Tag Archive for Tomatoes

Bruschetta and Goat Cheese Crostini

We’ve been making versions of bruschetta for nice and summer like appetizers for a long, long time. So, when we were asked to do a cooking demonstration at a local farmer’s market in Atlanta, this was a natural choice.

We wanted to showcase local produce vendors and thought this would be a great way to do so. We researched other vendors at the market and decided that Will’s Farm, Capra Gia Cheese Company and Sweetwater Growers were perfect fits for our tomatoes, goat cheese and basil ingredients, super fresh and super delicious!

The bruschetta was a huge hit, even with a couple of Italian women who know what good bruschetta is all about. We were so excited! We hope you enjoy the Bruschetta and Goat Cheese Crostini too.

Now, we currently only sell the McNack’s Six-C Spice Blend at farmer’s markets. Reach out to us if you are interested! If not, just leave that part out and add some salt and pepper to taste. It’s not the same but is very good.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 20min; Cook Time – 10 min

Ingredients:

4-6 Ripe Tomatoes
10-12 Leaves of Basil
6 Cloves of Garlic
1T McNack’s Six-C Spice Blend ©
6oz Goat Cheese
2 T Olive Oil
2T Balsamic Vinegar
1T Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil for crostini
Baguette

How to make Bruschetta and Goat Cheese Crostini:

Make a vinaigrette with the olive oil, mustard and balsamic vinegar. Whisk together.

Dice the tomatoes in a small dice. Mince the garlic. Cut the basil into a chiffonade. Add the McNack’s Six-C Spice Blend ©. Set in refrigerator for an hour or more to let the flavors blend together.

Slice the baguette on a bias into ¼” thick slices. Brush with olive oil and place on a grill or in a 400 degree oven until toasted but not hard.

Let the goat cheese come to room temperature. Smear goat cheese on the crostini and top with the bruschetta.

Important Tips:

Fresh quality ingredients are the key!! Fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden and amazing goat cheese will turn this ‘simple’ every day dish into something your friends are begging for!

Variations:

There are lots of ways to make this different and amazing. Subscribe to McNack’s and you’ll find some great ideas.

Got Leftovers?:

This is great with pasta. Just cook your favorite pasta shape, sauté some of the bruschetta and toss with the warm, cooked pasta for a great dish. Add parmesan and olive oil as needed.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta

Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta is a cross between tabouli, pasta and traditional couscous. It has all the yumminess of any traditional Middle Eastern cuisine…feta, olives, tomatoes, chickpeas….my mouth is watering just thinking about it! It really is very easy to make. It’s more of an “assembly” dish than it is a “cooking” dish, although the couscous does have to be cooked! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 15 min.

Ingredients:

2 cups Israeli Couscous

4 cups Chicken Broth (substituting water is not an option with this)

cherry tomatoes, halved

Kalamata olives, halved,

feta cheese, crumbled

chickpeas

fresh mint, chopped

Fresh lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

Preparing Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta:

Bring chicken broth to a boil and add the couscous. Cook for about 6-7 minutes or until soft. Drain and put in large mixing bowl to let cool. Add desired amounts of remaining ingredients.(Please make sure that your couscous is cool enough before adding the feta, otherwise it will start to melt a bit). Add fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve!

Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta

Meal Ideas:

I served this with Mediterranean Bread Salad and Grilled Chicken with Tzatiki Sauce. 

Got Leftovers?:

This is fantastic as a leftover! You can eat it cold or hot. So versatile!

We seriously need to talk geography!! Israeli Couscous for Greek week!  I know Israel and Greece are ‘close’ to each other….but it’s GREEK week! ~Melissa

You knew what you were getting yourself into when you said, “Hey…let’s do a blog together!” ~Denise

Rolling on the floor laughing out loud…..yes, yes I did! ~Melissa

Pork Loin Roast with Mango and Tomato Chutney

moist bone in pork loin roast with chutney

I’ve made a lot of pork loin roasts in my day and I have mixed results on how tender and juicy they turn out. I know that cooking things with the bones still in helps keep things juicy so I grabbed a nice 8 rib bone in pork loin roast at the grocery and brought it home. Now, how to make this pork roast moist, juicy, tender and delicious?!

