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.
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.
You know those life-long friends you couldn’t get rid of even if you tried? Yeah, I love those ones. Here are a few of ours…
Taye is helping momma celebrate her birthday. He really didn’t care at all about the photo. He just wanted the cake. Who can blame him? Cake is good.
I decided upon Flo and Francis the flamingos to help us celebrate and created a little “lawn” for them to stand in with some wheat grass from the store.
Everything at the table must match the theme when I host a party. I’m kind of fickle that way. Thank you for your cooperation, green dish. These Lil’ Smokies heated up in a slow cooker with barbecue sauce are an easy party trick and are always devoured very quickly.
Cucumber cups with a little smoked salmon mixed together with minced onions and some mayonnaise and salt & pepper are a perfect party food. For this party, we topped them with olives but, oh, the possibilities.
I’m pretty much not allowed to have a party without bringing out my Saucy Balsamic Burgers anymore. This time I was a bit of a rebel and added the zest & juice of one orange to the sauce. And it was okay because it was a girl party. At least that’s what I told myself.
What party is complete without M&Ms that are screaming out to be individuals? Welcome to the party pink, green and white. Welcome.
My favorite of this party was the pink lemonade floats. Just don’t tell Flo & Frances.
PINK LEMONADE FLOATS INGREDIENTS:
2 cans frozen pink lemonade
2 – 2 liter bottles Fresca
1 gallon lime sherbert
Combine pink lemonade with Fresca. For a super-fun party, add a little vodka to the lemonade. Or, you know, more than a little. Place a scoop of lime sherbert and pour lemonade over sherbert. Place glorious pink and green striped paper straws into floats and smile. I mean, how can you not smile when you’re using a paper straw? Is there anything cuter?
Okay, maybe this.
NORTHWEST SUMMER SALAD
For this gorgeous salad, simply toss some fresh spring lettuce onto your prettiest platter. Top with fresh blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries. Cover with lemon dressing and then sugared pecans. Feta cheese also goes well with this salad but is ever so optional.
SALAD DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon (about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
Simply shake the salad dressing ingredients together in a container with a lid & drizzle on your gorgeous salad. This recipe makes about a cup of dressing so you will have leftovers for another day. Just save in the fridge.
SUGARED PECANS INGREDIENTS:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
3 cups pecans
Beat 2 egg whites with hand mixer until frothy. After egg whites are frothy add vanilla, sugar, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Mix well.
Stir in pecans.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread pecans onto baking sheet.
Bake pecans for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Sugar coating will harden as they cool.
Polka dots, oh how I love you.
Flo looking fabulous.
Cami was delighted that her mud pie ice cream birthday cake was handmade by Joey Fatone while he was here. She’ll definitely be even cooler at the water cooler this week.
Dear Vegetarians and Vegans, Please avert your eyes for we about to embark upon the meatiest recipe I’ve ever made. I’m sorry. Love, Deanna
And all the men said, “Meat and meat and meat and meat and potatoes? Amen.”
Preheat oven to 350F.
MEAT ROLL INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 package of your favorite dry packaged au jus mix
3/4 cup milk
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
3 eggs to mixture
1 pounds country sausage
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
Salt & pepper
2 pounds sliced bacon
One 14 oz. package smoked beef sausage
Place Panko bread crumbs, grated parmesan, minced garlic, eggs, country sausage and ground chicken or turkey. Mix au jus mix into milk and then add to the rest of the ingredients. Add a little salt (not too much as the parmesan cheese already has a lot of salty flavor) & pepper. Combine until well mixed together. Set aside.
I like to use latex gloves for this job since it’s so messy.
On a half sheet baking pan covered with a layer of foil (for easy clean up), stretch bacon across pan – layering each piece a little bit over the last.
Place half of the ground meat mixture down the center of the bacon and place the sausage on top of the ground meat.
Pack the other half of the ground meat mixture over the sausage to create the circle of meat around the sausage. Lift the bacon slices over the top of the meat roll on one side, and then the other.
Use toothpicks or wooden sticks to help hold the bacon in place so it doesn’t fall during cooking time. Bake for about an hour or until ground meat mixture is 165F when measured with a meat thermometer. The most important thing to know when cooking meat is the minimum temp that it should be when done. This will insure food safety. The second most important thing to know is to make sure the temp doesn’t go much higher than the safe temp. This insures that the meat will not become dry and flavorless.
