Snack

Zucchini chocolate chip muffins

I am sitting on the porch again writing today’s blog. So far no turkey or hawk sightings but the hummingbirds are always around and always hungry. Last weeks post I mentioned there were around 6 baby turkey’s. Later that day they all showed up in my back yard and there was actually 12 of them running around. I tried to get a picture but they would not cooperate at all.
IMG_3121Guess what my garden has been over producing? Yup you are correct here we go again with the zucchini recipes.  I haven’t made anything other then grilling them with olive oil, salt and pepper but the baking is about to begin; I shared this recipe a couple of years ago. I have been seeing a blueberry zucchini bread floating around on Facebook and I may just have to check it out or some resemblance of it. If I like it stay tuned as I am sure I will share it.
IMG_3112I am not sure if I mentioned how much it has turned into animal kingdom around here since my dog passed away. I have since apologized to him; in my own way. He pretty much was an indoor / outdoor dog meaning he asked to go outside ALL the time and at night we would just run around and bark. We figured he was just crazy but I now believe there were actually things out there he was barking at. We have had several bears, tons of deer and this is the first year I have seen a bobcat around here. I am hoping to see a Moose before the end of the summer but it’s been awhile since we have had one of those in yard. I can only hope my brother-in-law Michael will be here for that. It’s on his bucket list to see a moose. Whenever he is here he is always on the lookout for one.  
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Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

great way to use up some of your harvest

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or substitute 1/2 C applesauce
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup zucchini shredded/drained
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Combine in a large bowl the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  • In another bowl mix egg, oil, milk, lemon and vanilla.
  • Stir wet ingredients into the dry till combined. Fold in zucchini, chips and walnuts.  
  • Fill cups about ⅔ full
  • Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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BBQ Brisket Nachos

Current situation is me sitting on my porch with a cup of tea, the hummingbirds having breakfast and watching a turkey and what looks like a half dozen little ones sneaking across my field. Ooooh a hawk just flew over, he either didn’t notice or he’s thinking of coming in for a sneak attack. I’ll keep you posted.
Update: the Mom turkey watched the hawk the entire time and then shortly there after they all jumped the stone wall and into the woods.
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So I mentioned last week that I was making a brisket; and I did. It marinated for 2 days before I threw it in the oven for about 6 hours. I know not ideal for summer months but I found brisket at the store so I bought it.

I wanted to share with you a couple of things I made with it. because I don’t think they make small briskets or at least I have never seen one. Mine was a little over 8 pounds. Besides just grabbing a chunk and eating it by itself. We of course had it for dinner with mashed potatoes and some carrots.  

During the week I made shepherds pie with it. I had this at a BBQ joint a couple of years ago and went back again for more. So I have been wanting to make it ever since. I Shredded some of the meat to fill the bottom of my baking dish and I use a combination of whole kernel corn and creamed corn and then topped it with mashed potatoes and some shredded cheddar cheese and baked it till golden brown and bubbly.
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Yesterday I finished it up by shredding the leftovers and I also had a little of the BBQ sauce I made and I added the rest of that to the brisket and then made a tray of nachos. It was so good I highly recommend; if you are not going to make a brisket; when you see BBQ brisket nachos on the menu; give it a try!

BB Brisket Nachos

dclarkabal
Brisket several uses

Ingredients
  

Brisket marinade

  • 2 cans beef consomme
  • 1 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or mix it up for some salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 5-7 cloves chopped garlic
  • 8-10 pound brisket

BBQ sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Nachos

  • 1 bag corn tortilla chips I like the scoops so you can fill them
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1/4 head iceberg lettuce chopped
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • leftover brisket shredded
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Instructions
 

Brisket instructions

  • Combine the beef consomme, soy sauce, lemon juice, liquid smoke and garlic in a large roasting pan; if you need to use a disposable pan. Place the brisket in the marinade, fat-side up. Cover tightly with foil. Marinate in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
  • when you are ready; pre-heat oven to 300'F
  • keeping the foil on the pan cook the brisket until fork-tender, about 40 minutes per pound (6 to 7 hours). Transfer to a cutting board, slice against the grain and put the slices back into the cooking liquid. Serve immediately, spooning the juice over the slices
  • You can store the meat in the juice in the fridge for a couple of days, remove the fat once it solidifies.

BBQ Sauce

  • combine all the ingredients together until smooth

Nachos

  • fill your dish with chips; if using scoops; turn them into cups and fill with the BBQ sauced brisket, sprinkle with cheese and bake in a 350'F oven for about 20 minutes, till the cheese is melted and they are lightly browned.
  • once removed from the oven, add the diced tomatoes and the chopped lettuce. cover with dollops of sour cream and serve warm

 

cookie dough – chocolate chip and oatmeal

Things are starting to open up around here, though I am not in any hurry to get out there and see what’s going on. I am still a little nervous about getting covid though I am slightly thinking it is inevitable. There are too many opposing views for me to be totally on board with any of them. I am just taking it one day at a time. 
you have all the ingredients out – make it worth your effort make a couple of different kinds

There are things that I really miss which is time spent with my friends, family and going out to my favorite restaurants. Even though we do order dinner out at least once a week, my daughter and I also order lunch out on Fridays; it is not the same. I am excited for the weather to be nicer so we can be outside more and be able to have friends over – it’s so much easier to social distance outside.
I have been making this recipe so long, see that green recipe card, it has to be close to 30 years old

I have been making batches of cookie dough for the freezer. It is really nice to bake a fresh cookie or two when you want one. The last two batches were SO good that my daughter wanted me to blog about them. I know I have said this before but when I make something that good I always say I really think I could sell these or my other saying is people need to have this. I hope you will make one or both of these cookies and freeze them individually so you too can enjoy a fresh baked cookie or two.

