home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Cupid's kitchen

By Angie Sutton

My Great-Grandma Anna was a trendy gal. She adored scrapbooking. I too like scrapbooking. My tool box includes four different types of glue, six kinds of scissors, archivist-approved markers, punches, stickers, cutouts and a tackle box of assorted embellishments. Anna’s tool box included a sturdy pair of scissors and some flour and water paste. Same idea of documenting a snapshot in time, but in very different times.

Anna was in her late 90s when she passed. I was a young girl who had a handful of cherished memories of visits to her farm. I love looking through her scrapbooks because it is a window into her life. She clipped, snipped, glued, taped and tucked anything she liked onto the pages of old wallpaper sample books. It was whatever struck her fancy that day. A meaningful poem, a beautiful stamp on a letter from a sister, a recipe or a colorful photo were carefully adhered to open spots. Some pages held news accounts of war and coffee rations, political news of the day or birth, wedding and death announcements.

Her Valentine’s Day cards are one of my favorite things to admire. Most are dated from 1908 to about 1960. The early ones are so intricate and elaborate. It is obvious that the sender put careful thought into selecting just the right card with the right words. Definitely not the mass-produced, boxed cards featuring a yellow sponge character with a package of sugar-laden nugget candies attached. Anna tucked these beauties into her postcard album with obvious care for someone decades, and even a century, later to enjoy.

At the Sutton house, we started a new Valentine’s Day tradition several years ago. We have a family dinner to celebrate Cupid’s visit. We break out the “good china” that is rarely used and the kids look forward to sipping their beverages from the “don’t touch” fancy glasses in the hutch. We even dine by candlelight.

Each person in the family is assigned a dish, which forms our potluck meal. Meat, vegetable, potato, bread and dessert are on the menu. We keep it simple but easy and delicious. The person assigned the item must choose a recipe and make the dish. Jeff enjoys using the grill so he is assigned our meat dish. Cade has made a number of yeast breads for our county 4-H Fair so he is our bread guy. The rest are divided amongst the girls in the house. All of the items chosen this year utilize the oven so timing is important. After dessert, we’ll play a few rounds of cards before everyone grabs their electronic gadgets and goes their own way. I’ll clean up, put the fancy dishes away, grab a cup of coffee and savor the moment much the way Anna did in her scrapbooks.

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup butter
2 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 oz. red liquid food coloring
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 cup cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch metal baking pan with butter. Microwave butter and chocolate in a large glass bowl until melted and smooth (about 1 1/2 minutes), stirring every 30 seconds. Whisk in sugars. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, just until blended after each addition. Add red food coloring, vanilla and buttermilk, and whisk until thoroughly blended. With a wooden spoon, lightly stir in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Pour and spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack before frosting. While brownies cool, make frosting. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla. Frost cooled brownies, store in refrigerator.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

5 slices bacon
1 pork tenderloin (1 lb.)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
Dash of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wrap bacon around meat. Place in a foil-lined pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 F when tested in the center with a meat thermometer. Meanwhile, bring remaining ingredients to boil in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Brush meat with glaze. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 F. Cover loosely with foil. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Twice-Baked Loaded Potatoes with Bacon

6 medium baking potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped chives
6 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Preheat oven 400 F. Wash potatoes and rub with a light layer of olive oil. Pierce with a fork and wrap in foil. Bake potatoes 45 to 60 minutes, until tender. Cool slightly and cut into halves lengthwise. Scoop out potato flesh leaving about 1/4 inch to keep shell sturdy. Mash potato flesh in a bowl. Whip in salt, pepper, butter and sour cream. Stir in bacon pieces. Use an ice cream scoop to place mixture into potato skins. Top with cheese and chives. Bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes.

Whipping Cream Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 450 F. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and cream until dough forms a ball. Turn the dough onto a surface dusted with additional flour. Fold the dough in half and knead 5 to 7 times, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut biscuit and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Leave 1-inch space between biscuits. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Oven-Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons shredded Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Trim the ends of the green beans and toss in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (or aluminum foil). Bake 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once at about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan.


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