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This post was sponsored by my friends at Driscoll’s. They were nice enough to provide product coupons and reimbursement for ingredients, and all opinions (as always!) are mine, all mine!

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today, not only because it involves strawberries (umm, WHAT blog are you reading again?) but because it involves the biggest, most perfect-for-dipping strawberries EVER from Driscoll’s and also chocolate and then some MINT chocolate (whoa! a twist!) and then some fun drizzling/lettering action that’ll make everyone think you’re a regular ol’ chocolatier.

Minty Chocolate Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

When Driscoll’s asked me to create a twist on the traditional chocolate covered strawberry for Valentine’s Day, my first thought was “Yes! This blog is MADE for strawberries!” But I actually had a hard time coming up with the whole “twist on a classic” part. I think my problem is that I just love strawberries SO much I’m reluctant to do anything to them at all. Sure, I’ll make this amazing jam from time to time, and sure, I’ll dip them in chocolate. (Or in tequila). But 9 times out of 10 (okayyyyyyy, more like 9.99999 times out of 10) I just eat them. All of them. Plain. Right out of the container. Ahhh, bliss.

Minty Chocolate Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

I toyed for a bit with putting something crazy in the chocolate (chili peppers? eh?), or rolling the berries in something (crushed up pretzels? rainbow explosion sprinkles?) after the chocolate-dipping had happened. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about how much I love plain ol’ strawberries. And I didn’t want to mess with that. I wanted to highlight it. Especially since Driscoll’s was nice enough to provide these SUPER JUMBO long stem strawberries that were just begging to be scarfed down immediately.

Minty Chocolate Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

Seriously. How perfect are these?

Minty Chocolate Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

I decided to stick with the classic combo of chocolate and strawberries, but I added some mint chocolate (I’m OBSESSED with these mint chocolate chips) to the mix for a flavorful twist without messing with the classic chocolate-covered strawberry look. Chocolate script letters (which are SO easy to make! I’ll show you) add a festive Valentine’s Day look without the whole pink-and-glitter-and-unicorn-dust hoopla that generally surrounds Valentine’s Day recipes. I like to keep holiday recipes a bit understated, but add a subtle festive element to make it stand out. A touch of whimsy, if you will.

Minty Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering Minty Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

Kyle and I have never really been Valentine’s day people (in fact, we have an agreement to never ever celebrate Valentine’s day) but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy all the candy and chocolate-covered goodness that takes over the grocery stores every February! I even make the occasional Valentine’s Day-themed dessert (like these chocolate covered strawberries!) but I never understood why Valentine’s Day food always looks like Cupid puked a sparkly pink rainbow all over it. What happened to the understated, simple, “I-love-you-and-I-don’t-need-pink-glitter-to-say-it” kind of romance? (Too cynical? Like I said, I’m all about the understatement).

Minty Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

There’s something about the different textures of the chocolate here that I just find so lovely. The chocolate – even though we’re using two different flavors – is all the same color, but the layering makes sure that every piece still stands out. Aside from the letters, these berries look pretty ordinary – but once you bite into them, you get just a hint of mint (POETRY) that really takes these “ordinary” chocolate covered strawberries over the top.

Minty Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

But I promised I’d show you how to make these script letters! Ok, here’s the DL: print out this printable (or print your own word/font combo). Cover it with wax paper. Put whatever melted chocolate remains after you’ve dipped all your berries into a plastic bag and snip a tiny bit of the bag’s corner off to make a piping bag. Trace the letters with the piping bag, then let the letters cool on the wax paper until the chocolate is solid.

Minty Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

Gently peel the letters off of the wax paper and place them on the still-wet chocolate drizzle (it’s just like glue!) Let the rest of the chocolate set and pat yourself on the back for being so artsy. Pro tip: try not to touch the front of the chocolate letters, because you might leave a fingerprint that messes up the smooth face of the letter. Try to use one finger to pick up each letter by the back and gently place it on the strawberry. You can do it! I believe in you.

