Monday, February 14, 2011

♥Happy Valentines Day♥

Happy Valentine's Day to my darling husband!  He is my forever Valentine!
Tonight for dinner, we had some filet mignon, stuffed sole, garlic mashed potatoes...
And for dessert?  Fabulous Chocolate Fondue!

8 oz. heavy cream
12 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
pinch salt
tsp. vanilla

Heat heavy cream over medium heat until it just starts to bubble.  Whisk in chocolate, whisking until smooth and thickened.  Whisk in salt and vanilla.  Pour into serving dish or fondue pot.  Serve with assorted fruit, marshmallows, pound cake, graham crackers, etc. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We're almost there! V-day is TOMORROW!

You'll have to forgive me...I spent yesterday and today preparing for and celebrating the birthday of my two tiny Valentine Twincesses.  They'll be three tomorrow.  I'm a little weepy knowing my babies, most likely my last, are growing up so fast!  They're not babies anymore (as they inform me on a daily basis).  Sigh.

So, while my hubby is my #1 Valentine, and I will have something special to share with you tomorrow (aka the Big Day), today I'm going to share what I made for my girls.  They were an unexpected blessing, a miracle in my eyes, and I cannot imagine what life would be like without them. Without any of my kids!  

I suggested a ladybug party, I figured that would be easy.  They insisted on UNICORNS.  Really?!?!  So I did what I could and here it is:

I will share with you my recipe for this buttercream that I used -- it is SO creamy and smooth!!!

1 c. butter (the real deal, people), softened
1 c. crisco (I used butter flavor)
1 Tbs vanilla
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 to 6 c. powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and shortening.  Beat for 10 minutes (yes!  10 minutes!); it should be a nice light, whipped texture.  Beat in vanilla and heavy cream.  Add powdered sugar a bit at a time, until you reach the right consistency and flavor.

Store leftovers in fridge.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Day 11 of sweets for my sweet :)
Only 3 days left!!!!  

I have a confession to make.  I am not very good at from-scratch white cakes.  Chocolate cakes, I can usually manage.  White cakes?  I always screw up somehow.
But I was not going to let that deter me from trying this yummy recipe.  I *had* to give it a try.  

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

And guess what?!!?  I think it worked!!!  Hubby gave me a thumbs up anyway.  And since these are all special treats I've made with him in mind, I guess that's all that's really important.  Right??

1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
12 tsp. seedless raspberry jam

For the frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon raspberry extract
Pinch of salt
1 or 2 drops red food coloring
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line standard muffin cup with paper or foil liners.

Beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and both extracts with an electric mixer at medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing until well blended.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on medium, add about half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and continue mixing until well combined. Mix in the milk, then add the balance of the dry ingredients. Continue mixing, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Spoon the batter into the paper-lined muffin cups.  Using a teaspoon, drop 1 tsp. raspberry jam in very center of each cupcake, making an indent and pushing it down into the cupcake batter as you go.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center (to the side of the jam) comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Frosting:  Beat together butter, half and half, extracts and food coloring until well blended.  Add the confectioners' sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy.

Melt the white chocolate in a glass measure in the microwave. Use 15 second bursts on 80% power, stirring in between. Stir the melted white chocolate into the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.  Garnish with fresh raspberries, or a drizzle of dark chocolate.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

DAY 10!  It's sneaking up on us, friends!

Today I'm going to share a sandwich that we've recently started making.  It involves cheese, buffalo chicken and ranch dressing...three of our favorite things!  This is one of the things my honey and I have in common, a love of buffalo chicken!  In any way, shape or form.  Seriously.  He honestly prefers Bleu Cheese, but we don't often have it.  I have a tolerance for it, but it's not my favorite.  He likes Ranch dressing too, so it's a win-win for this sandwich.

