This weekend we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. While the true origins of the day and how it came to be associated with romance are still a mystery, there is no doubt but what Valentine’s Day and chocolate go together. I can remember elementary school days when we made our valentines days and days ahead of time, taking care to address each one carefully. Up front was a beautifully decorated box into which they would be placed to await the big day. Always it seemed there were special cupcakes and cookies to mark the day.

An old German belief is that February 14th is the day that birds pick their mates for spring. Someone once said that it is very important to mark the little events and occasions in life as well as the big ones, and Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to do just that!

This week’s recipes offer a variety of choices—all delicious—to make something special and share it with someone—sweetheart or not! Many of the recipes this time do include chocolate in one form or another because of its association with the day; however, the Cornish hens in cherry sauce would make an easy and delightful main dish for a special Valentine meal. Be sure to read the “notes” with this recipe for other ideas!

I came by the truffle recipes a long time ago and have used them many times. So, make something special, share it and pray for our great country and all those who are struggling, and this would also be a great time to consider a donation to The Heart Association!

P.S. I want to send out a February 14 Happy Birthday greeting to one of my favorite people in the whole wide world! She knows who she is!!!

Easy Heart-Shaped Cake

Note: This is an old stand-by I have used many times for school, for parties, and for other occasions when a heart-shaped cake would be appropriate. Two cake layers will make two cakes.

Two baked round cake layers, any flavor.

A platter on which to arrange your cake.

A generous amount of icing of your choice—Cool Whip or canned works just fine for this.

Decorations of your choice (I have sometimes used roses that I dipped in egg white and then in sugar and allowed to air dry. These are, of course, not edible, but they look pretty. Any other decoration of your choice is fine.)

Once the cake layers are baked and cooled, cut a V-shaped wedge out of one. This V becomes the bottom of your heart when placed at the bottom of the layer. Where you cut the V out will become the two top “humps” of the heart. Round these off some to suit yourself or shape it with the icing. You can shape your cake up and hide its “joints” with the icing. This makes a pretty heart cake if you don’t have a heart-shaped pan. After I had this method for making a “heart” printed in one of my columns, Mrs. Kate Massengale, who was known for her wonderful cooking, called me and shared with me an even easier trick. Bake a square cake and a round cake. Cut the round cake in half and use it to make the “humps” of the heart. Ice it and you have a beautiful heart!

Carnival Cruise Lines Molten Lava Chocolate Cake

Richard’s Note: This became a popular dessert on Carnival cruises. It used to be served only on certain nights or by special order. It is now offered nightly!

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup butter

7 eggs, divided

6 Tbs. sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°. In a pan melt the chocolate and butter and cool for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix 4 eggs with sugar. Whisk. Then add flour while continuing to whisk. Add the remaining three eggs and whisk. Then add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Pour this entire mixture into individual ramekins. Bake until just done, about 15 to 20 minutes (interior will be melting, not set). Top with powdered sugar. Serve with ice cream. (Note: To make gluten free, leave out flour.)

Easy Chocolate Truffles

1/3 cup cream

12 oz. chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped nuts, optional

1/4 tsp. rum extract, optional

Heat cream on low heat until warm. Add chips. Stir until melted. Add nuts and extract. Refrigerate six hours or so. Shape into balls. Roll balls in cocoa powder.

Viennese Truffles

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Put all into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil gently. After two minutes you have a good icing or a sauce. After six minutes (longer for harder truffles) remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. At this point you can add other flavorings (vanilla, rum, liqueur, etc.) Cool in the fridge for one hour. Shape into balls and roll in cocoa powder. Cool to room temperature or chill. Makes 25 to 30 truffles.

Easy Microwave Fudge

Microwave two cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and one can of sweetened condensed milk (such as Eagle Brand). Check occasionally and stir until smooth. Add two teaspoons vanilla and one cup of mini marshmallows. You may also add any of the following—nuts, raisins, cherries, etc. Pour into a greased 8-inch dish and refrigerate until set.

Juanita Edwards’ Chocolate Pie

2 sticks margarine

2 cups sugar

1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate semi-sweet morsels

1 cup coconut

1 cup pecans, chopped coarsely

4 eggs, well beaten

2 pie shells

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt margarine and morsels over low heat. Remove from heat. Add other ingredients. Pour into pie shells and bake 30 minutes. When done, cracks will form in pie. (These are easy, can be made ahead of time and they freeze well. Great with ice cream on top. Makes two pies

Chocolate Mini Kiss Blossoms

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

1 & 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp, vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Hershey’s Cocoa

1/2 tsp. salt

Additional sugar

1 (10 oz.) pkg. or 1 & 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate mini kisses

In large bowl, beat butter, one and one-half cups sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Refrigerate dough about one hour or until firm enough to handle. Heat oven to 350°. Shape dough into one and one-eighth inch balls; roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven. Place three mini kisses on each cookie, pressing down lightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about four dozen cookies.

