Godiva Hearts, for People Who Insist on Celebrating Valentine's Day

photo courtesy of Karen Turner

Okay, I have two statements to make before I get to the chocolatey goodness section of this post.

Preface #1 - I think Valentine's Day is totally lame! I've always felt that way. Well, maybe not when I was in second grade, but I don't think I was waxing philosophical about holidays at that point. I was too busy fantasizing about Fred from Scooby Doo to worry about such things. I just don't understand why people put such importance on receiving a gift on Valentine's Day, especially when it's usually a gift that requires no brainpower, like candy, flowers, or stuffed bears. Oh, yea! My significant other bought me a gift not because they were thinking of me, but because their calender and the mall told them to! They must really love me! Not that I object to flowers or candy. I just object to them on February 14th!

Preface #2 - I think Godiva is, generally speaking, overrated. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this point, but I kind of think Godiva is like Tiffanys, in that all you're really paying for is the name. Is that diamond/chocolate truffle any better than any other diamond/chocolate truffle or are we just wowed by the name on the box? Maybe you're one of those people who genuinely LOVE Godiva's candy. I know a lot of people that do, so it is possible that maybe I'm wrong about their chocolate! I've also, in the past, bought gifts at Tiffanys, so, you know, I understand the lure of the fancy. :-)

That said, I was at Godiva the other day and couldn't stop looking at this box of heart-shaped chocolates!

photo courtesy of Karen Turner

I know! I was shocked! They were so pretty and unique, which makes sense once I realized that they're designed by pastry chef Norman Love (awww . . . love). It also sounds like these little hearts are filled with some interesting flavors like Apple Pie, Bananas Foster, and Caramel Macchiato, which is always a good sign! Give them to someone for Valentine's Day, if you're into that sort of thing. Click here to order the Hearts G Collection online (15 piece or 30 piece box) or click here to find a Godiva store near you.


Orla Kiely . . . at Target!!!

I'm soooo excited! Designer Orla Kiely is coming to Target in February! Her home collection will include great items for your kitchen like towels, placemats, napkins, aprons, oven mitts, dishes, trays, mugs, and a whole lot more. Plus, there are products for other parts of your home as well (laundry bags, shoe racks, desk trays, etc). Click here to see the full collection! Yippee!


The Farnsworth House in Miniature

Keeping with my love of edible houses, may I present the gingerbread Farnsworth House, courtesy of cake designer April Reed. The New York Times recently did a piece on this yummy version of Mies van der Rohe's modern classic and I instantly feel in love with it! Of course, the price tag on this mini-house is $4,320, so it won't be sitting on my kitchen table anytime soon. On the plus side, 15 percent of the proceeds will be donated to help repair the much larger Farnsworth House in Illinois, so at least you'll know that some of your hard-earned money is going to charity. Click here to check out the piece in the New York Times and here to visit April Reed's Web site.


My Favorite Dessert: Blueberry Banana Cream Pie by Pretty Ditty

I'm sooo excited! It's my first guest blog! And it's from Jamie from Pretty Ditty. Woo hoo! I recently discovered Jamie's gorgeous aprons on Etsy and I have to say they are among some of my favorite aprons, ever!

From the front, you could mistake them for really wonderful dresses. I know I've said that before, about other aprons, but the Pretty Ditty aprons really are so lovely! I want to wear one all day long! In addition to being a world-class apron maker, Jamie also has a blog where she shows off her many crafting skills, like making adorable pegs dolls like the one seen below. You can click here to visit Jamie's Etsy site and to see more of her charming aprons. Thanks, Jaime!

Here's what Jaime had to say about this recipe:

One of my favorite recipes to make is Blueberry Banana Cream Pie. This particular recipe was handed down to me by a very dear friend who moved much too far away from me. I love this recipe because 1) it's light and very delicious 2) very fast to make 3) it's EASY. Last week a made a dessert that took 3 HOURS to make . . . not cool.
Blueberry Banana Cream Pie
  • 1 deep dish frozen pie crust (cook according to directions & let cool.

  • Mix 1 cup of sugar with 8 ounces of cream cheese (set aside).

  • Prepare 1 package of Dream Whip according to directions on the box.

  • Combine sugar mixture with the Dream Whip.

  • Layer pie crust with sliced bananas and then fill with cream mixture.

  • Refrigerate overnight to set. (I must admit, I never refrigerate overnight. I usually refrigerate for 1 hour, because I'm never that prepared to pre-make the dessert any earlier.)

  • Serve it with blueberry pie filling on top. ( I like Comstock.)


Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Word on the street is that Starbucks has a new Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate available that is sure to excite any and all fans, myself included, of the legendary sweet and salty combination. According to their Web site it combines "the flavors of buttery caramel and smoked sea salt," which explains why it's called Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I haven't tried it yet, but I have it on good authority that it's delicious!

For those of you who want to know exactly how many calories you're drinking (aka gluttons for punishment), Starbucks supplies a nutrition calculator for each of their products on their Web site. Enter your specifics (large or small, whipped cream or plain, soy milk or whole) and, voila, it gives you all the stats! Pretty neat or maybe not so neat, if you're getting a large hot chocolate with whipped cream! 760 calories? Yikes! Click here for more information.


Donuts Get a Facelift

As most of you have probably heard by now, donuts are the new cupcakes, at least that's what trend watchers claim. Yep, you heard it right. Donuts want to be this year's homecoming queen and they're pushing hard to get your vote. The television show 30 Rock even had a joke on a recent episode about letting tourists know that donuts have taken over for cupcakes as the new hip dessert! Personally, I don't know if donuts will ever be able to truly steal cupcake's crown, but I'm excited to see them try! Because, at the end of the day, a new food trend means that bakers are going to be experimenting with interesting flavors and developing unique ideas. For example, you can go to Dee's Mini Organic Donoughts in California and get an organic, whole wheat donut that is completly free of trans fats or you can go to Voodoo Doughnut in Portland and get a maple donut covered with bacon. There are just so many options!
My vote for prettiest donuts has to go to Big Apple Donuts, which is, uhhh, not located in New York. In fact, you can't even buy them in North America! Big Apple only has stores in Asia, which is not really surprising because all the prettiest pastries come from Asia.


Chip and Dip Cookies

These are my new favorite cookies! They are sooo good! Created by a mother who needed to come up with a new kind of cookie for her nut-hating son, this recipe utilizes two of my favorite flavors, sweet and salty. In order to give the cookies the crunchiness of nuts, without actually using them, the boy's mother decided to replace the nuts with pretzels and potato chips. In addition, her son, who sounds like a royal pain in the butt, would only eat the frosted portion of the cookies that she made, leaving the rest uneaten, so she added chocolate to both ends. That way, he'd eat the whole thing! I guess I'm glad that this particular mom had a picky eater for a son, otherwise we wouldn't have these wonderful cookies! Click here for the complete recipe, courtesy of Relish.
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