Dark Chocolate Orange Biscotti

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Cookies are good. Yes, I enjoy cookies. When Christmas ended, I was at least happy to know that there were leftover cookies in the freezer. But that time has ended. No more Christmas cookies. Sad, I know. However, there is hope. For a long time, we would get individually wrapped biscotti in bulk for the ride to work. They were good. But then my wife starting MAKING biscotti. I will never buy individually wrapped biscotti from a big box store again. Biscotti baking is not complicated – just follow the damn directions!

Wifey can make vanilla bean biscotti, chocolate, chocolate macadamia nut, the list goes on. One of my favorites is what I bring to you: Dark Chocolate Orange Biscotti. Subtle hints of orange come through in the actual biscotti, all then dipped in a smooth layer of dark chocolate. What’s not to like?

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Mushroom Mania : Oyster-Shitake Alfredo

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Do you smell that? Yup…mushrooms again. We just can’t get enough! Still working on the large box of shitake and oyster mushrooms, the wife and I were faced with a decision: how do we finish all of these?! We already did flatbread and stroganoff, but wait – I married an Italian…PASTA! Done and done. While any mushrooms will do, I will say that the shitake and oyster mushrooms provided a distinct taste that went really with a cream sauce. Anyway, get out your favorite pasta and have at it, hoss!

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“A Fungus Among Us” Flatbread

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The wife and I live in a geographic location very famous for mushrooms. It has its pros and cons. We have grown used to the fresh smell of manure on any day at any time. However, we have also come accustomed to cheap-ass mushrooms that have great flavor. We are so spoiled. Or so we thought.

We heard a random knock on our door this weekend and I opened it to one of my wife’s former co-workers with a box full of shitake and oyster mushrooms. We thought we were mushroom snobs before with our $2.50 5 pound bags of white, portabella, and crimini mushrooms. But this took it to a new level. “Just let me know when you run out,” she says. Oh…we will. Clearly, you’ll be hearing more about mushrooms in the coming weeks. Tonight was an easy one – a quick yet sophisticated flatbread.

“A Fungus Among Us” Mushroom-Balsamic Flatbread

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Ingredients

  • Shitake and Oyster Mushrooms (any will do – but these do have great flavor w/the balsamic)
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Flatbread (homemade or store bought)
  • Julienned Red Onion (to your tasted and amount of flatbreads)
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Romano Cheese
  • Roasted Garlic

Cooking

Preheat oven to 375 or directed temp.

  1. Put freshly roasted garlic down on the flatbread (spread if you wish) and top with the onion
  2. Sprinkle fungus throughout the flatbread evenly.
  3. Sprinkled mozzarella and romano evenly on top
  4. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes or directed time
  5. Drizzle balsamic glaze on top like a damn pro

If you really like it crispy, pre-bake the flatbread before putting all the toppings on and then bake again. Goes well with a nice big glass of your favorite red wine. This meal is an EASY way to make a nice dinner after work in little time. One flatbread was actually pretty filling for me and I would definitely have it again. Reheats well for the next day’s lunch as well.

Braised Hunter’s Chicken

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Cold winter weekend nights are the perfect time for a slow-cooked meal. Chili is often a favorite, stews, roasts, you name it. We’re on a budget and cut out eating out, so we wanted a homestyle restaurant-quality meal for dinner. After going back and forth between pork, beef, and chicken, we compromised and decided on chicken thighs. After some brainstorming and the chef-like brains of my wife, hunter’s chicken was created. And it was delicious.

Hunter’s chicken can really be whatever you want it to be. Apparently, it comes from Northern Italy with many variations. Dark meat works best, but other than that it can pretty much be a free-for-all. The wife made this with a mix of veggies, broth, and some red wine. Top it on a bed of polenta and BOOM.

Braised Hunter’s Chicken

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Ingredients

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • 3 Carrots (diced)
  • 2 Cups Red Wine
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Large Tomato (diced)
  • 1 Cup Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
  • Flour

Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 325

  1. Season chicken thighs and dredge in flour. Add olive oil to a dutch oven and brown on all sides on high heat. Remove chicken thighs.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add onions, carrots, and garlic, cooking 2-3 minutes. Pour in the vino, scrape and stir the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper, tomato, mushrooms.
  4. Add chicken and herbs, put on the lid, and cook in oven for 1 hr and 40 minutes.
  5. Serve on top of polenta, wild rice, or mashed potatoes.

Ooey, Gooey, Better-Than-Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

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Ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls. Isn’t that the only way cinnamon rolls should be described? Hot damn. My wife (Italian) overdoes herself in almost all cooking and baking endeavors (to my advantage typically). One day, we received a shipment of flour and all other sorts of baking materials. Of course, my scrooge-like instincts kicked in and asked “what the hell do we need all of this for?” The response was cinnamon rolls. Skeptical, I muttered this and that under my breath and hauled in yet another package from our porch to the spare bedroom.

Weeks later, Christmas morning came along and these amazing cinnamon rolls were served. Holy crap. I never need to even salivate at the thought of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll in the mall. These will do the trick every time. The dough was moist  and buttery, breaking apart by pulling at it with your fingers. The cinnamon filling was so good I could eat it alone. Usually, the table fights for the icing, but every ounce of this thing was spot on. Of course, speaking of icing, the cream cheese icing was a great balance to the cinnamon filling. I think each one of us hacked away at two in one sitting.

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Farro Pilaf with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

Farro with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

Farro is one of my favorite fall/winter grains to cook with, and in my opinion it is vastly underused. It’s hearty, nutty, toothsome, and is packed with fiber and iron, and boasts a good serving of protein as well. Way better than rice, as far as I’m concerned! And because it’s so hearty, it’s the perfect grain to stand up to robust cold-weather flavors and textures. Nuts, meats, gourds, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens… oh and let’s not forget cheese. Mmm.

Awhile back, I had some leftover pork ragu from my tasty Pork and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta recipe, and I obviously wasn’t going to let it go to waste. Wanting to mix it up from my polenta, I grabbed a bag of quick-cooking farro and got to work. The ragu, made from Smithfield Slow Roasted Golden Rotisserie Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin, was so flavorful thanks to the pre-marinated pork and worked beautifully with my farro. All I had to do was toss the ragu with the warm grain and some roasted butternut squash, wilt in some kale and shaved parmesan, and dinner was served! And if you don’t have leftover ragu? It was so easy to make it in the crock pot, just set it in the morning and it will be ready for this recipe by the time you’re ready to prep dinner.

Looking for a quick yet deeeelicious meal to get you through the holiday hustle and bustle? This simple farro pilaf has you covered, my friend.

Farro with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

Farro Pilaf with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

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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.