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The Monte Bene Blog

Farm, Fresh, Family - Easy Italian Christmas Dessert!

Farm, Fresh, Family - Easy Italian Christmas Dessert!

Easy Tiramisu for Kids

Here's a favorite Italian dessert with a kid-friendly twist so the kids can help make and enjoy!

Ingredients:

Serves 4 to 6

  • 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 12 ladyfingers
  • 1/2-1 cup decaf coffee
  • 1 tbsp. almond extract
  • 3 tsp. baking cocoa

Preparation:

Beat Mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar together until well blended. Add whipping cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Add almond extract and mix gently until fully combined. Pour the decaf coffee into a small bowl and dip each side of the ladyfinger into the decaf coffee for a few seconds (dip for a longer time for softer cookies). Create one layer of lady fingers in an 8X8X2 baking dish. Top with a  layer of cream. Create another layer of decafe coffee-dipped lady fingers and finish with another layer of cream. Sprinkle with baking cocoa. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until filling is set. Serve with fresh raspberries or blue berries and hot cocoa!

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A Traditional Italian Holiday Meal (Simplified)

A Traditional Italian Holiday Meal (Simplified)

We're calling it a traditional Italian holiday meal, but if we wanted to be really traditional, we'd add about 5 more courses. Ours is a simplified version (just the main course and dessert), but you can never really go wrong with fresh, authentic ingredients.

Baked Cannelloni 

 

Ingredients:

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 24 oz. jar Monte Bene Tomato Basil pasta sauce
  • 8 cannelloni
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 10 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 1 cup Mozzarella, grated
  • 5 tbsp. white wine
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and simmer until onion is translucent. Add beef and stir well. Pour in the white wine and increase heat to let the alcohol burn off. Add salt and pepper and set aside. Meanwhile, boil cannelloni until not quite al dente. Drain and place in an 11X7 baking dish, making sure the cannelloni do not stick together. Spoon meat mixture into a large bowl. Stir in ricotta, ¼ cup Mozzarella and 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheeses. Add about 1 cup of Monte Bene Tomato Basil pasta sauce. Once combined, spoon filling mixture into cannelloni, being careful not to over-stuff the pasta. Place in a row in the baking dish. Top with remaining Monte Bene Tomato Basil pasta sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is completely melted. Plate and top with extra Pecorino Romano cheese.

Easy Tiramisu 

Ingredients:

Serves 4 to 6

  • 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 12 ladyfingers
  • 1/2-1 cup espresso
  • 2 tbsp. amaretto liquor
  • 3 tsp. baking cocoa

Preparation:

Beat Mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar together until well blended. Add whipping cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Add liquor and mix gently until fully combined. Pour the espresso into a small bowl and dip each side of the ladyfinger into the espresso for a few seconds (dip for a longer time for softer cookies). Create one layer of lady fingers in an 8X8X2 baking dish. Top with a  layer of cream. Create another layer of espresso-dipped lady fingers and finish with another layer of cream. Sprinkle with baking cocoa. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until filling is set. Serve with fresh raspberries or blue berries and an after dinner drink.

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Happy Italian Month!

Happy Italian Month!

October is Italian Month and we at Monte Bene couldn’t be more excited! As we’re sure you know, Italians are all about family and spending quality time together, especially around the table with good food. The ancient Romans used to call the area where Chef Neil Fusco grew up “Campania Felix” which means, “Happy Valley” in Latin. There’s little surprise that they described the region in this way – the food there makes everyone happy! 

Want more "Italian tips" from the Fusco family?

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Happy National Family Meals Month!

At Monte Bene, we believe that every family – no matter their budget – should be able to share homemade quality meals, so we’re really excited to celebrate an entire month that’s focused on family mealtime. Now we know that with the end of summer comes busy school days, after-school activities, and cramped schedules. And whether or not you have children, the change from summer to fall fills schedules and life just gets crazier until the end of the holiday season! But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a healthy, delicious meal with family and friends. To help you out during these busy seasons, we’ve gathered all our family and kid-friendly meals for you to add to your favorites. Check them out below!