I think I found it! I think my troubles of sometimes moist and sometimes not so moist are over! Hallelujah! See, I’ve tried a lot of different methods: searing it first, roasting at high temperature, baking at 350, grilling, and combinations of all the above. but, this was the BEST bone in pork loin roast I have ever made and I’m not sure why I’d ever do anything else!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required:Prep Time – 45min; Cook Time – 2 hours

Ingredients for pork loin roast with mango and tomato chutney:

1 bone in pork loin roast (mine was 8 bones)

Coarse Kosher Salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Country Style Dijon Mustard

6 cloves garlic, minced

Mango and Tomato Chutney

2 cups mango, diced

2 cups tomatoes, diced

2 green chilis, diced (how to cut a pepper), I used jalepenos because I’ve got so many right now

1/2 cup sugar

3T salt

2t mustard seeds

2t cayenne (I made this with a little heat but you can add less (or more) to suit your pallet)

2T oil 

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Roasting pan

How to make juicy pork loin roast:

Let the pork loin roast come to room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare pork loin roast by rubbing all over generously with salt, pepper, garlic and Dijon mustard. Top, bottom and sides.

Cook in oven at 400 degrees on just above middle rack for 45 minutes. It should be getting some nice brown parts on top.

how to make juicy pork loin roast

While in the oven, make the chutney. Here is the recipe for the chutney but the only thing I did different was let it cook down longer so not quite as chunky. Most of the tomatoes had broken down. If you cook it while the roast cooks, it should be perfect.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cover pork loin roast in chutney (you will probably have some chutney to reserve which I used to warm up my leftovers the next day) and cook for another hour to hour and 15 minutes internal temperature is 150 degrees.

moist bone in pork loin roast with chutney

Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes while you finish your last minute things. When prepared to serve, you can either serve full bone-in pork loin chops by cutting the pork loin with ribs in tact or you can remove the ribs and cut the meat in whatever sizes you want.

pork loin roast with mango and tomato chutney

Because I have kids to serve too, I chose the latter. Remove the ribs by slicing as close to the bones as possible all the way down. Then you can slice the pork loin into thin slices. I enjoyed eating the ribs later!

Top with the juices from the pan (which if too thick, add some chicken stock and simmer, scraping up the bits on the bottom) and serve. You will not be disappointed!!! I promise. I almost didn’t call everyone to dinner and just ate the full thing by myself. SOOOO good.

bone in pork loin roast with mango and tomato chutney

Important Tips:

The oven! 450 degrees for 45 minutes and 325 degrees until done. This was perfection for moistness. Now, if you do a pork loin roast without the bones, that will be different. I’d try 20 minutes at 450 degrees (or until brown on top) and then go to 325 degrees which will be a lot shorter than an hour since it doesn’t have bones.

Variations:

You could use different flavors in the chutney. Apples, peaches, and onions all come to mind as well as the mangoes, tomatoes and peppers. Pick two or three and try it! Just don’t vary the method in the oven.

Meal Ideas:

I served this with spinach pie and brown rice.

Got Leftovers?:

For leftovers, I heat the sauce and not the meat. Then let the thinly sliced meat soak in the sauce for a minute. Reheating the meat will just cook it and take out all of the moistness.

Tip Tuesday: How to grow tomatoes in your urban garden

It’s the first day of April!! Time to plant your urban garden if you live just about anywhere in the US other than Alaska, the Dakotas and Minnesota.

So, with planting will come awesome fresh tomatoes that have that distinctive grown in the garden taste you can’t get at a grocery store.

salt tomatoes in advance

For Tip Tuesday we are giving you:

How to grow tomatoes in your urban garden

This is not easy since tomatoes are amazing but it is hard to get fantastic tomatoes year round.

