Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Heart Lollipops!

I have made lollipops in the past, but it has been a while. I had forgotten how easy, quick, and cute they are to make. I added these to the Valentines goodies I sent my son and his roommates.
Lollipops
(recipe from LorAnn Oils)
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup 
3/4 cup water
1 dram (1tsp.) LorAnn Raspberry Flavoring
Neon Liquid Food Coloring
Heart Shaped Lollipop Mold
In a large saucepan, mix together sugar, corn syrup and water.
Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Spray your mold with pan spray.
Place candy thermometer in pan.
Bring to a boil without stirring.
Make sure to have a dish of water and a pastry type
brush  ready.
Cover a baking sheet with foil, and the spray with
pan spray. You may need this if you have left over
syrup after filling your molds. 
Cook, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 260ยบ F.
The syrup will start to spray sides of the pan above the
mix. If that happens, carefully use the pastry brush
dipped in water to eliminate the syrup by brushing the side of
the pan back and forth until it drops into the mix.
Add drops of coloring, but still do not stir.
The boiling will incorporate the color into the syrup. 
Continue boiling until the syrup reaches 300 degrees.
Remove from heat and wait for boiling to stop.
Add flavor and stir.
Pour syrup into molds. 
A couple of the molds overflowed a little.
I waited for them to set up just slightly, then I took 
a paring knife and cut the excess while it was warm,
but not hot enough to scald.
I had some excess. so I poured it onto the pan we prepared
earlier and added these candy hearts.
I will crack it later.
Not a very good pic, but here are the five lollipops.
I tried to add a conversation heart to one of them,
but it didn't turn out how I wanted it to.
Here are the finished lollipops.I wrapped them in 
Valentine cello bags and tied them with ribbon!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chocolate Valentine Bark!

Here is a sweet and simple Valentine treat! I made these to put in Valentine Tins that I sent to my son and his roommates. I love making sweet treats for him while he is away at college. It lets him know I miss him; a lot!! And it's so much fun for me!!

Valentine Bark!
12 ounces Milk Chocolate
12 ounces White Almond Bark
M and M's 
Conversation Hearts
Valentine Heart Sprinkles
Melt the chocolate chips over medium heat in a double boiler.
Melt and stir until the chocolate is completely smooth.
Spread the milk chocolate onto a baking sheet until it is smooth.
Put the chocolate baking sheet in the freezer for approx. 15 minutes.
Melt the white Almond Bark over medium heat in a double boiler.
Mix until it gets smooth like the milk chocolate did.
Smooth it out over top of the milk chocolate.
Sprinkle the M and M's, the hearts, and the sprinkles
on top of the white chocolate.
Let sit at room temperature until set.
I let mine sit overnight.
Place in freezer for approximately 20 minutes.
Take out of the freezer.
Start randomly cracking the bark in 2 bite sizes.
Wrap up in a Valentine bag.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I will do 1 thing different when I make these next time.
I'll add something salty, like pretzels or peanuts. 
This would help cut the sweetness.
Sweets for the sweet!



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You Heart Meatloaf and I Heart You!

My husband is a meatloaf lover! I am not. He has always loved it. I have always barely tolerated it. Of course, as a chef and as a wife and mother, I have made meatloaf a million times. I love making it for my husband. He always appreciates it. So this is for him. His favorite meatloaf recipe with my touch!
 
 The meatloaf is heart shaped. It is rather difficult to see in the pictures.


Ingredients:
1/2  pound Ground Beef
1/4 cup Parmesan Bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
Dash Salt
1 small Onion~chopped( but not too small)
1 Egg
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.
I use my hands to get it thoroughly mixed, but you
can use a fork instead. Make six little balls with the ground beef.
Flatten the beef out with your hands.
Cut the meat with a heart shaped cookie cutter.
Place the six hearts on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Adjust them by making the center V of the heart a little deeper.
These are going to shrink a little. Firm them up with your hands by 
pressing the sides so they are together. We don't want them to fall 
apart like a burger might if it is not molded together well.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Keep an eye on them. See the spoon under the baking sheet.
I put that there so the grease would run away from the meat.
They kept their shape pretty well. I flipped over each one,
and cleaned any edges or grease that might have collected.
I added mashed potatoes and gravy!

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Valentine Cheesecake!


