Thursday, February 13, 2014

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY--food and fun celebrating life and LOVE!

Lovely Dinner

Celebrating a love of the finer things in life, like marvelous music, fantastic food, and great romance reads, seems a perfect way to say: "Happy Valentine's Day!" Love makes the world go around. It makes fools out of grown men, and makes women who should know better act like school girls with their first crush. Love brings light to dark corners, sunshine to cloudy days, and a joyful heart when least expected. It gives hope when all hope was thought to be lost. People who love and are loved in return live longer, smile more often, and generally make the world a better place. Whether you are enjoying the first blush of a new romance or the golden glow of a lifelong love, I wish you the happiest Valentine's day ever! If you are without your loved one, no matter what the reason, then I wish you peace in your remembrance. 

All of my recipes today are linked to a song of love or a romantic turn of phrase. What is your favorite love song? Do you have a special romantic moment tied to a certain recording, or is there a musical theme from a film that brings back memories that touch your heart? When you hear that song, do you automatically sing along? I'd love to hear about your personal love story and your musical romantic memories!

"Love Me Tender" Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 two layer chocolate cake mix
3 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup water
2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Spray a 4 quart crockpot with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water, then add the sour cream, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and beat well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into crockpot. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until top springs back when touched very lightly with finger. 8-10 servings. If desired, top each serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

"It's Just Impossible" Tropical Coconut Pie

4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup rum
2 tbsp. butter, softened
1 (15 oz.) can cream of coconut
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, well drained
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cups baking mix (biscuit mix)
1 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a deep dish 10 inch pie plate. In a large bowl, beat all ingredients together (except last cup of coconut) until well blended. Pour into greased pie plate. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.

"Orange You Special?" Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
2 eggs
1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 ready-to-use chocolate cookie crumb pie crust

For Garnish:
Whipped cream
Chocolate sprinkles


Mix cream cheese, sugar and orange liqueur at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs; mix until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chips. Pour into crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c. chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate three hours or overnight. Garnish with thick, sweet whipped cream topped by chocolate sprinkles.

"My Cherry Amour" Cocktails for Two

4 oz black cherry vodka
1/2 oz grenadine
dash of lemon juice
maraschino cherries for garnish

Pour liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If desired, serve over ice in an old-fashioned drink glass. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

"You're The Cream In My Coffee" Java Dream

1 Part Coffee Liqueur, 1 Part Irish Cream Liqueur, 2 Parts Vodka, 2 Parts Whole Milk or Cream, ice cubes.


Pour the Coffee Liqueur, Irish Cream Liqueur, and Vodka into a short drink glass half-filled with ice. Top with cream or whole milk. Stir and serve.

"Pizza My Heart" Appealing Appetizer

1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Roll out crescent rolls onto a large non-stick baking sheet. Stretch and flatten to form a single rectangular shape on the baking sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Allow to cool. Place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Mix cream cheese with 1/2 of the ranch dressing mix. Adjust the amount of dressing mix to taste. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust. Arrange carrots, red bell pepper, broccoli and green onions on top. Chill in the refrigerator approximately 1 hour. Cut into bite-size squares to serve.

"Fool For Your Love" Berry Delicious Treat

4 cups strawberries or 3 cups blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. orange or berry liqueur
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Gently rinse berries. Hull strawberries if using. Set aside a few berries for garnish, if you like. In a medium bowl gently toss berries with sugar, liqueur, and lemon juice. Let sit for 20 min. Put berry mixture in a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth or simply use a potato masher to mash them a bit. Set aside. In a large bowl beat cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold berry mixture into cream until evenly distributed. Spoon into clear serving dishes (wine glasses work well), top with reserved berries for garnish, if you like, and serve immediately or keep chilled up to 1 hour.

"Quiche Me, My Darling" Savory Sweetheart Pie

1 small ripe tomato, sliced thin
1 (3 ounce) can real bacon bits
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (9 inch) deep dish frozen pie crust
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cover bottom of unthawed pie crust with tomato slices. In a medium bowl, mix the bacon, onions, and both cheeses. Pour this mixture over tomato slices in pie crust. Mix the eggs and half and half in a bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 35 minutes, until top of quiche begins to turn brown.

"Love Bites" Steak Salad

2 sirloin steaks, cooked medium well, cooled and sliced in thin strips (cut across grain)
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 green pepper, cut in strips
1 c. sliced celery
1/3 c. sliced green onion
1/3 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
4 c. mixed greens, such as Romaine, leaf lettuce, or fresh spinach leaves


1/2 c. teriyaki sauce
1/3 c. dry sherry
1/3 c. salad oil
3 tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

In a large bowl, combine steak, tomatoes, green pepper, celery, onion and mushrooms. In a screw top jar combine ingredients for marinade and shake well. Pour over beef mixture. Toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours. Drain, reserving marinade. To serve, place a handful of greens on each serving plate. Top with about one cup of steak mixture. Pass reserved marinade for dressing. 6 servings.

"Wild Thing" Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread

1 package (24 count) frozen dinner rolls, thawed
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon each of dried Rosemary, Sage, Basil, Thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Grease a fluted tube Bundt pan. Combine cheese with herbs and garlic powder. Dip each piece of roll dough in melted butter and roll in cheese/herb mixture to coat. Place coated pieces of dough evenly in pan. Let rise until double in size. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and top of bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and pan to cool on wire rack.

"Love To Love You, Baby" Wicked Little Pasta Dinner

A very simple, sensual shrimp and pasta dish with real butter, Parmesan cheese and garlic. The best pasta to use is spaghetti or linguine, so that you can twirl the long noodles in the buttery, garlicky cheese.

Guilty Pasta:

Boil one pound of spaghetti or linguine until "al dente" or almost done. Drain pasta well, return to pot and cover to keep warm. In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt together over low heat 1 stick of real butter and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Toss in one pound cleaned, peeled, deveined medium shrimp and four smashed, peeled, chopped garlic cloves (or sprinkle liberally with California-style garlic salt, which contains dried parsley). Cook just until shrimp is nicely pink and done, stirring occasionally. Add cooked pasta and combine until mixed well and pasta is coated with butter. Stir in two cups grated Parmesan cheese and mix well. If desired, add a touch of freshly grated black pepper. Serve immediately. Accompany pasta dish with a basic romaine, tomato, onion salad topped with a vinaigrette dressing, real bacon and chunky croutons. Add some hot, fresh Italian or French bread to wipe the plates! Serve with a very well-chilled white or blush wine. Later, much later, a dessert sampler tray with fruit, cheesecake, and lots of assorted wicked chocolates. Served with hot, rich coffee. Much, much the leftovers!!!

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