Tag Archives: Valentines

I Love You Like You Love Sushi (Sushi Inspired Macaroons)

February 2013

If the ecosystem and toxins in fish weren’t factors, my Special One could easily consume enough sushi to make a large dent on the world’s fish population. When it came to our belated Valentine’s Day celebrations (belated bc holidays are flexible in my world), I put my love in terms he’d easily understand- sushi love!

With his extensive sushi-eating history, I dared not prepare the real deal and disappoint, so instead, I made…

Sushiroons Text

A sushiroon is a coconut macaroon dipped in dark chocolate with pistachio and dried apricot for its filling. I formed the nigiri with the same coconut macaroon base, and topped them with a dab of dark chocolate and either dried mango or candied ginger dipped in natural cherry juice (for a touch of color).

Sushi Chocolates

Plate of Sushiroons

One Sushiroon

Nigiri Plate

Nigiri

Soy Happy Together

Coconut Macaroons
Makes ~40 small macaroons

Ingredients

1 large organic egg white
Pinch of salt
14 ounces (one can) organic, sweetened, condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut

Directions

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes.

Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold in coconut until well combined.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using a spoon and your fingers, form macaroons into 1 1/2-inch mounds about 1 inch apart.

Bake until macaroons are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a cooling rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

For the Sushi Effect

Melted Dark Chocolate
Dried Mango
Dried Apricot
Pistachios
Crystallized Ginger + Natural Dark Cherry Juice (Such as the juice from these cherries, which are about as natural as canned cherries come)

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Valentine’s Day Observed: The Dinner With My Valentine!

February 2012

It was time to put all the Valentine’s Day plans onto one table, for one meal, with one special Valentine!

I washed off the beet stains [as best I could], dusted off the flour, crafted some skewers, set the table in a brand new way and somehow managed to shower and put on a dress before the designated dinner time. Our Valentine’s Day Observed was about to begin!

The Menu

Heart Beet Ravioli
Charcuterie Plate
Heirloom Wheat Bread 
Heart Beets Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut & Cherry Cakewich

Lots of wine!

Beets Are Red & Cheese Are Blue:  A Charcuterie Plate 

Danish Blue Cheese Hearts
Roasted Beet [Heart]
Speck & Honey Maple Ham
Fig Hearts
Cranberry Orange Chèvre
Raspberries

*The fig, blue cheese and raspberry combined best with a drizzle of honey on a slice of the heirloom wheat bread.

Heart Beets Salad

Roasted Red Beets
Endive
Radicchio
Blood Orange Segments
Honey Toasted Pecans
Raspberries
Fresh Mint
(play it be ear…or by heart… or by bad puns?)

Dressing
Olive Oil
Dijon Mustard
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Maple Syrup
(mix to taste)

Remember I said “Lots of Wine?”  I wasn’t kidding!  We first gave a proper toast and a “sip”…

Then we gave proper attention to the food on the table.  We both really appreciate good food, and that shared interest means a lot to me!

Then we just acted weird because we do that a lot… (I guess the photo only makes me look a little weird, but don’t let him fool ya…look at that stare)!

The libations theme for the night was wine, but the theme for Valentine’s Day gift giving was Let’s Learn To Mix More!  I couldn’t resist throwing in a little Black Velvet and that cool southern style (via Canada), plus an infographic to teach us much, much, more mixology  I’m looking forward to a wee baby cocktail in one of those little chocolate cups.

There’s just one more element to this Valentine’s Day Observed series- a very special finale.

Stay tuned (and please excuse my handwriting… I had a lot going on)!

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Valentine’s Day Observed: We Finish Each Other’s…

February 2012

My Valentine speaks a special second language.  Instead of words, this language is made of phrases, sentences and dialogues from Arrested Development.  One of the more frequently applicable dialogues is the following between Michael and Lindsey (from the episode Family Ties):

Michael: [about Nellie] It’s like we finish each other’s…
Lindsay Bluth Fünke: Sandwiches?
Michael: Sentences. Why would I say…
Lindsay Bluth Fünke: Sandwiches?

When I saw this sandwich shaped cake mould, I knew it would come in handy!  My brand new Cakewich made its debut as part of the Valentine’s Day Observed dinner.

