Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How Do You Celebrate St. Valentine's Day?




Did you know that an estimated 1 billion Valentine's cards are sent to commemorate the holiday, this makes it the second most popular card sending holiday second to Christmas. Not surprisingly, 85% of the cards are sent by women. 





I have been reading a lot this week about people who get depressed on Valentine's day because they do not have a significant other, someone they love, to celebrate with. When in fact love is all around them; their family, friends and more. I might add that most people are surrounded by love all of the time. So why should we celebrate that only one day a year?







I know that Valentine's day is supposed to be a romantic holiday filled with hearts, flowers, cupids and chocolate. But frankly I like to spend it celebrating love, all kinds of love not just "romantic" love. The love of good friends, family, my husband and even sending a few cards to people that I know who have lost their loved ones. After all, who doesn't want to be told they are loved and cherished?




I personally think Valentine's day should be about celebrating that. Life is so short and very precious. Why not spend this Valentine's day telling your husband, wife, kids, family, friends and more telling them how much they mean to you, how special they are and how much you love them. 

Make them a special meal, bake them a little treat, and definitely give them a handwritten card or note.

On second thought, why wait for Valentine's day? Why not tell them today? 

Have a great day!





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Easy Almond and Chocolate Danish Pastries




Good morning! How was your weekend? Did you watch  Super Bowl 50 or  attend a party? We stayed home this year and did have the game on, not really rooting for the Panthers or the Broncos but watched the commercials. I loved the Heinz Weenie Dog Commercial the Helen Mirren Budweiser and the Avacados of Mexico commercial. What about you? Did your team win? What was your favorite commercial? Did you have some tasty treats?




I made two kinds of incredibly easy but fancy looking danish for breakfast yesterday and they were delicious. Almond Danish and Chocolate Danish Pastries were the two that we made but you could basically put anything into the middle of the puff pastry, fruit, cream cheese, jelly and more and end up with a beautiful and scrumptious treat.




Almond Danish Pastry 

Dough

1 (17 oz) package frozen puff pastry, thawed


Filling Ingredients for Almond Pastry

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
7 ounces almond paste, frozen until firm and then grated with hand grater
1 cup sliced almonds, divided

For Chocolate Pastry

1 65% dark chocolate candy bar

Icing Ingredients
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon softened butter
⅛ teaspoon almond extract

sliced almonds for garnish




Directions

Unfold thawed puff pastry sheet onto greased or silphat lined baking sheet. Spread half of the filling(almond) down the center third of the puff pastry. On each side of the filling cut 8 strips about 31/2 inches into the center of the pastry dough. Starting at one end of the pastry alternately fold a strip from each side onto the center filling to make a "braid" design. Pinch the ends to seal the pastry. Repeat with remaining pastry. 
Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Let pastry cool and then drizzle with icing and garnish with almonds. 

For chocolate pastry unfold puff pastry, lay chocolate bar in the center and fold the dough strips over the center chocolate alternating strips until you reach the end and then seal the ends. 

Alternative: Chocolate and Almond pastry, down center of dough spread almond mixture, then lay chocolate bar onto and braid the dough. Bake until golden brown. 

Icing Directions
Combine all icing ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. If icing is too thick add a little more milk until it is the consistency you like. 




What do you think? Is this a breakfast that you might try? Or do you have your own versions of this danish?


If you have more time and would like to make something a little more challenging and fancy than you could try this Buttery Almond Braid. It is sweet, buttery, and delicious. 




Or you could try this Swedish Pastry a treat that has been made in my family for over 40 years. 



Enjoy and have a great day!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Friday Favorites from The Food Charlatan, Will Cook for Smiles, The Balance Project, Once Upon a Chocolate Life and More

Good morning! It's the biggest weekend in the world if you love football. In all honesty I am not a fan of football but I am definitely a fan of the food! 


Image The Food Charlatan

This week I made  Cuban Mojo Marinated Pork from the Food Charlatan which in itself is delicious. 





But I made it so that we could make it into these Cuban Sandwiches which I think would be an excellent addition to your Superbowl party food!


Hot 7 Layer Dip from Will Cook for Smiles

Speaking of which, a party would not be complete without a, little ok a big bowl of some sort of dip. There are 10 Superbowl Party Dips here that all look delicious.  I will be making Hot 7 Layer Dip from Will Cook for Smiles .



Image HERE


Do you ever dream of buying a chateau in France and fixing it up? An Australlian couple purchased Chateau de Gudanes, a chateau from the 1700's are are restoring it, little by little. You can follow along HERE. After seeing all of their hard work I think I might save my pennies and find one that is already finished. 


Are you a busy woman looking for balance in your life? Than The Balance Project created by Susie Schnall is something you will want to check out. After all aren't you curious to see how other women manage to "have it all?"