  1. When you plant them in your garden, bury them higher than the root ball is at the store. Maybe 6 or more inches up the plant. You’ll be rewarded with a very sturdy base.
  2. Although many like organic and no chemicals, in the South I find it hard to keep the bugs off without something. If you’ve got tips, let us know!!
  3. Throughout the growing season, you will need to pinch off ‘suckers’. This is where a branch of the tomatoes is growing and makes a Y at the base of the vine but then another branch tries to grow out of the middle of the Y. This is a sucker and will not let your vine be strong or your fruit grow big. Pinch those off.
  4. Use a cage or something to help support the vines as they grow. We plant ours in the front of our house so we use sticks to do it instead. It looks like a garden from Williamsburg and is very pretty.
  5. When it is time to eat your tomatoes, don’t put them in the fridge. They taste better if they don’t see the cold.
  6. Remember to always slice tomatoes with a serrated knife
  7. Salt them up to an hour before you are going to eat them. You’ll love the enhanced flavor!!
  8. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy some fried green tomatoes too!!

what to do with fried green tomatoes

For more great tips, visit: http://mcnackskitchen.com/kitchen-basics/tips-and-tricks/

Lightened-up chicken cutlet with a taste of summer

chicken tomatoes feta

I’ve made versions of this many times. I never really make it the same way twice because it usually depends on the season, what’s fresh and what I have on hand. Regardless, the general preparation is the same and it is a little bit of summer in your mouth even in the middle of winter!

When I made this the other night, I was out of eggs so I did not bread it like I normally would a chicken cutlet (flour, egg wash, bread crumbs). So, I was thinking through what I had on hand that would help the Panko adhere to the chicken. I scoured the pantry and fridge and then I saw it, that golden jar of deliciousness that would do just the trick…Dijon Mustard!!

Well, since I was already going a bit light, I opted to go really light by not sautéing the cutlet, instead, I opted to bake it. Here is a recipe for making this for your loved ones.
   chicken tomatoes feta

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 20min; Cook Time – 20 min

Ingredients for 4:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts prepared into a cutlet or 4 already prepared cutlets. You’ll want to pound them to even thickness and to help tenderize too.

2 cups of panko bread crumbs

4 T Dijon Mustard

salt and pepper

Fresh summer salad option 1 (pictured)

2 cups grape tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 cup fresh corn, grilled and removed from cob (I use leftovers!)

1/2 cup feta, crumbled

salt and pepper

Fresh summer salad option 2 (not that there are only 2 options!)

1 cup red grape tomatoes, diced

1 cup yellow/orange cherry tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup basil cut in a chiffonade

1/2 cup feta, crumbled

1 ripe avocado, diced

salt and pepper

juice of 1 lime

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make chicken cutlets as directed in the link above (including pounding them),  salt and pepper the breasts, coat with 1 T Dijon mustard, and then dredge in the Panko bread crumbs. Repeat for all cutlets and set on a baking sheet (cover baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup).

Dice the tomatoes and place in bowl. Add the basil and add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place chicken in oven on middle rack.

While it starts cooking, add the feta to the tomatoes but don’t stir. If doing option 1, add the rest of the summer salad ingredients but just stir once right before you add to the chicken. If doing option 2, dice the avocado and add to the bowl but again, don’t stir. Juice the lime over the avocado and add a bit more salt and pepper. You’ll stir it gently right before you top the chicken with it. Stir too much and you’ll mush up the avocado and feta

Cook the chicken for about 15-20 minutes depending on thickness. When the cutlets are close to done, bump up the temperature to broil. Don’t walk too far away. You just want to get some ‘browness’ on the top of the chicken breasts. Just don’t overcook it!

Remove from oven and top generously with the summer salad. Serve with your favorite sides. In the picture it is served with steamed broccoli and scalloped potatoes. The other night, I served with brown rice and steamed broccoli to keep with the lightened theme. In fact, for the entire meal, there was not one ounce of fat added!! 

(of course, if you want the uber tasty version, skip the mustard, bread with flour, egg wash and Panko then sauté in olive oil instead of baking)

Important Tips:

Don’t over stir and don’t over cook!! It’s that simple.

Variations:

Have fun with the summer salad!! Add what you like. I use grape tomatoes in the winter because they taste good all year round.

Dinner for 37 with no plan – Savannah themed meal

Ok, so McNack’s is always ‘preaching’ about how to prepare in advance for a big party and that without adequate preparation, who knows what will happen.