To the one who finishes my… sandwiches…. Happy Valentine’s Day!  

There might be some stickage, but not to fret!  You need to cut off the surface anyway to create the sliced bread look.  The use of almond flour and whole-wheat pastry flour meant my Cakewich looked more like slices of whole-wheat bread, which is fine by me, since I am… With the Grains!

Sandwich filling…

Almond Cakewich

Cake Ingredients

1 cup almond flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup organic, unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons organic almond extract
7 egg whites (local/free-range)
¾ cup organic whole milk

Filling Ingredients

Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F.

Grease and flour the inner bottom surface of the Cakewich pan.

Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk well.

Whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat vigorously.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add one-quarter of the flour, then one-third of the flour, then one-third of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined, scraping down the bowl with a spatula and then repeating.

Scrape down the bowl well with a spatula. Pour the batter into the Cakewich pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for one hour, then unmold it to finish cooling right side up.

To Assemble The Cakewich

Use a bread knife to slice off the top and create an even surface. Then slice through the center. Carefully remove the top half of the cake. Spread an even layer of hazelnut spread on the cake, followed by the preserves. Top with the other half of cake.

OR

Just watch the GIF version!
(click on the assembly photo below to see the action version)

serve with…

Hazelnut Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons organic chocolate hazelnut spread
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon honey

For the Whipped Cream

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

♥,

With The Grains

ps:  Next time, I’d use the whipped cream version of the chocolate hazelnut spread as a sandwich filling.  On its own, the spread was delicious but just a tad heavy in combination with an almond based cake.

Valentine’s Day Observed: Heart Beet Ravioli

February 2012

Heart Beet Ravioli
Ricotta & Chèvre Filling w/ Lemon, Basil & Mint
(part of my Valentine’s Day Observed Menu)

A few things to know about me:

♥  I used to watch in awe as my mom would make pasta.  I can still see the sun shining through the kitchen window, onto those egg noodles, and I remember thinking how she was really making the soup, down to the very noodles most people would simply buy and boil!

♥  I had never made pasta myself.

♥  I did have a goal to make pasta myself.

♥ I have an affinity for beets, and I also got me a fella who shares my affinity.  Thankfully!

♥  I saw this recipe for beet pasta, and I thought, I could do that, and I bet I could even one up that Martha!

♥  (I’m actually not that into hearts, but I am super into themes!)

♥  I MADE PASTA!!!  Turns out, it was not as intimidating as I had perceived.  Granted, this was just me dipping my toe in the proverbial pool of pasta.  I acknowledge other varieties probably entail their own challenges, but I have been inspired nonetheless!

♥  I may relish the spotlight, but I dare say I don’t usually toot my own horn too much in the kitchen.  I was nervous until the very first bite of beet ravioli, but I am going to say this: Take this (↓) Martha…!!! (I’m also pretty competitive…all in good fun?)

Valentine’s Day Observed: Hear Beet Ravioli

♥ Ingredients

1 medium sized red beet, without greens
1 large egg (local/free-range)
1 large egg yolk (local/free-range)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon Yakima Applewood smoked sea salt
Flour for dusting

3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces), drained 30 minutes
3/4 cup fresh goat cheese (about 5 ounces), room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus a few leaves for serving
Coarse salt
freshly ground smoked pepper

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coarse salt

1 stick organic, unsalted butter
grated pecorino cheese, for serving

♥ Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wrap beets tightly in a piece of foil, and place on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool. Use a peeler to remove skins.

Meanwhile make the filling: Stir together cheeses, lemon juice, ginger and herbs; season with salt and pepper. Keep chilled. Allow to come to room temperature before stuffing ravioli.

Puree peeled beets in a food processor.

Add eggs and yolk to puree in food processor, and process until combined.

Pour the beet puree into a large bowl. Add the flour and salt. Use a spatula to combine until dough comes together, about 20 seconds.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is sticky. Use a rolling pin to form a sheet, about 1/8in thick.

Cut pasta dough into desired shape, using more flour as needed.

Spoon a dollop of filling onto one dough heart. Cover with another heart and pinch edges. Use water to seal the seam and pinch once more.

