Just when you thought chocolate truffles couldn’t be any better…
Enter: Red Wine Chocolate Truffles
You know, for when you’re feelin’ all fancy-pants. Of course, they can also be enjoyed while drinking Diet Coke and wearing comfortable yoga pants that you just wore to clean house in too. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do.
RED WINE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES RECIPE:
20 ounces of the best semi-sweet chocolate you can find, broken into pieces (not chocolate chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup unsweetened, powdered chocolate
Place chocolate pieces into a double boiler low heat to melt chocolate. If you have a candy thermometer, you can make sure the temperature of the chocolate doesn’t go above 110 degrees. Stir occasionally and remove from heat when almost completely melted. Stir occasionally until fully melted.
In a separate pan, bring 1 1/2 cups red wine to a boil over medium heat then turn down medium-low heat to allow to simmer. Reduce until about 1 cup of wine is left in pan.
Stir reduced red wine and heavy cream into chocolate. Stir until smooth and shiny.
Allow to cool to room temperature then place chocolate in fridge for about 1/2 hour or until firm.
Scoop out chocolate and form into about 1 inch size truffles. Coat lightly with dark cocoa powder.
Make these for your next party. And by party, I mean feel free to make them to celebrate a successful day of work or cleaning house; or, simply because you just finished reading this blog post. I say celebrate everything. In comfortable yoga pants as often as possible.
It appears I am not the only person on the planet who has the gift of making incredibly healthy food unhealthy. I am happy to carry on the tradition which has obviously been going on for decades. The proof? The Waldorf Salad – a must for every holiday table and a perfect snack if there are leftovers.
Waldorf Salad Dressing Recipe
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Stir together and allow to rest so sugar can dissolve while chopping salad ingredients.
Waldorf Salad Recipe
Waldorf Salad Dressing (above)
4 cups chopped honeycrisp or cameo apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup of red & green grapes cut in half (optional)
Stir all ingredients together and place on a pretty platter or bowl. If you like, sprinkle with a few more chopped walnuts.
Merry healthy, unhealthy Christmas and may your tables be filled with an abundance of lovely food and joyful relatives and friends this year. Thank you for reading. I love you.
It is Christmas cookie baking time. Some adore this season and try to make the fanciest of the fanciest cookies and as many varieties as possible. I’m here to tell you that it can be easier. There is no need to hyperventilate before the next cookie exchange party. Make these classic beauties and you’ll be just as popular as all of the insane bakers.
THUMBPRINT COOKIE RECIPE:
1 cup butter (or two sticks)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
If making chocolate filled: Chocolate thumbprint filling (recipe below)
If making jelly filled: 8 ounces raspberry (or your fav) jelly or jam – don’t use preserves
Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg & salt, then flour. Combine until a nice dough. Scoop using a cookie scoop onto baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Press down centers with thumb or back of cookie scoop while taking care to not let edges crack (so that filling will remain in the middle later) or for “thumbprint” to go down to deep (to prevent cookies from breaking easily from being too weak in the middle). Bake for about 10 minutes or until you can see they’re turning light golden brown on the bottom. Make chocolate filling while waiting.
CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT COOKIE FILLING RECIPE:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons hot water
Stir ingredients until smooth. If needed add fourth tablespoon of water. Place in a decorating bag and squirt into centers of cookies when they’re done baking. Use care as to not overfill.
Fill with jelly or chocolate frosting right after they come out of the oven. Jelly is easier to work with when stirred first. Allow to cool & box up to deliver Christmas joy.
For more Christmas: Before pressing down, roll cookie dough balls in candies or glitters or nuts or… oh wait. Starting to sound like one of those insane bakers. I’ll stop now.
Sometimes things look good for you but they’re not. You know, like Caesar salad and sledding from the back of a SUV. And, now, marzipan treats made to look like fruits and vegetables.
I talked my mom into reliving one of my childhood memories this week by remaking these candies that I remember her making when I was little. To color the marzipan, you simply work a bit of food coloring into the marzipan.
Momma’s hands… I had forgotten how messy it is to do.
For the potatoes (my favorite) you make little eyes with a toothpick.
Then roll them into cocoa powder.
Slice just like you would a potato, and then form a pat of butter from the yellow marzipan.
Strawberries: We added mini white bead candies for the speckles. You can also use a bit of sugar instead.
Pears: We used a little green and a little yellow food coloring for a nice, light yellowish-green.
Stems: We used cloves – which way we placed them in depended on which side looked the most like the stem of the fruit or veggie.
Citrus: We used a small grater/zester to create the texture on an orange, lemon or lime.
Coloring: Use a wee bit of food coloring on a wee painting brush to create a blushed look on peaches or pears.
If the marzipan sits out too long, it will dry out and not be easy to work with. Keep extras in a Ziploc bag until you’re ready to use.
