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Kentucky Bourbon Balls

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Photo Credit: Christin Marhling, 2018.

These boozy bite-sized treats—were developed in 1936 by Ruth Booe, co-founder of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Co. in Frankfort, Kentucky—can be rolled in powdered sugar or dipped in melted chocolate and topped with pecan halves; on the inside, the creamy center usually consists of some combination of bourbon, sugar, butter, chopped pecans, and semisweet chocolate. These trifles are chilled rather than cooked and do pack a tipsy punch, so you may wish to warn younger or teetotalling guests of their alcohol contents.

 

Makes 24

Ingredients:
1 cup finely chopped pecans nuts
5 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
1/2 cup butter, softened
One 16-ounce  package confectioners’ sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate

Directions:
Place the nuts in a resealable jar. Pour the bourbon over the nuts. Cover and allow the nuts to soak overnight.

The following day, mix the butter and sugar; fold in the soaked nuts. Form into 3/4″ balls and place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet and  refrigerate overnight.

The next day, line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over just-barely simmering water, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid scorching. Roll the balls in the melted chocolate to coat. Place a pecan half on top of each ball and  arrange them on the prepared tray. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Valentine’s Day Dinner

Reservations are scarce, restaurants are crowded, and the weather can be frightful this time of year — so why brave the Valentine’s Day scramble for a restaurant reservation when you can go to the best restaurant of all: The one in your kitchen. You don’t need to make a reservation, you get to call the shots on the lighting, the music — and most importantly — the menu.

 

 

 

The secret to this menu is fresh, top-quality ingredients simply and deliciously. All you will need to do is a quick shop and do it early in the day if you can, then get out some candles and cue your favorite music for an intimate meal you can have ready in under an hour.

Plus, the act of preparing a meal for, or maybe even with, someone can be a romantic gesture. So, yes, a Valentine’s Day date night at home can be special, memorable, romantic — and delicious. Here’s our ultimate Valentine’s Day dinner menu that feels just as special as a table at a fine dining restaurant, minus the whole going-out hassle and it will leave you plenty of time for relaxed, indulgent dining.

 

 

THE MENU

 

Oysters

Oysters

Start with an appetizer of sweet, briny, velvety oysters: They are  the classic aphrodisiac for lovers and a great at-home treat. You can shuck them yourself — just watch this how-to video.

Serving them can be as simple as placing some lemon wedges and a small bowl of cocktail sauce on the side, or try an easy topping like chimichurri, a fresh, herbal sauce that is an unexpectedly delicious topping for oysters; try this recipe for a simple mild chimichurri sauce with chopped bacon and finely diced jalapeño, a pleasure for bacon lovers.

Oysters can also be served with sriracha and lime, a modern riff on the spicy-tangy combo. Also, a  Classic mignonette sauce, a sophisticated pairing of red-wine vinegar and shallots that’s so easy to make. They will be absolutely delicious.

 

 

Surf & turf: Ribeye Steak and Lobster Tails
Few dishes say “special occasion” like surf and turf, a white tablecloth classic. Pair a beautifully marbled, ribeye with creamy, rich lobster tail.

There’s nothing quite like sharing tender, succulent lobster with someone you love. Wild-caught lobster tails are a fantastic way to indulge,How to Cook: Steamed Lobster Tails with minimal prep and mess (no bibs required!). Steamed lobster is a classic and tops for enjoying the pure taste of the luscious tail meat. Or you can roast the tails with a flavorful herb topping; this easy recipe shows you how.

You will want one or two tails per person, and have extra lemon slices and melted butter on the side, plus some flaky seas salt and cracked pepper — simplicity rules.

 

 

Twice-baked New Potatoes
Baking these creamy, fluffy potatoes twice — once to cook the potato, and again to crisp up the topping — gives a special occasion­–worthy upgrade to an otherwise everyday side dish. The technique results in a much more striking visual presentation than standard mashed potato fare, without being too labor-intensive or tedious. Add an extra-special touch of decadence by topping with chives and caviar.

 

 

Lemony Asparagus Spears
With their juicy stalks and slightly crispy ends, oven-roasted asparagus make a perfect counterpart to a fancy entrée like steak and lobster. Plus, it’s delicious enough to stand on its own without taking over the plate. Steam the spears or blanch them in lightly salted water, and they’ll be ready in minutes; cook them just until they turn bright green and the stalks just turn tender. Drizzle them with a little fresh lemon juice for a subtle pop of acidity and sprinkle of salt and pepper that takes this takes this side dish to the next level. For the roasted version on this dish click on the link here.

Simple roasted asparagus recipe (the perfect spring side dish!) - cookieandkate.com

                   Photo Credit: Cookie+Kate

 

 

Chocolate-covered Strawberries
Chocolate Covered StrawberriesEvery romantic dinner should end things on a sweet note. Chocolate-covered strawberries are an all-time classic romantic dessert, and for good reason: The juicy, sweet-tart berries pair perfectly with the creaminess of milk chocolate or the bittersweet flavor of dark chocolate. For and easy chocolate-covered strawberry recipe click on the link here.

 

 

Don’t Forget the Bubbly
For the requisite champagne, fill your flutes with Jacques Bardelot Brut, a crisp, dry French  Champagne with clean and balanced flavors that will complement, rather than overpower, the meal. Not a fan of bubbly? Consider the wine pairing or H&G Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with the ribeye.

Another suggestion is a sparkling wine: Toad Hollow Risque French Sparkling Wine,  which is a fruity sparkling wine with a natural delicate sweetness.

And in serving champagne or wine at at home with your special dinner has another benefit to staying in: no corkage fee!


Chocolate Beet Cake

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This cake is chocolate heaven, even  for those who are  self-proclaimed beet-haters! A marvelous cake that is so  moist and delicious, who would have ever known that the secret ingredient just happened to be red beets! It’s a great recipe to sneak in a few veggies for children who will ask for a second piece, because it’s just that good.

 

Serves 16 to 20, depending on how thick the slice

Ingredients:
3 or 4 medium  red beets
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

For the icing:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
4  1/2 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softemed
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
beet juice (left over from above)
4 ounces dark chocolate – melted

 

Directions:
Cook the beets: in a saucepan, cover beets with water and boil 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the skin, quarter the beets and puree them in food processor with a little bit of the water they cooked in. You should end up with 2 cups of pureed cooked beets. Reserve  the beet juice of for the icing.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 10-cup Bundt pan or tube pan with oil and dust with flour.

Combine the chocolate and oil in a Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Microwave on the defrost setting just until the chocolate melts. Note: Using a double boiler is the traditional way to melt chocolate is a microwave is not handy.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in the oil and chocolate mixture, beets, and vanilla.

Whisk the flours and stir in the baking soda and salt. Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture just until the flour is mixed in. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool on the rack.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. In a medium bowl, add the Neufchâtel cheese and sugar and stir in the milk and the vanilla.Divide the icing in half and place the reserved icing in a second bowl. With the other half of the icing, add 1 to 2 tablespoons a beet juice to the icing. Note: the icing may be thickened with confectioners’ sugar or thinned with milk or the beet juice. Drizzle the white icing onto the cake and allow it to set, followed by the beet icing. Drizzle with the melted dark chocolate. Slice and serve individually on dessert plates.

 

Cook’s Notes:
If you want to forego without the dramatic icing and chocolate drizzles, just simply dust the cake with confectioners’  sugar.

beet cake

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


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