Transfer ravioli to an airtight container lined with parchment paper. Use additional parchment paper in between layers if the container is smaller.

To store, lightly dust ravioli with flour, and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Alternatively, freeze ravioli in a single layer on a baking sheet, about 15 minutes, and then pack as described above; freeze for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add olive oil, salt and the ravioli. Cook, stirring occasionally to separate, until edges are just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain.

While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add extra mint and basil.

Combine the pasta and browned butter and herbs in a bowl.

♥ Serve with grated pecorino cheese to someone special! ♥

Stay tuned to the rest of this Valentine’s Day Observed series for the final ravioli picture.

♥,

With The Grains

Valentine’s Day Observed: A Warm Heart[h] & The Smell of Fresh Bread

February 2012

I said it here, but I’ll say it again… I obsess over detail when it comes to making a special holiday dinner for a significant someone.  Whereas some see February 14th as a commercial holiday, I see it as an extra opportunity for thematic, sentimental expression coated in tones of my favorite hue.  I also see it as a flexible date when it falls on a weekday, hence… Valentine’s Day Observed.

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread and the extra warmth it brings to a kitchen.  With a charcuterie plate in the plans, I couldn’t have just any ol’ carboyhydrate holding up those meats and heart-shaped cheeses.  I had to make my own!  My good friend Erin brought me heirloom wheat flour as a souvenir from her trip to San Francisco.  Heirloom = extra love and care, so this bread recipe was clearly the right occasion for its use.  This method involves a pre-dough, meaning even more time than your average loaf, but the soft wheat texture is the ultimate payoff!

Heirloom Wheat Bread

Pre-dough

1¾ cups (8 ounces) California heirloom wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water

For the Pre-Dough

Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (If it will be more than 24 hours, place the soaker in the refrigerator; it will be good for up to 3 days. Remove it 2 hours before mixing the final dough to take off the chill.)

♥ Dough

8 ounces (about 1⅔ cups) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
pre-dough
¼ cup warm water
3 tablespoons warm heavy cream
1 packet active dry yeast
2½ Tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 large egg (local/free-range)
extra flour or water for adjustments
egg wash: 1 tablespoon milk or 1 egg white or whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Himalaya Pink Sea Salt
Fresh ground pink peppercorns

♥ For the Bread

In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt.

Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs.

Cut the pre-dough into about 12 pieces and add them to the flour mixture, tossing the pieces to coat (to keep them from immediately sticking back together).

Add the water, milk, yeast, sugar and egg and stir with a rubber spatula until a dough forms.

Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.

Spray a bowl with nonstick spray; shape dough into a ball and place it in bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.

Line a stone loaf pan with parchment paper.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Press the dough into a rectangle, just slightly longer than the bread pan. Fold in the longer sides toward the center. Fold in the shorter sides into the center. Pinch to seal the seam. Turn the dough, seam side down. Roll back and forth to further seal the seam and create surface tension.

Put the shaped loaf into the parchment lined loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Brush egg wash on buns and sprinkle with pink sea salt and pink pepper. Use a cookie cutter to cut a heart shape into the surface.

Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads at least 185 degrees, about 30-40 minutes.

Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Slice, serve and stay tuned for the other Valentine’s Day Observed menu breakdowns!

♥,

With The Grains

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Valentine’s Day Observed: The Menu

February 2012

I obsess over detail when it comes to making a special holiday dinner for a significant someone. Whereas some see February 14th as a commercial holiday, I see it as an extra opportunity for thematic, sentimental expression coated in tones of my favorite hue.  I also see it as a flexible date when it falls on a weekday, hence… Valentine’s Day Observed.

The Menu

Heart Beet Ravioli
Charcuterie Plate
Heirloom Wheat Bread 
Heart Beets Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut & Cherry Cakewich

Lots of wine!

The menu breakdown and recipes will ensue.  Stay tuned.