Now, I know...a "recipe" for a grilled cheese sandwich?  Really?  Okay, so this isn't really a "recipe;" it's more of a good idea that I want to share.  My secret?  This stuff:

Here is how we do this:

1 c. Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Wing Sauce)
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 slices American cheese
1/2 c. shredded cheddar
Ranch dressing, as desired (or Bleu Cheese)
4 slices bread (I use whole grain white)
soft butter

Mix the hot sauce with the melted butter; toss chicken in the sauce.  [This will actually make more than you need for two sandwiches, you can keep the remainder for more sandwiches or put it on salad, or make chicken wing dip with many options!!]  Place one slice of American cheese on one slice of bread; put about 1-2 Tbs of the chicken in sauce on top; place about 1/4 c. shredded cheddar on top of the chicken, drizzle with Ranch dressing.  Place another piece of bread on top.  Butter the outside of the sandwich (both sides) and cook on a preheated griddle, or frying pan.  Repeat with remaining ingredients for second sandwich for a lunch for two!  :)

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Chocolate Crescent Hearts

Holy Smokes!  5 more days?!?!  Sorry I missed yesterday, lots going on in my world.
Day 9 ♥ of sweet treats for my Valentine.

This is super easy, and I promise - totally worth it!  
Chocolate Crescent Hearts
Easy, cute, and most importantly -- Delicious!!

1 can crescent rolls (8 oz) 
1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips  
2 Tbs butter, melted
1 Tbs raw sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out crescent dough.  Cut into 8 equal squares (press perforations to make seamless).  Place each square on a baking sheet (baking stones work wonderfully for these!).  Put about 1 oz. of chocolate chips on each square.  Fold corner to corner, making a triangle.  Fold in the two corners to form top of heart shape.  Brush each completed heart with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden.  Meanwhile melt about 1/2 c. chocolate chips in microwave, or over double boiler.  After removing crescent hearts from oven, use a fork to drizzle melted chocolate over each heart.  Serve warm.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Lemony Blueberry Bread

Day 7 ♥ ONE WEEK LEFT!!!  Are you ready?!  
I'm not.  

But here's one more thing for you to consider for your sweetie.  My sweetie happens to be a big sucker for breads.  Especially sweet breads.  Even more especially sweet quick breads!  And this bread, my friends, is very VERY sweet!  Perfect for your Valentine!


1/3 c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed)

Whisk together melted butter and sugar.  Add in lemon juice and eggs.  Add half the flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk in the milk, then whisk in the rest of the flour.  Stir until fully combined.  Fold in lemon zest and blueberries.  Pour into greased loaf pan.  If desired, sprinkle with raw sugar on top before baking.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour, until done all the way through.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack.  If desired, make a glaze out of 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 2 Tbs. lemon juice and milk as needed to achieve the consistency you want.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Homemade Hot Chocolate

Day 6 ♥  
The big V-Day is one week from tomorrow, peeps!  Are you ready?
Here is something to warm you and your sweetie up.

There are lots of recipes out there, I've tried a few.  I absolutely adore this concoction I put together tonight!!  It's thick and rich, with just a hint of extra heat.  And the whipped cream on top is positively necessary.  This is not a drink for the faint of heart, or for those trying to lose weight (I will be one of those people again in the morning - this was my "day off").  But once you have it, you will not want any others!

1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (or 3 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate)
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch chipotle chili powder
1/3 to 1/2 c. additional milk
whipped cream

Combine chocolate chips and 1/2 c. milk in a glass microwave-safe container.  Heat 1 minute.  Whisk, then return to microwave for 1 additional minute.  Whisk in cinnamon, salt and chili powder, whisking until smooth and frothy.  Add additional milk.  Heat 45 seconds, until hot.  Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Day 5 of Sweet Treats for my Sweet Valentine

It is not quite 9 a.m. and my honey just taste-tested these for me.  He gives them two thumbs up!
Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

Like yesterday, I'm not exactly being gourmet today...these cupcakes started out with a (gasp!) cake mix.  Yes, I do use mixes.  I like to use them to make something new.  There are SO many things you can do with mixes!

Here, I took a vanilla mix, added some instant chai latte and pudding mixes and made yummy cupcakes that even my little ones raved about!  I *did* make the frosting from scratch -- it's the cinnamon cream cheese buttercream I mention in this post 


1 box cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 individual packet chai latte mix (about 3 Tbs.)

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 c. water
1/3 c. oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 24 cupcake cups with paper or foil liners.
In mixing bowl, add cake mix, chai mix and pudding.  Beat in water, oil and eggs.  Beat for about 2 minutes.  Pour into lined cupcake tins.  Bake about 18 minutes, until cake is done all the way through.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  Cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Buttercream
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 to 4 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs milk (more or less, based on how thin you want frosting)

Cream butter and cream cheese until fully combined.  Add in vanilla, cinnamon and 2 cups powdered sugar.  Continue mixing, adding powdered sugar and milk until frosting is your desired texture.

