red leaf lettuce salad with prosciutto and goat cheese spirals


Prosciutto & goat cheese spirals

I wasn’t going to serve a salad at Thanksgiving this year.  It’s unnecessary really, with the amount of food that gets served.  My husband would say that it just equals more plates to wash.    But there is a comfort level for me, of sitting down for a few minutes and gathering my thoughts before serving the whole meal.  This year was no different.  I was super organized given how late I shopped for everything.  Maybe it is because I have gotten more comfortable with hosting Thanksgiving over the years.  But inevitably, something goes awry, and this year it was my new oven.  At some point between heating up the cranberry sauce in the microwave (which doubles as a convection oven I have yet to use), and checking on the turkey in the regular oven, the display message on my oven panel decided to change.  It wanted to know what my probing temperature was.  The jokes ensued, but I wasn’t laughing.  We couldn’t shut it off or cancel out of it.  I mean really, now?  My husband and my sister were hovering over the panel, and if I kept hearing that damn beep one more time I was going to lose it.  It was like a button that said ‘press me‘ and that they did – over and over and over again.  So I tried the circuit breaker and shut the oven down, only to be faced with it remembering what it was doing prior to being shut down when I reset the circuit.  So I retreated to my office to look for the stupid user’s manual, but I couldn’t find anything on probing temperatures.  I went downstairs to find my husband and my sister now with their heads in the oven, cracking jokes about looking for probes and if the probe looked big enough….I think the exact term was “prob-y enough”…shoot me now.  I finally found one line in the manual – not on how to cancel out of this mess – but how to enter the non-existent probing temperature and hit bake, then off, and just like that, we were back to normal.  My side dishes then got to finish heating up, and so it was time to sit at the table.  I was so happy to just serve a nice salad that didn’t need to be heated or baked – just served.  And I had my two minutes of sanity back.

prosciutto and goat cheese spirals (adapted from Bon Appetit)

8  oz. plain goat cheese
2  TB, plus 1/2 cup hazelnut oil
1  tsp fresh rosemary, minced and divided
2  tsp freshly grated lemon peel, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
red pepper flakes
10-12  imported prosciutto (aiming for nice 3 inch wide by 7 inches long slices), thinly sliced
1  cup stemmed baby spinach leaves
3  TB sherry wine vinegar
3  TB shallots, minced
1  tsp sugar
10  cups red leaf lettuce, coarsely chopped and cleaned

ingredients

get started on the salad:

note:  I wash my chopped lettuce in the salad spinner and divide onto the 8 plates.  I have been serving the dressing at the table so people can decide how much or how little they want.  The original recipe calls for you tear the lettuce and dress the salad before serving.  Either way is fine.

Coarsely chop the lettuce and clean in a salad spinner or colander.  Dry on paper towels if needed.  Divide lettuce onto 8 plates.
In a medium bowl, stir together the goat cheese, 2 TB hazelnut oil, 1/2 tsp of rosemary and 1 tsp of lemon peel.  Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

rosemary

goat cheese mixture
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter.  Place 1 slice of prosciutto in center of plastic wrap.  (If slices are torn or too thin, add a second slice to add stability to the roll – which is a good reason to get more prosciutto than you need).  Spread evenly, about 2 TB of goat cheese mixture over the prosciutto slice, covering as much as you can.  Add a single layer of stemmed baby spinach on top of the goat cheese mixture.  Place another slice of prosciutto on top of the layer of spinach.  Repeat the cheese and spinach and prosciutto layers twice more, ending with a prosciutto slice.  Starting at the long side, lift the plastic wrap up and over the layer to start rolling up jelly roll style.  This can be done with quarter turns.  Add a final slice of prosciutto, if needed, to cover the seam of exposed cheese and spinach.  Wrap up tightly in the plastic wrap.  Proceed with remaining prosciutto, cheese and spinach to make a second roll.  Chill until firm, about six hours.

layerswrapped roll

Whisk together the sherry vinegar, shallots, sugar and remaining rosemary, lemon peel and 1/2 cup hazelnut oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
Unwrap rolls and slice each of the rolls into twelve spirals, about 1/2 inch thick.  Place three rolls onto each of the eight plates of lettuce and serve with the dressing.

