6 Enticing Desserts for Your Valentine

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Piglet:  “How do you spell love?”

Pooh:  “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”

Are you staying in for Valentines’ Day and  looking for a special dessert to impress your beloved?  Look no further!  I have compiled half a dozen recipes from my archives that are made for individual servings.  From decadent chocolate mousses to individual citrus cakes and a luscious Kir Royal Panna cotta or a champagne granita, these desserts are all tempting yet simple to make in advance and will appeal to all tastes.  Happy Valentines’ Day!

Decadent Gingered Dark Chocolate Mousse

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Winter Squash Carbonara with Crispy Pancetta and Sage

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This carbonara is named for its rich and creamy sauce which is made from puréed squash without a drop of cream or a single egg yolk.  So you can indulge in comforting carbonara even if you’re still sticking to your resolutions to eat healthier foods! The sauce gets its silky texture from the squash which is cooked down with onion, garlic and a bit of olive oil in some chicken broth then puréed until smooth.  The pasta is tossed in the gorgeous golden sauce then crowned with pecorino, crispy pancetta and sage.  A bit of shaved pecorino and some toasted pine nuts(optional) are tossed on top just before serving.   I found this dish required more fresh ground pepper than usual to contrast with the sweetness of the squash. Comfort food with less guilt!

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A Valentine Craft: Making a Button Brooch

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When my middle son Stéphane was in elementary school, he made me a heart-shaped brooch which was adorned with buttons.  For years every single time I wore that brooch, people stopped me and commented on how pretty it was.  That brooch was one of my most cherished possessions.  Then I lost it.  Heartbreaking.  What’s a mom to do?  Well try to recreate it of course! Continue reading

Warm Roasted Tomato and Israeli Couscous Salad

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As winter sets in, are you dreaming of summer’s sweet juicy tomatoes? Roasting the tomatoes available during winter concentrates their sweetness, enhances their juiciness and is a sure fire way to coax a bit more of that summer taste.  Plan ahead as the tomatoes are slow roasted for 2 hours at low temperature in the oven.  A surprising addition of fennel and cumin seeds to the tomatoes add a big dose of flavor.  Israeli couscous gives the salad a nice texture and its nuttiness is enhanced by flash-frying  it first to a golden color before boiling it.  The salad comes together with a mess of arugula and a simple vinaigrette.  This recipe comes to me from my niece Vanessa, a gifted cook, who spoiled me with a fantastic dinner during a recent visit to her home in Tampa, Florida.  It is originally from the acclaimed LCBO magazine of Ontario, Canada’s Liquor Board. The salad makes a delicious side to grilled fish or chicken. It’s a little bit of summer in every bite, even in cold January!

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“January Blues” Luncheon Tablescape

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“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.” William Blake

Readers have requested more table settings and I am happy to oblige!  The inspiration for this tablescape was a gorgeous potted orchid I had in a sweet vase with a bluebird and a French inscription that I love.image image Continue reading

Overnight Kale and Prosciutto Breakfast Bread Pudding

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“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Lewis Carroll

Every savvy hostess needs an overnight egg casserole dish that she can stick in the oven and have ready to serve a breakfast crowd with no hands on time.  This make-ahead savory casserole has it all:  salty hit from the prosciutto enveloped in a puffed up cheesy bread base, nice colors and tons of healthy  kale with aromatic rosemary and shallots for spicing it up just right.  I made it a month ahead, froze it, thawed it overnight in the refrigerator then baked it to golden perfection in 45 minutes.  Easy clean up and the dish just needed a side  salad to make it a complete meal. Ours was served with a simple fresh tomato and basil side salad.

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Valentine’s Day Wreath and Planter DIY

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“A man is not where he lives, but where he loves.”  Latin Proverb

February is a big month in our household with Valentine’s Day, our wedding anniversary and my birthday.  With winter setting in, I like to brighten the entrance for the month of February with a Valentines theme.  This year I recycled my holiday decor and transformed it with a few simple tweaks to celebrate the month of love.

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” David Bowie

I find a lot of the ready-made Valentines Day decorations are too corny or overdone so I like to create my own.  The  holiday urns had been done up in silver, flocked and red twig branches with red winter berry wreaths.  I left these in place,  removed the silver Christmas balls  in the arrangment(you can see the original urns here) and hung heart shaped ornaments throughout the branches.  Simple, restrained yet not too frilly.  I live in a household of all men, including the cat!  I really like the subtle sparkle from the glitter branches in the winter light.  Don’t have red twig dogwood?  Simply paint any branches with red paint as I did here.

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