Raspberry Valentine’s Kiss

Raspberry Kiss

I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing lately.  Mostly, it’s a good thing.  Those cherished memories, secretly stored in my heart, bringing a warm smile and good feelings.   I love to keep those memories close to me.

I remember when I use to blog…frequently….and visit my favorite bloggers.  I remember my little villa on the lake, my fresh start as a single mom….and I remember the challenges and joys of raising kids on my own.  I remember when I had a job, I remember when I freely spent.  I remember the choices I’ve made and still wonder why (?)  I remember memories I learned from, but  don’t really want to keep too close.

Memories of Valentine’s Day have always stayed in my heart.  I’m just a hopeful romantic. Continue reading “Raspberry Valentine’s Kiss”

Strawberry Coeur a la Creme

Food and love are meant to be shared.  And if you are a passionate person like me, you take them both very seriously!

With family and friends, I openly share my home, my food, my love.  But in intimate settings sharing food becomes more of a sensual dining experience.   Candlelight, soft music.. how romantic sharing a meal that you have prepped ahead or plan to make together!  And as the evening wraps up, the most luxurious, creamy dessert is presented, in the shape of a heart, made with love.

Even if your plans are for dining out, offering a sweet ending at home, two spoons and a kiss….simple pleasures, that’s what I love. Continue reading “Strawberry Coeur a la Creme”

Red Velvet Biscotti

Talk about one sexy biscotti!!  With its deep, lusty red and teasing drizzle of white chocolate, these biscotti are just begging to be dipping into champagne or a morning after espresso.  Dare I say anything more??

To my surprise I found this recipe from Paula Deen and adapted it to my way of making biscotti – just a tablespoon of coconut oil, white/wheat flour and less sugar.  I felt that the drizzle of chocolate gave it just enough sweetness, as I always feel I’m sweet enough 🙂 but if you prefer sweeter desserts than adding another half cup should do the trick. Continue reading “Red Velvet Biscotti”

Engagement Chicken

So they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Could it really be all that easy??  Is cooking for a man the way to win his affections??

When my niece Nina heard about a roasted chicken recipe that had men proposing marriage to their girlfriends, she immediately thought of her single aunt and sent me the cookbook.  This cookbook, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know is from the editors of Glamour Magazine.  This was the cookbook where I found and posted the No-Fail Kale Caesar Salad, which has become my favorite go to salad for kale.  Nina didn’t send me the cookbook for the salad recipe though.  It was for the roasted chicken recipe, otherwise known as the Engagement Chicken. 

The story goes back over 25 years ago when an editor for Glamour magazine gave her assistant this recipe to prepare dinner for her boyfriend.  About a month later, the boyfriend proposed and had commented that the dinner was one “your wife would make” and had begun thinking of her in that way.  Hearing that, the recipe was passed among the Glamour staff resulting in one after another proposals!  In fact, the forward of the book lists over 70 engagement stories following this chicken dinner!

Ina Garten also did an episode on the Engagement Chicken and its history.  If you watch Ina’s show, chicken is her husband’s favorite Friday night dinner.  Ina did tweak the recipe a bit adding in onions and chicken broth to this lemon and herb roasted chicken.   Glamour’s recipe uses whole lemons pierced with a fork and placed inside the bird.  Then plenty of lemon juice is poured over the bird creating a very moist and tender chicken.

Now I know you’re all wondering what happened to me when I made this bird.   Well, I’ve had this cookbook almost a year now and I’ve enjoyed many of the recipes.  I finally made this last week .… for my son.  So, no story to report on my end but I do pity the girl who tries to steal my son’s heart because she better know how to cook!  He is definitely spoiled in that area!!

 Engagement Chicken

Adapted from 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know

Serves 2 to 4

1 whole chicken (approximately 4-5 pounds)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 whole lemons—2 for stuffing in the bird, 1 sliced for garnish

1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup chicken broth (optional)

Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch fl at-leaf parsley)

Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack.  Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.  Prick 2 whole lemons with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that’s fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)  Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out.

Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast- side up. Return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Check the bird to make sure the lemon juice does not completely evaporate and add in more juice or chicken broth.  Continue roasting if necessary.  Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.    And here’s the secret: Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken— this is the “marry me juice.”   I also removed the lemons, cut them in half and squeezed the warm juices over the bird.   Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Pick Me Up…Chocolate Raspberry Tiramisu

There are many, many recipes for tiramisu and much written on the history behind this Italian dessert.  It’s definitely one of my favorites; I guess I’m a gal that loves the creamy desserts; tipsy in alcohol, rich in flavor and softly sweetened.  I almost always have the basics for pulling together a tiramisu on hand such as, ladyfingers, mascarpone, whipping cream and an assortment of liquors.  From there it’s whatever your heart desires.  And this time, my heart was tugging at me for chocolate and raspberries.

While I’ve heard of several stories on its origin, my favorite by far is that this dessert with its traditional ingredients including espresso, ladyfingers (sugar) and a cordial was offered to customers at certain bordellos as a “pick me up” to enjoy after so they could go on with their day.  Now whether this tale is true or not doesn’t really matter to me; I enjoy the thought of the pleasure received in a bite of tiramisu.  And who wouldn’t take pleasure in slipping into the kitchen in the middle of the night for a spoonful of this!

Tiramisu is basically a no bake layered dessert.  A few steps can be prepared ahead then layered and refrigerated overnight.  Because this is not baked or any of the layers cooked, the alcohol is definitely prominent and not a dessert for the children.  I like to think of this (as I do its origin) as an adult only dessert.  Perfectly fitted for lovers on Valentine’s Eve.

Chocolate Raspberry Tiramisu

Adapted from Epicurious

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

1 pound mascarpone cheese softened

8 ounces dark chocolate or milk chocolate

2 cups seedless raspberry jam

4 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange liquor
1/2 cup Chambord

36-40 lady fingers
2 cups fresh raspberries
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Shaves of white chocolate, optional

Begin to prepare the layers.  In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Add in the mascarpone and mix until blended, set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Set aside to cool.  Once cool, stir the chocolate into the cream/mascarpone bowl.

In another bowl, mix the raspberry jam with the Grand Marnier, set aside.  Pour the Chambord in a shallow pan.

Using a 10 x 10 pan or 13 x 9 pan or individual serving pieces, layer the bottom of the pan with the ladyfingers, briefly dipping them into the Chambord.  Do not allow them to get soggy, just lightly dipped.  Spread half of the jam over the lady fingers.  Spread the chocolate mascarpone over the jam mixture and repeat the layers finishing with the chocolate mascarpone.  Top with fresh raspberries and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.   Dust with confectioner’s sugar and white chocolate shavings (optional) when serving.   Makes about 8-10 servings.

February is #chocolatelove month! Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of Februrary 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove :).

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Indulge me… Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake with Chocolate Brandy Sauce

Indulge; to give free rein, to take unrestrained pleasure in, to yield to the desire….

I like to eat healthy.  I like to work out.  I like to feel good about myself, take care of myself and enjoy moments of pleasure and romance in life.

And, I really don’t think there should be just one special day to devote to romance and love.

But then again, to indulge in food every single day would not do my figure good!  So I do take advantage of this upcoming Valentine’s Day to splurge a bit more in chocolate sweets and creamy dreamy desserts.  The hardest part is deciding which one to choose!!

Florida grown strawberries are hitting the market lately totally pleasing my love for chocolate and strawberries.  I’ve made this chocolate strawberry shortcake for many, many years first baking it for a summer dinner in 1996!  (I really do jot down dates and notes on my recipes!!)

The shortcake is not as light as a traditional shortcake having chunks of chocolate throughout.  I’ve made it as one large shortcake split in half for an awesome presentation and smaller sizes for individual treats.  Of course, Valentine’s Day deserves the heart.

This dessert can be made in steps ahead; the chocolate sauce with brandy can be prepared up to two days ahead although I’ve had it in my frig up to a week dipping strawberries in it.  Oh, and don’t leave out the brandy, it definitely makes the sauce!!   The whipped cream and shortcake can be made earlier in the day or even the day before and the strawberries a few hours ahead as well.  Assembly is quick and easy right before serving.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake with Chocolate Brandy Sauce

Adapted by Epicurious, 1996

For the Sauce:

2/3 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Shortcake:

2 cups white/wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons raw sugar  – divided (3 tb in the batter and 2 tb for sprinkling on top)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the Filling:

2 pounds strawberries

1 tablespoon of agave or 2-3  tablespoons sugar  (depending on the sweetness of  the strawberries)

1 tablespoon Chambord liquor

1 1/3 cups whipping cream, chilled

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Sauce:
Combine cream and sugar in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir until chocolate melts and sauce is smooth. Mix in brandy and vanilla. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

For the Shortcake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.    Spray or butter individual heart molds or a 9-inch cake pan, dust with flour.   Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add chopped chocolate. Gradually add 2/3 cup buttermilk, stirring with fork until dough forms.

