COOK OF THE WEEK - VALENTINE'S DAY RECIPES

Valentine’s Day is celebrated by many around the world. I decided with a blizzard going on outside, today might be a good day to research the internet instead of actually visiting someone. Therefore, what you read today mostly can be found in bits and pieces from somewhere out there in cyberspace. It’s a common belief that Valentine’s Day was created by an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in order to sell flowers, chocolate and jewelry. Ad men and women must have run with the ball (or heart), but Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, actually stems from an ancient pagan tradition. But I don’t even want to think about Valentine’s Day as a pagan holiday today as I write this article so I will keep hearts and flowers and the sounds of good food before our eyes and hearts instead. Valentine’s Day is a fun day for children, as well as adults. Way back when I was in school I remember we all brought a shoebox or some similar type box and we decorated it ourselves in school. Then on the big day we all brought Valentine cards for the other kids in our class. Some of these were store bought and others were homemade, probably depending on if our mother was handy to help us make ones or if our parents could afford ready-made ones or whatever else might have helped make the decision. Anyway, we all brought valentines for all the kids. To this day I still enjoy sending Valentines, only now I send them to grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and whoever else in my life I want to surprise with a small sweet sentiment of my love for them. Young and old alike give flowers and/or candy to the one they love, or they celebrate by going out to eat together. Today I’m going to share recipes to all of you readers so you might be able to share a favorite food with the one you love! (You need to be prepared to cook at home, just in case there is another blizzard out like the one outside as I’m writing this today!) We all have our favorite chocolate cake or our favorite cut out sugar cookies so I searched for new or uncommon recipes today. Enjoy!Dunked Strawberries(From Taste of Home)1/2 cup sour cream1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel1/2 cup packed brown sugar12 fresh strawberries In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lime peel. Place brown sugar in another small bowl. Dip strawberries in sour cream mixture, then coat with brown sugar. Serve immediately. Dressed-up strawberries give any meal an elegant finish. With brown sugar and a hint of lime, they’re sweet, tangy and so tasty, you’ll want more!Sweet Berry BruschettaRecipe10 slices French bread (1/2 inch thick)cooking spray5 teaspoons sugar, divided6 ounces fat-free cream cheese1/2 teaspoon almond extract3/4 cup fresh black berries3/4 cup fresh raspberries1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar Place bread on an ungreased baking sheet; lightly coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, extract and remaining sugar. Spread over toasted bread. Top with berries and almonds; dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately. Candied-Almond Chocolate Strawberries60 fresh strawberries (about 2 pounds)2 cups honey-roasted almonds1 package (10 ounces) 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate chips1/4 cup butter, cubeddash cayenne pepper Wash strawberries and gently pat with paper towels until completely dry. Place almonds in a food processor; cover and process to desired fineness. Transfer to a shallow bowl; set aside. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and butter; add cayenne and stir until smooth. Dip strawberries in melted chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Roll berries in almonds; place on waxed paper and let stand until set. Serve immediately. Cream ChippedBeef on Toast for Two1 tablespoon butter1 tablespoon flour1 cup milk6 ounces Carl Buddig brand sliced “beef”salt and pepper, to tastedash of nutmegdash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)2 teaspoons white wine (optional)2 slices buttered toast In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Slowly add flour, whisking. Cook one minute, or until flour starts to brown. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire, and white wine. Cut beef into one-inch squares, and stir into the sauce. Spoon mixture over a slice of buttered toast, and top with freshly ground pepper.Crispy Chocolate Hearts Create a festive rice cereal treat by adding a handful of memorable ingredients: peanuts for crunch, marshmallows for sweetness, and peanut butter for a smooth shot of rich flavor. This giftable dessert is delicious any time of the day, but we prefer it with coffee in the afternoon. Makes 15 hearts.12 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips1/2 cup peanut butter2 cups crisp rice cereal1-1/2 cups peanuts1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows(2) 2 ounce chocolate bark coating squares, meltedwhite sprinkles (optional) Microwave chocolate morsels in a large glass bowl at HIGH for 2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in peanut butter, stirring until well blended. Stir in cereal, peanuts, and marshmallows. Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with foil. Lightly grease foil. Press mixture into foil-lined pan. Drizzle with chocolate. Sprinkle with white sprinkles, if desired. Let stand 1 hour or until firm; cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter to make hearts. Store heart in an airtight container or place in a candy box, if desired. Wonton Kisses These wrapped bundles are filled with a sweet chocolate candy kiss and sure to delight guests at your next party. These are easy to make!24 milk chocolate kisses24 wonton wrappersoil for fryingConfectioners’ sugar Place a chocolate kiss in the center of a wonton wrapper. (Keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use.) Moisten edges with water; fold opposite corners together over candy kiss and press to seal. Repeat. In an electric skillet, heat 1 in. of oil to 375 degrees. Fry wontons for 2-1/2 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Sweetheart Chicken Casserole1 package Uncle Ben’s Wild and White Rice1 can French cut green beans, drained1 can cream of celery soup1/2 cup mayonnaise1/4 cup chopped onion (I like to use green onions)1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained1 small package of slivered almonds3 cups cooked and diced chicken1 cup grated cheddar cheese Cook the chicken and let it cool. Use the chicken broth to cook the rice according to the directions. May need to add water if chicken broth is not enough. Mix everything together except the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan until bubbly and brown. Add cheese the last 10 minutes of baking. If you double the recipe, use a 10 by 15 inch pan.Love Those Chicken Wings4 pounds chicken wings1 cup soy sauce1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice2 tablespoons ginger1 cup sugar1 tablespoon garlic salt Mix ingredients together and pour over chicken wings. Bake in 325 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours, mixing and turning every 15 minutes.Sweetheart Palmiers1 egg1 tablespoon water6 tablespoons red decorating sugar1 package (17.3 oz.) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, Thawed Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar on the work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Roll up 2 opposite short sides towards the center, leaving a 1/2-inch space in the center. Fold the pastry in half, placing one roll on top of the other. The 2 rolls on one side form the top of the heart. Pinch the center along the length of the opposite side to form the point of the heart. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut each roll into 18 (about 1/2-inch) slices. Place the pastries, cut-side down, onto 2 baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. If you are reading this, then you probably enjoy new recipes. If you would like to share some of your recipes with the community, YOU could be Cook of the Week. Please contact me, Sally Redenius, if you would like to be in this column some week. I can be reached by phone at 515-373-6346 or email me at sacuthbe@msn.com. I will be happy to email or send you my short questionnaire and set up a time to come and visit you at your convenience. I’m always looking for NEW Cooks of the Week. Also, if you are new in town, this is a good way to introduce yourself to the Humboldt community and surrounding communities. I look forward to visiting with you. The COOK OF THE WEEK 3rd Edition Cookbook is available. Cost per copy is $10.70, plus $4.80 shipping/handling. Order a copy today by sending a check or money order, along with name and shipping address, to: Humboldt Independent, 512 Sumner Ave., Humboldt, IA 50548.

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