Pork Belly & Sour Cream Flatbread

Pork belly lardons – ’nuff said.

Pork Belly & Sour Cream Flatbread

(makes 2 flatbreads)

2 cups pork belly cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons sour cream
3 teaspoons chives, chopped
1 package pizza dough
Oil, to grease pan
Flour, to roll out dough

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook pork belly in batches so that cubes are distributed evenly in order to brown.  Season each batch with a half teaspoon of salt and pepper.  Add 1/4 teaspoon rosemary to each batch.  Drain well browned pork belly on a paper towel and let cool.

2. Roll out pizza dough into two ovals.  Spread each with 2 tablespoons of sour cream.  Sprinkle each flatbread with 1 teaspoon with chives and half of the pork belly mixture.

3. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes or until dough is cooked.

4. Let cool for a minute before slicing into 6 pieces and garnishing with remaining chives.

10 uses for….

Mason jars!

It’s no secret these things are my favorite.  Here are a few great ways to use and re-use them in your home:

1. Rustic vase.

2. Mini cocktail class (obviously use the small size!).

3. Bathroom organizer for Q-tips and cotton balls.

4. Grains, breadcrumbs, seeds, nuts holder.

5. Easy milk frother (Fill glass jar with milk, your choice of sweetener and vanilla extract if desired.  Microwave for 1:30 without the lid.  Remove from microwave, place lid on tightly and shake vigorously for 60 seconds.  Pour over drink of choice and spoon extra foam into mug if necessary).

6. Keep coffee fresh in the freezer without freezer burn (also add a string around the top and attach a measuring spoon).

7. Great for homemade gift baskets (including homemade soup mixes).

8. Candle votives (also try adding rocks, fresh cranberries, epsom salt to the bottom for some extra decoration).

9. Homemade air freshener – place scented mix in jar, add mesh liner instead of the lid and screw on the lid ring.

10. Store homemade sauces and dips.

Missing…but still busy!

I’ve been a little absent here for awhile – but that doesn’t mean I’m not keeping busy!

Since moving to a new apartment back in October, most of my free time has been focused on decorating and getting the place in order.  I’ve been posting some updates over here so check back to see the progress!

Don’t worry though, not all my time has been dedicated to home projects.  Recent cooking highlights include blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, spicy shrimp dumplings, some decadent chocolate peanut butter mounds bars and healthy (but delicious!) berry bliss oat squares.

And in more exciting news, I’m throwing a food filled holiday party this weekend in the new digs.  On the menu?  Oh, just some bourbon cranberry duck sliders and eggnog ice cream sandwiches.  Figured that will keep you interested for a bit…

Stay tuned!

Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos with Jicama Mango Slaw

Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos with Mango Jicama Slaw

1 lb skirt steak

Corn tortillas
Marinade
3 tbsp adobo sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cilantro, chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Slaw

1 1/2 cups jicama, julienned
1 cup mango, julienned
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup oil
3 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cilantro, minced

In a large bowl mix together adobo sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic and cilantro.  Whisk in the oil and then season to taste with the salt.

Place skirt steak in a large plastic bag and pour in the marinade.  Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24.

To make the slaw, combine the jicama, mango, red onion, sugar and cilantro.  Toss with oil and vinegar.  Let sit for at least one hour before serving.

Grill steak over medium heat for about 8 minutes until medium rare.  While steak is cooking, warm tortillas on the grill.  Remove steak from the grill and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Assemble warm tortillas with sliced steak, slaw and sour cream (if desired).

 

Kielbasa Stuffed Pretzels

A mouth-watering recipe for homemade pretzels that steps up the standard ‘pigs in a blanket’ appetizer standard.

Pretzels

1 batch pretzel dough (see below)

2 packages quality kielbasa or bratwurst

Baking Soda

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Pretzel salt (or coarse kosher salt)

1 tablespoon oil

Pretzel Dough

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 package dry yeast

4 cups flour

In a large bowl dissolve sugar into the warm water.  Add package of dry yeast and set aside for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam.  Stir in four cups of flour, one at a time.  Either using the dough hook attachment or kneading by hand*, knead the dough until smooth (about 5 minutes).

Remove the dough and grease the bowl with oil.  Add the dough back to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest in an hour in a warm area.

While the pretzel dough rises, slice kielbasa into half moon shapes and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  On the stove, bring one pot of water combined with half cup of baking soda to a boil.

Prepare the pretzels by breaking off quarter sized pieces of dough and wrap around a piece of kielbasa.  Once 10 are assembled, place into boiling water for 2 minutes or until they rise to the top.  Remove the pretzels and place on a greased baking sheet.  Drizzle butter on top of each pretzel and sprinkle with salt.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Continue making pretzels in batches until all of the pretzel dough has been used.

Serve hot or cold with spicy mustard.