Transfer dough to pan; press gently to level top. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons buttermilk and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake shortcakes until cooked through and golden on top, about 20-25 minutes. Cool shortcakes in pan on rack.

For the Filling:
Slice berries into large bowl, save a few whole for garnish.   Add agave or sugar and Chambord.  Toss to coat; let stand until berries begin to release juices, at least 30 minutes. Combine whipping cream, vanilla and sugar in medium bowl. Whip to soft peaks. Cover and chill cream until ready to serve.

If necessary, rewarm sauce over low heat, stirring often.  Remove shortcakes from pans and slice in half horizontally.  Plate the bottom half and spoon sliced berries with their juices over. Drizzle with some chocolate sauce. Spoon on whipped cream; cover with top shortcake and drop on more whipped cream, drizzle with more chocolate and garnish with a few strawberries.  Serve at once.

February is #chocolatelove month! Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of Februrary 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove :).

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Chocolate love: Surprise Me With A Kiss

There are many kinds of kisses; a mother’s tender kiss to her child, a platonic kiss hello or goodbye, a passionate lovers’ kiss or a chocolate kiss!!

Nestled inside these little butter nut balls is a kiss.  Butter balls are popular cookies, soft and tender with a gentle touch of finely chopped nuts.  The unexpected surprise of biting into a butter ball and finding a chocolate kiss were knows as the Surprise Cookie in my family.

It was my Aunt Mary that made these cookies for us when we were little.  While my aunt made many Italian cookies, she seemed to bake more kid friendly cookies for us.  And as a child, I can honestly say I looked forward to her holiday cookie trays.  I remember my excitement when I first realized a chocolate kiss was in the cookie.  It was like finding the prize in the Cracker Jack Box.  They quickly became my favorite and to this day when I see a butter ball cookie, I wonder if it might have a kiss inside.

Aunt Mary had two daughters, Debbie and Diane.  Our mothers were very close sisters and therefore, I spent a lot of time at her home.  Diane was closer in age to me; we went from playing dolls together to having babies just a few years apart from each other.   Since I’ve moved away, we see very little of each other but it’s funny how food can bring back memories and make you feel like it was just yesterday that I was playing dolls with Diane on my porch!

Through the years, I began making these “kisses” with Baci chocolates.  Baci (Italian for kisses) is a small dark chocolate and hazelnut candy.  Under the chocolate coating are chopped hazelnuts and in the middle is a whole hazelnut.  Talk about surprise, surprise in those cookies!!  What I also love about Baci chocolates is that each chocolate is wrapped with an affectionate love note!

So while I have used Baci chocolate in the past, I made these with a Hershey’s Kiss just as Aunt Mary did.  I’ve tweaked her recipe a bit and just like my mom’s handwritten recipes, I didn’t have much detail on how she actually made the cookies.  I started chilling the dough before and after shaping so that they held their ball shape better when baked.  This recipe makes about 4 dozen depending on how much dough you use to wrap around the kiss.  I prefer just a small amount of dough to make a small cookie ball.

Diane just mentioned to me that her husband loves these frozen, so she keeps them in the freezer.  Mine simply don’t last that long between kids, sharing with friends and my own personal indulgence!

Surprise Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups whole wheat/white flour or unbleached all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1 12 oz bag of Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

In a large stand up mixer, beat the butter sugar and vanilla thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until combined.  Mix in the walnuts.  Chill dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take about a tablespoon of dough and wrap around the Hershey’s Kiss rolling dough into small balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet; the cookies do not spread.  I will place the cookie tray in the refrigerator to firm the dough and chill for another 10-15 minutes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to become lightly golden.  Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  While still warm, roll in sifted powdered sugar.  Cool further and when totally cool, roll again in powdered sugar.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.  Store in covered container in a cool place.

February is #chocolatelove month!
Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of Februrary 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove :).

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