Fried Dough Stuffed With Pancetta

I am excited to be partaking in an all Italian recipe round up today. My last name is Baldassari, after all;) I have been waiting to share this simple, yet delicious recipe with you all and once I saw this gathering of dishes, I knew it was the perfect time.  I have had fried dough numerous times (zeppole, if we are sticking with the Italian theme) but the first moment I was able to enjoy the savory version was actually on our trip to Italy last year. This fried dough dredged in sea salt and stuffed with pancetta will be your new staple for quick party apps, I promise you!

  I was fed this delectable treat on our first day in Tuscany. We were at our family's inn celebrating Antonio's birthday. The food we were served that first day will always hold a place in my mind for being one of the best meals I have ever partaken in. To call it a meal almost seems to lessen what it was for it was surely an experience. The inn is located in northern Tuscany in the small village of Gragnola. As we were all seated around the tables, the wine and conversation flowing, placed in front of me was a basket of fried dough. 

Little did I know what the next few bites would have in store for me. 

As I stole a roll away from the basket, it was still piping hot. Upon first bite I was firmly taken to what could only be described as foddie nirvana. Such a simple idea, fried dough with the surprise of crunchy sea salt. My taste buds determined it anything but tasting simple. Then, as I watched, everyone around me began to rip their bite sized pufffs of goodness open and stuffed them with the never ending supply of pancetta and proscuitto. The meats were room temperature and it was almost as if the heat from the rolls melted the fat in the meat and it led to one the greatest taste explosions I've ever had the pleasure to experience. 

You can make this a few different ways and I do not promise that mine is the most authentic, but I do promise it is delicious nonetheless. 

I cheated on my dough and just purchased a premade pizza dough, the kind you get in the chilled section of the grocer aisle. I then used my kitchen shears to cut the dough into very small cubes, keeping in mind that once it fries, it bubbles up to twice its size! I got a pound of pancetta and cut each piece in two. I used simple canola oil. 

2 cups oil
1 pizza dough
1 lb pancetta/prosciutto
sea salt

Get the oil ready, I drop a piece of flour in to see if it bubbles and then I know it is ready. Have a plate lined with paper towels ready to go, along with a large slotted spoon. Drop 5-6 cubes of dough in the oil at a time. Once the dough begins to brown, quickly turn them. They can go from done to burn in a quick second, be sure to watch them closely!

Once they are done and still hot, I roll them in a plate full of sea salt. Open them and place the pancetta in immediately and serve. These are much better being devoured while they are still hot. Also, I recommend letting the pancetta get to room temperature before starting the oil. 

Now be sure and check out the other fabulous dishes these great cooks have whipped up for you! You should also find some great tablescape and printable ideas. 

Cocktail: Loveday Potion #9

If you have been around these parts long enough, you know that besides bacon and a good book, I love cocktails. Most of my creations involve bourbon, but sometimes you have to change it up. One of the most interesting parts about creating cocktails is trying to come up with catchy names, My all time favorite is my "Naughty Southerner" and my second favorite would have to be the aptly named "McCall Me Maybe", which was named after my friend, McCall. That drink has led us to the Loveday Potion # 9 fittingly named after my friend, Melanie because, let's be serious, Loveday was begging to be a Valentine's drink. 

When I discussed the drink with Melanie, I asked her what her favorites usually were and she told me she was typically a wine drinker, I can work with that.  Wine actually pairs well in certain cocktails. For this particular one, I actually used a wine refresher, which was a bubbly wine by Barefoot, they sell them in small cans. I mean, hello movie theater;) 

When I set out to make this drink, I was going over possible juices, nectars, fruits etc that would give this drink a pink or red hue. I wanted to make a muddled raspberry version but at the last minute decided that pomegranate and pineapple would work well together for this cocktail. I have used them together before and wanted to try out how they would do with just each other and a little wine, no additional liquor. 

I like what I came up with and this drink can easily be made non alcoholic if you used ginger-ale or sparkling cider in lieu of the sparkling wine. 