Simple Potato Salad

So many recipes these days offer a twist on a classic dish but why mess with a good thing?  In fact, sometimes the simpler the recipe, the better the results.  Case in point, this classic potato salad.  A cold version of a classic hot german potato salad, this dish is perfect for a picnic as the lack of mayonnaise means less refrigeration is needed.
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Orzo Salad for a Crowd

Potlucks, BBQs and picnics usually mean you’re in charge of making a dish that can satisfy a crowd.  Instead of the expected potato salad, wow them with this orzo salad that incorporates all the flavors of  an antipasti plate.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand to make this recipe your own and try grilling them if it’s just to hot for the oven.

 
Ingredients:
4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
3 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 oz. soppressata , cut into half inch cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup black olives, chopped
1 1/2 cups parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. basil
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan 
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 lbs. orzo

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place quartered tomatoes on a large baking sheet.  Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle on 1/4 tsp. salt.  Toss to combine and then spread out the tomatoes so that they are in a single layer on the sheet.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once half way through.  Remove and let cool.

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.  Then, in a large saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the asparagus for 1 and a half minutes.   Remove asparagus and promptly place in the ice bath to cool.  After 5 minutes in the ice bath, drain the asparagus and dry with clean kitchen towel.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with 1/4 tsp. salt.  Toss to combine and then spread out the asparagus so that they are in a single layer on the sheet.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once about half way through.  Remove and add to the pan with the tomatoes.  Add the chopped artichoke hearts to the pan and toss to combine.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Once water is boiling, add orzo.  Cook according to package directions making sure to remove the orzo when it is just al dente.  Drain pasta and stir in 2 tbsp of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Divide the orzo and vegetables evenly among two large bowls (due to volume) and combine.  Add equal amounts of the soppressata and olives to each bowl.  In a jar with a tight lid (or large mixing bowl), combine the parmesan, chili, parsley, basil, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt to make the dressing.  Drizzle in 3/4 cup  olive oil.  Place the lid on and shake to combine.   Pour half of the dressing over each bowl of orzo.  Squeeze lemon into each bowl and sprinkle a little fresh black pepper.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe feeds a large crowd but can certainly be halved for smaller groups.

 
 

Skirt Steak Tacos with Spicy Corn Salsa & Chipotle Sour Cream

Skirt Steak Tacos with Spicy Corn Salsa & Chipotle Sour Cream


(serves 2)

4 oz. skirt steak
4  corn tortillas

Marinade:

2 tbsp chipotle sauce*
¼ cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
¼ cup water
2 tbsp oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp scallions, sliced
1 tsp cilantro, chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp chili powder

Spicy Corn Salsa

1 ½ cups corn (frozen or fresh)
¼ cup red onion, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp lime juice
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar (or honey or agave)
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp jalapeno, diced (modify based on heat preference)

Chipotle Sour Cream

¼ cup sour cream (low fat or non fat)
1 tbsp adobo sauce

Directions:

  1. Make marinade:  Combine all ingredients in large plastic make, zip well and shake to combine.  Add skirt steak and, making sure steak is completely covered, marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
  2. Make salsa:  Combine corn, red onion and pepper in mixing bowl.  In a smaller mixing bowl combine the oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, sugar, salt and jalapeno.  Pour over corn mixture.
  3. Make chipotle sour cream: Combine sour cream and adobo sauce and mix well (if more heat is desired, stir in1 tsp chili powder)
  4. Cook skirt steak:  The steak can either be cooked in your oven’s broiler or in the oven or on the grill.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit .  Place steak on broiling pan (or baking sheet) and cook for 8 minutes on one side.  Flip steak over and continue cooking on the other side for 5 minutes for medium rare.  Remove steak from oven and let cool.
  5. Warm tortillas:  Place tortillas in the oven for about 5 minutes or until warm and pliable.
  6. Slice steak into quarter inch strips.
  7. Serve tortillas with sliced steak, corn salsa, mixed greens and chipotle sour cream.

Once you enjoy these steak tacos, check out Examiner.com to learn how to can maximize this recipe’s ingredients.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Creme Pies

As the fall season winds down and thoughts of gingerbread overrule that of pumpkin, here is one last recipe to celebrate the star ingredient of the passing season and to use up the lone can of puree lingering in your pantry.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Creme Pies


These soft and chewy oatmeal creme pies will immediately bring you back to your childhood as they taste very similar to the commercial lunchbox staple.  However, the addition of pumpkin elevates this treat without making it lose its simple appeal.

Ingredients

(makes 12 sandwich cookies)

Printable Version

For the cookies:

1 cup softened butter (unsalted)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups quick oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
For the Creme Filling:
1 pint heavy whipping creme
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars.  Once the mixture is light and fluffy, beat in eggs, one at a time.  Once the eggs are incorporated, add the vanilla extract on low speed.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour together with the salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and combine mix in (use low speed).  Using a spoon, stir in the oats.

Using a tablespoon as a guide, scoop out the dough and form into balls.  Place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are brown.  The cookies may still seem uncooked at this point but remove and let cool on a rack.

To assemble the filling, whip together the heavy cream and sugar until fluffy and small peaks form.  Carefully, using a spatula, fold in the pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Place about 1 tsp of filling on a cooled cookie.  Find similar size cookie and create sandwich.

Any leftover filling is excellent stirred into a piping hot cup of coffee!