Pork and Vegetable Spring Rolls

On vacation to Bermuda, Mr. J became OBSESSED with a pork and vegetable spring roll. I think he ordered it almost every night. I recreated them for Dad & Mr. J’s combo birthday/father’s day meal. Our theme was “best of vacation” foods.

The eggroll wrappers are from the produce section of the grocery store. They feel like fresh pasta and are easy to use. There are about 20 in a package and I made them all. They were easy to make in advance and bake for a few minutes when it was time to eat.
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Ingredients:

3/4 pound ground pork
10 oz cole slaw mix (or chopped cabbage)
2 tbs garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbs cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 package eggroll wrappers
1 tsp cornstarch & 2 tsp water

Directions:

Fry pork in a large pan until mostly cooked through, about 5 minutes over medium heat.
Drain excess oil off the pork and add in the cabbage and garlic to the pan.
Add in sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce.
Mix well and cook another few minutes. The cabbage quantity will shrink up.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lay out wonton wrappers. Add about 3 tbs of the filling onto each one. Brush the edges with the cornstarch/water mix.
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Fold the point in the front over the filling, then fold the side points inward towards the filling. Then roll the whole thing over, continuing to wrap the sides towards the center.
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Place the spring rolls on a baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 5 minutes at 375 degrees.
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Then flip and bake another 5 minutes.
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I sprayed them and flipped them often. I wanted them crisp all the way around. They also could be pan fried, but I thought baking would keep them from being oily or greasy.

Sesame oil and rice wine vinegar are ingredients I try to keep around. They take any Asian-inspired dishes to the next level and they never go bad. They are good for vinaigrette on salad or a stir fry.  I have another dish to blog for you next week that uses them…stock up now!

I served them with a chipotle orange ginger barbecue sauce. They were a hit!

Sausage Puff Roll Up

These were pretty addictive. I made them for dinner thinking they’d reheat well too but it got me thinking they’d be a good brunch addition! These Sausage Roll Ups use only a few ingredients and are quick to whip up while tossing salad together.
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Ingredients:

1 sheet of puff pastry (or crescent rolls)
3 sausage links, casing removed
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tbs heavy cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Defrost puff pastry to room temperature.
Saute sausage, thyme, salt & pepper, and garlic in a hot pan over medium heat. Add heavy cream when mostly cooked through.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lay out puff pastry sheet, top with sausage and cheese. Roll up into 1 long roll.
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Cut into 3/4 inch slices. Reform if the slices if they get a bit squished. Lay them on the cut side up in a greased baking pan.
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Bake 25 minutes until golden brown and puffed.
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I served it with salad and it was perfect. I appreciated how few ingredients it took. I knew it would be hefty so I used pretty minimal cheese. I had a few mozzarella string cheese laying around so they became my cheese addition (in case you were confusing my cheese disks for hearts of palm or something).
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Guy Fieri’s Chorizo and Polenta

I was thumbing through a Food Network magazine when I stumbled upon this. I actually love Guy Fieri’s way of cooking and recipes. For as many burgers he slams down on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives, he cooks really interesting and quality food. He often grills, uses a lot of marinades, and fresh greens. I wasn’t at all surprised to see swiss chard in this recipe.

This as good, but not amazing. I liked it to as a different dinner, but it probably won’t be part of my regular rotation.
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Chorizo and Polenta Lasagna
by Guy Fieri

Ingredients:

1 cup quick-cooking polenta
2 cups water (or chicken stock)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tbs butter

Chorizo:
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbs paprika
1 tbs granulated garlic
1 tbs onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tbs red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 clove garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella

Directions:

For the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the polenta and whisk until fully incorporated, 3 to 4 minutes.
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Sprinkle with the salt and cook, covered, over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Finish by folding in the butter. Keep warm while you prepare the chorizo.