I also used frozen pineapple versus ice. I prefer to do that with wine/champagne cocktails as they lessen the watered down taste you get when you use ice. 

As another note, I also had some prosecco on hand and made a second version using that. I think I swayed towards that a little more just because the prosecco was a little sweeter while the other version was more tart. They are both really yummy though!

LoveDay Potion #9 

1 1/2 oz pomegranate juice
1 oz pineapple
3 oz sparkling wine/spritzer
chunks frozen pineapple (optional)

Whimsy Travel: Las Vegas

It may have taken me til I was 37 to get to Vegas, but rest assured we did it right. I mentioned in last week's post that we hit up Sedona/Scottsdale on our way to Vegas for my brother's 40th birthday. I have been pretty much all over the country, but never made it to Sin City til now. I will admit that there was tons more that I wanted to do, but we were having such a good time with some of our favorite people, I barely noticed what I missed out on. I will simply say that other than our Omnia experience, the Neon Museum is a must!

We stayed at Caesars and it was the perfect location on the Strip. It also houses Omnia nightclub which was, by far, the best "club" experience I have ever been privy to, including NYC, LA & Miami. It also probably cost more than each of those previous visits combined. Gulp. I will only say it was worth it. Look, when you are old, you will pay some cash money to have a table to sit at;) 

We had dinner at the Paris Hotel the first night we were there and my steak was incredible. We were supposed to eat at the Bellagio but there was the little detail of a shooting in front of the hotel and the Strip was closed off. I ended up happy with my meal and I won 55 bucks at the slot machine in The Paris, so I had no complaints. We headed back Caesars and gambled for a good bit. 

This is where I give my advice on Caesars. If you happen to get put in the Forum Tower, you must insist that you are on the 60th floor or above. I got in bed and my entire bed was knocking and not that kinda way. It happens to be directly above the Vista Club and it sounded like Calvin Harris himself was DJing in the room next door. Luckily for us, management was great and moved us (upgrade, cha ching) to the Palace Tower and we got an awesome suite. My other favorite part of Caesars was the attached mall. Completely crazy and the H & M came complete with a DJ spinning at 1pm. 

Saturday we kind of putzed around, enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast ( or you know, it was noon, so lunch) of a nutella and crema crepe. So beyond divine and then we got completely lost and I wanted an uber to pick me up from inside the casino because it was so insanely expansive and I am nothing if not lazy. 

That night we enjoyed dinner at Seersuckers in Caesars and it was incredible. My salmon was fantastic but, at the end of the was salmon. However, we got sweet and spicy calamari steaks and potato and pork belly hash for appetizers and, suffice it to say, I could easily devour both of them every meal going forward. I also indulged in a spicy strawberry margarita. More spicy than not. 

Then it was time for Omnia and it was legitimately an experience I will never forget. There were 10 of us so that made it easier to split the minimum you have to spend to guarantee bottle service and a table.I just have zero interest in waiting in a two hour line and then being squished trying to dance. Maybe when I was in my twenties, shot. Once we were in, we were led to our "table"  I am pretty sure they inadvertently gave our table away and that is how we ended up in one of the two suites they offer, I don't know and I don't care. Our suite was directly above the DJ and it came complete with our own bodyguard. Not a bad night. The LED chandelier was rather insane. It twisted and twirled and lights changed rapidly, pulsing to the beat. The chandelier alone was worth a visit to Omnia. 

And then I never went to bed. I was so pumped for the night I just couldn't calm down. Then the next afternoon we grabbed a bite and went to check out the Neon Museum. By far, one of my absolute favorite parts of the trip. This was so neat and I ascertained so much more background about Vegas than I had expected. The tour lasted roughly an hour. If you are able to take a night time tour, do that. I had an amazing time on the afternoon tour but I can only imagine how awesome it would be with all the lights lit up!

Our last event as a group was to catch the fountains at the Bellagio and then head downtown to Fremont St. Boith were fun and free, I am a fan of fun and I am an even bigger fan of free. 

