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Livening Up Dessert with Lemon Icebox Pie

I have had this recipe sitting idly by for a few weeks now just waiting for me to have the time to make it, and I finally got to it. I really don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it. The recipe itself is not very hard and it only takes minutes to put everything together. This recipe, for the classic lemon icebox pie, is from Cook’s Country magazine. If you have never had it before, it is very similar to a key lime pie, with of course lemons substituting for the key limes. I have seen lots of recipes out there  for this pie, but this one seems the easiest and the results are quite good.

Lemon Icebox Pie

9 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons butter, melted

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

3 large egg yolks

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 5 to 6 lemons)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Process the graham crackers and the sugar in a food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined, about 8 pulses. Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch pie plate. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until the crust is fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack, about 35 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the sweetened condensed milk. Whisk the remaining sweetened condensed milk and the egg yolks together in a bowl until they are smooth. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust. Bake the pie until the edges are beginning to set but the center of the pie still jiggles when shaken, about 15 minutes. Let the pie cool for 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pie until it is chilled and set, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream, reserved sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla extract on medium-low speed until it is foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 to 3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the pie and serve.

I really liked this pie. It was really easy to make and the taste is so refreshing and wonderful. Michelle and I both agreed maybe it could use a smidge more lemon juice for the lemon flavor to really shine, but I had a piece the next day and the flavor seemed even better, so it’s really up to your own personal tastes. You can save yourself even more time and simply buy a pre-made graham cracker crust to use for the pie and really cut your preparation time down to nothing. I’ll be making this one again for sure.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time to see what other recipes come along. I’ll be going shopping this weekend, so we’ll see what I come back with and what recipes fit what I would like to do. The new issue of Cook’s Country has some great recipes in it, so I do plan to try some of them out next week. Check back for those. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Cooking, Dessert, Pie

 

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A Sweet Treat – Heath Bar Brickle Drop Cookies

My wife makes great cookies. I don’t know what it is about them when she makes them, but they just come out better than anyone else’s cookies, most of all mine. That is why I leave the cooking baking to her. She is the expert. Michelle knows how much I like Heath Bars. Heath bars are really the only candy bar that I can say I really like and would eat regularly. I just love the English toffee in them. When we saw the Heath bar brickle bits in the supermarket not that long ago, Michelle knew right away I was going to want to try them out and have some cookies. This is the recipe that is right on the back of the package and is also available through Hershey’s website (the maker of Heath bars).

Heath Bar Brickle Drop Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/3 cups (1- 8 ounce package) Heath Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee Bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add the eggs; beat well. Stir together the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in the toffee bits. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly and remove them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat the process with the remaining cookie dough.

The recipe says it makes about 6 dozen cookies, which seems to be about right. These cookies come out most and chewy and have the great toffee flavor to them. They go great with a nice cup of coffee or just as a midnight snack when you have to get up and walk the dog at night. For me, they rank right up there with Michelle’s chocolate chip cookies and her oatmeal raisin cookies, both family favorites around here.

That’s all I have for today. check back again to see what recipes come up next. I do have recipes for some polenta with roasted vegetables, a homemade Shake N’ Bake pork chops recipe, and I have the dough for the ciabatta bread proofing right now, so we’ll have that one this week as well and anything else that may come along that strikes my fancy. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal (or your cookies)!

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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Cookies, Cooking, Dessert

 

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Red and Blue: A Refreshing Drink and Blueberry Hand Pies

I had made a couple of quick and easy recipes a few days ago that lend themselves perfectly to the summer. Both use some great summer fruits and can be made in almost no time at all. The first was a simple drink of watermelon agua fresca, a very refreshing drink that you can make with this recipe that I got from Food Republic.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

16 cups cubed seedless red watermelon, about a 5-pound watermelon’s worth

2 cups water

2/3 cup sugar

1 bunch fresh mint

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Club soda

Lime slices, for garnish

Blueberries, for garnish

Combine the watermelon, water, sugar and mint in a blender and puree until smooth (You may have to do this in batches to accommodate all the watermelon). Pour through a coarse strainer into a large container.

Stir in the lime juice. Refrigerate until it is well chilled, about 4 hours or overnight. To serve, fill a highball glass with ice, fill the glass 2/3 full with the watermelon mixture, and top with club soda and garnish with a lime slice. You can also add several blueberries to float on the top if you wish.

