From breakfast to dessert we have treats for your sweets this Valentine's weekend. Thanks to recipe researcher Sheila Kern, most of the recipes include ingredients that are on sale at the major supermarkets in our region. Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day from the Shop Cheap Kitchen.
English Muffin Hearts
Makes 1 1/2 dozen
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water (110º F/45º C)
1 package (1/4-ounce) active dry yeast
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Combine the milk, butter, and honey in a medium-size saucepan. Warm the mixture over medium-low heat until the butter starts to melt, then whisk it briefly. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the liquid to cool until lukewarm.
While the milk cools, pour the water into a medium-size mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir the liquid gently with a fork. Set the bowl aside for 5 to 10 minutes, until all of the yeast has dissolved.
Line two baking sheets with waxed paper and sprinkle on a generous amount of cornmeal. (This is where you'll set the muffins to rise.)
Pour the cooled milk into the dissolved yeast and gently stir the mixture until well blended. Add 3 cups of flour and the salt to the liquid and beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth (about 100 strokes). Beat in enough of the remaining flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, so that the dough is firm enough to knead and no longer sticky.
Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Flour your hands as well, and knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and pushing the pin from the center out, until the dough is a half inch thick.
Cut the dough into circles with a 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Gather and reroll the scraps and cut out more circles (you should end up with 18). Now shape each circle into a heart: use a knife or scissors to cut a third of the way into the circle, round the cut side into the top of the heart, and then pinch the opposite side into a point for the tip.
Transfer the muffins to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them well apart. Sprinkle cornmeal on the tops. Cover the muffins with a dry, lightweight towel and let them rise until they are almost doubled in height--about 35 to 45 minutes.
When the muffins have risen, heat a large, heavy, ungreased skillet over medium heat. (If you have two skillets, you may want to prepare both so you can cook more muffins at once.) Or you can use an electric griddle heated to 300º. Carefully lift the muffins from the waxed paper and place them in the heated pan or griddle, spacing them an inch or so apart. You should be able to fit 4 or 5 muffins in each pan.
Cook the muffins for about 10 minutes on each side, using a spatula to flip them. You may have to adjust the heat if the muffins are browning too quickly or slowly. Transfer each batch of cooked muffins to a wire rack to cool before splitting and toasting them.
Apple Raisin French Toast Strata
Makes 12 servings
1 (1 pound) loaf cinnamon raisin bread, cubed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, diced
1 cup diced peeled apples
2 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
Coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange 1/2 of the cubed raisin bread in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the cream cheese evenly over the bread, and top with the apples. If you like extra raisins, add them now. Top with remaining bread.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the cream, butter, and maple syrup. Pour over the bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, and press down so that all bread pieces are soaked. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Arugula and Pear Salad
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2008
Show: 30 Minute Meals Episode: Simple Comforts
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 cup walnut halves
5 to 6 cups arugula, cleaned and dried
1 Bosc or Anjou pear, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces Gorgonzola (get a piece that will crumble easily for you) or blue cheese crumbles
Toast nuts in small pan over medium heat until fragrant. Cool.
Combine arugula and pear in a salad bowl, add nuts then dress the salad with lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper. Top salad with lots of blue cheese crumbles.
Penne with Grilled Chicken, Gorgonzola, Asparagus and Caramelized Onions
Makes 4 servings
2 cups penne pasta, uncooked
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup thin onion slices, separated into rings
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups cut-up grilled chicken (1-inch pieces)
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup diagonally cut asparagus spears (1-inch pieces)
1/4 cup whipping cream
4 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 pkg. (4 oz.) ATHENOS Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Cook pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, heat oil in small skillet on medium heat. Add onions and sugar; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove from heat; set aside.