Pancakes, Pals and Peace for Whitney

February 12, 2012

This snowy, cold, gray, pre-Valentine’s Day Sunday was only meant to be a brunch for bringing friends together.  The line up included my special someone (of special pancake flipping importance on this brunching Sunday), the lovelies who gather around my table quite frequently, my old friend and Brazilian host, Thiago, and Omar, my new neighbor/the man who gave me my bakery experience.  That snowy Sunday was only meant to be what most great Sundays are meant to be:  good food, good laughs, good coffee, good friends, good memories.  This Sunday brunch was all of those, but it also took on an historical importance based on the events of Saturday afternoon/evening.

Nina texted me a seemingly random question, “can we listen to Whitney [Houston] during brunch tomorrow?”  I hypothesized maybe this choice was the next logical step after my Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou musical selections, but I still asked why she would make such a request.  “She just died a few hours ago.”  Thus this Sunday brunch came to include the pancakes and pals, as planned, and a WHOLE LOT OF WHITNEY!  We literally listened to Whitney for hours, and I had a nagging desire to watch The Bodyguard the entire time.  Rest in peace!

Omar said he was craving pancakes.  I’m always in the mood for brunch foods that absorb maple syrup, but this specific brunch request highlights my odd kitchen flaw:  I suck at flipping!  Luckily, I have a partner in pancakes, and I swear, I do like him for more than his pancake flipping abilities (though, that is a pretty strong reason for liking someone).

Running a bit behind schedule (let’s be real, we were clearly in the all out “lunch” portion of the day, but I stand by the “brunch” categorization) meant whipped cream beaters for the licking.  The pinks and reds were a nod to Valentine’s day, and those bows were an homage to Whitney herself!

The final additions came to the table while the expert flipped the last pancakes.  I made a bright orange side of roasted butternut squash with brown sugar and spices.  The coffee was hot, and the drinks were about to be bubbling.

Appropriately enough, it was Thiago’s aunt who introduce me to the little touch of fancy a cinnamon stick can bring to a coffee.  Gingerbread can bring a little touch of the sentimental if you shape it just right…

A Rosy Salad

Roasted beets
Grapefruit
Blood orange
Fresh sprigs of mint, chopped

Serve with chocolate balsamic dressing, which I first served as part of a Swedish accented brunch and more importantly, that chocolaty sauce also pairs really well with pancakes!

Organic Pomegranate & Cranberry Sparkling Sodas + Prosecco and a slice of lemon because the cocktail is clearly prettier that way.

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Homemade Whipped Cream

Cranberry Sauce Pancake Filling

Ingredients

3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
Fresh juice from 2 small lemons
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
cinnamon
nutmeg

For the Cranberry Sauce

Combine the cranberries, wine, water, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to heat until cranberries begin to pop.

Add the brown sugar and spices.

Continue to simmer until mixture thickens.

Allow to cool.

Drain and reserve liquid. Add cranberry sauce liquid to pure maple syrup to serve with the pancakes.

Whole-wheat Cranberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups organic yellow cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup organic light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups soured milk*
1 Tablespoon almond extract
1 stick organic, unsalted butter, browned
**Cranberry Sauce (recipe above)
Pure maple syrup + reserved cranberry sauce liquid

*This is another practice I gleaned from my mom.  Rather than waste some milk you wouldn’t drink, bake with it.  In the event you have managed your milk consumption in a timely fashion, you can use regular milk or buttermilk for extra flavor.  

For the Panckaes

Preheat oven to 250°F.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, four, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.

Add milk, almond extract and the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Beat until smooth.

Mix in browned butter, and then stir in the cranberry sauce.

Add 1/2 tablespoon melted butter to large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet, spacing apart.

Cook pancakes until golden brown on bottom and some bubbles begin to break around edges, about 2 minutes.

Turn pancakes over; cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm.

Repeat with remaining batter, adding more melted butter by 1/2 tablespoonfuls to skillet as necessary.

Serve pancakes with cranberry sauce maple syrup and homemade whipped cream.

Whipped Cream
(this goes quickly!) 

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.

The Jono Cakes Special (left):  Dollop of Whipped Cream + Chocolate Balsamic Sauce
The Quelcy Cakes Special (right):  Dollop of Whipped Cream + Cranberry Maple Syrup (I am sincerely addicted to excessive quantities of pure maple syrup)

Apparently Nina and Deanna had done extensive Whitney research the night before via youTube.  This led to Nina trying to portray Whitney’s rather emaciated stages.  Without any disrespect, that impression led to quite the comedic outbreak.  Time for Omar and Thiago’s initiation to the With The Grains Brunch Tradition… bring on the GIF FILE!!!  There’s also some magic, since Jono had to leave early and Deanna came a bit late.  GIF Magic!