It is a very easy drink to make and you can even jazz it up a bit with some alcohol if you wanted to go that route. I thought it was great and refreshing just as it is with a strong watermelon flavor mixed with the lime.

I also got a recipe from bon appetit magazine for some blueberry hand pies. I have long had a thing for Hostess and Drake’s fruit pies, and until they are back on the market (which should be in a week or so), this is a great substitute that you can make on your own. They are perfect for any type of barbecue or picnic since you can just pick one up and dig in.

Blueberry Hand Pies

1 homemade or store-bought pie crust

All-purpose flour (for dusting)

2 cups blueberries (about 10 ounces)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water

1 tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 15 x 12-inch rectangle. Cut the dough into 6 rectangles.

Toss the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Brush the edges of the dough rectangles with water; mound some blueberries into the center of each rectangle. Fold the dough over, and press the edges to seal. Place the pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush them with the egg wash, and sprinkle the tops with the raw sugar. Cut small slits on the top for steam to escape.

Bake the hand pies, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking, until the juices are bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes (some juices will run out onto the parchment paper). Transfer the pies to a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve the pies warm or at room temperature.

I loved these pies. The are the perfect serving size and portion and make a great dessert that you could easily double or triple the recipe for a bigger crowd. I did use a store-bought pie crust and they turned out just fine, but I can see where a homemade crust would be easier to deal with and roll to the right size without making the dough too thin. In either case, I think it is a great summer dessert that doesn’t take long to make.

That’s all I have for today. Check back again for more recipes in the coming days, including one for magic bars that we recently made for a dessert. I also have several other recipes I will be trying in the next few days to post, including one for barbecued chicken, some pulled pork sliders, Cobb salad style chicken salad and more. Check back and see what comes up next. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Beverages, Cooking, Dessert, Pie

 

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Irish Onion Soup and a Couple of Desserts

Yesterday we decided to make our St. Patrick’s Day dinner instead of doing it today. With that in mind I have posted recipes before for corned beef, colcannon, Irish coffee, Shamrock shakes and other recipes that I picked up while we were in Dublin last year. I did make corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes yesterday for them to dinner but I also added a few other items to the meal. One that stands out the most was an Irish onion soup that we made. It was pretty simple to make, didn’t take much longer than an hour to assemble and cook and it tasted great. The recipe itself is pretty simple and you could really make this any time of year not just for St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Onion Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, have lengthwise and sliced into pieces
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon granulated it sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark Irish beer, such as Guinness
6 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Day-old baguette, sliced into 3/4- inch slices
Irish cheddar cheese, sliced into 1/4- inch thick slices

in a large skillet set over medium heat melt the butter. Once the butter is melted and the white foam subsides add the sliced onions. Cook using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally, until the onions are soft and gold in about 20 minutes. Add the Irish whiskey. If you have a gas burner, carefully till the pan toward the flame to flambé the onion of whiskey mixture. If you have that electric cooktop, use a long match to flambé the whiskey or you can skip the flambé altogether. Stir in the granulated sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions turn darker shade of brown, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the pinch of kosher salt, the all-purpose flour, and the finely chopped garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about two minutes. While stirring pour in the Irish beer. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the beer is reduced by 1/3, about five minutes. Add the beef stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and heat the broiler to high. Divide the soup among oven-safe bowls and set them on a rimmed baking sheet. To each bowl add two bread slices. Cover each slice of bread with two pieces of the Irish cheddar. Set the rimmed baking sheet on the upper middle oven rack and broil until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

You could certainly use a different type of cheese if you prefer not to go with the Irish cheddar. Personally, I didn’t put any cheese on mine and just had the onion soup itself. The recipe itself makes enough for four servings, but I had a little bit more so we can make it for six people. There were no leftovers it off from what I made.

Michelle made two different cakes for dessert. We actually got the recipes from two different sources. We had seen the recipe for the Fallen Chocolate Cake in the recent Bon Appétit magazine. It sounded really good and it’s basically a flourless cake, so we thought we would give it a try.

Fallen Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup (one stick) butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more, room temperature, for the pan
3/4 cup +2 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus more for the pan
10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup marscarpone
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a springform pan and dust with sugar, tapping out any excess. Combine the chocolate, oil, and half cup of butter in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of slow simmering water and heat, stirring often, until melted. Remove the bowl from the sauce pan.

