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Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15 and Strawberry Mousse

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Sometimes I feel yanked between two outlooks.

One minute I’m looking forward to the future, getting excited about upcoming events and plans and opportunities; the next minute I’m looking back fondly at the past, wondering where the time has gone. Last week our No-bake S’more Bars had summer written all over them, an excited look-ahead to the season just underway–the beach, the pool, camping out, hiking.

Now this week, with our Strawberry Mousse–using fresh strawberries, the signature fruit of spring–I find myself wondering where spring has gone. What happened to all those flowers, the cool nights, being able to sit out in the sun without browning like a piece of toast?

This Strawberry Mousse will make you nostalgic for the season just past, for those fresh hand-picked berries now all but gone from the farmer’s market. The good news is that fresh strawberries are available in the summer, and this mousse is both easy and refreshing, and doesn’t require any cooking or heating up the kitchen.

So give it a try to help you cool off on these hot summer days even as you think fondly of the cool spring just past, gone till next year.

And while you’re caught up in this mild wave of nostalgia, check out Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15. The four women are looking backward with both regret and fond memories even as they contemplate an uncertain future filled with both hope and fear.

strawberry fluffStrawberry Mousse

1/2 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced*

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or orange juice

2 cups whipped cream or Cool Whip**

strawberry mousse

Add the strawberries to a bowl, along with the granulated sugar, vanilla, and lemon or orange juice. Cover and allow to marinate until juices form, or about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make whipped cream or ensure that Cool Whip is at room temperature.

Add the strawberries and their juices to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Gently fold the pureed strawberries into the whipped cream. Divide into serving cups, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with a strawberry and lemon or orange peel.

Makes 2 servings.

*This will be about 1 heaping cup of sliced strawberries.

**To make your own whipped cream, beat 1 cup whipping cream to soft peaks. Slowly add 1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar. Continue to beat until powdered sugar is incorporated into the whipped cream.

strawberry mousse dessert

{Adapted from Big Girl, Small Kitchen}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #15 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Two Sisters, Serial #25 and Mandarin Orange Fluff

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2015!!!

Can you believe it?

We’re going to start this year off right. Let’s take the wholesome tang and sweetness of mandarin orange slices, the all-round nutrition (and digestive assist) of yogurt, the richness of whipped cream, throw in a little orange liqueur (if you’re not too hung over from last night), some dark chocolate shavings as a garnish and–BANG!!! (that’s R&R’s version of fireworks–ain’t it cute?)–we’re starting off the new year with a splash and style and, as always, a simple and scrumptious dessert for one or two.

Oh, and check out Two Sisters, Serial #25. It finds Brooke and Leah scheming to dance the debutante waltz together, even though it has never been done by a couple of the same sex in the century-long history of the event. Brooke plans to wear the tux and lead, since Leah is deaf and can’t hear the music. Sound confusing? Well, check out the previous twenty-four installments, at your leisure. You’ve got a whole new year to work with.

A blessed and happy new year to all!

(Now if I can just remember to get the year right on my checks . . . )

orange fluff dessert

Mandarin Orange Fluff

8 ounces vanilla yogurt

3 Tablespoons orange juice or orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whipped topping, thawed*

11 ounces mandarin oranges, drained

orange fluff

In a mixing bowl, add the vanilla yogurt, orange juice or orange liqueur, and vanilla extract. Stir ingredients together. Fold in the whipped topping until all ingredients are well incorporated. Spoon some of the yogurt mixture into the bottom of parfait glasses. Top with a few mandarin oranges. Repeat layers, ending with the yogurt. Garnish with shaved chocolate or a mandarin orange slice. Serve immediately. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Serves 2-3.

*You can also make whipped cream by beating 1 cup whipping cream to stiff peaks.

mandarin orange dessert

{Adapted from Taste of Home}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #25 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #25, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #25, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Angels Unawares, Serial #11 and Mint Cream Cups

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So you’ve had enough of winter and you’re checking out the calendar and counting down the minutes, the seconds till spring. Then here comes this nasty north wind and–WHAM–knocks you back into January with its frigid temps and swirling snow and those damn icy patches (still got a bruise on my butt!).

What the heck is going on with this weather?

Well, at Reading and Recipes, we can’t control the weather but we can make it just a tad easier to tolerate. These Mint Cream Cups are oh so simple to throw together but oh so pretty to look at and yummy and fun to eat. They’ve got the old standby pick-me-up of chocolate in the crunchy crumbs at the bottom topped with the tang of mint and the light airiness of cream, all rolled into one easy to store, quick to eat cup. Add a little more green food coloring if you want to make it into a St. Patty’s Day treat, or skip the food coloring if you just want the white creaminess over the chocolate earthiness. Whatever it takes to get you through till spring.

Angie feels about the same way in Angels Unawares, Serial #11. She’s longing for some signs of spring in a world devoid not only of spring but also of hope. Yet her spirit and determination will not surrender to the brutality of the place she’s landed in. In her case, springtime exists not outside her but inside. And maybe that’s a reminder we all could use–as the wind slams into the house and knocks the power out again.

mint cream

Mint Cream Cups

5 chocolate graham cracker sheets*

1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff

1/4 teaspoon mint extract

2 cups whipped cream or thawed Cool Whip**

green food coloring (optional)

mint pies

Add the chocolate graham cracker sheets to a food processor and pulse until the cookies are thick crumbs. You should have about 3/4 cups of crumbs at the end. Set these crumbs aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the marshmallow fluff. Beat the marshmallow fluff until it becomes less of a sticky ball and more of a manageable batter. (This took me about 1-2 minutes of vigorously beating by hand.) Add the mint extract to the fluff and continue to beat the mixture until the mint extract is evenly distributed. Next, fold in the whipped cream. Add a few drops of green food coloring, if using, and continue to fold the ingredients together. Add as much food coloring as you need to get your desired color of green.