For the chorizo: Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until almost translucent, and then add the ground pork. Brown 4 to 5 minutes while breaking the pork pieces up with the back of a wooden spoon.
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Add the paprika, granulated garlic, onion powder, chili powder and cumin, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute longer to toast the spices, and then add the vinegar, garlic and tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and season once more with salt and pepper. Keep warm while cooking the chard.
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Wash, drain and finely slice the chard. (Cutting off the center stalk is optional). Heat the garlic and some olive oil in a large pan and saute, 3 to 4 minutes over low heat.
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Season with salt and pepper. Drain in a colander and squeeze out any excess moisture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-by-2-inch dish or a 9-inch pan. Pour half of the polenta in and spread out evenly. Top with half of the chorizo and half of the Swiss chard. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.
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Repeat with a layer of the remaining polenta, then the remaining chorizo, swiss chard, and finally the remaining cheese. Cover with foil, place the dish on a sheet tray and bake 30 minutes.
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Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 15 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes to set up, then cut into portions and serve.
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I liked this, but didn’t looooove Fieri’s Chorizo and Polenta. I think it had some good flavors between the corny polenta and woody Swiss chard. The pork isn’t exactly what I think of as chorizo, but the spices were good.
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I cooked the polenta as the package directed, but now I know it would have had more flavor if I had used chicken stock. I don’t make much polenta but I suppose it is like rice or risotto which is considerably better when made with stock or wine. I also followed the package which thinks that 2 cups of dried polenta will be 5 servings. Let me tell you friends, that’s a good 8 hefty servings. Seriously. I used some leftovers in a different way, so stay tuned for that!

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

For our February Monthly Family Dinner with the R family, I chose red as the theme, for Valentine’s Day. Originally I thought maybe eggplant/chicken parm. Then I thought meatballs would be fun and even more fun when stuffed with mozzarella. I haven’t made meatballs in a while. This is my basic meatball recipe‎ and I loved my Greek meatball recipe.
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I started with a pretty basic meatball base then stuffed them with mozzarella before baking them. Yup, I don’t like to fry things.

Ingredients:

¾ pound ground pork
¾ pound ground chicken
2 eggs
⅓ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup panko
¼ cup milk
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ cup red wine
salt & pepper
1 head of garlic (or 2 tbs chopped garlic)
mozzarella cheese sticks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut off ¼ inch off the top of the garlic bulb and remove a few outer papery layers leaving only 1.
Drizzle olive oil and a pinch of salt onto the exposed garlic before roasting for 30 minutes (45 to make pure paste without any texture).
Mix breadcrumbs, panko, and milk together.
Mix ground pork, chicken, eggs, Parmesan, spices, and wine together by hand.
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Pop garlic cloves out of the head. Chop or smooth into a paste.
Add garlic and breadcrumb mix to the meat mix. Combine by hand until combined.
Cut cheese sticks into about 5 cheese chunks per stick.
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Form meatball mixture into disks, add a cheese chunk and mold meat around it.
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Bake meatballs on a sprayed cooling rack on top of a sprayed baking sheet.
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Bake 20 minutes, rotating once.
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These were fun! I left them in too long (shoot for 20, not 30 minutes like I did. The meatballs were super moist and flavorful, but the cheese started to escape! I’ve used cheese sticks to stuff arranchini because it is much easier to work with then shredded cheese.
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I served the meatballs with penne in a creamy marinara, salad. Sis brought garlic bread and Mum brought cherry pie and vanilla ice cream.
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It was a fun dinner and we caught up after a busy month. I’m glad I paired the meatballs with other easy elements. I made sure not to overcook the pasta. All I did for the sauce was add some cream cheese into the sauce. It added a great creaminess and extra extravagance to the meatball dinner. I make my own croutons but was glad not to also tackle dessert.

Chinese Pork in a Crockpot

This was just what a snowy day needed. We shoveled a lot last weekend and it was great to have this welcoming us back with a lovely porky scent. It may have driven the pups crazy though. I know I was salivating whenever I stirred it!

This was suuuuper easy, only a few ingredients, and was definitely the best Chinese dish I’ve ever made.
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Cantonese Pork in a Crockpot
adapted from Happy Tummies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
salt & pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 tbs brown sugar
1 can tomato sauce, 8oz
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
3 tbs rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs sesame oil (optional)
2 cups bean sprouts
4 scallions, chopped

Directions:

Trim the fat from the pork shoulder and slice thin.
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Heat a heavy skillet to medium heat and add vegetable oil.
Add tomato sauce, onion, brown sugar, green pepper, water chestnuts, vinegar, salt, Worcestershire, and sesame oil into a large crockpot.
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Toss pork slices in flour, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. A few at a time.
Pan fry pork, turning for just a minute on each side, in batches. (They don’t need to fully cook, just get a crispy sear on each side).
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Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add pork into crockpot, stir, and turn to low heat for about 4-5 hours.
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Enjoy over rice!