Drain and rinse pasta. Place in large skillet. Add tomatoes; cook on medium heat 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, broth, asparagus, cream and garlic; mix well. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Add onions, cheese and basil; mix well. Cook 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Grilled Filet Mignon with Herb Butter & Texas Toasts
EatingWell: June/July 2006
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon whipped or regular butter, slightly softened
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, or shallot
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
3 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram, or oregano, divided
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, divided
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, (1 minced, 1 peeled and halved)
1 pound filet mignon, about 1 1/2 inches thick, trimmed and cut into 4 portions
4 slices whole-grain bread
4 cups watercress, trimmed and chopped
Preheat grill to high.
Mash butter in a small bowl with the back of a spoon until soft and creamy. Stir in 2 teaspoons oil until combined. Add chives (or shallot), capers, 1 teaspoon marjoram (or oregano), 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and place in the freezer to chill.
Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, 2 teaspoons marjoram (or oregano), 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, rosemary and minced garlic in a small bowl. Rub on both sides of steak. Rub both sides of bread with the halved garlic clove; discard the garlic.
Grill the steak 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Grill the bread until toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Divide watercress among 4 plates. Place 1 toast on each serving of watercress and top with steak. Spread the herb butter on top of the steaks and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare herb butter (Step 2), wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
Makes 2 servings
5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
Arborio, an Italian short-grain rice, is available at Italian markets and many supermarkets.
Bring broth and 1/4 cup wine to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat; keep hot.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon garlic and crushed red pepper, then shrimp. Sauté until shrimp begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup wine. Simmer until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain shrimp, reserving cooking liquid.
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and remaining 1 teaspoon garlic; sauté until onion is pale golden, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups broth mixture. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Continue adding broth mixture 1 cup at a time, stirring often and simmering until liquid is absorbed before adding more, about 20 minutes. Stir in reserved shrimp cooking liquid. Cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
Stir shrimp and 2 tablespoons parsley into risotto. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowls. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons parsley.
Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
Yield: 30 brownies
3/4 cup olive oil, plus more to grease pan
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water until smooth. Add the unsweetened chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted. Whisk in the olive oil. Add the eggs, yolks and vanilla, and continue to whisk until combined. Add the sugar, whisking until fully incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in the flour and salt until just combined. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate pieces.
3. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded coconut on top of the batter. Pour in the remaining batter and smooth. Top with remaining coconut. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and bake until just set and firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes. (These brownies solidify as they cool, so inserting a toothpick to check for doneness will not work here; it does not come out clean.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 1 1/2 hours before cutting into 1-inch squares.
Lemon Scented Creme Brulee for Two
Yield: 2 servings
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest.
In a small saucepan heat the cream over medium heat until warm. Do not allow cream to boil. Whisk in the sugar-zest mixture, remove the pan from the heat and allow mixture to cool. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 3 hours to allow the lemon flavor to infuse into the cream.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a saucepan, reheat the cream mixture until warm, making sure the mixture does not boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks lightly and then drizzle in the warm cream, whisking to combine. Strain the cream mixture into 2 heart-shaped ramekins or other 6-ounce, shallow ramekins and place in a small baking dish. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards in the middle of the oven until just set, 35 to 40 minutes. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool on wire racks. Chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat the broiler and remove the ramekins from the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.
Sprinkle the 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar evenly over each of the custards. Transfer the custards to a baking sheet and broil about 1-inch from the heat, until the sugar is caramelized, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 (16 ounce) can vanilla frosting
In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil and eggs; mix well. Spoon batter by 1/4 cupfuls into paper-lined muffin cups. Spoon a rounded teaspoon of pie filling onto the center of each cupcake. Set remaining pie filling aside. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted on an angle toward the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost cupcakes; top with one cherry from pie filling. Serve additional pie filling with cupcakes or refrigerate or another use.
Chocolate Chips and Raspberry Bars
Makes 32 bars
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
2. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer until well blended.
3. Reserve 1/2 cup mixture for topping. Spread remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared pan (this will be a very thin layer). Spread preserves evenly over dough; sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Drop reserved dough by 1/2 teaspoons over chips.
4. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.