Lemon Chicken Meatballs

As I mentioned in the previous blog, new year’s eve food = finger food. I thought I’d post one other recipe for the occasion. Meatballs seem to check all the right boxes. Crispy, savory, spicy and can be eaten in a single bite. These lemon chicken meatballs are kind of an interesting blend of chicken and bacon. The lemon sauce is a bit unusual in that it uses lemon jelly powder but rounds out nicely with some garlic and ginger spice.

The idea of being able to do some of the prep work ahead of time always appeals to me. These meatballs can be made anytime and frozen raw or cooked. Just perfect when you are ready to serve them.

I’ve probably said this before, but deep fried food never appeals to me. Baking these little morsels still achieve’s a great taste. Hope you give them a try!

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Lemon Chicken Meatballs
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Lemon Sauce
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Lemon Sauce
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fry bacon until crisp & drain on paper towel. Crumble & set aside.
  2. To skillet, add onions & garlic. Saute & remove with a slotted spoon. In a large bowl, combine bacon, onions & garlic with remaining ingredients; mix well.
  3. Form into 1-inch size meatballs & place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Lemon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine dry jelly powder & cornstarch. Add broth, dressing, garlic & ginger; stir until jelly powder is dissolved.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Pour over meatballs & stir to coat. Serve with picks.

Apple & Apricot Stuffed Pork Chops

CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY! 

It seems as we get older, reminiscing becomes a part of our lives. It is an that important psychological process called ‘life cycle review’.

Father’s Day,  for Brion and I, is a day that brings back many fond memories. My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. There is never a week that goes by that we don’t reminisce about something we remember about one or the other. Both of our Dad’s loved to talk and tell you stories from their lives. I think back to when I was just a kid and my Dad would recount the same story more than once. At the time, it all seemed a bit boring but now I realize how the benefits of storytelling and review are greatly underestimated. I would give anything to retrace those years once again.

A father’s love and influence is never fully appreciated until he is no longer with you. It is so important to appreciate every hour they are in your life.

My father’s day blog recipe features some pork chops with a nice apple-apricot stuffing. Hope you get a chance to try it sometime.


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Apple & Apricot Stuffed Pork Chops

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Course Main Dish

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Course Main Dish

Servings

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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut a deep, horizontal pocket in each chop.

  2. In a skillet, saute onion & celery in oil until tender crisp. Add bread crumbs, oatmeal, diced apricots, apple, raisins, brown sugar, ginger & 2 Tbsp apricot preserve; mix well. Divide stuffing between pork chops. Place in an ungreased baking dish & cover.

  3. Bake for about 45 minutes; uncover & spread remaining 2 Tbsp preserves on top of chops. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes more or until chops are tender.

Cream Puffs with Raspberry Chambord Sauce

Cream puffs are unusual pastries. Flour is added to a boiled mixture of butter and water, then baked at a high temperature until the mixture becomes a smooth ball of dough with a hollow center. This fairly tasteless mixture is known as choux pastry. When served as a sweet dessert they are called cream puffs — when served with a brown gravy & roast beef, Yorkshire pudding.

Although a very basic shell, these puffs can be made into some pretty elegant desserts. One idea that I had originally developed for a company Christmas party, used Chambord (raspberry) liqueur.

Chambord, France’s Liqueur Royale is a magnificent liqueur created using all natural ingredients. The finest black and red raspberries are blended before being steeped in Cognac to achieve a highly concentrated base. The mixture is then extracted and a second infusion captures the remaining flavors from the berries. The final step marries the berry infusion with Cognac and extracts of Madagascan vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and hints of fragrant herbs. The result is an unprecedented level of all natural complexities, flavor and aroma.

To fill the puffs, I made a simple pastry cream using instant vanilla pudding mix, spices, whipped cream and some rum flavor to give it an eggnog taste. Once the puffs were filled and placed on a serving dish, I drizzled them with the sauce. Any remaining sauce was served in a dish in the center of the cream puff ‘wreath’. It definitely brought the spirit of Christmas to the dessert buffet table!