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italian sausage tortellini soup


Tortellini Soup

Summer vacation is over and school is back in session, so it is time for my behind to get into the swing of dinner planning with the onslaught of homework, practices, and oh yeah…life.  Some people treat the new year as a time for resolutions, but my resolutions have always come during vacation time.  I always seem to reflect over that time as to what I can do better or change when I get back.  This year on vacation, I decided that it was a goal of mine to really try and plan better for a variety of breakfasts for my kids as well as dinner, since it is often just the three of us eating.  I will always have my boxes of mac and cheese at my disposal, but I really wanted to try and cook for all of us this year and not for just the kids.  But cooking dinner for just three people, two of whom are under 5 feet tall, is another task.  It requires being able to chop onions and trying to remember (and explain) what makes a prime number prime.  It also, at times, has you stirring at the stove, all the while instilling fear of what’s to come, because someone was mimicking her brother and so he decided to retaliate with a body slam.  I love dinner time during the week.  It’s chaotic.  But it is a time to savor.  You learn so much just sitting and talking.  So that is what drives me to plan better, and hope that all the other commitments don’t get in the way (I know I am dreaming).  So after doing the guilty pleasure this weekend of perusing Pinterest (I really feel guilty at the amount of time you spend on that site!), I found a recipe that I knew the kids and I would like because of the tortellini, so I made it this week.  I loved this soup, and it doesn’t suck up all the broth like some do after putting it in the fridge.  I definitely would make this again – and hope that no body slams or nerf injuries occur next time I make it.

italian sausage tortellini soup (adapted from www.twopeasandtheirpod.com)

1  lb. italian sausage, mild or hot
2  TB olive oil
1  medium onion, chopped
3  cloves garlic, minced
2  tsp dried basil
1  medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, chopped into quarter rounds
1  bay leaf
crushed red pepper
kosher salt and pepper
8  cups chicken stock
2  (15) oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1  lb frozen chopped leaf spinach, thawed
2  (9) oz pkg of refrigerated tortellini
grated Parmesan cheese – optional

italian sausagechopped onion

get started on the tortellini soup:

In a large pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil.  Remove the casings from the sausage and place in the pot.  With a wooden spoon, break apart the sausage into bite size pieces.  Brown the sausage until almost cooked through.  Add the chopped onion, garlic and dried basil.  Cook until the onions are turning opaque, about 4 minutes.

Add in the zucchini, bay leaf, a couple pinches of crushed red pepper (amount depends if you use mild or hot sausage), salt and pepper to taste.  Stir everything to combine.  Add broth and the diced tomatoes and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.  Add the thawed spinach and stir.  Taste broth and adjust seasoning if needed.

zucchinisausage mixture

Add the tortellini and cook until the tortellini is tender, 8 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and serve.

soup mixturetortellini at the top

note:  this serves 6-8 people.  Garnish with cheese and enjoy!

bowl of soup

bacon-wrapped potatoes


bacon wrapped potatoes

I am tired of french fries.  I never thought I’d hear myself say that, but it’s true, and it’s because of baseball.   Soccer you aren’t even given bleachers, let alone  a place to buy a snack.  You endured the game with whatever you felt like packing, if anything at all.  Now that the kids are older and play organized baseball and softball, it seems that every town we play in, including our own, has the much beloved snack shack.  What used to be an occasional treat has now become a nightly offering that I have to fend off.  Fries, soft pretzels, slushies, soda and Big League Chew are being requested  left and right, and there isn’t much I can do but give in to the madness.  I have done everything I can think of to fend off the greasy magnetism of that shack but I keep losing.  I pack fruit, nuts, Goldfish but fries seem to make it into the mix anyway.  I have fed the kids dinner at 4pm, but by the start of the game at six, the one that isn’t playing is asking for skittles or fries.  Then after the game is over, the one who played thinks they deserve an ice cream or yet again – fries.  And to top it off, there is nothing worse than stealing one of your kid’s fries and it turns out to be a lukewarm, soggy mess.  I mean, if you are going to indulge, it better be worth it, right?
So in honor of the potato, I felt like doing it justice this past weekend.  We had family and friends over and were grilling steaks, and although I have a “go to” recipe for crispy oven-roasted potatoes, I saw this one and knew that the bacon would be a hit with everyone.   So I put my girlfriend to work wrapping them up, and by the looks of the empty bowl at the end of dinner, I’d say that I became a potato fan again – we all did.

bacon-wrapped potatoes (adapted from Southern Living)

non-stick cooking spray
6  medium-size red or golden potatoes, cut into eight wedges each
kosher salt
24  slices of bacon, cut in half
ground black pepper

bacon

get started on the potatoes:

Preheat oven to 425.  Coat a jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle potato wedges with kosher salt.  Wrap each potato wedge with the halved slice of bacon.  Arrange potato wedges in a single layer on the cooking sheet.  Bake at 425 for 40 – 45 minutes or until bacon is crisp and browned.

girlfriend at work

potato in bacon

note:  this serves 6-8 people.