So from our family to yours, we hope that these next busy seasons are filled with lots of love and laughter around the dinner table, surrounded by family and friends! 

Fusco Family

Mini Frittatas are a great, make-ahead meal that’ll get your family up and out the door in the morning! 

Although this Turkey Bake recipe calls for leftover turkey (great for after holiday meals!), leftover chicken from the night before is just as yummy! 

Cheesy Vodka Bake  is a hit with the kids and also a time-saver in the kitchen!

For a quick, fun, and interactive meal, try French Bread Pizza. You’re kids’ll have fun making their own mini-pizzas and you can bake them all together on a cookie sheet.

Also, *Time-Saving Pro Tip: meal prep and planning is your best friend for saving time and money, staying healthy, and spending more quality time with family and friends.

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Farm, Fresh, Family - Cooking Soup with Kids!

Farm, Fresh, Family - Cooking Soup with Kids!

The American Heart Association recommends a child should eat at least 1 fruit or vegetable each meal. Sometimes the best trick to ensure that your kids are eating enough vegetables is to pack the veggies in a bowl of delicious soup! The soup, combined with fun pasta noodles and a side of buttered toast for dipping makes it enjoyable, while packing in health benefits and delicious flavors. 

The Classic - Tomato Basil soup and grilled cheese!

Kids love tomato soup and grilled cheese, and if you make it at home (with the help of the kids!) then you can really make it healthy. We've cooked up a recipe using our Tomato Basil sauce adding carrots for sweetness and a little whipping cream to make it thick and creamy. This recipe is so easy and you know the kids will love it! Enjoy!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 Jar Monte Bene Tomato Basil pasta sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: 

  1. Heat the saucepan over medium-high heat and saute the basil in butter.  Add carrots and onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add entire jar of Monte Bene pasta sauce along with water and heat on high about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

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Farm, Fresh, Family - Rather than a Black Friday, Have a Family Friday

Farm, Fresh, Family - Rather than a Black Friday, Have a Family Friday

Did you know that REI, an American retail and outdoor recreation services corporation, is closing its doors on Black Friday in order to Opt Outside? We are inspired and encourage everyone to do the same! 

Rather than wait in lines and shop for hours, we recommend spending  time with family, whether it be enjoying the fall weather, having good conversation, or sharing a delicious meal! 

Happy #FamilyFriday, everyone!

Here are a few suggestions - 

1. Find a local hiking spot and spend a few hours outdoors. 

2. Enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers while playing a game! Our favorite? Charades!

3. Watch a Christmas movie with the family! (No, it's not too early!)

Whatever you decide to do... enjoy it!

Sincerely,

The Monte Bene Team 

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Farm, Fresh, Family - Getting Rid of Waste in the Kitchen

Farm, Fresh, Family - Getting Rid of Waste in the Kitchen

Food waste is a growing concern in America, where 30-40% of our country’s food supply going to landfills. Various initiatives are being put into place to reduce food waste but we also believe that individual people can do their part, starting in their own homes!

  • Planning Meals and Sticking to the List - Try to figure out your meals ahead of time and stick to the list when you're shopping in the grocery store. This will help you avoid any grocery items going to waste.
  • Organization and Proper Food Storage - Keeping your food organized and easily accessibly prevents produce from getting buried in the back corners and going to waste. Most fridges also have special compartments that are designed for different types of produce, maximizing their shelf life.
  • Using Leftovers and the Freezer - Don’t forget about your freezer when you have lots of leftovers! Reheating frozen dinners are a great way to enjoy quick and easy meals during the week while ensuring everyone’s still eating healthy.
  • Make Meals from Meals - Save your leftover roast chicken carcass or beef rib bones to make a delicious and nutritious bone broth. Feel free to toss in any leftover veggies for a nutritional boost.

