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Herb Crusted Pork Roast

This is adapted from a recipe that I found on http://www.crockpot.com  It turned out to be tender and yummy!  (I need to start keeping a thesaurus nearby to find synonyms for delicious).

3 to 3 1/2 pounds center cut boneless pork roast
10 to 12 cloves garlic, left whole, removed from skin
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, (I used Italian seasoned)
1/2 to 3/4 cup dijon mustard
3/4 cup fresh herbs, such as tarragon, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, minced (I used some thyme and rosemary)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
I couldn’t find a pork roast big enough, so I actually used 2 smaller roasts (one a little over 1 pound the other of a little over 2 pounds).
In a bowl, mix the bread crumbs, mustard and herbs. Mixture should have the consistency of a wet paste. Add more bread crumbs or mustard if necessary.
Pat the mixture onto the pork. With remaining ¼ c of crumbs, dust the pork.
Pour olive oil into bottom of slow cooker and swirl to coat. Place pork in slow cooker.
Cook on low for 8 hours. Transfer pork to cutting surface and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into ¾ – 1 inch pieces.
Return stoneware to Crock Pot and turn up to high. Using a whisk, add ¼ c chicken stock (and additional 1T of mustard if necessary) to pan juices. Pour over sliced pork.
I actually thought that the bread crumbs turned out too soggy and didn’t look appetizing to me.  So, I broiled the roast for about 10 minutes which got the crust so nice and crisp and it still kept the pork nice and moist.
And, I did forget about the sauce until we were started to eat, but we didn’t think we need it.  But, I did taste a bit of the drippings while I was cleaning up and it was delish!  So, I did add the chicken stock and will definitely be eating that with leftovers!  And, lucky for me (and my coworkers) there are lots left!  I need to learn that recommended serving sizes are wayyyy too much.

 

Spinach Flatbread

I based this little appetizers from a tasty dish from TGI Fridays.  I had some flat bread from Trader Joe’s  and knew that I would never use it all up, so decided to try my own spin on it.

1 box frozen chopped spinach

1 block 1/3 fat cream cheese

1 TBS sour cream

1 TBS mayonaise

1 tsp garlic salt

2 pieces flat bread

2 cups mozzarella cheese

Defrost spinach and drain well.  Mix next 4 ingredients with the spinach.  Spread mixture on the flat bread and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.  Then sprinkle with some shaved parmesan cheese.

I <3 dinner party Thursdays!

Tonight was a great night with 5 of my college girlfriends over.  After a scrumptious (if I do say so myself!) dinner, we cuddled up on the couch (yes 6 “grown ups” squeezed on the couch) and looked through college photo albums that Heather brought over.  It was so fun to see our baby faces and reminisce and laugh about how we met and fun nights that we shared.  I am truly blessed to have such great people surrounding me.  It was a much needed fun and a great way to spend the first week of 2011.  Nights like this truly make my apartment feel like home 🙂

It was also my friend Nicky’s birthday yesterday, so dinner was also a celebration of her and another great year for her.  Last year Nicky mentioned a couple of times how we were getting old, and I don’t like the thought of that.  So, I wanted to put a stop to that nonsense!  So, last year for her birthday, we started the tradition of only toasting and celebrating a fantastic new year which is always bound to be full of exciting adventures and challenges.  We have carried it through several birthdays, and carried through tonight with a bubbly toast to her.  So, once again, Happiest of Happy Birthdays, Nicky!!

The next few posts were what we had for dinner tonight…

And these are a few of  mi amores…  I am in the process of setting up my old college desk top to get my pictures, so if I find any really good baby face ones, they may be popping up at some point!

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a recipe that I came up with that is delicious and pretty healthy, too!

Portabello Mushrooms

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound spinach

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 TBS fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350.  Gently wipe the tops of the mushrooms with a wet paper towel or clothe to clean.  Scrape the gills out with a spoon.

Brown the ground turkey in the skillet.  Add the red wine and continue to simmer.  Add the spinach and let it wilt down.  Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and stir until combined.  Sprinkle in the rosemary and cook for a minute or so.  Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps and bake for about 10-12 minutes.

* It’s also delicious to add a bit of cheese into the mix.  The first time I made it I used a sharp English cheddar and it was really tasty!

I wish the pictures did the flavor more justice!

Eggplant Marinara Flatbread

This is a scrumptious appetizer!  I used a short cut and substituted frozen ciabatta garlic bread.  It turned out pretty well, but if I make this recipe again, I will definitely use a fresh loaf.

Recipe from “Bon Appetit” magazine, October issue.

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

6 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick eggplant rounds

1 loaf ciabatta or plain rustique

1 1/4 cups purchased fresh marina sauce

2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

1/3 cup chopped basil

1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella

Preheat over to 400.  Heat 2 Tbsps olive oil over medium-high heat.    Sprinkle eggplant with salt and pepper.  Place in skillet.  Cover.  Cook until tender, turning, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to plate.  Brush cut side of bottom half of bread with rest of oil.  Cook in skillet, cut side down, until golden, 1 minute.

Place bread, cut side up on baking sheet.  Spread with 3/4 cup sauce.  Crumble goat cheese over; sprinkle with chopped basil.  Top with eggplant.  Mound mozzarella on eggplant; spoon remaining sauce over.

Bake bread until topping is hot and crust is crisp, about 12 minutes.  Cut into 6 pieces.  Garnish with basil leaves.

 

(sorry for the lack of pics on this one!  I was busy preparing a few things at once).

Baked Penne

This is a very simple meal to throw together quickly!  And more than likely, it’s stuff you will normally have on hand!  You will just need to vary the ingredients for how many you are serving.  Add a salad and some garlic bread and you’re all set 🙂

Pasta (I used penne, but lots of shapes will work just as well)

Tomato Sauce (I used Market District’s Tomato Basil)

Fresh Basil (if you have it, if not you can substitute dried)

Ricotta Cheese (Spend the time making it home made, you will notice a huge difference!)

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions in salted water.  While the pasta is draining, I heated up the sauce just a little bit with a handful of basil to give it great fresh flavor.  Layer the pasta into a large pan or individual dishes and add dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Layer that to the top of your cheese.  Sprinkle the top with shredded or grated mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 until the cheese is nice and bubbly.  The length of time will vary on how big your dish is.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

When my mum first told me that she had made homemade ricotta cheese, I thought she was a bit nuts.  She kept going on about how delicious and easy it was.  So, I decided to listen to the old adage about “mother knowing best” and gave it a try myself.  I can’t believe I had ever doubted her.  It is 3 simple ingredients and took about 10 or 15 minutes.  I like the taste of ricotta cheese in things like lasagna and what not, but would never consider sitting down with a store bought container and a spoon.  But, with my fresh curds, I had to stop myself from indulging in little finger fulls.  Believe me, it is WELL WORTH the minimal effort!!

So, here it is friends.  I did a double batch, so if you want a single “serving” just cut the amounts in half!

*1/2 gallon 2% milk

1/2 gallon whole milk

2 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons lemon juice

All you do is combine the milk with the salt and get very hot.  Bring it to a light boil, but be very careful not to scald it!  Remove the hot milk from the heat and add the lemon juice and just let it sit and watch the magic happen!  The curds will start to form from the acid and will separate from the whey.  It will be about 3/4 liquid whey still and the top 1/4 of the pan will be the ricotta cheese!  Scoop the cheese from the pot with a slotted spoon and put into a cheese cloth lined colander.

* You can use all whole milk if you would like, but doing half with 2% saves on the calories and you don’t miss one bit of flavor!

Here’s what I’m working with!

I have a perfect for me little apartment that I have called home for about 2 1/2 years now.  I adore the charm that is has, and I have truly made it my own.

So, to get a true picture of what I’m working with, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where it’s happening.  The magic and the tragic!!  I have about 5 feet of counter space and luckily have lots of cabinet space and a china cabinet!  The biggest obstacle is having a small apartment size oven that is only 20″ x 21″.