The possibilities are endless. Here is our assortment which includes mini plums, limes, strawberries, lemons, cherries, potatoes, oranges, grapes, apples, peas and pears. They’re an adorable addition to the Christmas table or in a pretty box for a gift. Healthy. But not.
It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 laborers were needed to build the Great Pyramid at Giza (pronounced “gee-zuh”) in less than 23 years. By comparison, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris took almost 200 years to complete. But I have wonderful news. You can make these coconut macaroon pyramids in less than one hour with only one laborer and just three ingredients.
6 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
One -14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 dash of salt
12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 half-sheet baking pans with parchment paper. Stir sweetened condensed milk and salt into shredded coconut until coconut is completely coated. Scoop coconut mixture by 1/2 cup fulls at a time onto baking sheets. Press each cookie together just a bit so that it is a little firm.
You can form the cookies into circles or triangles and cookies can be small or large but the size you choose will help determine the baking time. For smaller cookies, watch closely and perhaps decrease baking time.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown. It is important to allow them to cool on the baking sheets before moving. Once cooled, they can be removed with a spatula.
If you like, you can heat up chocolate chips in a double boiler on very low heat and then gently dip or drizzle cookies with chocolate. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes to firm chocolate. Makes about a dozen large macaroons… er… ancient works of art.
The leaves are almost gone but fear not, for I bring you glad tidings of fallish, mapley joy which shall last you throughout the Christmas cookie season. Move over acorns and junipers… it is time for the maple leaf sandwich cookie to shine.
2/3 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tablespoons maple extract
1 tablespoon milk
2 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter and sugar. Add remaining cookie ingredients and mix until becomes a dough. Roll out cookie dough onto floured countertop to about 1/4 inch thickness. Dip maple leaf cookie cutter into flour to prevent sticking and cut out maple leaf cookies. Place cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 13 minutes.
When purchasing a maple leaf cutter, be sure that the leaf is the same on both sides so the cookies will match up when sandwiched together.
4-5 cups powdered sugar
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 ounces of (salted) butter, softened
4 tablespoons of water
4 teaspoons of maple extract (Watkins is my favorite when not using pure extract)
Dash of salt
Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix into a frosting. If you like, you can add extra powdered sugar for a firmer frosting. Place frosting on back of one maple leaf cookie and then match up and place he back of another maple leaf cookie onto the frosting to make a sandwich. Frosting can be piped onto cookies or simply spread onto them.
I promise you that these cookies are super easy to make and will impress your friends. Let the leaves fall as they may for these are far sweeter.
And the Trophy Cupcakes gift card winners are…
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Yay for the holidays! Yay for cozy stays at a sweet little B&B in North Bend, Washington with wine in front of the fireplace, a delicious breakfast and yay for holiday specials. Order gift certificates for your loved ones and receive a $25 gift certificate for yourself for every $100 you spend on certificates for friends and family. This special offer expires December 25, 2012. $25 certificate is non-transferable and expires on May 15, 2013. Purchased gift certificates do not expire but we request they are used within one year of issue day when possible.
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This week I want to go back in time. Back to my pink bedroom with pink curtains and my white chenille bedspread. I want to go back to my Holly Hobby nightgown and homemade, knitted slippers that hurt my feet when I tried to walk in them. I’d even be willing to wear this hairdo again if I had to.
I want to go back to the time when I was about six years old and my younger siblings and I were playing house in my huge closet. Because, you know, when you place a lamp in a closet it becomes a home. My sister once walked in happily declaring, “I’m home!” and closed the self-locking closet door behind herself. Our real mommy was at work that day and our real daddy was outside mowing the huge lawn and couldn’t hear our pounding and screaming and crying as we sat locked in the closet for three days. Okay, maybe it was more like 20 minutes but it felt like three days. Besides lamps weren’t meant for closets and it was hot in there. Finally, we heard him running up the stairs in a panic to see what had happened to us all. As he opened the closet door, three sweaty, sobbing children fell out and into his arms. We had already decided we were never going to see our parents again so his hugs brought us great relief.
If I could go back to the time when fresh-cut grass was the greatest smell on the planet. If I could go back to the day daddy taught me how to ride a bike. If I could go back to when a night out meant we were going to Dairy Queen to get Dilly Bars when they still had swirls in the middle, I would. I would go back in a heartbeat because at the end of every day, my mom and dad were always there. Yesterday I learned that the battle my dad has been having with cancer is one that is almost over. He has about 6 months to live.
This stuff only happens in the movies – not to my real daddy. Last night I couldn’t sleep because sleeping meant one day was done and the clock would start ticking. I tried to control time by staying awake. I am grateful the loss is not sudden but I am incredibly shaken. I am once again the scared little girl with the hot lamp of truth making me feel trapped and alone.
