Chocolate Meringue Stars

Chocolate Meringue Stars - HostessAtHeartMy husband John has always been a meringue fanatic. For birthday desserts he generally requests a pie topped with meringue. John’s mother often made him meringue cookies which my husband Loved (the capital L on love is intentional). To me, they are a little boring. I can take them or leave them. !–more–>

When I made my Caramelized Pear Kolaches, I had leftover egg whites that I plopped in the fridge for another day. Looking for a way to use them, I came across a recipe for Chocolate Meringue Stars in the Taste of Home 1999 Annual Recipes cookbook. They looked so easy to put together. I knew the hubby would like them too. Did you know that chocolate is what keeps our love strong? We often bond over chocolate.Chocolate Meringue Stars2 - HostessAtHeartI took the egg whites out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature while my oven preheated to 300 degrees F. The recipe actually asks for 3 egg whites. I had 4 and it didn’t seem to make any difference in the recipe.

In a mixer bowl, beat the egg whites and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa over egg whites and gently fold until completely combined. Fill a pastry bag with a large star tip. I used a Wilton #1M but an 8b or similar tip will work. Pipe 1 1/4 inch stars on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or covered in foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. You can crowd them because they don’t expand much in the oven. I barely got them on one baking sheet. I recommend you use two. You don’t want them to touch. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. I removed them from the baking sheet by sliding my parchment paper directly onto the cooling rack so they didn’t dry out. I also pulled them off the parchment paper as soon as they were cool enough to touch because I didn’t want them to stick.

While the cookies cool, in a microwave or double boiler, melt 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon shortening. Stir until smooth. Dip the cookies halfway into the glaze and place them back on the same parchment paper to set.  Store in an airtight container.

These cookies were delightfully chocolatey. They had a nice little crunch on the outside and a softer center. I am officially a fan of Chocolate Meringue Stars!

Chocolate Meringue Stars

  • Servings: 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Ingredients
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa, sifted

Glaze
3 ounces semi sweet chocolate (chips or squares)
1 tablespoon shortening

Instructions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Sift cocoa over egg whites and gently fold until combined. Fill a pastry bag fit with a large star tip (#1M or #8b). Pipe 1 1/4 inch stars on a baking sheet. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack.

In a microwave or double boiler, melt semi-sweet chocolate with shortening. Stir until smooth. Dip 1/2 of each cookie in the chocolate and place on parchment or wax paper to set.

Recipe adapted from 1999 Taste of Home Annual Recipes

Provided by HostessAtHeart[/recipes]

I’m heading over to The Novice Gardner to celebrate Fiesta Friday with this recipe to share with the amazing contributors and cohosts Margy @La Petite Casserole and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.

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Kolaches

Kolache - HostessAtHeartI didn’t really know too much about Kolaches, except for the fact that they were delicious. I believed that they were a Bohemian or Czech creation. I went looking for a little more information. Wikipedia defined them as “a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough”. They also stated that they originated in “Central Europe”. I think they said that so they didn’t start any Kolache wars. There are several articles from different heritages claiming that they were the originators of this pastry. I am a mix breed with no claim to Kolaches’ origination. I’m just the baker folks. I even combined heritages to come up with my version (gasp). So, I guess this Kolache does come from my heritage (pompous opinion only). Continue reading

Caramelized Pear Pie Filling

Caramilized Pear Pie Filling3 - HostessAtHeartI had 8 pears sitting on my counter that were all ripening at the same rate.  I love love pears, but knew that I wouldn’t be enjoying them for long if I didn’t do something with them soon.  I had seen a recipe for “Caramelized Pear Pie Filling” that looked amazing.  The recipe said it’s a pie filling.  It can be so much more than that.  You could use it is as pie filling of course, or it would be a perfect topping for pancakes, oatmeal, french toast, ice cream or mashed up on a piece of toast like a pear butter. To be honest, I ate it like applesauce along with a cup of soup for lunch. It was the taste of fall with the sweet brown sugar and cinnamon combined with my beautiful ripe pears. Continue reading

Thankful Thursday #24 – Fall

Fall 2014

We are entrenched into the fall season, and even though I am sad to say goodbye to summer, and all of the things that we enjoy in summer, I enjoy the change to fall. I love the beauty of the leaves changing colors, and gently falling to the ground. I love watching children making leaf piles and jumping or hiding in them. I love the cooler weather and sitting on my porch swing. The flies and mosquitos are disappearing. I am grateful for settling into the change of seasons and everything that fall brings.