Divide the chocolate cookie crumbs between two glasses or one-cup mason jars. Top with cream mixture. Cover each cup and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to serve, top the mint cream mixture with a dollop of whipped cream or a few chocolate cookie crumbs. Serve chilled.

Makes 2 cream cups.

*Or 3/4 chocolate cookie crumbs. If you have Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, these would work great in this recipe!

**To yield 2 cups whipped cream, you will need 1 cup heavy cream. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

mint cream pies

{Adapted from A Pretty Life in the Suburbs}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #11 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #11, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #11, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Angels Unawares, Serial #7 and White Chocolate Mousse

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So where in The Book of the Laws of the Universe is it written that Valentine’s Day is the do-all, end-all on defining the status of one’s romantic life and desirability? Who made up that rule? To believe all the hype being circulated out there, if you aren’t swept off your feet by Prince or Princess Charming in a 24-hour (which really amounts to only about four hours if you subtract for work and sleep and certain other hygienic responsibilities) whirlwind of flowers and jewelry and dinner and drinks and dancing, then you must be either be a psycho-loser or a loser with an eye growing out the back of your head (which might be kind of useful and maybe even sexy but that’s for another post).

To hell with that rule!

I mean Valentine’s Day is an OK day for love and romance–though the restaurants are jammed and the roses cost twice as much. But why not some other day–say April 6th or June 19th or September 27th? Those days are just as good for romance as dumb old (and cold and snowy) February 14th.

So we’ve got a suggestion for this February 14th. Let’s forget all the show and hype and hurt feelings when things don’t live up to expectations and do something we at Reading and Recipes know is guaranteed to bring pleasure and satisfaction–make (and eat) a kickass out-of-this-world delicious and sinfully decadent dessert!

This White Chocolate Mousse will make you forget what day of the year it is or care even if you remember. Prince Charming–who’s that? I’ve got something better to do on my February 14th. (But if Prince Charming shows up, there’s a second serving to give him–but only if he brings a really big bouquet of roses. If not, leave him out there in the snow and eat the second serving yourself.)

mousse

White Chocolate Mousse

2 1/2 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Ghirardelli), broken into pieces*

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 eggs, separated and allowed to come to room temperature

1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons Frangelico liqueur (optional)

2/3 cup whipping cream, cold

Add the white chocolate and butter to a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until both are melted. Set aside. (If this mixture begins to separate, just stir until the ingredients are mixed together.)

Add the egg yolks, powdered sugar, and Frangelico liqueur (if using) to a bowl. Beat the ingredients together with an electric mixer for about a minute, or until the mixture turns a pale yellow and a thick ribbon is formed when the beaters are lifted. Pour this mixture into the top of a double boiler. Cook this mixture, whisking constantly, over simmering water for 3 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled white chocolate and butter mixture, and whisk until everything is incorporated and forms a thick, smooth batter (see picture directly below).

white chocolate mixture

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the egg whites into the white chocolate mixture, creating a light and airy mixture (like the picture below).

after egg whites

In a cold, metal bowl, beat the cold whipping cream until stiff peaks are formed. Fold the whipped cream into the mousse mixture.

Divide the mousse between two serving cups. Refrigerate the mousse for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to serve, sprinkle mousse with cocoa powder, fruit, candy, or toppings of your choice, or top with a generous portion of whipped cream.

white choc mousse

Serves 2.

*If using Ghirardelli squares, each square is 0.5 ounces; you will need five squares for this recipe.

bite of mousse

{Adapted from the “Silver Palate Cookbook”}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #7 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #7, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #7, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #10 and Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

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Becca asked for this.

O.K. So Becca is a fictional character and can’t ask for something or step forward out of the pages of a fictional romance even if the book’s title does bear her name. She’s imaginary, right?

But if she could speak, the first thing she’d ask for is this dessert. You see, in the story she eats a chocolate hazelnut mousse at a fancy restaurant and falls in love with it. (And I’ll let you in on a secret–the dessert reappears later, at a watershed moment.) So if Becca could speak, she’d be asking for this dessert.

And you will be too, once you sample this recipe. It’s so rich and decadent, yet simple and quick. So give this treat a try! And while you’re at it, listen to or download a text file of Becca’s Book, Serial #10 below, and find out just why Becca stepped forward from the pages of her book to make a special request for this dessert.

chocolate hazelnut mousse

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup Nutella, or other chocolate hazelnut spread

1 Tablespoon hot water

1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso

1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer hazelnuts in a shallow pan and put in preheated oven for about 7-9 minutes to toast them. Watch these carefully as it is easy to burn them. Once they become aromatic and turn a golden brown, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.

toasted hazelnuts

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water. Add Nutella to coffee mixture and stir until well combined.

ingredients

Add the whipping cream to a mixing bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Fold Nutella mixture into whipped cream until evenly combined. Divide mixture between 2 serving cups, sprinkle with cooled toasted hazelnuts, and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

bite of mousse

{Adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #10, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #10, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #10, text © Jeffrey Anderson