If all else fails -

  • Have any veggies going bad? Throw those in with the bone broth to add more nutrients to your broth!
  • Old fruits and vegetables, peels, eggshells, or even coffee grounds make a great compost for you gardeners out there!

Let us know if you have any other tips for reducing food waste!

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Food For The Poor - Donations for Victims of Hurricane Matthew

Food For The Poor - Donations for Victims of Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew Emergency Relief

Hundreds of people were killed by Hurricane Matthew, and Haitian officials estimate that at least 350,000 people need help, with 28,000 homes damaged. This devastating tragedy has caused starvation, loss of crop, and a shortage of food.

Food For The Poor, a faith based charity and global movement dedicated to helping 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries, launched an urgent campaign in order to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew.

About Food for the Poor:

Food For The Poor is one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the United States. Their work is motivated by their faith in God as they minister to the poorest of the poor in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Food For The Poor provides lifesaving food, secure housing, clean water, healthcare, emergency relief, micro-enterprise projects and education opportunities, in order to give the poor a better future, and show them God’s love.

How Can We Help?

Monte Bene will be donating 10% of the online sales now until the end of October. Please help us assist Food For The Poor fulfill their mission and continue to provide hope and assistance to those suffering in Haiti as the country faces this tremendous tragedy.

For more information about Food For The Poor, visit here

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Celebrate Columbus Day the Italian Way

Celebrate Columbus Day the Italian Way

Happy Columbus Day!
Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy - the land of great pesto - or as the Genoese call it: pesto alla genovese


The Genoese use a specific "basilico genovese,' which is a sweet variety of basil grown in Genoa. They also use Ligurian olive oil, excellent garlic, course salt, and grated cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano. The ingredients are combined with mortar and pestle for about 15 minutes, and then always served with pasta.


In honor of this Italian-American holiday, we've added a basic pesto recipe that can be made in a food processor or a blender in order to celebrate Columbus Day the best way we can: eating delicious Italian cuisine from his hometown! 


INGREDIENTS
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

PREPARATION
Combine basil leaves, pine nuts or walnuts and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced.
With the machine running slowly dribble in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer and serve over pasta. 

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Farm, Fresh, Family - Productive Mornings Start the Night Before

Farm, Fresh, Family - Productive Mornings Start the Night Before

Need help jumpstarting your day? Need help organizing your days so that you're more focused and alert for whatever comes your way? Read on for tips to be more productive throughout your day! 

Better focus at work starts with intentional planning the night before -

  • Finish your To-Do list the night before. Plan ahead and write out your to-do list before heading to bed or as the last thing you do before you leave the office. You’ll know what you didn’t get done that day and have a better sense of what needs to be done the next day.
  • Pick out your outfit ahead of time. Studies show that women spend on avg. about 12min and/ or are late for work at least once a week due to indecision about what to wear. Cut down on this anxiety by picking out your outfit before climbing into your pj’s.
  • Unplug and relax. Put away the devices at least a half hour before heading to bed and allow your body and mind to relax – meditate and do some stretches
  • The Heroic Minute. Don’t hit snooze. This leads to grogginess and wastes the last few minutes of sleep
  • Energize with Breakfast. DO have breakfast. This will help you kickstart the rest of your day with energy! Save time in the kitchen by preparing your breakfast the night before – smoothies. Or make a batch of muffins or granola (see recipe below) over the weekend for quick and healthy weekday breakfasts.

Delicious and Easy Granola

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almonds (or other nuts, chopped)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsbp ground flax seed
  • 1⁄3 cup coconut oil
  • 2⁄3 cup honey (raw, for maximum health benefits)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon and flax in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine oil, honey and vanilla in another, smaller bowl.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry - you may need to use your hands.
  5. Then spread the mixture onto two cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.
  6. Bake 10 minutes. Then remove from oven and stir.
  7. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until slightly golden.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  9. When cooled, transfer into an airtight container for storage.

Enjoy with yogurt and fruit for a delicious and healthy breakfast that will quickly get you on your way!

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