  I have been making this cheesecake forever! I like to write in the margins of my cookbooks, and I usually write down the date I made the recipe and what it was for.  I also try to include my thoughts on the recipe, like changes I want to make, or if it was successful or not. From my notes I see that I made this recipe for the first time when my now 22 year old son graduated from kindergarten. I can't count how many other times I have made this. I even made this when I worked as the chef in a gourmet restaurant. This cheesecake is the ultimate cheesecake. It is not dry. It is so creamy and rich. For Valentines Day, I made individual little cakes, topped with chocolate ganache and covered with cherries.          You're gonna fall in love!!
Ingredients:
3/4 cup finely crushed Vanilla Wafers
a short 1/4 cup of melted Butter
12 ounces softened Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Whipping Cream
2 1/2 teaspoons Cornstarch
2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
a short  1/4 cup of Vanilla Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put about 15 or so Vanilla Wafers  in a plastic bag.
Take a rolling pin and crush the wafers until they are
very fine. You can also use a food processor.
Pour crushed wafers into a bowl.
Add melted butter, and mix together thoroughly.
Distribute evenly between the 3 pans.
Using your fingers, smooth the wafers over the bottom
of the pan, making it as evenly as possible.
Set pans aside while you make the filling!
In your bowl, combine together the softened cream cheese
and the sugar.
Add the whipping cream and the cornstarch. 
Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
To get the smoothest possible mix, your cream cheese
should be very soft when you begin.
Add the eggs and the egg yolk, one at a time, beating
after each addition.
Add the vanilla bean paste and the vanilla syrup.
If vanilla bean paste is not available, use vanilla extract.
I like to use this paste because the flavor is so intense.
It especially comes out in this recipe.
You can see the little flecks of bean in the picture!
Pour the cheesecake mix into the pans.
This recipe makes three individual cakes!
Place all three in the oven.
Cook at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Turn down the temperature 
to 200 degrees and bake for approximately 50 minutes.
To check to see if they are done, stick a toothpick in the
center like you would a cake. Also make sure the center
of the cakes do not look wet or shiny.
When you take the cakes out of the oven, let them sit
on a cooling rack. Take a knife or offset spatula around the 
edge to loosen the cake. Don't release the pans right now.
Wait at least 30 minutes, so they have a chance to cool.
Then you can release the pans, but let the bottoms stay on for a while.
When the  cakes are completely cooled,
wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill. Still keep the bottoms on,
or transfer them to some other type of base.
Chocolate Ganache
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Whipping Cream
Place the chocolate chips and the whipping cream
into a saucepan and heat on low.
Stir the entire time, to melt the chocolate,
until it is beautiful and smooth.
Place chocolate on top of the cake,
covering the entire top.
Cover the top with the chilled cherries!

Enjoy!
Happy Valentine's Day!!

This recipe comes from a cookbook called
Cheesecake Extraordinaire by Mary Crownover.
I have changed the recipe some. If you would like to make
a large(9" springform pan) cheesecake, double all of the ingredients,
except for the egg yolk. Still only use one!
You can also use vanilla liquor in place of the vanilla syrup.






Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Cake w/ Cherry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

It's time again for the Crazy Cooking Challenge! This is such a fun challenge. Each month we are assigned a featured food. This month it is chocolate cake! Yum! Our job is to go out into blog land and find a chocolate cake made on a fellow bloggers blog. Then make the cake, and post it on your blog. There are some rules, of course, so once you join, you'll have to read the fine print. But you are going to join, right? It easy, fun, tasty, and really interesting! You will love it!! You should join!
I found my chocolate cake on a blog called Chef in Training. This blog is so incredible! I love it. It is authored by Nikki, who has the most incredible recipes ever! Her chocolate cake is the BEST! EVER! I am in love with her Copycat Wingers Sticky Fingers recipe. I love Wingers, so I can't wait to make them.  Her Navajo Tacos recipe looks incredible and honestly, I never met a Navajo Taco that I didn't devour! But wait until you try the chocolate cake!! Here it is:
THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE EVER!

1 box Devil's Food cake mix 
1 small pkg Jello instant chocolate pudding mix 
1 cup sour cream 
1 cup vegetable oil 
4 eggs, beaten 
1/2 cup milk 
1 tsp vanilla 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
The batter will be thick.
Pour the batter into your prepared pans.
Let cook until done, about 20-30 minutes.
Let cool on a cooling rack.
  Cream Cheese Icing
2  8 ounce Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cup Confectioners Sugar

Make your icing by creaming the cream cheese 
and the butter together. Add the vanilla.
Slowly add the confectioners sugar.
Make sure it incorporates and mix well.


Cut the two layers in half, widthwise.
Cover each inside half with a thin layer
of cream cheese frosting.
Then on top of the bottom cream cheese
frosting, place a layer of cherry filling.
Put the top on the cake.
Frost bottom layer.
Do the same thing to the top layer. 
Add top layer to cake before frosting. 
Frost top.
Decorate how you wish. 
Because it is the season of love I 
thought this cake was begging to be decorated with a heart!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Some changes:
I changed a couple things from the original recipe.
Nikki used chocolate chips in her cake. I omitted them.
In Nikki's recipe she decorated with chocolate icing and
Skor candy bars. It looked beautiful, and I'm sure it 
tastes heavenly. But when my husband discovered that I was 
baking a chocolate cake, he asked if I would make cream cheese
icing and add cherries to the layers.
Because I can't say no to him, I honored his request.
It was delicious!
My husband swears that this cake is 
the moistest, unbelievably best chocolate cake he has ever had!!
He is right! You will love this!
Here is the original recipe.

Thanks Nikki for making this such a great
Crazy Cooking Challenge!



Photobucket