Heavenly Heart Cake

3/4 cup cocoa

2/3 cup boiling water

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups cake flour or 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk*

Glossy Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (recipe follows)

Creamy Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two heart-shaped pans or two 9-inch round baking pans. In small bowl, stir together cocoa and boiling water until smooth; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy; beat in eggs and cocoa mixture. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to butter mixture. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Glossy Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting. Pipe border around top edge and base of cake with Creamy Buttercream Frosting. (Note: To sour milk: Use two teaspoons white vinegar plus milk to equal three-fourth cup.)

Glossy Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

1 & 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

2 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup dairy sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Milk

In medium microwave-safe bowl, place small chocolate chips. Microwave at High (100%) for one minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at High an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. Add powdered sugar, sour cream and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add milk, one-half teaspoon at a time, for a thinner consistency. About two and one-half cups frosting.

Creamy Buttercream Frosting

In small bowl, combine two cups powdered sugar, one-fourth cup (one-half stick) softened butter or margarine, two to three tablespoons milk and one-half teaspoon vanilla extract; beat until smooth and creamy. Makes about one cup of frosting.

Easy Chocolate Cheese Cake

3 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups or 1 (12 oz.) pkg. Hershey’s Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided

1 (9 oz.) graham cracker crumb crust

2 Tbs. whipping cream

Heat oven to 450°. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Stir in one and two-thirds cups small chocolate chips; pour into crust. Bake 10 minutes. Without opening oven door, reduce temperature to 250°; continue baking 30 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven to wire rack. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. In small microwave-safe bowl, place remaining one-third cup chips and whipping cream. Microwave at High (100%) 20 to 30 seconds or just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Cool slightly; spread over top of cheese pie. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until topping is set. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheese pie. Makes 10 servings.

Cornish Hens with Cherry Sauce For the Crock Pot!

Note: This is nice change from the usual orange-glazed Cornish hens!

Richard’s Note: If you do not have a rack for your slow cooker, use crumpled foil in the bottom instead. Also, I have made this dish with flattened chicken breasts. Flatten them between pieces of waxed paper. Then spread the stuffing on them and roll them up. Secure with a pick if necessary. Place them in the crock pot (on the crumpled foil.) Continue with the recipe as directed.

You can also use the crumpled foil and place a whole fryer on the foil, season it as desired and “bake” it in your crockpot. It makes a good chicken. No additional liquid is required.

4 cornish game hens

1 (6 oz.) pkg. Stove Top cornbread stuffing, optional

1 & 1/2 cups hot water

1/4 cup & 2 Tbs. butter

3/4 cup red currant jelly

1/4 cup dried, fresh or canned red cherries, chopped coarse

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Thaw hens if frozen. Place a rack in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine stuffing mix with seasoning packet, water and one-fourth cup of the butter. Stuff hens and place on rack in slow cooker. In a small saucepan, combine jelly, cherries, remaining one tablespoons butter, lemon juice, salt and allspice. Cook over low heat, stirring until jelly is melted. Reserve two-thirds cup sauce. Brush remaining sauce on hens in cooker. Cover and cook on low six to seven hours. Serve whole or cut hens in half with kitchen shears. Spoon reserved sauce over hens at serving time.

Extra Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

2 Tbs. butter

3/4 cup flour

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. In a 2-quart glass bowl, cook chocolate with butter in a microwave oven on High one to two minutes or until melted and smooth when stirred. Mix in flour until well blended. Add vanilla and sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Stir in pecans. Drop dough by tablespoonful two inches apart onto two greased and foil-lined cookie sheets. Bake nine to 10 minutes (cookies will be dull on top and soft). Let cookies cool on baking sheets. Carefully remove from foil. Makes 45 cookies.

Dark Chocolate Waffles with Strawberries

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 & 1/2 cup flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt (optional)

1/2 cup milk or 3/4 cup buttermilk

Powdered sugar

Fresh strawberries, sliced and sweetened

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and cooled chocolate. Mix well. In separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt, if using. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture alternately with the milk, blending well with each addition. (If using buttermilk, which is thicker than milk, use a little more if necessary, to thin almost to a pouring consistency.) With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the batter. Place about one-third cup batter in a hot waffle iron, close the cover and bake until the steaming stops; these waffles are dark so don’t judge doneness by the color. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with strawberry slices. Makes five to six waffles.