Another round of coffee, conversation and lots of laughter…

Whitney Houston
We will always love you!
August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012 

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The Importance of Heart Shaped Cookie Cutters

Happy [Belated] Valentine’s Day!
February 2012 

I cry during sentimental movies despite my best efforts (I still try to hide my teary face, though).  Speeches in which lecturers sincerely thank their moms or wives or anyone really…make me weepy (I’ve been binging on some TED Talks these days).

I’m a sap.  It’s true.

When my grandparents danced a polka at their 60th Wedding Anniversary, I could barely hold a camera steady because I was so emotional.

I’m a romantic.  It’s true.

I even nearly teared up when clicking on the Google doodle on Valentine’s Day and watching this animation…!!!

I really love Valentine’s Day.  It’s true!

The holiday may stem from commercial motives, but combined with a dash of creativity or honest intention, it can be a really sincere, sentimental time and a way to tell someone you care, whether it be a friend or a SigFig (I’m also a dork, it’s true) how you feel.  Since I like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a zeal bordering on obsessiveness, I postponed the full fledged celebration for the weekend, but even a Tuesday Valentine’s Day deserves a little sweet flavor and festivity.

Mint Chocolate Cake Hearts + Talenti Roman Raspberry Sorbetto = ♥

Cake Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 large egg yolks (local/free-range), at room temperature
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic mint extract
½ cup organic sour cream
12 ounces organic semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) organic, unsalted butter plus extra for the pan
¾ cup olive oil
¾ cup water
½ cup all natural cocoa powder

For the Cake

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9x13in rimmed baking stone or sheet with parchment.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla, mint extract and sour cream until smooth.

Heat the chocolate, butter, oil, water and cocoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.

Whisk the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated.

Whisk the egg mixture into the batter.

Pour into the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 40-50 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut into hearts.

For the Hearts

Talenti Roman Raspberry Sorbetto

Scoop some sorbetto onto a plate.  Flatten and smooth into a rectangle.

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to punch out a heart.

Keep in freezer until ready to serve.

Happy [Belated] Valentine’s Day to all of you and especially, to my special weirdo too (I’m a wee bit of a poet too; it’s true).

Dear Day Job, Will You Be Mine?

February 2011

I’ve never been one to be depressed about Valentine’s Day.  In my world, it’s a theme party revolving around my favorite color and dark chocolate and creative gift giving.  I wanted to have a craft hour at work in which we would make mailboxes to put by our desks.  Just as in the days of elementary school, we would distribute Valentines to everybody.  Thinking that not everyone would share my weird zeal for a commercial holiday, I decided to tone down my fervor and bring in a chocolatey treat instead.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Like Reeses but better for you!

Ingredients

6 cups high quality, dark chocolate
1 cup organic creamy peanut butter
1 cup local honey
1/4 cup organic honey bunny graham crackers, crushed*
1 teaspoon sea salt

*Whole graham crackers will do, but bunny grahams were all I could find.   I recommend Annie’s Honey Bunny Grahams anyway because the number one ingredient is organic, whole-grain, wheat flour.

Directions

Line a muffin pan with 24 paper liners. Set aside.

Melt 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate in a double boiler.  Remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the stove and turn off the heat.

Using the back of a spoon or a pastry brush, paint a layer of melted chocolate onto the bottoms and sides of the paper liners.  Set aside the remaining melted chocolate.

Put the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you make the peanut-butter filling.

Combine the peanut butter, crushed graham crackers, honey and salt in a food processor.

Return the chocolate to the top of the double boiler. Turn the heat to medium-high.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chocolate and melt.

Remove the muffin pan from the refrigerator. Put a spoonful of the peanut butter mixture into each chocolate-lined, cupcake paper.

Using a spoon, dollop the top of each peanut butter mixture mound with a generous portion of chocolate.