Well, I’ve been just a wee bit busy and realized that I committed to dinner for what was going to be 37 people at my house in less than 48 hours and I had no real plan. I definitely voluntarily invited my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop and their families to dinner and I wanted to do this. But, well, then life happened.

I also committed to making the theme of the meal “Savannah” as this is the year we take the girls to see the home of Juliet Gordon Lowe in Savannah (she’s the founder of the Girl Scouts). Hmm!? Now what?

First things first – I needed a menu. It was both kids and adults so I needed to be very kid friendly. So here is what I decided:

Savannah Themed Meal

Kids Menu:

Fried Chicken (plan was order from Chick-fil-a, see below for reality)

Macaroni and Cheese

Fruit (strawberries and grapes)

Chips

and whatever they want off the ‘adult’ menu

Adult Menu:

Homemade Pimento Cheese

Grilled Spicy Shrimp

Fried Green Tomatoes

Deviled Eggs

Cilantro Slaw

Sautéed Greens with Sausage

Desserts (I reached out to the parents who offered to help… when you need it, use it! Nothing wrong with that!) We had peach cobbler, a dessert bar one of the mom’s used to make when she lived in Savannah, brownies and cookies. Thanks ladies!!

An assortment of kid friendly and adult friendly beverages. Thanks again for those who helped in this arena too!!

The Last Minute Plan:

The good thing is nothing I was making was that difficult, it was just a lot. I went to the stores (all of them) the day before and reached out for help on the desserts. I went to order the nuggets from Chick-fil-a when it dawned on me the party was on Sunday! OMG! Now what? I love that Chick-fil-a is not open on Sunday but I was in a bind. While I was freaking out on my way to my car at my local grocer (Publix), the boy helping me out suggested I check with their deli. Duh!! Thanks! That worked out great.

I went ahead and made the pimento cheese and slaw, cut the fruit, sautéed the sausage, made the remoulade sauce, finished the deviled eggs and grated the cheese. I then got my tables and paper goods ready to go.

The day of I finished getting the house ready, got the serving, drinking and eating areas all setup and finalized the rest of the food. That included: marinating, grilling, and peeling the shrimp; making the mac n’ cheese; sautéing the greens; preparing the fried green tomatoes; and picking up the chicken tenders from the store (thanks Mark xoxo). Easy Peasy!!

Most everything was ready when guests arrived other than frying the tomatoes, getting the buffet area finalized, getting drinks for folks and other last minute things.

As typical for me, I made a whole lot more than I should have. Note to self: think about your guests. 60lb girls don’t eat as much as 200lb men. Oops. Leftovers!

All joking aside, it was fun. The girls had a nice ceremony and played well together. The parents had a nice time getting to know each other better. Looking forward to a great year!

dinner party without a plan

Grilled Pita with Tomato, Olives and Feta

Grilled Pita with Tomato Onion and Feta

I made Grilled Pita with Tomato, Olives and Feta as an appetizer for the 4th of July. I had never grilled pita before and thought I’d try it for the first time with some of my favorites foods and flavors all mixed together. Oh my goodness! It was one of the best things I had ever tasted and took virtually no time to prepare

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min; Cook Time – 5 minutes

Ingredients for 12 people:

6 roma tomatoes, chopped

3/4 c. of mixed olives, finely chopped

1/4 c. red onion

3 T. olive oil

4 T. fresh mint, chopped

6 pitas (I used whole wheat)

1 c. crumbled feta cheese

Preparing Grilled Pita with Tomato, Olives and Feta:

Preheat Grill to medium-high heat. Put first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Grilled Pita with Tomato Onion and Feta

Brush one side of each pita with a bit of olive oil. Place pitas oiled side down on the grill for about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn pitas over and top with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook for an additional 2 minutes with the grill closed, until the mixture is warm.

Grilled Pita with Tomato Onion and Feta

Variations:

You could really top these pitas with just about any of your favorite ingredients. You can even make pizzas out of them! I made them as appetizer and cut them into wedges to serve, but there is no reason why you can’t serve them as an entire meal!