Gingerbread Biscotti Cookies

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If you have ever wondered what the italian word “biscotti” means, it means “cooked twice”. Once you read my recipe you will understand. The cookie gets its crunchy perfection by the way its baked. My Christmas baking definitely isn’t complete until I bake a batch of biscotti cookies! This year I decided to make some gingerbread flavored biscottis because I love gingerbread! I also had some leftover crushed gingerbread cookies and almonds from my chocolate candy recipe.

Yield: 10

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup roasted almonds; crushed
1/2 cup gingerbread cookies; crushed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick); cubed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs;

Frosting:
1/2 cup white melting chocolate
Sprinkles

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, sugars, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Add in eggs, butter, and syrup until dough is formed. With a wooden spoon add in crushed almonds and gingerbread cookies.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form a 12-14 inch by 4 inch log. Bake for 20 minutes.

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3. Bake until top of dough is cracked and light brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and then with a serrated knife, slice on an angle and arrange cookies back on sheet and back for another 5 minutes. Then turn cookies on other side (to get a crunch) and bake for another 5 minutes. Put on cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

4. In the meantime, melt chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes in a large bowl (so you can place cookie in it). Once cookies are cooled, dunk one of the bottoms in the bowl of frosting and with a butter knife, scrape the extra drippings of frosting off–this will make it look neater and it will prevent sloppy drippings. Top chocolate with sprinkles and let cool until dry!

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Italian Style Pork Chops

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Sometimes the simplest meals are the best meals, and this one is definitely one of my favorite pork dishes!

Yield: 8

Ingredients:
8 pork chops cut 1/2 inch thick
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup whole milk (whole milk will make the breading stick better as opposed to reduced fat or fat-free)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Steps:
1. In 2 medium-sized open bowls, crack 3 eggs and milk and whisk together. In another bowl, add bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

2. The best and most efficient way to do this is to form an assembly-type line. First- the plate of uncooked pork chops, second- the egg mixture, third- the breadcrumbs, and fourth- a large empty plate to put the breaded pork chops. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder on uncooked pork chops before coating.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and heat a large frying pan on medium heat with oil. With tongs (or your hands), place pork chop in egg mixture and be sure to cover both sides, then transfer to bread crumb mixture and make sure bread crumbs are evenly coated both sides. Repeats until all pork chops are done.

4. Next, place 4 pork chops at a time in large frying pan and cook for 3 minutes on each sides. They will NOT be completely cooked! Once all pork chops have been fried, put on large baking sheet and place in oven for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle more parmesan cheese and parsley on top when serving!

Italian Chopped Salad

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If you love eating salami and cheese but feel guilty eating it, put it in a salad!

Yield: 4

Ingredients:
4 cups romaine lettuce; chopped
2 cups baby spinach; chopped
15 slices of salami; chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup cucumbers; chopped
1/4 cup roasted peppers; chopped
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts; chopped
1 roma tomato; chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp basalmic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of oregano

Steps:
1. In a large salad bowl, mix all the ingredients with tongs except for oil and vinegar. To make the dressing, in a cup add olive oil and basalmic vinegar and with a fork whisk together. Add in a pinch of oregano, salt, and pepper and drizzle over salad mixing with tongs. EASY!

Parmesean Pesto Spaghetti

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This dish is so simple and literally only takes 15 minutes from start to finish. There is no excuse not to make this dish! You can also use whole wheat pasta for this dish for a healthier kick.

Yield: 8

Ingredients:
1 lb spaghetti
1 tsp fresh garlic; finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh pesto

Steps:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season water well with salt. When water starts to boil add spaghetti and cook for 9-11 minutes or until pasta is el dente.

2. Drain cooked spaghetti and put in a large serving bowl. Drizzle olive oil, pesto, and sprinkle parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, and parsley over the top. Season with salt and pepper if needed. With tongs, mix pasta until it is combined well with breadcrumbs and cheese. Thats it! So easy and quick!

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

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Yield: 4

Ingredients:
20 asparagus spears
10 thin slices of prosciutto; cut in half vertically
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Break ends off of asparagus spears; then wash and dry them. Lay spears on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, and lightly add salt and pepper(prosciutto can be salty so go easy).

2. With tongs or your hands, evenly coat spears with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Then preheat oven to a high broil.

3. Once spears are cool enough to hold, wrap a piece of the prosciutto half around. Repeat with all spears and then broil for 5-7 minutes.