Use the back of a teaspoon to smooth out the tops.

Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator, pack into a carrying case, walk to work and serve to friendly faces.

Better than a BFF necklace!

Everybourbon Says I Love You: The Menu

February 2011

This Valentine’s Day was an ode to a very special moustache that often saves bits of Bulleit for later. Accordingly, I went big, and I went Bourbon!

THE RECIPES

Entrée:  Bourbon Glazed Ham

Ingredients

1  cup  honey
1/2  cup  molasses
1/2  cup  bourbon
1/4  cup  orange juice
2  tablespoons  Maine Maple Mustard
1  (6- to 8-pound) smoked ham half
Cloves
Garnish: fresh herb sprigs

Directions

Combine honey and molasses in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to blend.

Whisk in bourbon, orange juice, and mustard.

Remove excess fat.  Place ham in a roasting pan.  Insert cloves to garnish.  Use a brush to glaze the sides with the bourbon mixture.

Bake at 325° on lower oven rack for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 140°, basting occasionally with honey mixture.

Allow to cool slightly.

Remove cloves.

Slice and serve.

Side Dish:  Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

About 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing the baking dish
1/2 pound frozen cranberries
1/2 pound dried cherries, rehydrated in bourbon
1 cups raw sugar
1 cup local honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup bourbon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients in a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish.

Cover tightly with foil and bake until cranberries are tender and sugar is dissolved, stirring once, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, carefully remove the foil and allow the cranberry sauce to cool completely.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead.)

Transfer to bowl and serve.

Side Dish:  Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

5-6 chubby, red-fleshed sweet potatoes
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1-inch square of ginger, peeled and grated
2 generous pinches of ground cinnamon
1 generous pinch of ground cloves
Zest of one organic orange
3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Splash of milk (2T. or so)
Splash of bourbon (2T. or so)
1/4 freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Spicy Pecan Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon red chile powder
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

For the Sweet Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375.

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into medallions.

Toss the sweet potato medallions in a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in a single layer on a baking stone.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating from top to bottom halfway through, until tender and golden.

Remove from oven and let cool.

In a glass baking dish, layer the sweet potato medallions, overlapping slightly.

Sprinkle with the lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

Cover tightly and place in refrigerator. You can assemble to this point a couple days in advance.

For the Spciy Pecan Topping

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter and add the pecans. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until the pecans are lightly browned and smell fragrant.

Stir in the brown sugar, stir until it is lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the spices, and then add the apple cider vinegar. Stir until the liquid evaporates. Pour pecans out onto parchment lined baking sheet, separate the nuts into a single layer, and bake at 375 for 4 minutes.

Let cool.

An hour before serving

In a small bowl whisk together butter, maple syrup, milk and bourbon. Drizzle all of the sauce over the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with Pecorino, cover with foil, and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking until deeply golden and caramelized – another 15-20 minutes.

Sprinkle with spicy pecans and serve.

Dessert:  Bourbon Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Bread Pudding Ingredients

10 cups of stale bread pieces from homemade rolls
1 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup bourbon, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for dish
8 large, local, free-range, egg yolks
¾ cup organic packed light brown sugar
¾ cup pure maple syrup
3 cups local heavy cream
1 cup local whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 package Ghirardelli chocolate chips

Bourbon Topping Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup bourbon, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons organic unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Bread Pudding

Heat the dried cherries and 1/2 cup bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the mixture, placing the bourbon and raisins in separate bowls.

In a large bowl, whisk yolks, brown sugar, maple syrup, heavy cream, milk, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup bourbon plus the bourbon used to plump the dried cherries. Toss in the toasted bread until evenly coated. Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips.  Let mixture soak overnight, tossing occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter 13 by 9-inch baking dish, and set aside.

Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle.  Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, pinch 6 tablespoons butter into sugar mixture until the crumbs are the size of small peas.  Remove foil from pudding, sprinkle with butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until top of pudding forms golden crust, about 2 minutes.

Let the pudding cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Serve with bourbon topping.

For the Bourbon Topping

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and 2 tablespoons bourbon until well combined.

Using a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, and stir in salt, butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon.

Drizzle warm sauce over heart-shaped, bread pudding.