Separate 4 eggs, placing the whites and the yolks in separate medium bowls. Add the cocoa powder, the vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the remaining two eggs to the bowl with the yolks and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture, blending well. Using an electric mixer on high-speed, beat the egg whites until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually beat in 1/2 cup of sugar; beat until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in 2 additions, folding just until they are incorporated between additions. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake until the top is puffed and starting to crack and the cake is pulling away from the edge of the pan, about 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan. The cake will collapse in the center and crack further as it cools.

For the topping, use an electric mixer on medium high-speed to beat the heavy cream, marscarpone, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Remove the sides of the springform pan from the cake and mound the whipped cream mixture into the center of the cake.

We found that the cake itself seems to taste awful lot like a really good, thick brownie. The cream used on the top was really great it combined with the cake itself. We were little worried as to how this one would turn out, which is why we decided to make a second cake along with it. For the second cake, we opted to make a Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting. I saw a bunch of recipes on the Internet, but opted to go with this one that I saw at The Procrastobaker.  This one is a more traditional cake, besides the addition of the alcohol.

Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup Guinness Extra Stout
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs

3 sticks butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 to 4 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and remove from the heat and whisk in the Guinness, the vanilla and cocoa powder. While the mixture cools slightly, grease and line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Whisk together the sugar, flour and baking soda in a large bowl. Pour the Guinness mixture into the flour mixture and then whisk in the two eggs. When the batter is completely smooth, divide the batter between the two cake pans. Place the cake pans in the oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cakes in the pans to cool.

To make the buttercream frosting, whip together the butter and sugar until very pale, adding in enough Bailey’s for it to be loose and fluffy. To assemble the cake, level off the cake layers if needed using a serrated knife. Spread roughly 1/3 of the buttercream frosting on the bottom layer of the cake. Top with the second cake layer and wiggle it until the line up correctly. If you wish, you can do a crumb coat by using another 1/3 of the buttercream and spreading a thin layer all over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate to set the frosting, for a few hours or overnight if you wish. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, spoon the final one 1/3 of  the frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly all over.

Everyone loves the taste of this cake, although we seem split on which cake everyone seemed to enjoy better. For me personally, I preferred the Guinness cake. I like the taste of the buttercream frosting and the cake itself had an awesome flavor to it. Just my personal preference, as I’m not always a big fan of the brownie and the fallen cake seemed to taste more like that to me. However, if you are looking for a gluten-free alternative, the fallen cake is a pretty good choice.

That’s all I have for today. I hope everyone enjoys their St. Patrick’s Day if you are celebrating and have a good time while staying safe. I’ll be posting some of the recipes this week, including one of fish sticks and sweet potato fries that I made. Check back that this week for other recipes. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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I Can Bake a Berry Pie

It was a busy weekend with lots of family events going on and we had a house full of people for a few days, so I haven’t had much of a chance to do any blogging. I also didn’t do much cooking the last few days either, although on Sunday I did make a London broil and some bratwurst on the grill. I did do some baking yesterday though, so that’s the recipe I am going with today. As I have written on here before, I am not a baker and there are many people who are much better at it than I am. I also have a very small kitchen, so I don’t really have the space to make my own dough, so I very often use store-bought pie crusts when I make a pie. This recipe I got from Pillsbury, although I did change it around a little bit. They use three berries in their pie: blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. I used blueberries and strawberries and it was a big hit. There is only a tiny bit left after yesterday, so excuse the picture (I really need to get better about remembering to take pictures of the things I make!). It’s a pretty easy pie to make and it tastes great.

Double Berry Pie

1 package Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh strawberries, trimmed and quartered

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons sugar

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the bottom crust in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Press the crust firmly against the side and bottom of the plate. Trim the bottom crust along the pan edge.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of sugar, the cornstarch, tapioca and salt; gently toss with the berries. Let the berries stand for 15 minutes. Spoon the filling into the bottom crust. Top with the second pie crust to make a lattice topped pie; cut the second crust into 1/2-inch wide strips. Arrange the strips in a lattice design over the filling. Trim, seal the edges and flute. Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Place the pie on the middle oven rack with a large cookie sheet on the rack below the pie pan in case of spillover.. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake the pie for 40 to 45 minutes longer or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let stand for 2 hours before serving.

The pie goes great with some vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream and a nice cup of coffee. I am not a dessert expert, but this one came out pretty good.

