Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Romantic Dinner

Ok, so I am a bit late on this one, but I thought I would share my Valentine's Day menu. I decided to cook a nice meal this year instead of going out to a restaurant. I was excited about the chance to make something that I woiuld not normally make!

This year's January/February issue of Cooking Light had a Valentine's menu consisting of rack of Lamb, truffled polenta, and a spicy sweet pepper relish so I decided to follow that. I added a side dish of peas sauteed with bacon, mainly because I wanted a bit more color .

The lamb chops were excellent, which was exciting as it was my first attempt with lamb! I started with chops right out of the refrigerator which may not have been the best idea. The chops were a little underdone after baking for 15 minutes, so I put them back in for a couple minutes. I think that 20 minutes of baking would have worked better, or letting my chops get to room temperature. Besides, this little setback, the lamb chops were very successful!

For the polenta, I made my own from scratch rather than using the Cooking Light recipe that used instant polenta. Polenta is really not hard to do and I started that first and then working on chopping the ingredients and preparing the lamb. The polenta worked really well as an accompaniment, especially since I get sick of mashed potatoes as an accompaniment. The spicy sweet pepper relish was not as big of a hit. I think it was a strange thing to pair with lamb and I didnt think it worked very well. I also just dont think I liked the recipe. I loved the peas and bacon! They were such a nice green! There is something about lamb and peas that makes me think of spring!

All in all, I think the meal was a hit. This lamb chop recipe is great as a romantic meal, but it would also be great for Easter or for entertaining! Again, the recipe is from Cooking Light and is as follows:

Fennel and Rosemary-Crusted Roasted Rack of Lamb:

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (12 oz) French- cut rack of lamb, trimmed
Cooking spray
Rosemary sprigs (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub lamb evenly with garlic mixture; place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145 degrees (medium-rare) to 160 degrees (medium). Garnish with rosemary sprigs if desired. Yield: 2 servings (serving size- 3ribs).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Molten Chocolate Surprise

As a cook, I look just about anywhere for a good recipes. As a mom, I like recipes that are easy. I usually make a variety of different types of recipes, some that are more time consuming than others. Yes, I am a stay at home mom so of course I am sure that many assume that I have time to make complex meals every night, but this is not the case. Anyway, I really like the Kraft Foods magazine. It is a free food magazine that arrives at my home every couple of months or so. It is free because it is, of course, an advertisement for Kraft foods. All of the recipes use at least one Kraft product, of course, you can always substitute for another product. This magazine is by no means gourmet. It is geared towards families and those who may be cooking for kids, but there are some nice, quick ideas in there.

A couple of nights ago, I made a dessert from the Kraft magazine, these little Chocolate Molten cakes. This was really a fun recipe to make! You start with a Chips Ahoy cookie in the bottom of a muffin cup and then cover it with a batter made of eggs, chocolate, butter, powdered sugar, and flour. As the cake bakes, it gets hard or solidifies at the edges and then slowly moves toward the center. Once the cakes are finished baking you invert them, take the cupcake liner off and this is what you have.
When you cut into it, you get this wonderful molten chocolate center! These cakes are not only fun to make, but they were delicious! Not to mention extremely easy! I think this recipe would be excellent for a potluck or family get together or even a wedding shower or baby shower. The only small problem I can, was that the cookies were a little big for by muffin pan, but I just shaved the edges of the cookies with a serrated knife.

The recipe is below. You can also get it by visiting the Kraft Foods website where you can also sign up for the free magazine or by visiting this link.

Molten Chocolate Surprise
by Kraft Foods

Prep Time:
15 min
Total Time:
28 min
1 doz. or 12 servings, one cake each
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup flour
12 CHIPS AHOY! Real Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, if desired

PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Beat whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar and flour with wire whisk until well blended. Gradually add to chocolate mixture, beating constantly until well blended.

LINE 12 medium muffin cups with paper liners; spray with cooking spray. Place 1 cookie, upside-down, on bottom of each cup; cover evenly with batter.

BAKE 8 min. or until cakes are firm around edges but still soft in centers. Let stand 1 min. Carefully remove cakes from muffin pan. Invert onto dessert dishes; remove paper liners. Serve with whipped topping if desired.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

History of Conversation Hearts

With Valentine's Day upon us, I thought it would be fun to post a short history on Valentine's Conversation hearts.

The Early American Colonists started the tradition of making homemade candies with love notes scratched into them. The New England Confectionary Company(Necco) expanded on this idea and created the conversation heart in the mid-1800s.

in 1860, Daniel Chase, brother of Necco founder Oliver Chase, invented the process to print motto candies. The candies were originally not in the shape of hearts, but in the shapes of cockles- small, scallop shaped candies wrpped in paper with sayings printed on the paper. In 1900, candies with sayings inscribed directly on them were invented, call Sweet Hearts. Originally the sayings were rather long, but over time they became shorter and more to the point, such as "Be Mine." Every year new saying are added to the candy mix.

Today, conversation hearts are one of the most popular Valentine's Day candy. They are especially popular with school children. This year, about 8 billion hearts will be produced. That's enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona and back 20 times. The peak selling season of the conversation hearts only lasts about 6 weeks, but confectioners produce the candy for 11 months of the year!

I hope you enjoyed this brief history. This information is from the website