Valentine’s Day chocolate

 

By Dr. Linda Mitchell

When you hear the word “valentine,” what is the first word that comes to your mind? Is it heart? Red? Cupid? Love? Card? Candy? Flowers? Oh-no? If you’re like the majority of folks then the first word you think of is “heart.” Polls reveal the second word that folks claim comes to mind is…Love. For me, the word is “chocolate”…what an opportunity to indulge… in all your favorite sweets and here are a few great ones to get you started.

Chocolate Waffles

(sleep in and then enjoy these for brunch)

1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups milk
1 stick butter, melted

 

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, sugar, and salt.  In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and milk well to combine.  Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir.

Preheat the waffle iron. Then coat it with nonstick spray and pour 3/4 cup of batter into the center.  Cook according to manufacturer’s directions. Remove to a plate.  Repeat with remaining batter. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve with strawberries.

 

Candy Cane Hearts

Leftover candy canes from Christmas

Place two candy canes together to form a heart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 250 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until they start to get a little soft. Remove from oven and gently press the connecting ends together. Allow to cool. Use as a garnish on a plate with a slice of cake or pie or tie a big red bow on the heart and give it away.

 

food column

Coconut Cake

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Coconut Cake

2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 sticks butter

2/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 2 (8 inch) cake pans. In a large bowl beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar gradually and continue beating until well mixed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Turn onto wire racks to cool.

 

Mix together:

1 cup water

1 cup syrup

Bring to a boil. Poke holes in the cake with a toothpick. Remove pan from heat and spoon over cake until thoroughly soaked in.

 

Frosting

 

2 egg whites
1 1/2 c. sugar
5 tbsp. cold water
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar or 1 1/2 tsp. light cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. freshly grated coconut

 

Put egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar in the top of double boiler and beat well to blend. Place over, not in boiling water and beat constantly with an electric mixer or wire whisk until frosting is of spreading consistency, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in vanilla and coconut. Gently spread between layers and on top of cake.

 

Top Tips for a Romantic Dinner for Two

  • Prep and prepare as much as possible before time so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your honey.
  • Dim the lights and light candles to create the right mood.
  • Remember to play music that means something to you.
  • Eliminate distractions like the cell phone and computer.
  • Serve fun foods that you know he likes.

 

Chocolate Turtle Fondue

1 cup milk chocolate chips

4 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Assorted items for dipping such as bananas, strawberries, pound cake cut into cubes, brownies, etc.

Toothpicks or skewers

 

Melt chocolate and caramel in microwave. Sprinkle nuts on top. The caramel will keep the chocolate soft even without constant heat or a fondue pot.

 

Rosemary Skewers with Shrimp or Chicken

Thread olive oil-marinated shrimp on a rosemary-branch skewer and discover the delicious subtle herb flavor it imparts. Rosemary is known for being associated with the heart. Many believe it to be a love charm, by others to be a token of remembrance and fidelity, and it often makes the list of romantic foods.

 

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 garlic clove, minced

18-20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined or substitute chicken

6 Rosemary springs (about 6″ each)

Cooking spray

 

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, seasoning, and minced cloves together in a zip top plastic bag. Add shrimp or chicken bites to bag. Seal and shake to coat. Leave in refrigerator until needed. Strip leaves from top of Rosemary springs and thread shrimp or chicken onto Rosemary. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Coat both sides of shrimp skewers with cooking spray. Arrange skewers on pan and cook 2 minutes on either side until done.

 

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Seasonings to taste

6 slices cheese

4 slices ham

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish. Pound chicken breasts until they are thinner. Sprinkle with seasonings and top with one slice of cheese and one piece of meat. Roll up each breast and secure with a toothpick. Place in baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven and top with another slice of cheese. Return to oven until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and remove toothpicks immediately. Serve hot.

 

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