I’m not sure what the dinner plans on for the rest of the week. Sean is away for a couple of weeks so it’s just Michelle and myself for dinner, so we really haven’t planned anything out yet. When I come up with something though, I will be sure to put it on here. In the meanwhile, if you have any recipes you would like to contribute, please feel free to contact me with a comment here, via Facebook, Twitter or email at IguanaFlats@msn.com. Enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Cooking, Dessert, Pie

 

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Some Delightful (and Easy) Desserts

I had promised a couple of days ago to write about desserts I made on Sunday, but my new freelance job has been taking a lot of time so I haven’t had much time to do it. Tonight, I have the time. I made two things for dessert Sunday to go after the duck dinner, and I tried to make them things that weren’t too heavy since it was a heavy meal. The first thing I made was a quick coffee cake. it was simple and easy, no mixer required, and only took about 30 minutes to bake.

Quick Coffee Cake

Topping

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse

Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sour cream

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

7 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. For the topping: Using your fingers, mix the sugars, flour, butter, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl until the mixture resembles wet sand. Stir in the pecans and set aside.

For the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream, sugars, eggs and melted butter together until smooth. Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until smooth (do not overmix).

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of both cakes. Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes with just a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

The cake comes out nice and moist, not too dry like some coffee cakes. Since the recipe makes two cakes, we’ve been having a little in the morning with coffee or after dinner all week long.

The second dessert I made was a simple fruit salad using some of the fresh fruit I had just bought.

Gingered Honeydew, Mango and Blueberry Salad

1/2 honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and chopped medium

2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and chopped medium

1 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Pinch salt

Toss all the ingredients together, cover and refrigerate to blend the flavors, about 30 minutes.

I also had some fresh pineapple that I added to the salad, but the beauty of fruit salad is that you can pretty much add whatever fresh fruit is in season and you have at the time.

So those are the desserts I made, which for me is quite a feat since I am not a dessert person. I have another post that will follow this one shortly about last night’s dinner, so check back for that one shortly!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Dessert

 

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Repas de Saint-Valentin (Okay, A Valentine’s Day Meal)

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there. There’s nothing more romantic than a quiet dinner with your sweetie, whether it’s out at a restaurant or at home.This dinner menu, which I got from Williams-Sonoma, is French-themed and requires a little more work than what we have cooked lately, but not much, and the rewards will be worth it. I have also included a dessert today, which I don’t normally do, but heck, it’s a special day, so why not?

The first course is a Riesling onion Soup with Herbed Croutons. It’s a variation on the classic French Onion Soup. It takes a little bit (about an hour in total) to prepare and cook, but it’s a nice touch to start off the meal and you could always make the soup a day ahead of time and re-heat it when you are ready to serve it for your meal.

Riesling Onion Soup with Herbed Croutons

3 tablespoons butter

4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 leeks, including pale green tops, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups Riesling (use a dry Riesling, not “late harvest”) 6 cups chicken stock (I am using homemade, find my recipe here)

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Herbed Croutons:

1/2 baguette, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, thyme or rosemary, in any combination 1/2 pound of Italian fontina cheese, cut into small cubes

In a large, wide saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and tarragon and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes more. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and return to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, until reduced slightly, about 45 minutes.

To make the herbed croutons, preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, butter and herbs. Lightly coat each bread slice on both sides with the oil mixture. Toast the bread in the oven, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. (The croutons can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored, tightly covered, at room temperature.)

Preheat a broiler. Arrange individual ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet and ladle soup into the bowls. Top each serving with 2 or 3 croutons and an equal amount of the cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiler 7 inches from the heat source and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove from the broiler and serve immediately.

This recipe is for a service of 6, so you may want to cut it 2/3 if you are only making it for 2.

For the entrée, I am making Steaks with Shallot-Red Wine Sauce. I have made this before and posted the recipe in an earlier blog, so if you want to check it out, just click here and you can see the recipe for it. It’s very tasty and the only difference this time is that I am using bone-in ribeyes instead of boneless, but you can whatever cut of steak you like best.

I am making two sides with tonight’s meal. The first is Sautéed Spinach with Pine Nuts. I am making a slight variation of this, as pine nuts are quite expensive and I won’t use them very often. A good, cheaper alternative is slivered almonds, so I am going with those instead.

Spinach Sautéed with Pine Nuts

1/4 cup pine nuts (I am using slivered almonds instead)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 pounds spinach leaves, tough stems removed and leaves well rinsed (this sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. Spinach cooks down significantly when you saute it)

Salt and pepper to taste

If desired, toast the pine nuts (or almonds) by heating them gently in a dry, small, heavy fry pan over medium heat, tossing them every so often as they become golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Watch the nuts closely as they can burn very easily. When toasted, immediately pour them onto a plate.