I do tend to flatten them out a bit before freezing, I take them out while the oven is preheating so they are still frozen and it helps them take shape while in the oven. You can also help them by tapping the tray when you take them out or just lightly press on them when you take them out. 

Oatmeal about 50 cookies
bake at 350’f for 12 minutes – let sit on the tray for 2-3 minutes before placing on a cooling rack

Ingredients
2 cups unsalted butter room temperature (important)
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups oats

Directions
Cream together in a mixer the butter and sugars. Whip for a minute or two. Add the eggs and mix till combined. Add the vanilla. 
In a separate bowl whisk the flour, soda and cinnamon. Gradually add this to the butter mixture. 
Add the oats. If you are making the full batch, your bowl should be a little full so take your time adding so you don’t wear everything. Mix to combine and using an ice cream scoop or whatever you have on hand for the size cookie you want. place on a cookie sheet for the freezer or make some for eating now

Chocolate Chip about 40 cookies
Bake at 325’f for 12 minutes – let sit on the tray for 2-3 minutes before placing on a cooling rack

Ingredients
2 cups plus 4 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks of butter room temperature (important)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
In a separate bowl whisk the flour, soda and salt and set aside.
combine the butter and sugars and beat for a minute or two. Beat in the eggs, yolks and sugars until combined. 
Add the dry ingredients and beat on low just till combined. Add the chocolate chips and Mix to combine and using an ice cream scoop or whatever you have on hand for the size cookie you want. place on a cookie sheet for the freezer or make some for eating now.

After they are frozen individually package them up all together and place back into the freezer for when you want them. 

Take care and stay safe!

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.

Garden Salsa

This week was not spent in the kitchen and most of my garden tomatoes are still not ripening. I literally had to google what the heck is wrong with them. Apparently my original thought was completely wrong. I thought my plants were so large and the roots and earth were not getting enough heat. I did not know that some varieties will not turn red on the vine if the temperature is above 85’F.  I had no idea I thought the heat is what they needed most. IMG_4209.JPG
There are a few other factors such as they are spending too much time growing larger plants, leaves and flowers than ripening their fruit. That makes sense to me. We did end up cutting them back a bit; being careful not to lose any of the tomatoes so maybe in a week or so they’ll reward us?  Thank you google!
IMG_4216.JPGMy grandfather had a huge garden in the backyard; I can see him sitting in his chair drinking a Miller beer just watching over it for hours. I wonder when plants were not doing what they were supposed to be doing who did he ask?

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Seed them so your salsa doesn’t get too wet

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chop them as uniform as you can

We have been picking a few cherry tomatoes and some roma tomatoes. So I spent yesterday morning on making some salsa with my onions, tomatoes and jalapeno. My green peppers were too small to pick just yet and I had other garlic I needed to use up before I dig into mine.

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keep the tomato and green pepper roughly the same size –  everything else smaller

Garden Salsa

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
quick and easy garden salsa, everyone will love

Ingredients
  

  • roma tomatoes; seeded and chopped
  • green peppers; seeded and chopped
  • yellow onion; peeled and diced
  • jalapeno; seeded and diced
  • garlic cloves; chopped fine
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • balsamic vinegar - a dash or two
  • 1-2 packets of sweet and low

Instructions
 

  • the amounts you use for each ingredient is totally up to you. I will give you an approximate ratio so it will be well balanced.
  • 12 roma tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 4 jalapeno, 6 garlic and 2 onions seemed to make a nice amount of salsa and the ratio seemed to work out nicely
  • adjust for how you like your salsa. want it hotter add more jalapeno or leave the seeds and veins in them.
  • add the sweet and low and a few dashes of the balsamic vinegar
  • finish it off with a little salt and pepper to taste

Notes

the sweet and low may sound a little odd but even that little amount brings a brightness to the salsa. I would suggest trying it without it and then add it and you will see.

Individual dessert parfait cups

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Being a foodie we tend to eat with our eyes first! Plating a meal or even a dessert does matter and brings a smile to my face when it is does properly. I will admit I am still a work in progress when it comes to plating, I try but sometimes it doesn’t come out as well as I wanted it to.

