Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014

Normally, I love February.  After all, it's the month we celebrate LOVE, CHOCOLATE and MY BIRTHDAY.  However I have to admit, I'm ready to move on.  For being a short month, February has seemed way too long!!

After reminiscing and looking through a few photos, I realize it was also a month full of fun and warm moments.

Here were some of the highlights.

The month was full of snow, ice and cold.   This did give the opportunity for some photography practice.

I felt so sorry for these little guys but they seemed content with the food and the company.

Wonderful Husband's family is of Czech descent and enjoy a card game they call "Hank."  It involves an amended deck where certain cards are removed.  My mom could never remember it's name and when we planned to have a party, would always referred to it as the Bohemian Card Party.  :)  We hosted one of those Bohemian Card Parties the second weekend in February. 

Thoughtful Mother-In-Law took me out to brunch at Erin's Coffee Shop on my birthday.  Erin's is located in Winfield, Missouri and our breakfast was just delightful!  I had the most wonderful open-faced egg sandwich with Hollandaise sauce!!  I forgot to take a picture but here is the cover from their Facebook page.

Cover Photo

The next day, several of us joined other retired teachers across Missouri and traveled to Jefferson City.  Our purpose was to inform our legislators about issues and concerns regarding Missouri public education and our retirement.  We also enjoyed meeting and sharing with many others from around the state.  Our group's membership numbers over 22,000 and over 700 made it this year to the annual event.

Isn't our Missouri State Capital beautiful?

Valentine's Day was another cold day but we ventured out to try a new restaurant in downtown Troy, Sami's On Main.  Wonderful Hubby had lamb shank and I had prime ribThey were both great.  We went home and shared some chocolate cream puffs that I made.  These actually turned out wonderful and were relatively easy to make!  What a nice surprise!!

Here are several photos of some of my tables and dinners this month.


Beef Bourguignon
Chocolate Truffle Cookies
The last weekend of the month, we enjoyed a slight reprieve from the winter weather while attending the Chocolate Wine Trail in the Hermann area.  Temperatures that weekend were in the 50's and 60's.  Here are a few photos from the event.  If you want to see the whole post, you can click here.

February was a pretty good month.  Even with all the wintry weather, we were able to make a lot of warm memories. 

Now it's time for March.  The weatherman says it may come in like a lion with 4-8 inches of snow, some sleet and freezing rain and temperatures near zero but hopefully we can expect it to end like a gentle spring lamb.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Linking to:  Seasonal Sunday

Hermann Chocolate Wine Trail

This past weekend Wonderful Hubby and I went on the
Chocolate Wine Trail in the Hermann, Missouri area. 

The Hermann area wineries benefit from fertile soil near the Missouri River.
Seven wineries along this trail hosted the event, each preparing a decadent chocolate treat paired with one of their wines.  Most samples were desserts but two offerings featured meat and chocolate recipes.
This was a two-day event but could be completed in one.  We opted to spend the weekend in the area and stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast in neighboring McKittrick, MO.
As you can see, it's still winter in these parts but the snow was gone and temperatures were moderate.  Luck must love chocolate and wine, too!

 Here are some of the treats we sampled. 

Robller Winery paired their Kasselfest Sweet Red Wine with a Double Chocolate Scone and Fresh Strawberry Reduction.

OakGlenn's offering was a Chocolate Mousse paired with their River View Red

Stone Hill Winery served Cayenne Spiced Chocolate Brownies with their Concord wine.


 Adam Puchta Winery's White Chocolate Key Lime Cheesecake Bars, paired with Vignoles.
Decadent Chocolate Truffle Cookies at Bias Winery.  (I have to confess, these cookies were so delicious we ate them while sitting outside on their patio before I remembered to take a photograph.  Sorry.  I thought I'd try the recipe and they turned out great!!  I'll post it at the end.  They freeze well, too.)
The last two offerings were meat dishes.  Chocolate and meat?  Well, we were game.  The first was from Hermannof Winery.  They served Braised Beef Short Ribs with Chocolate Currant Sauce, paired with Norton.  Wonderful!!!
And the second was Ground Pork and Chocolate Ragu, paired with Cabernet Sauvignon served at the Dierberg Star Lane Winery.  This winery is affiliated with several California wineries.
After visiting several wineries, we stopped at a couple of antique shops in Hermann before heading over to Meyer Hilltop Farm.

This lovely B&B had once been a working farm but the innkeepers are now semi-retired.  They've hosted guests for nearly 20 years and have even been featured in National Geographic!  Maggie's pancakes were the best I've ever eaten!! 

The next morning we attended church at St. George Catholic Church back in Hermann.   
We stayed a bit after the service to take a few photos of the beautiful interior.  The German-style woodcarving was so pretty.
After hearing the weather forecast for this weekend and it sounds like winter is making an unwelcome return.  I guess we'll stay snug in our home, make a few more of these recipes and enjoy some Missouri wine!!
Decadent Chocolate Truffle Cookies from Bias Winery
4 (1-oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped                                6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate                                                                     3 eggs
1 cup white sugar                                                                                   1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour                                                                       1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder                                                      1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In the microwave, melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whip eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until well blended.  Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Gradually stir into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Cover dough and chill for at least an hour or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls.  (I used a mini ice cream scoop.)  Place on ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 9 - 11 minutes (9 worked for me; you want them still soft and chewy.)  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sauteed Pepper Bruschettas

Wonderful Hubby and I have had a tradition of sharing appetizers on Friday evenings.  You can read about it here.  This month I wanted to share a simple recipe for one our favorites. 
We became aquainted with bruschettas when we traveled to Italy years ago.  Precious Daughter, Favorite Son and Dearest Mother-in-Law were also with us.  While walking by what we thought was a sandwich shop, we noticed these little open-faced beauties, each sporting a different delectable topping.  They were DELICIOUS and I thought, "How hard can they be to make?" 
I was right. Just brush small slices of bread (baguettes or Italian loaf) with olive oil and toast them on a George Foreman grill, Panini maker or in the oven, then top with whatever suits your fancy!
For these, just saute slices of red, yellow and/or orange peppers in olive oil for 10 - 12 minutes or until they are soft and slightly browned.  Add one teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of drained capers.  Continue sauteing.  Add about one tablespoon each of minced shallots and basil.  Heat through and you're ready to top your bread.  I add freshly grated Parmesan cheese but I've also added a little blue cheese, too.  (If you add the blue cheese, you might want to put them in the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.)
As you can see, we enjoyed some wine and chocolate with our bruschettas!  (Chocolate goes with everything!!)  I hope you give these a try.  They're easy and SO yummy!
I'm also hope you're staying cozy where ever you are.  We're expecting a little warm-up this next week!  Can't wait for Spring!!!
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