Using a peeler, peel potatoes however you like. For a rustic look, I peeled the potatoes just around the middle this time. If using larger potatoes, simply cut into smaller, similar-sized pieces. Pour oil into frying pan and heat to medium high.
While waiting for oil to heat, coat potatoes in tumeric & curry powders.
After oil is preheated, add potatoes to pan. Toss occasionally during cooking and add salt & pepper. If desired, you can add diced yellow onions to the potatoes for the last 4-5 minutes of cooking time. Don’t add them too soon as they will burn because they cook much quicker than potatoes do.
You can also add minced garlic and freshly chopped oregano, basil, rosemary & thyme during the last minute of cooking time if you like. Potatoes are done when a fork poked into them slides out easily.
MUSHROOM GRAVY INGREDIENTS:
3 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon grease)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
3 tablespoons flour
About 3 cups of chicken broth (or water)
Beef Better than Bouillon
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat diced onions over medium heat in oil until somewhat translucent.
Add mushrooms and cook until browned.
Sprinkle flour over mushroom and onions. Stir and allow flour to cook for at least couple of minutes.
Stir in chicken broth and then about 2 tablespoons of beef Better than Bouillon. Heat until Better than Bouillon has melted into gravy.
Finally stir in heavy whipping cream and butter. If you’re feeling a little wild & crazy, you can add a little dry red or white wine. to the mix. What could be better? I mean really.
Oh, yes, perhaps this? When the meat roll is finished cooking, allow it to rest for about 15 minutes then remove toothpicks and slice into 1-2 inch slices, depending on how big of eaters you are entertaining.
To serve, place potatoes on plate in a little circle and cover with mushroom gravy. Adorn with a gorgeous slice of meat roll to show off its beauty.
And every vegetarian and vegan said, “Potatoes only, please.”
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (for kebabs); reserve 1/4 cup bell pepper, finely chopped (for couscous)
1 1/4 cups water
2 tsp. olive oil
1. Cut steak into 1 ¼-inch pieces. Add ground red (cayenne) pepper to zesty Italian dressing, and toss with beef, bell peppers and onion.
2. Alternately thread beef and vegetable pieces onto four 12-inch skewers. Grill over medium heat or broil 3-4 inches from heat 9-12 minutes for medium rare to medium, turning once.
3. While cooking kebabs, prepare couscous per range top directions on package using water and olive oil; stir in the finely chopped red bell pepper when adding the couscous to boiling water.
On a personal note, I recommend adding salt and pepper to beef kebabs before cooking to bring out all of the other delicious flavors.
Preparing Near East Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
In saucepan, bring 1-1/4 cups water, 2 t. olive oil & spice packet to a boil. Stir in couscous.
Remove from heat and cover. Let stand for five minutes. Fluff couscous lightly with a fork. And for this recipe, toss in 1/4 cup diced bell red pepper (mentioned above).
Again, I recommend adding salt and pepper to couscous to bring out all of the flavors. Had I only known this was so easy to make, I would have tried it sooner!
4. Serve kebabs over or next to couscous.
Who knew couscous was so very beautiful and yummy?
Friends on Facebook and now in real life. Social networking with couscous.
Who put Margaret in charge of cutting the cake? Laughter with couscous.
Some of my dearest friends. They won’t go away. Crazy friends with couscous.
What a fun evening. Delicious food. Great conversation. An overdose of laughter. More couscous please?
Thank you, Near East Couscous
Thank you to Near East Couscous who sponsored this post and thank you so much to our dear friends who by attending our dinner party, inspired Near East Couscous to give 250 boxes of couscous to Northwest Harvest, Washington’s hunger relief agency.
Post a photo of their mobile food truck, the Couscous Caravan, to Near East’s Facebook wall. For each photo, they will donate two boxes of couscous. See Couscous Caravan’s schedule.
Tweet to @NearEastDish using the #CouscousCaravan hashtag and they’ll donate a box of couscous for each tweet. Add a picture of the Couscous Caravan to your tweet like Chef Jason Wilson did here and two boxes will donated!
I have received free Near East product an conjunction with this blog post. Near East did not influence my opinions expressed here as a result.
When I was a new cook, I only knew how to cook one meal and even that one meal I was iffy as I guessed at how to cook perfect rice. This bread, however, has always been a winner.