This post was inspired by Thankful Thursday organized by Momdeavor.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Stuffed Pepper Soup - HostessAtHearI grew up in a farming community where a lot of the work and social activities revolved around planting or harvesting crops.  Sometimes, they were the same thing.

When I stayed overnight with a girl friend, we often were up at dawn checking irrigation pipe. Babysitting could involve feeding livestock or other chores. Some of my fondest memories was sitting around husking and “putting up” corn. It never seemed like work because we did it together and socialized while we did it.

Everyone shared produce. We never needed a farmers market because if we had more tomatoes than what we needed, we often canned some and gave away some. So did everyone else.

One of the dishes my mother made, that I loved, was stuffed peppers. It was a mixture of ground beef, rice and tomato sauce baked inside a green pepper. I new that John wasn’t going to love eating an entire baked green pepper, so I thought I would take the same ingredients and make a soup. If John didn’t care for it, it was still something that I could freeze in individual portions and eat when I was on my own for dinner.

This is definitely in the comfort foods category but, isn’t a heavy dish. I wanted to bump up the flavor so I added spicy sausage and fire roasted tomatoes. I also used long grain brown rice, but you could use what ever you prefer.

When I make soup, I always make extra. It might be my upbringing, but I love having it in my freezer on those snowy evenings. Using a large dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add 1 pound of ground sirloin and 1 pound of ground spicy pork sausage. When the meat is good and brown, remove it from the pan to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and add 2 diced green peppers (3 cups), and one large yellow onion (3 cups). Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon of dried basil and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 2 cans of tomato sauce, 32 oz of fat free beef broth and add the meat back in. Add salt and pepper if needed. Bring to a slight boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for at least 30 minutes. I actually let mine simmer for over and hour, and it didn’t hurt it a bit.

While the soup is simmering, cook 1 cup of rice according to package directions.

I knew I would have more soup than what we could eat that evening, so I didn’t put the rice in the pot. I put it in each individual bowl. I didn’t want leftovers with mushy rice, so I stored the rice in a separate container.Stuffed Pepper Soup Top - HostessAtHeart

Stuffed Pepper Soup

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients
1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked
1 lb spicy pork sausage
1 lb ground sirloin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 green peppers, diced (3 cups)
1 large yellow onion, diced (3 cups)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
32 oz fat free beef broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

  • In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add beef and sausage. Cook until browned. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Add remaining tablespoon olive oil and add onions and green pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, basil, and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and browned meat. Bring to a light boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer at least 30 minutes
  • Prepare rice according to package directions.
  • If you plan on having leftovers, don’t add the rice to the pot of soup. Just add it to each individual bowl.

Recipe Source: Inspired by this recipe on allrecipes

Nutritional Information Stuffed Pepper SoupI’m taking this recipe to celebrate with Angie for Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts; Suzanne @puginthekitchen and Sue @burgerbird who are helping with this week’s special celebration.

Spice Cabinet Intervention Completed!

Full Cabinet AfterCan I hear a Ta Da!  It’s really sad how happy a well organized space makes me.  Once I finished this cabinet, it was like a virus.  I dug into two others.  Now my life is complete.  Until the next project that is.

When I put out my Cabinet Intervention post, I found that many of us have the same problem. By putting everyones ideas to work, this is how my organization came about. Continue reading

Thankful Thursday #23 – Enough

IMG_0028In today’s hustle and bustle to keep up with life, it seems sometimes we work more than we live. There is an anxiety to always have more.  Some times we delude ourselves into thinking that having “more” will make us happy.

I strive to live a simple life. A friend of ours always says the more you own, the more that owns you. I am grateful that I have everything that I need to live a healthy life. I have food, health, and a home. I have wonderful friends, and an amazing family.

We all have dreams, and mine are attainable without changing our lifestyle.  I am most grateful that this is enough for me.

This post was inspired by Thankful Thursday organized by Momdeavor.
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