Raleigh Blog Society: Galentine's Brunch

I am lucky enough to live in an area that houses a plethora of bloggers. Due to this, I am able to attend many events with great women who fully understand what "Blogger Life" entails. One of the fabulous groups I am a part of is Raleigh Bloggers Society. This weekend we held our second annual Galantine's Brunch.  

Brunch and Bloggers. Sign me up every time! Meghan and Kate always put together such fantastic gatherings. 

The event was held at the lovely office of Frill and each beautiful touch added to the experience. I created a cocktail for the event, I coined it "Blush Crush" and it was a mimosa with guava nectar and pineapple juice. Just right for a brunch and perfectly "blush" colored for Valentine's. We were treated to fabulous dishes that each girl brought with them and we were gifted with these stunning hand panted gift bags by Write Nice By Betty  . They truly were incredible and you must check out her Etsy Shop. 

These gorgeous photos were taken by Chris of Nieto Photography
Here are links to all the lovely ladies who were in attendance.   Wine and CoutureGirly LoveBoho Chic CafeChampagne and SuburbsHashtag Fab Life,  HMS Jewels,Make Today a Holly DayA Style of Her Own; Courtney FashionistaSara Kate StylingDanielle Davis Style and The Ultimate Fashionista.

Whimsy Travel: Sedona and The Red Rocks

I wish I had the words to adequately describe just how much I loved Sedona, but I am not sure I possess them. This tranquil and gorgeous place stole my heart in the shortest of visits. Our trip to Sedona lasted a mere two hours but that was more than enough time to solidify a meaningful place in my heart.

We stopped by Sedona on our way to Vegas after having a quick visit with our friends in Scottsdale. I was not able to give this majestic spot the time it was so deserving of, but what precious few moments I did have here, it garnered my full attention.

I should have known what I was in for when about an hour out of Sedona, this was the view that awaited me from the rest stop! Definite winner for rest area views that I have stumbled upon this far in my life!

Mini Chicken & Waffles With a Spicy Whiskey Cider Sauce

This is one of those recipes that you can totally whip up in fifteen minutes, unless you want to make it all from scratch. In that case, have at it and just use my recipe for the sauce. It is delicious and is perfect appetizer for a large gathering. I made this for book club and my friends were raving about it. I must say that these mini chicken and waffles served with a whiskey cider sauce may be one of my favorite recipe creations to date. 

This is a recipe that Sandra Lee would coin "semi homemade" I not only used mini eggo waffles, I was in a crazy hurry and whipped into the line at our local PDQ and ordered a dozen chicken tenders. So yeah, let's not pretend I slaved in the kitchen over this all day. However, what makes this particular version so tantalizing is the addition of my whiskey cider sauce. It will leave you craving more, this I pretty much guarantee. 

If you want to make your own, just grab some chicken tenderloins, cut them in half, season and bread them and fry them up. I did this the second time I made these and while they were just as good...I spent more time and made a large mess, so for me...Hi PDQ. You could also use any breaded chicken tenders from Tysons or any other brand and cook them ahead of time. 

With that said, once you have your chicken ready to go, you're set. 

2 dozen chicken tenders 
2 dozen mini chicken waffles
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tbsp spicy brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder

Toast the waffle sheets and break apart into single pieces. With a toothpick, place chicken piece on top of waffle. Set aside. In a small sauce pan, place all remaining ingredients. Turn heat on high and whisk continuously, until sauce begins to bubble. Lower heat to medium and continue to whisk until it begins to thicken. Once it has thickened, using a spoon, ladle the sauce over top of the chicken and waffles. Serve immediately.

Now let your family fawn over you. It is well deserved. 

I used a dozen chicken tenders and cut them in half. You could also use nuggets, but I preferred the tenders. The crispier the better. Keep in mind that each waffle piece has 4 mini waffles, so you should only need 6 waffle sheets to make 24. 

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