Place 1 stick of butter and four ounces of cream cheese into a bowl. Make sure both are softened. To that, add two teaspoons of lemon juice. Back then I used lemon juice from the bottle. Today I prefer mine straight from the lemon. Add 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds and 1 teaspoon of Beau Monde Seasoning (beautiful world) seasoning Top off with 1 teaspoon of mustard, a dash of salt and about two tablespoons of grated onion. Just use a cheese grater. Mix together well and set aside. Slice a loaf of French bread and place onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Smother both sides of each slice with the creamy beautiful world blend. Cut some swiss cheese slices into half diagonally. Place one cheese triangle in between each slice of bread. Bring the foil up around the sides of the bread. Bake until butter mixture and cheese is entirely melty and bubbling over with flavor.
If you aren’t sure about anything else today, you can be sure of this recipe. You’re welcome.
There are a few members of the vegetable kingdom that are especially stuffy. The artichoke is one of the stuffiest especially after this recipe…
This recipe will make enough filling for 3-4 artichokes. Great for a party appetizer or for a family dinner main course – super fun too!
Cut off the bottoms of artichokes so they sit level.
Trim off tips of all leaves (this is not necessary, but preferred since the ends are sharp) and rub each with fresh lemon to prevent browning.
Place artichokes in a pot with about 2 inches of water. Heat to medium heat with a lid loosely over the top. Bring to a light study boil for about 15 minutes or until middle of artichokes are tender.
Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan on high heat. Add about 1/2 of chopped onion.
In a medium bowl, sprinkle one tablespoon of flour over two cups of heavy whipping cream.
Pour cream mixture into onions.
Add eight ounces of softened cream cheese. Stir in until fully melted.
Stir in a few tablespoons of bacon bits.
Add about 4 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese. Stir in and remove from heat. I forgot to capture a picture, but take about 5-6 ounces of salad croutons (garlic or Caesar flavor) and if they are large croutons, cut each one into about four smaller pieces.
Stir croutons into cream sauce & allow to set while you prepare the artichokes.
After artichoke is finished cooking, separate the middle leaves and remove center leaves.
You will sneak up on the sea urchin in the middle of the artichokes. Don’t be scared. Just remove the fur.
Under the fuzz is the heart of the artichoke – the tastiest part of one of the stuffiest vegetables. I like to rinse the inside to get all the fuzz off before I fill the artichoke.
Place artichoke on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Fill with stuffing and top with some grated mozzarella cheese. Heat in oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted.
Plate and top with chopped flat leaf parsley and more bacon bits. If serving at a fancy party, just place a spoon inside so that everyone can place some stuffing on the end of their leaf. To enjoy in a casual setting, pull off a leaf, dip bottom end of the leaf into the stuffing as you would a scoop. Bite down about 3/4 from the top of the leaf and slide top teeth along the leaf to receive the stuffing along with the artichoke. Discard the remainder of the leaf. Repeat. Smile. Repeat. Smile. Repeat. Smile… until midnight.
Last spring I tasted one of my new favorite appetizer recipes for the first time. I had just met Mandy Heaston, a super sweet fellow Seattle girl and opera singer. She loves creating recipes that make her sing. She has one awesome blog called Gourmet Mom on the Go too. This recipe is hers and it had me at hello. Let’s get started!
Toss 1 cup chopped sweet yellow onion into a bowl.
I’m not gonna lie. I sneaked this picture in just because I think it’s pretty.
Add 3/4 cups each red and yellow peppers into bowl with the onion (I used one of each pepper & it came out to be about the right amount). To see evidence of what I used, just look again at the amazing picture of peppers above.
Add on tablespoon of minced garlic.
Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a pan & heat on medium high. Add pepper mix and stir occasionally.
While peppers heat, place one 8 ounce package of softened cream cheese one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and about 15 chopped basil leaves into a bowl.
Stir well, take a picture and set aside. Oh wait… you can skip the picture part.
Check on peppers that are caramelizing then cut 1 1/2 cups of shorty baby tomatoes into small pieces.
When peppers are finished caramelizing, remove from heat and stir in one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt & the shorty baby tomatoes.
Now that the toppers are done, we get to toast the bread. Brush olive oil on both sides of sliced french bread. Broil 3-4 minutes on each side. I have learned the hard way not to turn your back on the broiler. It has a dark side, trust me. Keep an eye on your toast.
Oh the panic on my face when I gasped and pulled these out of the oven. Usually I end up with blackened bread. Sounds fancy, right?
Now for the assembly. First creamy goodness.
And finally the topping (while singing opera). There is no way you cannot have a happy new year with this at your party. Bring on 2011, blackened breads and all!
P.S. I miss you Miss Mandy. I hope you and your family are loving beautiful Colorado! I know of a great place to stay when you come back to visit.
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.