In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and saute lightly until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Put the spinach with just the rinsing water clinging to the leaves in a saucepan over medium-high heat, cover, and cook until the spinach is bright green and wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well in a colander, pressing the spinach with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it coarsely.

Add the spinach and nuts to the onion and garlic in the fry pan and return to medium heat. Stir until the spinach and onion are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.

To go with the steak and spinach, I opted for Twice-Baked Potatoes tonight. You could easily go with roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes, but the twice-baked sounded like something different to try and you can use a variety of toppings, if you like.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

russet potatoes (7 to 8 ounces each), scrubbed, dried, and rubbed lightly with vegetable oil

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoons butter , room temperature

2 medium scallions , white and green parts sliced thin

1/4 teaspoon salt

 Ground black pepper

 Put an oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the potatoes on foil-lined baking sheet until skin is crisp and deep brown and skewer easily pierces the flesh, about 1 hour. Setting the baking sheet aside, transfer the potatoes to a wire rack and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Using an oven mitt or folded kitchen towel to handle the hot potatoes, cut each potato in half so that the blunt sides will rest on work surface. Using a small dinner spoon, scoop the flesh from each half into medium bowl, leaving a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness of flesh in each shell. Arrange the shells on a lined sheet and return to the oven until dry and slightly crisped, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the potato flesh with fork until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients, including pepper to taste, until well combined.

Remove the shells from the oven and increase the oven setting to broil. Holding the shells steady on a pan with an oven mitt or towel-protected hand, spoon the mixture into crisped shells, mounding slightly at the center, and return to the oven. Broil until spotty brown and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

You can always use a different cheese instead of cheddar to change things up for yourself and the shells should come nice and crispy, not soggy, in this recipe.

Finally, on to dessert. I am not a dessert person and very rarely make them myself, but tonight I will give it a shot and this recipe is pretty easy to use and great for the chocolate lovers. You need to use a double boiler for this recipe, but if you don’t have one(and I don’t) you can use a makeshift one. Choose a saucepan and a heatproof bowl(preferably glass) that rests securely in the top. Fill the saucepan with water to a depth of about 1 to 2 inches. Once the bowl is placed atop the pan, the water must not touch it. Remember that boiling water bubbles up, so check the water level before setting the bowl in place. Bring the water to a boil, set the bowl in place, and reduce the heat so the water simmers gently. If the water bubbles up and is hitting the bowl, you’ll get condensation in the bowl, your chocolate will end up seizing, and you’ll end up having to start over.

Warm Molten Chocolate Cakes

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 egg yolks

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)

3 egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly butter six 3/4-cup ramekins and dust with cocoa powder. Set the ramekins on a small baking sheet.

In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the pan over, but not touching, barely simmering water in the bottom pan and melt the chocolate and butter, then whisk until the mixture is glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the cocoa powder and the orange zest on medium-high speed until thick. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture and beat until well blended. The mixture will be very thick.

In a bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are very foamy and thick. Sprinkle in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating until firm, glossy peaks form. Spoon half of the beaten whites onto the chocolate mixture and whisk in until just blended. Add the remaining whites and stir gently until just blended. Spoon into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly.

Bake the cakes until they are puffed and the tops are cracked, about 13 minutes. The inside of the cracks will look very wet. Remove from the oven and serve immediately in the ramekins. Or run the tip of a small knife around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the cake, then invert the cakes onto individual plates.


You could serve these with a little dusting of powdered sugar and some raspberries or strawberries and maybe a dollop of whipped cream or creme anglaise (which I’m not adventurous enough to make, but some might be), or even a little vanilla ice cream with some shaved chocolate.

Okay, that’s it, my Valentine’s Day meal. It’s not as hard as it may seem, trust me. It’s just a matter of organizing your time and space so everything is done on time. You could even have everything set up to make the dessert and make it after you finish eating the dinner if you want. Enjoy your meal and your time with your special someone, have a nice glass of wine and snuggle by the fireplace. Tomorrow’s meal is back to simplicity with Cream of Cauliflower Soup. It’s our meat-free meal of the week so feel free to check it out. If you have any questions, comments, would like to let us know what you are making or eating tonight, please do! Have a great day everyone!

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

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