If you love to read the book before the movie here is a list of 19 Books to Read Before The Movies come out in 2016. Are you a fan of books to movies? More often than not I prefer the book what about you?
Since it is the weekend I thought you might like to indulge a little and try this Chocolate Babka French Toast, if you don't want to make your own bread you can always buy a loaf to use instead. Or if you only want to make the bread to eat hot from the oven the recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.




And if you want to make something else chocolaty and delicious for your Valentine this week be sure to read my post from Monday of  The 25 Best Homemade Chocolate Valentine Treats


I hope that yo have a wonderful weekend! Enjoy the Superbowl or whatever else you have planned. 



Thursday, February 4, 2016

The 25 Best Homemade Chocolate Valentine's Day Treats

Good morning, how is your week so far? I am excited because according to our furry friends, the groundhogs, we are going to be seeing an early Spring. I'm not sure how accurate they are but we can always dream can't we?


Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have been thinking this week about Valentine's Day because I was making and sending Valentine's cards and treats to my niece's, nephew and the grandkids. Typically, my husband and I exchange cards, make an interesting dinner and I always make some dessert. I thought I would share twenty-five treats with you today that I make often, just in case you need a recipe or two for your special Valentine. If you are not a fan of chocolate than you better skip to the end!


Chocolate Cheesecake Bars


Moist Chocolate Cake



Flourless Chocolate Cake


Chocolate Pancakes


Double Chocolate Bourbon Brownies


Chocolate Tapioca Pudding


Tripple Chocolate Blondies


Decadent Dark Chocolate Torte

Trisha Yearwood Brownie


Tripple Chocolate Cheesecake


Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats


Oreo No-Bake Cheesecake

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Chocolate Banana Cake


Baked Chocolate Fudge


Magic Bars, Hello Dolly Bars


Joy the Baker Brownies


Brownie Tart Sundae



Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream


Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake


Skor Toffee Bar Cheesecake


Caramelized Almond Dark Chocolate Bark


Cookies and Cream Brownies


What do you do for Valentine's Day? Do you celebrate? Go out do dinner, exchange gifts? Or something else?

Whatever you do I hope that you celebrate love, the love of family, friends, pets, and whoever else you love.

Have a great day!




Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives



Good morning! Can you believe that is is February 1st! Where does the time go? 

How was your weekend? Mine like most was all about food. Because I have more time on the weekends I like to experiment or make things that are more time consuming than a regular weekday meal, and I love to make comfort food. 

This weekend I made an old standby and a family favorite, Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives from Williams Sonoma. If you like Moroccan food or spicy, aromatic dishes than this easy and scrumptious dish is perfect for you. The tender juicy chicken, olives and softened preserved lemons combined with the gravy combine to make a delicious meal. You can eat is as is, or serve it with brown rice or couscous. 





I make mine in a Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Moroccan Tagine but you can use a cast iron skillet or a dutch oven as well, they all work to achieve the same fabulous meal. 


Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads 
  • 2 Tbs. warm water 
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus
      more for garnish 
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley,
      plus more for garnish 
  • 4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts **(see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups cracked green olives 
  • 2 preserved lemons, thinly sliced **(see note)
  • 1/2 cup  chicken broth

Directions

In a small bowl, soak the saffron in the warm water for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the onions, the 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup parsley and 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice. Add the cumin, ginger, turmeric, the saffron and its soaking liquid and the salt. Process to a pulpy puree. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the garlic and 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the chicken breasts or thighs, seal the bag and massage to coat the chicken with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Put the olives in a large, heavy tagine or pan and add water to cover. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the olives and set aside. Thoroughly dry the pan with a paper towel. 

In the same tagine or pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then add the lemon slices and sear until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer lemon slices to a plate. Then add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil to the tagine or pan. 

Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off the excess and reserving the marinade. Working in batches, sear the chicken, (skin side down if using thighs) until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes each. Transfer to another plate.

Pour the broth into the tagine or pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Stir in the reserved marinade and add the chicken and any juices from the plate. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 40 minutes.

Add the olives, the reserved lemon slices and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the tagine or the pan with the chicken. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, 15-25 minutes. This time depends upon if you are using breasts or thighs and their size. The chicken should be fall off the bone tender. 

Garnish the stew with chopped cilantro and parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.

NOTES:

The original recipe calls for 6 bone in and skin on chicken thighs. 
Also, do not think that you cannot make this because you do not have any preserved lemons which usually take a couple of weeks! HERE is a link to a fast and easy "preserved" lemon recipe. 






What did you make this weekend? As I always say I love learning new recipes so if you have something that you love to make, bake or cook please share!

Have a great week!


Linking to:
Flour ME with Love
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