Chocolate Conversation Heart Cakes

1 & 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Creamy Frosting (recipe below)

Red Decorating Gel

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat with whisk or spoon until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Transfer to cutting board. Using 3 & 1/4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut cake into 8 to 10 hearts. Prepare Creamy Frosting. Spread desired color on top of each heart. Write a “message” on each with decorating gel.

Creamy Frosting

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

2 to 4 tsp. milk

Food color

In medium bowl, beat butter and vanilla until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk until frosting is at desired consistency. Divide frosting into two or three parts (depending on desired number of colors wanted to frost hearts). Add few drops food color to each part. Makes about three-fourth cup frosting.

Be-My-Valentine Pie

1 cup water

1 3-oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin

1 pint vanilla ice cream (2 cups)

1 chocolate-flavored crumb pie crust

Milk chocolate kisses (optional)

In a 4-cup glass measuring cup stir together water and gelatin. Cook uncovered, on 100 percent power (High) for one and one-half to two minutes. Add vanilla ice cream to the hot gelatin mixture, stirring till ice cream is melted. Chill mixture for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring twice during chilling (the mixture should mound when you drop it from a spoon. Pour chilled ice cream mixture into pie shell. Chill about four hours or till ice cream is set. If desired, arrange milk chocolate kisses in a heart-shape atop pie.

Sweet Dreams

32 caramel candies

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup rolled oats

4 Tbs. butter or margarine, softened

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. In the top of a double boiler, combine caramels and milk. Heat over simmering water until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in brown sugar and oats. Mix in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Press one-half of the flour mixture evenly into a buttered 8-inch square pan. The layer will be fairly thin. Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over surface evenly. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips and nuts. Sprinkle with remaining flour mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Refrigerate until set, then cut into squares. Yields 16 squares

Mini Cheesecakes I

Easy and so good for holidays, weddings, or whatever the occasion! It is also good with other flavors of fruit pie filling.

Prep Time: approx. 30 Minutes. Cook Time: approx. 15 Minutes. Ready: approx. 45 Minutes.

1 (12 oz.) pkg. vanilla wafers

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350°. Line miniature muffin tins (tassie pans) with miniature paper liners. Crush the vanilla wafers, and place one-half teaspoon of the crushed vanilla wafers into each paper cup. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill each miniature muffin liner with this mixture, almost to the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool. Top with a teaspoonful of cherry pie filling. Makes 48 mini cheesecakes (48 servings).

Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Pedernales River Chili

(By special request)

4 lbs. chili meat*

1 & 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

2 to 6 generous dashes liquid hot pepper sauce

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp. ground oregano

1 tsp. cumin seed, crushed (comino)

2 cups hot water

6 tsp. chili powder (more if needed)

Salt to taste

Place meat, onions, and garlic in large, heavy fry pan or Dutch oven. Cook until light-colored. Add oregano, cumin seed, chili powder, tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, salt and hot water. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer about one hour. Skim off fat during cooking. (* Chili meat is coarsely ground round steak or well-trimmed chuck meat. If specially ground, ask the butcher to use 3/4-inch plate for coarse grind. NOTE: If you want to spice this up, add more chili powder, cumin or cilantro. Let your taste be your guide.)

Lyonnaise Potatoes

Note: This is a classic dish with sliced potatoes and onions.

Prep Time: approx. 30 Minutes.

Cook Time: approx. 25 Minutes.

Ready: approx. 55 Minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Printed from Allrecipes - Submitted by Michele O’Sullivan

2 lbs. russet potatoes

2 Tbs. olive oil

4 onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbs. chopped garlic

1/2 cup butter

Salt to taste

Ground white pepper, to taste

1 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely minced

Preheat oven to 400°. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place sliced potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil two minutes, then drain and set aside. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in olive oil, then add onions. Saute until lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute until onions are deep brown and garlic is soft. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Place skillet back on stove over low heat. Melt butter, then cover bottom of pan with one-third of potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover potatoes with one-half of onion mixture. Cover with one-half of remaining potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Spread with the rest of onion mixture. Cover with remaining potatoes, and season with more salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and browned on top. Remove from oven and use a spatula to carefully transfer potatoes to a serving platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving.