Awesome Avocado, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Appetizer

This recipe comes from my friend Merrill, who is gluten free and has stretched me so much in what I cook lately. She made it a couple of years ago for Halloween because it was called “witch’s fingers,” and it was hands down one of the best dishes at the whole party. Every single time since then, when we have a big family dinner and she asks what to bring, this is on the menu. The creaminess of the avocado, the bite of the goat cheese and the saltiness of the prosciutto are amazing together. Add a little heat from some smoked paprika and it’s a winner. These are gluten free, and I would imagine you could thin slice some cucumber and use that to replace the prosciutto for a vegetarian option (I’ve never tried this though – disclaimer. I would imagine you’d want to add some salt.) I have to stop myself from eating the entire platter myself. These are a winner at any party, even if it’s a party of 1.

You’ll need:

  • 3-4 large avocados (you’ll want them in the firmer side of ripe)
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto (That’s what you’ll need for the recipe – I recommend getting a ½ pound so you have extra for snacking while you’re making these.)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • Lime juice

Get cooking:

  1. Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit. Gently, with a large spoon, scoop the flesh away from the peel.
  2. Stuff center of avocado with goat cheese. Slice each half into 3-4 wedges.
  3. Cut prosciutto slices in half and wrap around avocados.
  4. Arrange on a platter, sprinkle with paprika and lime juice, and serve!

Monte Cristo Sammies

Colie and Amanda came over for dinner a while ago and I wanted to make something fun and festive for the occasion. We get together every Thursday for Top Chef and Grey’s viewing nights – always at my house, but the cooking rotates. I found this amazing Raspberry ham and havarti cheese on sale at GB Russo’s that week, so I knew I wanted to make a sandwich. I thought about just a panini, but then it came to me, like a thief in the night – monte cristos. I had only ever made them once before, using a Rachel Ray recipe for southwestern monte cristos and black bean soup. I thought her style was great – instead of battering and deep frying, you batter it and slap it on the griddle just like french toast. Better for you and WAY easier to boot.

Since I already had the ham and havarti, I started thinking about what else would go well with those flavors. I had leftover chicken breasts and fontina cheese, so we used that, along with blackberry jam. I served honey and dijon mustard for dipping, and made them on homemade challah bread.

Except, I left Amanda to slice the bread. And if I am the world biggest overmaker, girlfriend is right there in the sisterhood with me. Because instead of slicing the bread normal way, she sliced from the top down – and turned a two pound loaf of bread into 6 equal slices – exactly enough for three sammies. You can imagine then, how big and thick these slices were. INSANE. And delicious. We only ate half, but it was so amazing heated up for lunch the next day. I served this with some delicious roasted asparagus.

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound of meat, 2 varieties (Use what you love – I normally hate ham, and loved this raspberry ham, so use what sounds good.)
  • 3/4 pound cheese, mixed kinds (Again, whatever sounds nice.)
  • 6 T fruit jam
  • 1 loaf bread, sliced (Challah worked great here, but so would any other kind of yummy bread.)
  • Mustard
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Cooking spray

Get cooking:

  1. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and coat with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Beat these eggs into the milk – this will be the batter for your bread.
  3. Assemble the sammies as you normally would.
  4. Dip each side into the batter, being careful to keep the sandwich together (this gets easier with practice).
  5. Put into skillet and cook just like french toast – wait for the sides to get brown and then flip. You may need to cover for the cheese to melt, depending on how thick the bread is sliced.
  6. Cut in half and serve!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese

This recipe is a great example of what happens when your best laid plans don’t quite work out in the kitchen. My sister Nicole, brother-in-law Jon and friend Amanda came over, and I was planning on making a lemon chicken cordon bleu with … I honestly can’t remember what the original side was now. In any case, I decided to change it to mac and cheese based on what was in the fridge (and I want to say I was missing an ingredient for the original side.) But I was trying to quickly defrost a whole heap of chicken breasts (I normally only freeze two at a time) and they did not defrost the way I hoped they would – aka, I didn’t think I’d be able to butterfly them open to stuff the provolone and ham in them. So, change #3 – combine the chicken and the mac and cheese of course! And so, chicken cordon bleu mac and cheese was born. I’ll tell you exactly what I used here (because it’s what I had on hand) but I’ll also recommend substitutions. This fed – well, technically there were 5 of us, but my brother-in-law should really count for three people with the amount of food he can eat – and made probably 4-5 lunch servings of leftovers. I served with a nice salad and a new cocktail (which I will save for another post.) It’s a great, hearty meal to beat the cold – and the cocktails.

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts, cubed into bite-sized pieces (ok, really, you could use 3-4 and be FINE – I was talked into using all of what I had by the boys.)

1 T EVOO

1 onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced (again, I am obsessed.)

1 lb ham (whatever kind you can find – mine was lunch meat), diced (you could get away with about 1/2 pound here – I used 1/2 in the sauce and 1/2 as a topper)

3 T butter

3 T flour

2 cups milk (whatever you have)

1 8oz brick cream cheese

8 oz provolone, shredded

8 oz colby jack, shredded (Could switch to swiss for a traditional feel)

1 lb short cut pasta

Salt and pepper

Pinch nutmeg

1-2 T Thyme or Italian seasoning

Directions:

Put a pot of water on to boil – once boiling, cook pasta until it still has a bit of bite. Drain. In the meantime…

Over medium high heat, season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in a skillet. Cook almost through, then transfer to a plate.

Add butter and melt, then add ham and onion. Saute about 5 min, until the onion is soft and the ham starts to get some color.

Add garlic, saute 1-2 minutes, until you can smell the garlic.

Add in flour and mix together – let flour cook about 1 minute or so.

Whisk in milk, let come to a bubble and thicken. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Add cheeses and mix until melted.

Add in pasta and chicken and cook for about 5 more minutes, until chicken and pasta are cooked through.

At this point, you could make a breadcrumb topping and bake, or you could serve with ham for a topper. Guess which is easier? 😉

Eat. A lot. And drink. A lot. Trust me, this meal will let you handle it.