romantic suppers and sweets

Shrimp pasta

I failed to post this column on time as I became ill shortly before the holiday! Sorry to all my followers! Here it is, new and improved!

Valentine’s Day means expressing your love for your spouse, partner, family, and friends. What better way than to say it with food you lovingly prepare? Here are two suppers and two desserts to consider.

pasta with shrimp, tomatoes and feta cheese
Who said you can’t serve seafood with cheese? Ever have a tuna melt? Crab and swiss? Here’s delicious exception perfect for a Valentine Day supper.

ingredients

  • 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb raw large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
  • 1 Tbs each white wine and balsamic vinegar
  • ½ to 1 lb pasta (I usually make only half a pound since I like a higher shrimp-to-pasta ratio using linguine or bowties.)
  • 15 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 (6-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

directions

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook shrimp, garlic and white wine for 4-5 minutes or until shrimp is pink. Do NOT overcook!
  2. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente; drain and keep warm.
  3. While pasta is cooking, place diced tomatoes and halved grape tomatoes with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, and basil over medium heat into wine mixture in skillet until tender—10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, toss hot pasta with shrimp, tomato mixture, and feta. Feta will melt slightly. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and a crusty bread.

 

Chicken feta beans toms

greek chicken tenders with veggies
Prefer chicken? This dish is packed with flavors sure to spark up any evening!

for the chicken

  • 2 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive or avocado oil, divided
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1.5 lb chicken tenders
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 3­/4 Tbs balsamic vinegar (do not substitute)
  • 1 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, halved

for the greek dressing

  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/2 tsp black pepper

directions

  1. Sauté mushrooms in large frying pan with 1 tsp of the oil, until just browning. Remove from pan, set aside.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium­-high, add green beans. Sauté until green beans are cooked, but still a bit crunchy. Remove from the pan, set aside.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil over medium-­high, add chicken, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cook chicken 3­-4 minutes on both sides and remove once browned & cooked though. Remove from pan, set aside. Whisk all dressing ingredients together.
  5. In the same skillet, lower heat to medium, add dressing, honey, and balsamic vinegar. Stir and heat until bubbling.
  6. Toss in mushrooms, and green beans then the cooked chicken and tomatoes. Stir to heat through. Serve over rice or pasta.

 

easy chocolate bar fondue
This takes on a romantic hue when served with champagne. If made ahead, keep the chocolate warm in a double boiler till ready to serve.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound milk or dark chocolate bars, broken into pieces
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 store-bought angel food cake, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces dried fruit, such as pineapple slices and figs

directions

  1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, warm the cream and chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Transfer the fondue to a warm serving bowl or fondue pot.
  2. Serve immediately with forks for dipping strawberries, angel food cake, or whatever you like.

 

chocolate-cinnamon pudding with raspberries
So easy to put this together ahead of time. Kids will especially love the flavors.

ingredients

  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbs packed brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries, or frozen raspberries, thawed

directions

  1. Combine the cocoa, cinnamon, cornstarch, and 2/3 cup of brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in milk and 1/2 cup of cream.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until pudding is thick and smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  4. Whip remaining cream in a separate bowl with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form.
  5. Pour pudding into individual ramekins or a large bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm or chill for at least two hours. Top with raspberries and whipped cream.

your turn
Hope you enjoy these romantic dishes! Here is a PDF you can print out for your recipe collectionRomantic Suppers and Sweets Blog 2-16

death by chocolate—not!

This blog is a week late—not because of me—because I have to wait 24 hours after it appears in the newspaper before I can post it, and the paper delayed publication for a week. Sorry, but I hope it is well worth waiting for these BONUS recipes. OMG!

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like chocolate. And I’ve known a few who are addicted to it. Previously thought to be bad for you, scientists now believe it is a healthy addition to a good diet, providing valuable trace minerals. It has also been proven that the fat in chocolate (cocoa butter) doesn’t raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol. It raises your HDL (good) cholesterol.

My mother was a chocolate addict, and I grew up enjoying the fruits of her obsession. I was a lucky girl. What a great combination of nutrition and deliciousness. So tear up the guilt-trip ticket. Hop on board the chocolate express!

mom’s decadent chocolate cake
An amazing dark chocolate cake, this is unconventional in its method. I’ve never made a cake like this. But once I tried it, I was hooked. I found this recipe on JustAPinch.com and posted by Sheila Senghas. Your family will be begging you to make one of these every week!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbs milk
  • 1 Tbs hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb confectioners sugar, sifted (a must-do as it prevents lumps)

Directions
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 400° and grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Melt butter in a 2 qt or larger saucepan. Add cocoa and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in granulated sugar. Add salt, soda and flour, and stir well.

Beat eggs with milk and vanilla. Stir into chocolate mixture, pour batter into prepared baking pan, and bake for 15-20 minutes (or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean)

For the frosting:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add cocoa and milk, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add water, vanilla, and sifted confectioners sugar. Mix well. Frosting is not stiff. While cake is still hot and frosting is still warm, pour frosting over entire top of cake and spread evenly. Cool well before cutting. WOW!

my mother’s chocolate pie
She knocked it out of the park with this one. You can, too! Absolutely simple, easy and delicious. They’ll think you’re a genius.

  • 1 unbaked pie shell (see Cousin Ralph’s pastry recipe on my blog!)
  • 4 oz chocolate chips (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Optional: ¾ cup coconut or finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter and chocolate chips in a saucepan. Stir in milk, water, and eggs. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pie shell and bake for 40-45 minutes till center is set. Chill 3 hours. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or marshmallow fluff. Heaven!

REVISED killer brownies (aka yankee brownies)
 These are really chocolatey, so look out! My friend Matt Wilson’s daughter, Rachel, really loved these treats I made one Halloween, and he asked me for the recipe. Since he is an avid Red Sox fan and I root for the Yankees, we usually have lively trash-talking sessions around baseball season, so I sent the recipe card over and called these “Yankee Brownies.” Not nice, I know, but he can take a good ribbing!

Ingredients

  • 2 squares Baker’s Chocolate (or any solid, unsweetened brand)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Light Karo Syrup
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° and butter a 9 x 9 square pan. Melt baking chocolate and butter over low heat in a saucepan. Cool 30 minutes. Mix eggs, sugar and syrup and beat in cooled chocolate mixture. Stir in flour and baking powder. Turn into pan and bake 25 minutes. DO NOT overbake. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack. Spread chocolate chips evenly over the top to melt. Cool very well before cutting into squares. This can be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13-inch sheet pan.

Variation: Soak 1½ cups chopped walnuts in 1/3 cup bourbon for an hour before adding to batter. Yummy!

salted caramel chocolate bars
Salty-sweet is the going trend. This bar does not disappoint.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted (not margarine, please!)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 17-oz jar Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Topping
  • 5 1/3 Tbs flour
  • ¼ tsp coarse kosher or sea salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° and grease very well a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Cooking spray is fine. Combine flour, oats, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and baking soda in large mixing bowl. Press half the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Pour caramel into a medium bowl and stir in 6 Tbs of the flour.

Pull baking dish from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips over the hot crust, then pour the caramel and flour mixture over the chips and spread with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the salt over the caramel topping.

Crumble the remaining crust mix over the top and lightly press to set in, but do not press down.

Bake another 20 minutes.

Cool completely and cut into bars. Add a bit more salt if you’d like.

Print this blog: CJ-8-6-14-CHOCOLATE-BLOG,

Print Revised Killer Brownies aka Yankee Brownies: Revised YANKEE BROWNIES