How does one even process this? One doesn’t. One forgets to call the right people. One wants loved ones to visit and doesn’t want loved ones to visit. One now feels bad for oneself and everyone who has lost someone dear to them. One realizes that the casseroles one has delivered to friends through the years who had experienced loss meant so much but how could they ever be enough?
One is lost. One blogs. One blogs a favorite recipe from her dad’s mom. And she hopes it blesses someone. Anyone.
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup non-fat milk
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 medium-sized oranges – peel only
To prepare orange peel:
Take the peeling from 2 medium-sized oranges and cut into small pieces, add water and boil 20 min.
Drain and add more water and boil again for 20 minutes.
Drain, add 1 C sugar and only a little water and boil another 20 minutes.
Store candied orange peel in refrigerator, covered.
To make bread:
Combine flour, 1 C sugar, milk, eggs, baking powder, salt and candied orange peel.
Let stand in prepared bread pan for 20 minutes (floured).
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
Makes 2 loaves. Share with loved ones. Savour each bite. Make them last.
The best hors d’oeuvres are gorgeous, filled with flavor, easy to make and able to be prepared ahead of your dinner parties. This cheese ball has it all. She is gorgeous, gourmet and practical to prepare. Party on, my friends, party on in style.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces grated cave-aged white cheddar cheese
6-8 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 fresh sprig oregano, minced
1 green onion, minced
2 fresh sprigs parsley, minced
2 cloves fresh garlic, grated
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
Place cream cheese and cheddar cheese in mixing bowl. Mix until well combined. Add herbs, garlic and green onion and continue to mix until well combined. Add salt to taste and mix in as well.
Place pecans on wax paper or parchment paper.
Form cheese into a ball and place on chopped pecans.
Use clean hands to gently cover ball with pecans. Be careful not to let your hands get cheese on them or cheese ball will begin to look, well, all cheese-ball.
Serve with your favorite wheat or plain crackers.
This can also be given as a gift. Chill and then wrap in cellophane and tie a bow around the top. Give in a pretty basket with a fancy box of crackers and perhaps a bottle of wine. Your friends will forever think “cheeseball” when they think of you.
When I was single, I used to go for long drives in my pumpkin-orange, 76 Chevette. I would drive until I got lost and then find my way back, making stops along the way to experience new stores and new restaurants. In losing myself, I would always find a new side of myself. A sexier, spicier version of me – one who had interesting stories to share. One who could find her way around because she was no longer apt to get lost.
Somehow, stepping out of the traditional makes life a little sexier. If you haven’t taken a different route to work for years, I prescribe for you the freedom to leave early and take the backroads. If you are in need of a vacation and cannot gather the funds to take one, sneak away for a movie at a theater you’ve never tried with a friend you haven’t seen in far too long. Go to a crazy musical. Visit the zoo. Do something… anything you’ve never done before that is wild and good for your soul. Do it today. Add a little sweet and spicy to your life.
And then celebrate your break-thru to a sexier life by making this dinner for yourself and five other people who you love hanging out with.
This recipe makes dinner for six… perfect served with a gorgeous salad.
The day before: Bake jalapeno cornbread and place a clean paper towel on top overnight. The day of: Pour olive oil in hot pan over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage and add to pan. Add salt & pepper. Cook sausage until browned. Add diced onion. Cook until sausage is done and onions are golden. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Allow to cook down for a few minutes then turn off heat and add chopped herbs. Break cornbread into about 1 inch chunks and place in bowl. Add celery, butter and sausage mixture (including juices). Using hands, gently toss stuffing until mixed together well.
1 – 10 ounce jar apricot jam (preferably not preserves)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cloves minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon)
Whisk all ingredients together until sauce forms. Set aside until ready to use.
ASSEMBLING & BAKING CORNISH GAME HENS:
6 Cornish game hens
2 cups chicken broth
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375F.
Rub game hens with salt & pepper inside and out.
Fill Cornish game hens with stuffing mixture.
Prepare roasting pan by placing rack inside. Pour chicken stock into roasting pan.
Coat outside of game hens completely with glaze and place on baking rack with legs upward. Place foil over game hans about half way through baking time (or after they are golden brown).
Bake for about 1 hour to an 1 hour and 15 minutes or until game hens register on meat themometer at 165 degrees in the thickest part of the bird (the thigh).
Remove game hens from pan and place on a platter. Reduce remaining sauce by cooking over medium heat (if needed) to thicken. Salt & pepper to taste and serve on the side.
While enjoying your friends, be sure to pass on your sweet & spicy challenge to them for a sexier life. Be sure to come back and comment after you have successfully lost and found yourself, Sexy You.
Deanna’s love for baking and cooking began as she sat upon a baker’s stool as a little girl. Her love for people grew in the midst of church potlucks. She expresses her loves today creatively through speaking, writing for her foodie blog as well as hosting guests, including celebrities, at her award-winning B&B in Snoqualmie Valley, Washington.