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Peanut Butter Blossoms...sort of

Day 4 of Sweets for my Sweet ♥

OK.  Today was not a gourmet day for me.  It wasn't even a homemade day for me.  Tomorrow won't be either.  But that doesn't mean I can't come up with tasty treats that are perfect for sharing with your loves.  

Today, I'm doing a "cheater" version of peanut butter blossoms (you know, the cookies that usually have a chocolate kiss stuck on top?).  While I do have a favorite peanut butter cookie recipe or two -- have you all tried the 3 ingredient recipe? -- today I went with "premade."  As in, I had refrigerated cookie dough, already portioned for me, that I used.  And it was a GOOD kind:

And I added a little of this (I LOVE this stuff SO MUCH!!):

And to top it off (literally), some of these:

So easy, and so delicious!  Simply take your dough, roll it into a ball, coat with raw sugar, place on cookie sheet and bake 10-13 minutes at 350 (depending on the size of your cookies).  Do not flatten the cookies before baking!  When you remove from the oven, immediately press one unwrapped Dove heart shaped chocolate in the center of each cookie.  Let sit a couple minutes before removing to a wire wrack to cool completely.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Mocha Chip Brownie Bundt Cake

Day 3 of Valentine treats for my Valentine (he'll be so excited to see this waiting for him when he wakes up in the morning!)

I was inspired by Jessica over at How Sweet and decided to try my hand at a brownie-type bundt.  This is a Mocha Chip version.
It is sooooo good, I cannot even describe it in words.  Pictures do not do it justice.  It is rich and dense and chocolaty and heavenly...Yeah, words just can't do it.  You must make it and find out for yourself.  

But wait!  There's more!

A Mocha Glaze!  So very, very good.  And makes this decadent treat even MORE decadent!

1 1/2 sticks butter
6 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 Tbs instant coffee granules
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. sugar
6 eggs
2 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 c. dark chocolate chips

1 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbs butter, room temp
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. strong brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a Bundt pan generously.
Melt butter and chocolate together in a microwave safe bowl.  Once melted, add coffee granules and beat until fluffy.  Add in sugar and vanilla; beat until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add flour and cocoa, stirring until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 75 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, melted chocolate and vanilla.  Add coffee in until you reach desired consistency.

After the cake is done, let rest about 5 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.  Drizzle with glaze before serving.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Homemade Hot Fudge

Day 2 of Valentine Treats for my Valentine ♥

Homemade Hot Fudge sauce!!  

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 (1 oz. ea) squares bittersweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs butter

In a small saucepan over low heat (a "2" on my electric stove), combine milk and chocolate.  Heat over low heat, stirring, until chocolate is completely melted and mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter; beat with spoon until fully combined.  Serve warm.  Keep in tightly covered container in refrigerator for up to a week.

Don't forget to lick the spoon!!

Delicious over ice cream!

I also attempted caramel sauce.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  But here's a peek at it:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Countdown to Valentines Day ~ Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a tribute to MY Valentine, I'm going to devote the first 14 days of this month to him, showcasing some of his favorite treats (and some that he doesn't even know will become his favorites!).

Day 1 ~ Chocolate Chip Cookies!
He says there is nothing better than a warm, gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie, freshly baked.  With a tall glass of milk, of course.  And I have discovered maybe the most perfect recipe - IF you like soft, sweet and thick cookies!

Yeah, I made that.  

These are actually very easy, and quick.  The texture is PERFECT (to me anyway, and my hubby, and all four of my kids :)) and the taste is amazing!  


2 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter
1/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 1/4 oz. pkg instant vanilla pudding (if you have two small pkgs, use one whole, and 1/4 c. of the second)
2 eggs, beaten
12 oz. DARK chocolate chips (or you could use plain ol' semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, butter, sugars, vanilla and pudding mix (yup, dump it all in).
Beat together until smooth and creamy.
Add in beaten eggs and mix until fully combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by Tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 9-10 minutes.

Word of caution -- this is a very thick cookie dough (and really pretty yummy).  They will pretty much stay in the same shape that you put them on the sheet.  So if you're using a cookie scoop, you might want to flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass before baking.  Unless you want cookies like this:

(which, by the way, are just as tasty and delicious....they just are cookie blobs instead of nice looking cookies:))

Bake them.  Enjoy them.  Make sure you share them!!!