Minty Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Chocolate Lettering

And ta-da! You’ve just choco-tized love and put it on a strawberry. Proceed to join me in a victory dance and then stuff yourself silly with these jumbo minty chocolate Valentine’s Day berry delights. [read more…]

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Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

I realized today that the only recipes I’ve shared this year have pretttttty much been pasta, pizza, or things with hollandaise. Have I ruined your New Year’s diet resolution? I’m sorry. But not THAT sorry, because when you eat this roasted red pepper baked ziti you’ll totally forgive me and we’ll all be friends again. (Also, there’s no cream in this recipe! See? HEALTH CONSCIOUS, BAM).

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

This is a great make-ahead dish: I divided a whole batch into a few individual baking dishes and stored them all in the fridge so I could have baked ziti on demand this week. Grad school classes started again on Wednesday (umm, yuck) and I’ve been in something of an Amazon.com black shopping hole this week picking out new things to help me organize my kitchen and get my cooking life back on track. I can’t wait to show you guys all the fun things I’ve found to help spruce up our teeny tiny apartment kitchen on a broke-grad-student budget! (If you’re interested, you can follow along with #StrawberryKitchenReno on Instagram). Maybe next I’ll “renovate” my closet, since right now my closet is basically a pile of clothes on the floor. BUT BACK TO THE POINT: having ready-made, easy-to-heat up meals has been great this week with all the chaos. [read more…]

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Mushroom & Goat Cheese Grilled Flatbread

Once upon a time, we had a grill.

Mushroom & Goat Cheese Grilled Flatbread

It wasn’t even OUR grill, really. It belonged to my friend Kelly who is awesome (HI KELLY) who moved to go to vet school (because she’s awesome) and didn’t have a patio or a backyard or anything in which to store her beauuutiful red charcoal grill. So (because I’m a good samaritan) I offered to store it for her (because I DID have a backyard, for one brief, shining year) slash use it to grill pizza and burgers and have all-around super-duper backyard grill times. [read more…]

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Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Ahhh, risotto. One of the most comforting comfort foods on the planet. Warm, hearty, creamy, cheese-y – and now, butternut squash-y! I’m into it.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

The addition of squash and sage to this risotto give it the most wonderful subtle earthy flavor, and the squash pureé lends extra creaminess to an already delicious dish. It’s safe to say I’m more than a little bit obsessed. We all know I’m a fan of trashed-up risotto, and this is DEFINITELY my new favorite.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

I had butternut squash on hand, but you could easily substitute pumpkin purée for another fun twist on classic risotto. I loved the sage here as well, but next time I’m tempted to try fresh thyme or rosemary to mix it up a bit. Whatever spin you put on it, you’ll love the warm, winter flavors and the bright, cheery color it brings to the table.  [read more…]

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Triple Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Let’s make cookies!

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

This is an especially fun post because it’s written as part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (organized by the wonderful Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen). The deal was this: each participating food blogger receives the names of three other food bloggers. You make some scrumptious cookies, mail a dozen of ‘em off to each of your assigned bloggers, and in return, you receive three packages of ahhhmazing homemade cookies from other bloggers. It’s Secret Santa-style, so you don’t know who’s sending you cookies until they arrive on your doorstep. I sent these triple chocolate (!!!) peppermint thumbprint cookies to Erin at Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts, Victoria at Love Laugh Cook, and Dani of The Adventure Bite.

On my end, I received some amazing Salted Chocolate Pistachio Cookies from Annalise at Completely Delicious, a batch of Toffee Butter Cookies with Chocolate from the wonderful Melissa at Bless This Mess, and a scrumptious tin of Cranberry Shortbread Cookies from Julie of Julie Bakes! If anyone needs me, I’ll be donning my fat pants and baking my own batches of these ladies’ incredible cookies now that we’ve all posted our recipes. [read more…]

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