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Cream Puffs with Raspberry Chambord Sauce
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Cream Puffs
Eggnog Fluff Filling
Raspberry Chambord Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Eggnog Fluff Filling
Raspberry Chambord Sauce
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Instructions
Cream Puffs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a saucepan, heat water & butter to a rolling boil. Whisk in flour & salt. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute; remove from heat. Beat in eggs, all at once; continue beating until smooth.
  2. Drop dough by scant 1/4 cupfuls about 3 inches apart onto an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet. Combine 2 Tbsp milk & egg yolk; brush over tops. Bake until puffed & golden. about 35-40 minutes. Cool away from drafts. Cut off tops; pull out any filaments of soft dough.
Eggnog Fluff Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine DRY pudding mix, milk, rum extract, nutmeg & ginger. With a mixer blend on low speed; Add whip cream, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.
Raspberry Chambord Sauce
  1. In a food processor, puree raspberries with water until smooth. Strain into a small saucepan, pressing puree through a mesh. Whisk sugar, cornstarch & liqueur into sauce. Cook all ingredients together over medium high heat until thickened & clear. Remove from heat & add remaining sugar IF DESIRED. Transfer to a non-metalic container, cover & chill until ready to use.
  2. Fill puffs; arrange on serving platter & drizzle with fresh raspberry Chambord sauce. Place remaining sauce in center of cream puff wreath. Serve immediately or cover & refrigerate no longer than 3 hours.

German Gingerbread

Christmas is known for bringing out the ancestral origins in all of us, with every culture celebrating the holidays enjoying their specific holiday foods. Although my parents were born here in Canada, our German heritage was very evident in my mother’s cooking and baking.

One cookie that has been made specifically for holidays for hundreds of years is gingerbread. Across Europe you will find many versions of the spicy cookies in different shapes, colors and textures.

‘Lebkucken’, a traditional German gingerbread was invented by medieval monks in Franeonia, Germany in the 13th century. Prepared in monastery bakeries with ingredients that not only had symbolic religious meaning but were highly prized for their healing properties.

There are a variety of types of lebkucken, each distinguished by slight alterations in ingredients. Most common ingredients include:                            * honey, flour, sugar and eggs    * gingerbread spice mix or ‘Lebkuckengewurz’  * almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts  * candied lemon and orange peel.   The most critical ingredient being the ‘exotic’ spices from all around the world such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, cardamom, coriander and ginger.

Lebkucken can be round, square or rectangular. They can be glazed or not. Sometimes cocoa is mixed in with the dough making it rich and chocolaty. Other times, roasted apple, marzipan or cashews may be mixed in to add different flavors and textures.

‘Elisen lebkucken’ are the highest quality made. They must have at least 25% almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts and must contain no more than 10% flour if any. The ‘Nuremberg lebkucken’, baked in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, are known worldwide to be the best. Marzipan is often an ingredient in these gingerbread.

Of course this brings me back to another memory. Some years ago I had the experience of spending some time in the presence of a Dutch baker. At Christmas time, he would bake these incredible Dutch cookies called ‘Speculaas’ that were filled with marzipan and had that glorious similar spice blend. I just loved it and can’t resist making some version of it every Christmas season since.

Today, I’m making a large batch of lebkucken which I’m going to divide. Half of it is going to be made into ‘glazed’ triangles and the other half  I want to dip in white chocolate and add a little holly decoration. Should be good!

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German Gingerbread
Gingerbread cookies that are rich with warm spices, toasted nuts and candied fruit.
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Gingerbread Dough
White Chocolate Icing
Glaze
Servings
Ingredients
Gingerbread Dough
White Chocolate Icing
Glaze
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Instructions
Gingerbread Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet & toast until the skins blister, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer nuts to a clean kitchen towel & rub together to remove the skins. Cool completely.
  2. In a small bowl, combine almond meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt. Transfer hazelnuts to a food processor, add walnuts, candied citrus rind & crystallized ginger along with 1 cup of the dry ingredient mixture; pulse until very finely chopped. Add remaining dry ingredients & pulse ONLY to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter with brown sugar until creamy. Add honey & beat until smooth. Add eggs & vanilla, beating to combine. Fold in dry ingredients then beat until evenly combined. Divide the dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Line an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish with 2 pieces of parchment paper (this will allow you to easily remove squares fro the pan). Spread the half of the chilled dough evenly into baking pan & bake in the center of the oven until surface is dimpled & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. The cake should be springy but firm. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Glaze
  1. In a bowl, whisk powdered sugar with your choice of flavoring & water to make a thin but spreadable glaze. Spread glaze on just-warm cake & let cool completely. Remove cake (with parchment) from pan onto cutting board. Cut 16 squares then cut each square into 2 'triangles' giving you 32 pieces.
Making Individual Cookies
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about 1 1/2 Tbsp dough out at a time. Roll into balls. Place on parchment about 2-inches apart & bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes or test with a toothpick. Remove from oven & cool completely.
White Chocolate Icing
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp shortening on HIGH for 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth & fairly runny. Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess. Place on parchment paper to set at room temperature.
  2. For the holly decoration, melt candy melts, one color at a time. Place in a small piping bag with a #4 tip & pipe decorations. Allow to set up at room temperature. You should have around 26 cookies.
Recipe Notes
  • If you would like a dark depth of flavor, add 2 Tbsp dark, unsweetened cocoa to your cookie dough as well as using a dark brown sugar instead of the light.
  • If you prefer to not make 2 different versions, make the whole recipe into either bars or rounds -- your choice!
  • This is one of those cookies that gets better as it ages.
  • Something I did & found it worked well was to portion out my cookies before chilling the dough.

