“Osso Buco” with Rigatoni

Traditionally Osso Buco is prepared with veal shank, but I decided to try it out with chicken legs, for a lighter version. I highly recommend it!

The chicken is slowly stewed in sauce, then the chicken is pulled from the bone, added back to the sauce, and then tossed all together with rigatoni. It’s delicious with crusty bread, butter, and a big glass of dark red wine.

Chicken Osso Buco with Rigatoni – 4 servings
8 skinless chicken legs
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil + for pasta
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Freshly grated orange zest, from 1 orange
1/8 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups penne
1/8 cup parsley, chopped (optional)

Lightly coat drumsticks with flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large ovenproof sautepan over medium heat. Add drumsticks and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic to skillet and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add wine and scrape up any brown bits. Add tomato sauce, chicken stock, zest, and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add thyme and bay leaf.  Add the browned chicken and any juices, continue cooking, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, place a baking sheet on the lower rack (just in case anything spills). Cover pan and bake, until chicken is cooked through, 20–30 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the oven.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook penne until al dente. Drain, toss with a little olive oil and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the sauce, and set on a dish.  Set sauce over medium-high heat until cooked down and thick.  Using a fork, pull chicken meat off the bone, make sure theirs no bones, add the chicken pieces to the thickened sauce.

Stir well, and add pasta.  Cook on low until heated through and everything is coated.

To serve, spoon chicken and pasta mixture into individual bowls and garnish with minced parsley if you like.

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It’s also really great as leftovers, just reheat on low in a pan, or place in a baking dish and top with freshly grated provolone, 350 F, bake for 10 minutes covered, then 5 minutes to brown.


Chicken with Peppers and Lime on Rice

This was one of those nights where our normal chicken options were not cutting it, and I didn’t have tortilla wraps for fajitas.  So I started with chicken, Mexican oregano, peppers, red onion, and lime – I combined it all, and decided rice would make it a complete meal.  So here you have it! 

Also, there is no salt in this dish – so if you wish to add some, do so in your own individual plate.

Chicken with Peppers and Lime on a bed of Sesame Lime Rice – 2 servings
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 lb chicken breast, trim any fat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lime, sliced in half, zest
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
Olive oil
1 cup rice
Toasted Sesame seed

Place bite size chicken in a bowl, and toss with Mexican oregano, set aside.

In a large sautepan over medium-low heat, heat oil, add veggies and cook until lightly browned and soft. Meanwhile prepare rice according to package directions. Continue with the rest while rice cooks.

Remove veggies from the pan, add chicken. Squeeze half the lime on the chicken, and add the lime to the pan, cut side down. Cook fully and until browned, remove the lime. Add the veggies back to the pan
and toss together.

When the rice done add a pinch of lime zest and sesame seeds, mix well and divide among two bowls. Top with veggies and chicken, serve with lime wedge.

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John recommends a light cold beer to drink!

Blood Orange and Grapefruit Salad with Star Anise

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I know the pictures are at the top of the post, but it’s because the citrus just looks so lovely, I wanted to share it immediately!

I love citrus in the winter…especially blood oranges. And although I’m not a huge fan of grapefruit, John is. So I’ve combined the two to create a citrus super team, and luckily it worked out wonderfully.

To make sure you get the most out of this wonderful salad, make it the night before serving – this gives the star anise a chance to really get in there.

Blood Orange and Grapefruit Salad with Star Anise – 6-8 servings
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 whole star anise or 1 teaspoon star anise extract
4 red grapefruit
4 blood oranges

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water, do not stir. Stir once the sugar is mostly melted, add star anise and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Cut fruit in half, and begin to remove fruit segments from pith and free from membranes. Squeeze any juice left on remaining peel into a bowl, and add fruit segments. Repeat with all citrus until complete.

Place in a container with a lid, add the syrup to the fruit and juices, stir gently. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving, and discard of start anise.

Serving it in a crystal bowl, or glass dish allows guests to see the pretty colors the fruit have exchanged. Enjoy!


