was either going to be late and out or I could make it beforehand. OK so I also wanted to try a new recipe I found. It all works right?
IMG_2986I actually used my slow cooker for the sweet and sour chicken that I will confess was ridiculously easy to just throw everything in the crockpot before I went to work and put it on low and go. But when I got home I used the rice cooker so dinner was literally all set when we were done with our meeting. So easy and very tasty plus it was a huge time saver and way cheaper than going out.
IMG_2979I don’t always plan ahead; or at least not as much as I wish I did but having a nicely stocked pantry and freezer plus having plenty of homemade chicken stock on hand I can whip up some of the recipes I come across. This one I did have to pick up a red pepper and a pineapple; well I didn’t need an actual pineapple but I have another recipe in mind for the rest of the pineapple.

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My chicken stock was still frozen – it will melt!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 red bell pepper – chopped
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion diced
3 medium carrots thinly sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ground chili paste
½ cup ketchup + 1/4 cup 

Take all the above and put it in your slow cooker and turn it on low for about 7-8 hours.
Remove the chicken and set it aside.

Whisk the next 2 ingredients together
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
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Turn it on high and slowly add the pineapple/starch mixture. And the other ¼ cup of ketchup. Cook this uncovered until the sauce is thick.  Shred the chicken and add it back into the pot to re-heat.

Serve over rice.  Slice some scallions on top and if you have any sesame seeds on hand sprinkle some on top
(I didn’t search for mine – I said well stocked pantry not organized 🙂 )
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