IMG_4155.JPGI am totally one of those people that takes pictures of my food; when a dish is placed in front of me that looks like a piece of art I just have to snap a photo. I plating envy – sounds like a thing right?
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I was asked to bring a dessert to a friends house that was serving Alaska King Crab Legs and every time we go to their place, you can tell the entire meal was well thought out. Table set with linens, water and wine glasses. I try to reciprocate with the same when they come to our place.
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I ended up making individual parfaits and yes you can definitely spoon all the ingredients in the glasses or cups you are using but I wanted to try to avoid smudges if I could. I also chose to not make everything from scratch; sometimes it just make sense.

Individual dessert parfait cups

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
quick and easy dessert
Prep Time 20 mins
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 cup chocolate pudding cups
  • 1 box cheesecake mix or cheesecake flavored instant pudding
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 containers cool whip
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped

Instructions
 

  • make the cheesecake filing per the box directions
  • chop the pecans
  • the cups you choose to fill define how much of the fillings you should add to each cup
  • add to the cups in order. graham cracker, chocolate pudding, cheesecake, some of the chocolate chips, cool whip and finish with the chopped pecans.

Notes

you can change up any of the fillings. for instance banana and chocolate are great together.
add some fresh raspberries or strawberry's. Change it up for your taste.

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Raspberry Squares

I am going to share this recipe with you that I originally posted about 5 years ago. Yeah I know I can’t believe I have been writing a weekly blog for about 6 years now. I honestly didn’t know how long I would stick with it. I didn’t know what my objective for a blog would be. I see bloggers come and go, I see them change format, and timing some slow down with how often they write. I am still writing and sharing because I enjoy it, I enjoy hearing that people look forward to reading my post, I enjoy sharing recipes that I would make again. I love it when someone makes one of my recipes and gives me a shout out.

beef and broccoli 008 beef and broccoli 010 beef and broccoli 026 beef and broccoli 028 beef and broccoli 030 beef and broccoli 033 beef and broccoli 035 beef and broccoli 039 beef and broccoli 041

Sometimes you want something sweet but you don’t have the time or patience to make individual cookies.  I will admit I do make more cookies than bars and I am not a fan of jelly filled anything but I found this raspberry bar recipe and fell in love.  I have made these many many times now, when I offer to bring them places I always double the batch just so I can leave some at home.  They are really easy to make, generally can be thrown together in about 15 minutes, not including baking I hope you try making them.  You can substitute the filling for whatever your preference is.

Raspberry Bars

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup finely chopped pecans or almonds, or a combination of both
12 tablespoons unsalted butter softened but still cool.  Cut into pieces
1 10 oz jar of raspberry preserve

Easily doubled – which is how I generally make them
Preheat oven to 350’F

Spray 9×9 pan fold two 16-inch pieces of parchment or aluminum foil. Fold and press the first sheet into the pan pressing the corners, with the second sheet crisscross over the other.  You will want to make sure the end over hang; this is to take the bars out of the pan a lot easier.  Spray with the sheets with cooking spray.

Mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts in a bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer on low, add the butter pieces; continue until the mixer is well blended and resembles wet sand; about 2 minutes.

Transfer two thirds of the oat mixer to the prepared pan; use your hands to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until the crust starts to brown, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula spread the preserves evenly over the baked oats; sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the preserves. Bake until the preserves bubble around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 ½ hours. Remove the squares using the foil or parchment paper handles. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1 ½ inch squares.

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.

Cranberry-Pistachio Cookie Bar

So last week I mentioned having some cookie bars cooling while I was writing. They are all gone, no I didn’t eat them all by myself I had some help. Actually it is kinda funny that my son who doesn’t live here anymore but works with my husband so is here most mornings does a drive-by of the stove and immediately looks to see what might be packaged up to snack on.
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My name is Donna and I am a snack-a-holic. (stop laughing KP) we have not one but two snack drawers and anything homemade goes on the shelf above the stove, mostly to keep my dog from counter surfing. Which he has done a few times.

IMG_3615Back to the cookie bars. I am going to blame the magazines I was going through to try to get rid of a few. Out of a half dozen or so I think I got rid of two. That is not how you clean out your magazines/catalogs. While going through them I came across one that they had me at the title Cranberry-Pistachio bars. One of my most favorite combination of sweet and salty is cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate. I have made cookies, biscotti’s and bark with these three magical ingredients and have NEVER been disappointed.
IMG_3622.JPGThese bars are thick, dense and chewy; not too sweet or salty just the right amount I think. Though they did not list white chocolate I had to add a drizzle of some of it melted on top.

Cranberry-Pistachios cookie bars
Preheat oven to 350’F – line a 9×13 pan with foil, spray non-stick spray

Ingredients
¾ cup butter, melted
1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated white sugar
½ cup honey
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cup salted pistachios, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions

In a stand mixer bowl, beat the melted butter, sugars and honey on medium until fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Scrape as needed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla.
IMG_3616IMG_3617In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Add them to the wet mixture, beating until combined. Add pistachios and cranberries till combined.
IMG_3618IMG_3620Press batter into pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out slightly sticky. Let cool completely in the pan. Optional drizzle of white chocolate. I took a handful of chips and in a Pyrex measuring cup; melted them in the microwave for about a minute. Then drizzled them on the cooled bars. Slice and enjoy!
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Recipe adapted from Southern Lady magazine

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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