Buckeyes are an Ohio treat I was introduced to when I first moved here. Since I’ve lived here – I’ve tried many different types, and this is my most favorite recent recipe.

I hope you’ll be sure to make a tray for yourselves! And maybe for friends.

Buckeyes – about 36 Buckeyes
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (Jif or Kraft)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 cups powdered sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces 60% dark chocolate

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs, mix until combined. Then add in powdered sugar and melted butter. Beat at low speed to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat until mixture is dry. Set aside the filling and melt the chocolate.

Place chocolate in a bowl slightly larger than the saucepan. To melt the chocolate set up a double boiler. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a small saucepan, place bowl with chocolate over water, and whisk to melt. Remove from heat, and pour into a small deep bowl. Let temperature come down to 100 degrees F, meanwhile make peanut butter centers.

Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat. Scoop peanut butter mixture using a 1 tablespoon scoop, and shape. Place on the silpat, and repeat process until you have used all the peanut butter mixture.

To assemble the buckeyes:
Place a peanut butter ball on a fork and dip into chocolate, leaving the top exposed. (It’s why this treat has it’s name – it looks like a buckeye) Lift the fork out of the chocolate and allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Return the buckeye to the silpat. Repeat with the rest of the peanut butter balls and place the buckeyes in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the chocolate.

Remove from the fridge, place in a tightly sealed container, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Buckeyes will keep for about 4 days.

Enjoy this Ohian treat!

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Red Pepper Lasagna with Bolognese and Bechamel

I wanted to make something a little more special for dinner, so I made a basic bolognese with veggies, ground pork, ground beef, prosciutto and pancetta. As for the noodles, I recently found roasted red pepper lasagna noodles, and thought it would add a little oumph! The next part is where I added the “fancyness” as John jokingly says.

Dinner was spectacular…3 layers, starting with a little meat sauce, then lasagna noodles, meat, bechamel and Parmesan cheese, repeat!Also, choose a good bottle of wine because I recommend you drink what you use in the recipe.

Red Pepper Lasagna with Bolognese and Bechamel – 6 servings
1 package of Rossi Pasta Roasted Red Bell Pepper Lasagna
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
4 oz pancetta, diced
12 oz ground beef
12 oz ground pork
4 oz prosciutto, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 oz low sodium beef stock
6 oz dry red wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
3/4 cup water

Make sure to have your ingredients ready by having everything chopped as directed and set aside.

For Bolognese:
Melt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, onion, celery stalk and pancetta. Sauté 10-12 min, or until softened and lightly browned. Add ground beef, ground pork, and prosciutto. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, pork and beef should be fully cooked, stir in tomato paste and mix well.

Add beef stock and red wine, bring to simmer. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour. All the liquid will be cooked off. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

While the bolognese is simmering make the bechamel.

For Bechamel:
In a medium saucepan, melt ½ cup butter. When bubbling, sprinkle in 1 cup flour. I suggest placing a mesh strainer over the pan and sprinkling in the flour that way.

Turn to low, stir until thick, bubbling, and slightly golden. Add 1 cup of milk add a time whisking until thickened, continue to repeat until all 5 cups are used. Bechamel should be smooth and thick. If you have lumps, which is unfortunate, you can strain the thickened bechamel into a clean pot.

Turn off the heat, season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Assembling the Lasagna:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread a 9 x 13 x 2 inch – pan with a thin layer of bolognese. Add 3 lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping. Add another layer of bolognese, béchamel and a handful of parmigiano. Continue until you have 3 layers. Your top layer will be bolognese, bechamel, and parmigiana.

Pour ¾ cup water into one corner of the pan and tightly seal with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes covered, remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the top of the lasagna.

Remove the lasagna from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a glass of wine and yummy bread and butter.

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Side note: You will notice these lasagna noodles were not cooked, which explains the reason for adding 3/4 cup of water to the pan and baking. I actually prefer these noodles for a no fuss lasagna, so you might want to try and find some that you don’t need to boil before hand.