This was so good. I’ve attemped only a few Chinese dishes but they’ve never been great. This was great. I like that this is a bit different and would easily vary the dinner menu.
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The pork was falling apart. It was really good, but I think 4 hours was plenty. I cooked mine for 5 ½ and think it was borderline too long. I think it could use a bit more salt. Unlike take-out Chinese, it wasn’t overly salty. Soy sauce, more Worcestershire, or table salt would do the trick.

There were only a few ingredients and I think this would turn anyone into a pork believer. I forgot bean sprouts and was so early to the grocery store they didn’t have all the produce out! I debated getting a huge bone-in pork shoulder and making half into pulled pork, but those suckers are pricey and I hadn’t ever seen the little ones.

Greek Pastitsio

I love greek food and swooned when I saw Ina Garten make pastitsio. She served it with a feta and watermelon salad at her lovely house in the Hamptons. Greek dinner in a garden setting? I’d love that! It seemed so magical and inviting. A lantern lit pathway and fresh flowers never hurts, right?

I thought it might be a good wintery food. I made this a few weeks ago but it would be perfect right about now. The C family is enjoying comfort food and family during this difficult time.
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This seemed like a good post for a Friday because, this is a weekend meal if I ever saw one. Don’t go trying to whip up Pastitsio on a week night. Some folks joke that pastitsio translates to messy kitchen.

Read the whole thing so you can be ready for the next step. Pastitsio requires meat sauce, the pasta, and the cream sauce. You could break up the work by prepping the meat sauce the day before.

I love the cinnamon flavor for savory Greek dishes. I think the cream sauce on the top compliments the tomato and the red wine flavor.

Pastitsio

adapted from Amateur Cook Professional Eater

For the pasta and the meat sauce:

1 pound tubular pasta (I used plain ziti)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced (optional)
3 medium onions, grated
1 pound of ground pork (or ground lamb, veal, beef, etc)
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground oregano
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
½ cup Greek Kefalotyri cheese, grated (or pecorino cheese)
salt
pepper

Directions for Meat Sauce:

In a large pan, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat, adding garlic just when the onions become translucent.
Add in ground pork, breaking it up with a spatula. Then add red wine, cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Boil water for the pasta.
Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and simmer for 20 minutes so the liquids evaporate and the sauce/mixture gets thick.
Put the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to the box (undercook by 2-3 minutes as it will bake and continue cooking).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients for béchamel sauce:

¾ cup of Greek Kefalotyri cheese, grated (or pecorino cheese)
3 tbsp of butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp of salt
pinch of ground nutmeg

Directions for béchamel sauce:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
When butter is melted, add in flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
pastitsio_bechemel_start_590_390Add in the milk, whisking until smooth.
Add salt and nutmeg and ½ cup of cheese.pastitsio_bechemel_590_390
Remove from heat.
Once it begins to cool slightly, add in 1 egg and whisk quickly so the egg doesn’t cook.

Directions for Assembly:

Mix pasta and meat sauce.
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Spread ¼ cup of the bechemel sauce onto the bottom of a non-stick-sprayed 13”x9” baking pan.
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Layer the pasta and meat mixture into the pan.
Spread bechemel sauce over the top of the pasta/meat mixture.
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Bake for 30 minutes covered.
Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese and bake for an additional 20 minutes uncovered.
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Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

This takes awhile to get assembled but then it just cooks without you…leaving you plenty of time for all the many dishes accumulated throughout the process.

I loved this. I like the Greek use of cinnamon in savory dishes. This is rich and filling. We ate it for a few dinners & lunches. It reheated nicely.
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What I Ate: Pulled Pork Tacos

Today’s What I Ate post features my use for some leftovers. Like all What I Ate series editions, it isn’t recipe worthy but it made me really happy and was a great way to jazz up the leftovers.

Have you ever cooked a pork butt? It is hefty. I haven’t seen smaller ones than 3-ish pounds. That’s a heck of a lot of servings. The good news? It freezes well, reheats well, and has some alternative possibilities. It is pretty cheap too. It might be my favorite crockpot item. Woah.
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I used some pulled pork to make tacos and I loved every bite. I made pulled pork (like this crock pot pulled pork post from way back when) and we ate it a few times as bbq pulled pork, or on rolls. Then I served it with crunchy taco shells, black beans, and some slaw.
Pulled Pork Tacos
Hello taco!

The slaw was red cabbage mixed with some shredded carrots, cider vinegar, veggie oil, and a dash of sugar.  It was perfect, easy, and cheap. I loved that it felt reinvented and wasn’t exactly how we had eaten it before.

Any inspired leftover revamps to share?? 

Flautas with Ground Pork and Spinach

I’m expanding my non-authentic Mexican food repertoire. I made flautas. I first googled to find out what the difference was between flauta and a taquito. Again, from non-authentic sources, it seems like flautas are flour tortillas and taquitos are corn tortillas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flautas

I prepped some of it in the morning before work, which always makes me feel like a rockstar. The pup was very into these. When I say he’s under my feet in the kitchen, I mean it. See? He’s just to sweet to totally kick out of the kitchen. It makes me feel loved since I come in second to Mr. J in his eyes (unless I’m cooking).
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Ingredients:

½ pound ground turkey/pork/chicken/beef (I used pork)
3 tbs taco seasoning
12 small flour tortillas
2 cups baby spinach
6 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
oil for frying

Directions:

Cook the ground meat with taco seasoning until cooked through and mix with spinach after removing the meat from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
Heat about ¾ of an inch of oil to fry the flautas when they’re assembled.
Lay tortillas out and top with 2 tbs each shredded cheese, and the ground meat and spinach mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
roll up the filled tortillas into skinny cigars and secure with a toothpick
gently drop into the oil for a few minutes, rotating them to crisp evenly.
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When they’re evenly golden, remove and let hang on paper towels. Don’t forget to pull out those toothpicks!

They stayed together nicely and I served them with a little chipotle ranch dressing (also known as: ranch with a touch of BBQ sauce for smokiness, a dash of hot sauce, and taco seasoning). They were really good. I loved how different they felt from burritos or enchiladas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Frying anything stresses me out. I only did a few at a time and kept the others warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

These are a great use for leftovers :ahem:spinach:ahem. I would have thrown in any other veggie I had around. Think: corn! onions! zucchini! mushrooms! They also didn’t require a ton of ground meat. I end up with weird amounts of leftover ground pork or chicken and almost always use it for a Mexican meal.

Serve these with my favorite Mexican bean salad for a quick & easy fiesta! They also are great reheated in the toaster oven for lunch the next day at work!
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Biscuits and Gravy…it’s not just for Breakfast

Sometimes I’m full of dinner ideas and others I’m racking my brain. I don’t know how I came up with biscuits and gravy but I was feeling especially southern. This is more of a what-I-ate rather than a recipe but I wanted to share my biscuit success!
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Some of my thought was I haaaaad to prove it to myself that I could make a biscuit. I tried to make some that looked simple enough for thanksgiving that were a huge flop.

I made simple bisquick biscuits and they came out great! I used a juice glass to cut them. I brushed the tops with butter after cooking for a few minutes. They were light, fluffy, and absorbent.
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I crumbled 2 sausage links and made a simple creamy gravy. The sausage and gravy topped biscuits.
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I felt like we needed something else so I baked apple slices with some brown sugar, maple syrup, and oatmeal.
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Fontina and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

Ahhhhrugula! I think I’ve decided that if I were going to eat one food for the rest of my life it’d be pizza. I love all sorts of crazy toppings and I have learned a thing or two.

I was partially inspired by the last pretty authentic neopolitan pizza I’ve had lately (Antico Forno) when I dreamed this one up. I also was feeling a salad-y topped pizza for a change too. It’s nicely springy and would even be a good vehicle for any leftover Easter ham you have kicking around!
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Ingredients:

pizza dough
1 tbs chopped garlic
3 tbs olive oil
2 cups shredded fontina
4-6 slices of prosciutto
3 cups arugula
drizzle of truffle oil
¼ cup with shaved Parmesan

Directions:

Pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
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Top with cheese and garlic/olive oil mixture brushed on crust. Return to the oven until melted (about 5 minutes)
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Once out of the oven, top with slices of prosciutto
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Then top with arugula tossed with truffle oil
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It was good, and different. I liked the few quality ingredients. The prosciutto was salty and the fontina was googy and nutty. By not cooking the prosciutto, it kept it really soft and bite-able.
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I actually didn’t top the whole thing since obviously it was going to be lunch the next day. It reheated well too!