Endless Christmas Cookies: Fluffernutter Candies

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I’m pretty sure my wife has made more cookies than Mrs. Clause does this time of year. Awful, I know. There’s the nostalgic cookies that remind us both of our families, then the cookies made because they are Italian and that’s what Italians do, the experimentals … the list goes on. This year, we introduced fluffernuter candies to the list. First off, if you like peanut butter, then you’ll love these. Secondly, they are very easy to make – no baking required.

These crack-like substances are made from four things: Ritz crackers, peanut butter, fluff, and chocolate. Sandwich a rich and luscious mixture of peanut butter and fluff between two Ritz crackers. STOP. DO NOT eat the sandwich. You will be tempted for sure. Then, dip these scrumptious sandwiches in melted chocolate until submerged. That’s it. Friends and family will be impressed (if you have any left by the time the holidays come around). Make sure you find a good spot to forget about them until then…because you can’t eat just one.

In case you need a “real” recipe, here it is:

Ingredients:

  • Ritz Crackers
  • Peanut Butter
  • Fluff
  • Melting Chocolates
  1. Mix together peanut butter and fluff to a ratio of your liking (half and half works well)
  2. Spread mixture onto cracker and top with another cracker
  3. Melt melting chocolates in microwave
  4. Dip/cover sandwiches in melted chocolate and let them cool

Yes…it is that easy. You’re welcome.

Pork Tenderloin over Risotto

Roasted Pork Loin over Pumpkin Risotto

Pork Tenderloin over Risotto
Tis the season to impress your friends with your culinary prowess at a holiday dinner party. Enter… Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork! I kid you not, I made the BEST meal the other night and all my guests raved about it, but it was secretly was easier than it looked, thanks to this pork tenderloin.

I’d been craving risotto (which is truly way easier to make from scratch than it sounds, don’t be scared!) but I wanted some protein to round out the meal. This bacon-encrusted pork tenderloin was the perfect companion to the slightly sweet, rich risotto – and because it was preseasoned all I had to do was put the tenderloin in the oven, then take it out and slice it when it was done, throw it on top of the homemade risotto, and enjoy my masterpiece. Talk about elevated comfort food at its finest!

The other star of the show? That gorgeous purple cauliflower, which added such a beautiful pop of color alongside the pink pork, green beans, and orange risotto. But if you can’t find rainbow cauliflower at your local grocery store, of course regular ol’ white cauliflower will taste just as good.

Roasted Pork Loin over Pumpkin Risotto

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Dijon & Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

Dijon and Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

Dijon & Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

It’s time to start thinking about those holiday meal main dishes. You know, the pièce de résistance that makes your guests ooh and ahh and wonder how you pulled it all off. Usually these centerpieces involve some kind of delicious meat, and this recipe from our peeps at the Texas Beef Council is no different.

What is different about this recipe, though, its simplicity. Still very beautiful and impressive, but without that miles-long list of ingredients that lots of holiday recipes mandate. As long as you have a nice piece of beef roast rubbed with a couple easy seasonings, the festive sauce falls into place, then ta-da! Dinner is served. A little bit savory and a little bit sweet, this roast sounds like the perfect thing to bring to your holiday table.

Dijon & Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

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Turkey Extravaganza: Move Over Gobbler

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If you are a typical American, you likely still have turkey in the fridge and there are ongoing arguments about the date to throw out all of the food that someone said will be eaten. I believe the turkey can still be saved! While the gobbler sandwich (delicious roll embarrassing and unhealthy stack of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and often potatoes) is delicious, us Americans have short attention spans. Fear not America, there is another way to get your fill of leftovers before they kick the can.

Turkey salad. A festive spin on your chicken salad that includes the flavors of Thanksgiving. The sandwich is quite simple to make. I enjoyed mine atop a freshly baked roll. With just the right amount of mayo, the turkey salad provides a savory taste of Thanksgiving with a crunch of celery (the only thing celery is good for is texture), followed by sweetness of cranberries. I tell you folks – this may replace my gobbler. Bonus – you can bring this to work in a container without dropping all of the drippings on your tie. You’re welcome. Here’s the recipe:

Turkey Salad Sandwich

– Turkey (shredded or chopped into smaller pieces)

– Mayo (some like it loaded with mayo, some enjoy just a tiny bit) – think of how much you would add for chicken or tuna salad

– Chopped celery

– Dried cranberries (or just add cranberry sauce spread on your roll)

– Thinly sliced sage

– Salt and Pepper

– Onion chopped into small pieces

– Pinch of garlic powder

 

Take all ingredients and mix into a bowl. Put this on a sandwich, use crackers, melt cheese on top, eat it from a bowl. Whatever – it’s good.

 

The Filet Mignon of Thanksgiving Leftovers

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I know we all love scrounging through our post-turkey day fridges to figure out how we can quickly use up Thanksgiving leftovers (eggs over stuffing anyone?) But actually Thanksgiving, rather than exhausting me on cooking, often gets me inspired to do more in the kitchen. So I was stoked to come across this wonderful wintry recipe from Chef Kamran Naseem of Manhattan’s Reserve Cut. Chef Naseem’s filet mignon gets a little something extra, courtesy of ingredients a lot of us will have left over in the fridge this week — squash, brussels sprouts, pecans, and of course red wine. Oh, and there’s some pastrami up in here, because yes.

Filet Mignon with Brussel Sprout Medley

 

Ingredients:

2cups Brussel sprout leaves
1T shallot
1T Garlic
1/4 cup squash (diced & sauteed)
2T pecans (toasted)
1T maple syrup
1T Red Wine vinaigrette
1/4 cup pastrami (chopped)
1t chile flake

Directions for the Brussel Sprout Medley:
In a hot pan, add canola oil then the Brussel sprouts. Add shallot and garlic, followed by squash and pecan. Add maple syrup and let reduce. Deglaze with red wine vinegar and then finish with pastrami, chile flake and salt.

Directions for the Filet Mignon:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and generous amount of ground black pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium. Transfer steaks to plate. Tent with foil. Boil 1 cup of garlic cloves until very soft, purée, add ¼ cup olive oil, water to thin.  Then Salt. Spoon over steak.

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

Pork and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

I think we can all agree that November = prime fall comfort food time. It’s also starting to turn into prime busy time with holiday prep, days that are shorter and darker (ugh), and trying to wrap up all sorts of projects before the end of the year. You know what this means: it’s slow cooker time. Aw yeah!

Slow cookers make everything easy, but Smithfield is taking fall cooking simplicity to the next level with their marinated pork. You seriously don’t have to do anything besides cook it, and you have a flavorful main dish ready for anything you want to pair with it! I made this tasty ragu with a marinated fresh pork tenderloin, so it’s a bit leaner than some other cuts of pork, but still packed with protein… it’s still so tender and it’s a great slightly lighter option in these pre-Thanksgiving days.

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

This recipe is simple comfort food at its finest, and you’re not going to feel weighed down by the cooking process or the dish itself. Score!

Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta

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scarecrows-lean-cocktail

Cocktail O’ Clock: The Scarecrow’s Lean

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Thanksgiving is a time for cooking, sure, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s also a time for… drinking. While a bottle of cheap wine always does the trick, sometimes you want something a little fancier to wow the family and friends. This cocktail from The Honeymoon in Houston is the perfect mix of sweet, savory, and just elegant enough to impress your crowds of holiday guests. Bottoms up!

 

The Scarecrow’s Lean

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