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Blood Oranges for Valentine’s Day

Blood Oranges for Valentine’s DayRed is the color of love. For Valentine’s Day, I like to cook something that captures that beautiful color and represents passion on a plate. I found the perfect ingredient in blood oranges. Its deep-red juice, garnet flesh and red-speckled skin is as vibrant as it is delicious.

This is an easy recipe that uses the cooking technique of braising. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook during the winter months. Braising requires high searing heat at the beginning and low and slow heat to finish. It was created for tough cuts of meat or meat that is still on the bone.

After searing the meat on all sides until browned but not cooked through, liquid is added to the pot. The heat is lowered, and the dish continues to cook slowly at a moderate temperature.

This technique creates tender and juicy meat. You can also add vegetables such as onions, potatoes and carrots to cook alongside the meat. Add some broccoli, asparagus or peas at the end of cooking, and you have a complete meal.

Because most recipes for braising have heavy flavors and cuts of meat that contain more fat, I wanted to create something that is just as warm and comforting as a stew or a roast, but has lighter flavors and a leaner cut of meat.

The blood oranges and chicken are perfect for this dish. It has bright flavors, a beautiful light sauce and juicy meat that is completely satisfying.

Citrus-Braised Chicken & Blood Oranges

2 large bone-in chicken breasts or 4 skinless thighs
salt and pepper, for seasoning
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, for juicing
4 blood oranges, 3 sliced and 1 reserved for juicing
1 Tbs herbs de Provence
2 cups chicken broth (approximate)

Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to a wide-bottomed stockpot. Heat to high, and sear the chicken until browned on both sides. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and the blood orange. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the broth and herbs; bring to a boil. Scatter the sliced blood oranges over the top. Cover and transfer to a 350° F oven for 20 to 40 minutes, or reduce heat to low and finish cooking on the stove. Keep an eye on the level of the liquid, and add more broth or water, if necessary. When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a serving plate. Spoon the sauce and blood orange slices over the top.

Serves 2

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Spread the Love with Chocolate

Spread the Love with ChocolateFlowers are beautiful, and I’ll never turn down jewelry. However, when I think of Valentine’s Day, my mind goes straight to chocolate.

This year, I thought chocolate fondue would be fun for Valentine’s Day dessert. The Brookshire’s Microwaveable Chocolate Coating is perfect for that and makes it easy. Just follow the package instructions.

Now comes the fun part – finding treats to dip in your chocolate concoction. All of these are delicious: strawberries, sponge cake, marshmallows, raspberries and almost any kind of fruit.

Strawberries are my favorite, and it’s also fun to dip some in advance and let the chocolate coating harden. They can be decorated with nuts, sprinkles, raw sugar and white chocolate.

Also, grab a few bags of Brookshire’s Exquisite Chocolates in assorted flavors like English Toffee, Dark Chocolate Nonpareils or my personal favorite, Sea Salt Caramels. All of the flavors are delicious and decadent, and it’s fun to try them all and pick a favorite.

So, gather your loved ones and make plans to spread the Valentine’s Day love with plenty of chocolate!

Chocolate-Almond Tarts: A Recipe for Chocolate Love

Chocolate Almond TartsValentine’s Day is right around the corner, and dinner at home might just be the perfect romantic setting. Restaurants are crowded and hard to get into, but FRESH has plenty of choices when it comes to planning a special dinner at home.

When it comes to dessert, Valentine’s Day always makes me think of chocolate, and individual chocolate-almond tarts topped with delicious juicy strawberries are sure to please.

The VIP Pastry Shells, located in the freezer section, make assembling these pies an easy task. These three-inch pastry shells are often on my list for dinner parties and special events because individual pies are always a hit with guests. They look beautiful arranged on a platter, and there’s just something about having your own individual pie that makes you feel special.

There are eight shells in a box, and with this recipe, you just add the filling and bake. The filling ingredients are simple – Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate, sliced almonds, egg whites and sugar. Stir everything together, fill the pastry shells and bake.

These pies are rich enough to satisfy any chocolate craving and are so easy to make – even the men could make a batch for the ladies.

Chocolate-Almond Tarts 

8 oz Ghirardelli dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sliced almonds, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 box VIP Pastry Shells
powdered sugar and fresh berries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350° F.In a bowl, stir together the chocolate, almonds, sugar and egg whites.Prick the sides and bottoms of the tart shells with a fork. Spoon the filling into the crust.Bake for 25 minutes until chocolate is melted and crust is golden. Cool completely.Turn pies upside down in the palm of your hand and remove from the tin. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh berries.