Mango – Orange Chicken Breast

Mango anything always sounds good to me. What isn’t to like about a ripe mango?  Of course, its versatility as a fresh fruit, in salsa, baking, paired with meat etc. makes it pretty appealing. A few years ago, Brion & I spent 3 months in Cuenca, Ecuador. It was quite an ‘adventure’ but a valuable experience for us. If you follow my blog, you may recall the article I posted in July 2016 entitled ‘Dutch Apple Pie’.     

Today, I wanted to tell you about the ‘markets’. Ecuador is famous for its colorful indigenous markets. Because the city of Cuenca sits high in the southern Andes mountains, it experiences spring-like weather year round. Small farms that surround this Colonial city grow a variety of lush produce in the rich, volcanic soil. These farmers bring their produce to these markets to sell to the vendors.

Cuenca has at least six major markets that usually entail a mix of indoor and open-air vendors. It is mind boggling when you see it for the first time. They sell a myriad of fruits and vegetables along with seafood, pork, beef and chicken, not to mention clothing, shoes, cook wear, sunglasses, etc, etc, etc. Of course, then there’s the fresh flower markets. All quite an amazing sight to see!!

As a rule, when it comes to chicken breast, I like to stuff them. I decided today,for something different, I would grill them as is and top them with some of those gorgeous mangoes.

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Mango - Orange Chicken Breast
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Instructions
  1. Mix spices on a plate; add chicken, turn to coat both sides of each breast. In a large skillet, heat oil & add chicken; cook 6-7 minutes on each side or until no pink remains.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare couscous as directed on package, omitting salt & oil. Place couscous on serving platter & lay chicken breast on top. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Add red pepper & green onion to skillet; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add mango, orange segments, cilantro & dressing; cook another minute or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon chicken is the name of several dishes found in cuisines around the world which include chicken and lemon.

In Canada, we usually either use breading or batter to coat the chicken before cooking it and serving it in a sweet lemon flavored sauce. A completely unrelated dish from Italy, also called lemon chicken is where a whole chicken is roasted with white wine, fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme and vegetables. In France, lemon chicken generally includes Dijon mustard in the sauce and is accompanied by roasted potatoes. I would presume the German version would be a chicken schnitzel with fresh lemon.

Having an inherited love of ‘sweet things’, lemon chicken has always appealed to me. I prefer to make a tempura batter to dip the chicken strips in and then fry them on a griddle. I’m not big on anything deep fried so this is as close as it gets for me. Some years ago I came across a recipe on a kraftfoods.com site for a very unique and easy ‘lemon sauce’ for chicken. It might not appeal to everyone but we enjoy it every so often.

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Lemon Chicken
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Instructions
Stir-Fry Vegetables
  1. Prepare vegetables & saute in 1/2 cup chicken broth until tender-crisp. Drain broth & reserve for later.
Tempura Batter
  1. In a bowl, whisk together all batter ingredients. Slice chicken breast into thin strips & place in batter; mix well. Heat griddle to 325 F. Add a small amount of oil; remove chicken strips from batter & place on griddle. Fry on each side until cooked & golden. Lay on paper towel to blot off oil.
Lemon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine jelly powder & cornstarch. Add 1 cup chicken broth, dressing, garlic & ginger; stir until jelly powder is dissolved. Simmer over medium heat until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Add reserved broth from vegetables.
  2. Combine vegetables chicken & lemon sauce. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.

Black Bean Soup with Thai Chicken Rolls

Soup seems to be one of those comfort meals synonymous with cooler winter weather. So far, here in northern Alberta, Canada our winter has been very mild. Black bean soup has become one of my favorites. Of course, as usual there’s a little fond memory tucked away that I’d like to share with you.

For the many times Brion and I have spent holiday time on California’s Monterey Peninsula, I’m never quite able to absorb enough of it’s images. There’s something about the sea — the waves, the salt air, the broad expanse of blue, the ambiance of coastal living that forever calls us back.

It was on one of these trips that we were ‘snooping’ around an area called the Barnyard Shopping Village. Built in 1976, this Carmel landmark features more than 45 boutique shops. It’s cascading levels and beautifully landscaped courtyards create such a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. There are about eight locally owned restaurants offering various cuisine options. We came across one called ‘From Scratch’ restaurant. Sounded good, so we went in. There was either outdoor or indoor seating available. It turned out the food definitely had that ‘homemade’  flavor. Over the years we have made a point of always going back to have one of those great meals when we are in Carmel.

One of the first meals I had there was a Veggie Wrap  that in my opinion, was to die for. It consisted of romaine lettuce, avocados, cucumbers, walnuts and cream cheese in an over-sized tomato basil tortilla. For some reason it seemed to disappear from the menu so I tried the famous ‘From Scratch’ Black Bean Soup. It was just wonderful! Upon returning home I started making a very easy version. No need to do any soaking of the beans overnight. One of these 4-ingredient recipes using canned beans. Of course nothing like the one ‘From Scratch’ but still tastes great especially when served with some Thai Chicken Rolls.

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Black Bean Soup with Thai Chicken Rolls
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Instructions
Easy Black Bean Soup
  1. In a blender, place 1 can of black beans, chicken broth, salsa & cumin. Blend for about 10 seconds to lightly puree.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the pureed bean mixture with remaining can of beans. Simmer until hot. Ladle into 2 bowls; top with a dollop of sour cream & a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.
Thai Chicken Rolls (12 rolls)
  1. Unroll dough on a work surface; pinch seams to seal & press into a 12 x 9 -inch rectangle. Cut into 12 rectangles.
  2. In a small skillet, heat oil. Add chicken; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Stir in water chestnuts, carrot, cilantro, garlic, apricot preserves, soy sauce, ginger & red pepper flakes. Divide mixture evenly between the 12 rectangles; placing some filling on long side of each rectangle to within 1/4" of short ends.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Starting with long side, roll up. Pinch ends to seal; place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg & bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Recipe Notes

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney

As I mentioned before, pork tenderloin regularly pops up in my supper menus. Over time, I have prepared it in many different ways and hardly ever remember any that we didn’t care for.

Since my three rhubarb plants seem to still be producing those lovely stalks, why not use them! This blog recipe is easy, wonderful tasting and a great presentation all in one. Here’s my interpretation of Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney. Enjoy!

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Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney
The spice rub 'marinating' adds so much to the overall flavor.
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Course Main Dish
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Instructions
Pork Tenderloin
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine spice rub ingredients. Butterfly pork tenderloin & flatten to uniform thickness. Place in plastic bag with spice rub & shake to distribute seasoning well. Close bag & allow to stand in refrigerator for several hours.
Rhubarb Chutney
  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine first 9 chutney ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion & dried cranberries; increase heat to medium & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Can be made ahead of time & refrigerated until needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a piece of aluminum foil & place on a wire rack on a baking pan. Cut plastic bag open; lay tenderloin flat with cut side up. Spread chutney over tenderloin & carefully roll (using plastic bag), starting with the long side as you would with a cake 'jelly roll'. Place on greased foil on pan.
  3. Lightly rub a small amount of olive oil or a 'fig balsamic dressing' over top of tenderloin. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tests done. DO NOT OVER BAKE! Remove from oven & allow stand for a few minutes before slicing.

Summer Picnic # 4

                                                        MENU

                    ROSEMARY HAM   *   CAJUN CHICKEN     WRAPS    

             THAI CHICKEN   *   PEPPERONI     PASTRY PINWHEELS    

                  FRESH FRUIT with CHEESE, CAKE or in CUPS   

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Wraps, Pinwheels & Fresh Fruit Picnic
Keeping it light & simple but still adding a touch of gourmet.
Instructions
Tortilla Pinwheels
  1. Spread each tortilla with herb & garlic cream cheese as well as a thin layer of hot red pepper jelly.
  2. For the 3 ROSEMARY PEPPER HAM pinwheels, place 1 of the Asiago cheese slices on left side. Next lay 1/3 of ham slices followed by a length of 6 spinach leaves. Repeat with 2 more tortillas. For the 3 CAJUN JAMBALAYA CHICKEN pinwheels, place 1 of the strong cheddar slices on left side. 1/3 of chicken slices followed by a length of 6 spinach leaves. Repeat with 2 more tortillas.
  3. Starting on the left side, roll tortillas up tightly. Wrap in plastic wrap for several hours or overnight. At picnic time, trim a bit off each end; slice each roll into 8 pieces. Secure with a tooth pick if you think its necessary. Place in fridge until picnic time.
Pepperoni Pinwheels
  1. On lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry sheets slightly. Spread mustard over all pastry. Divide & arrange pepperoni slices on the 2 pastry sheets, sprinkle with cheese & oregano. Tightly roll up pastry; gently pinch edge into roll to seal. Wrap in saran wrap & refrigerate 2-3 hours. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pastry into 30 - 3/4 slices. Place on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until golden & slightly puffed.
Thai Turkey Pastry Pinwheels
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cool before using.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry sheets slightly. Spread Thai turkey mixture over all pastry to within 1/2" of edges. Tightly roll up pastry; gently pinch edge into roll to seal. Wrap in saran wrap & refrigerate 2-3 hours. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pastry into 30 - 3/4" slices. Place on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until golden & slightly puffed.
Fresh Fruit with Cheese, Cake Cubes or in Cups
  1. On 6 wooden 8" skewers, alternately thread the strawberries, cheese cubes & cantaloupe. On another 6 skewers, alternate strawberries with cake cubes. Layer 6 plastic cups with colorful fresh fruit combos. Serve all as is or with a flavored yogurt for an easy dip.
Recipe Notes
  • Herb & Garlic Cream Cheese Spread can be purchased or make your own. I found a  great recipe for this spread on allrecipes.com which I used in my pinwheels.
  • If you choose, you could lay some pickle strips or red pepper strips at the edge of the left side of the tortillas creating a center in your pinwheels.
  • If you feel like your picnic needs one more item, add your favorite salad to the mix.
  • You might want to include some  flavored yogurt  for dip to go with the fruit items.
  • You should have roughly about 48 pinwheels, 60 pastry pinwheels & 18 desserts.

Summer Picnic # 3

                                                      MENU

SPICED CHICKEN POTATO LOAF    *    SAVORY PORK POTATO LOAF

BARLEY, CORN & PEPPER SALAD * CANDIED NUT & GORGONZOLA SALAD

                                  SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY TARTS

 

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Savory Pork Stuffed Potato Loaf
Recipes from some of this picnic menu are featured in previous blog posts. SPICED CHICKEN STUFFED POTATO LOAF - from April 8/16. SALADS - from June 9/16. SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY TARTS - from July 7/16.
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Instructions
Savory Pork Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add pork & mix well. In a skillet, cook pork mixture until no longer pink. Remove from heat; drain on paper towels while it cools.
Potato Loaf
  1. Boil potato, mash & cool. Fry bacon, drain & crumble. In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Add bacon; mix until just combined.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove risen dough from bowl, turn onto lightly floured surface; roll dough to about a 12" x 15" rectangle. Place a large piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Roll dough onto your rolling pin then unroll onto parchment paper. Place 1/2 of the cheese down the center of dough, top it with pork, green onions & remaining cheese.
  4. Fold short ends in about 1". Using parchment, roll from the long side in a jelly roll fashion. Press down slightly to make a flatter shape. Cover with plastic wrap; allow to rise for 15 minutes while preheating oven to 375 F. Brush with egg wash if preferred. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • If time is of the essence, use purchased frozen bread dough or pizza crust.
  • This picnic is definitely favored by men due to the 'hearty' potato loaf sandwiches.