Aphrodisiac Recipes for #Valentines Day! #recipes #food

Today's lovey dovey Valentine recipe comes from Dawn, author at READ eat DEW write. You can connect with Dawn on her beautiful blog, or on Twitter!

My grandmother always advised me, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I was probably a little too young for her to add that getting through to his libido wouldn't hurt. Over the years, I've had fun (and success) preparing romantic meals, so this Valentine's Day, I decided to revisit a few of my favorite aphrodisiac recipes in hopes of helping you (and me) catch Sir (or Ms.) Valentine's attention.
aphrodesiac images copy
I can't locate my copy, but there is a fabulous book called Intercourses, which aside from having tastefully erotic photos, is full of interesting tidbits about foods classified as aphrodisiacs, and easy to prepare, delicious recipes. The recipes featured here are not in that book, but once you start to learn about the different aphrodisiac foods, you can play around and create your own tantalizing dishes. First, you have to lose the kids (or the roommate). And get to the market.
Note: The weekend during which I intended to prepare and photograph the complete menu shared here, Philadelphia was experiencing a power outage of historic proportions. All photos featured here were borrowed from the "free to share and use" Bing library.
Cocktail Hour... lemon-rosemary martini; figs with gorgonzola and pine nuts, warmed in the oven and drizzled with honey
For the martini:
Combine simple syrup and in a shaker with vodka or gin (2 oz. simple syrup to spirits). Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon twist. Optional: coat rims with sugar.
lemon rosemary martini
For the figs:
  • 2 whole, ripe figs, tops cut off to expose flesh & allow for cheese & pine nuts to be stuffed inside
  • small wedge of sharp gorgonzola cheese, softened
  • 1.5 tbsps. lightly toasted pine nuts
  • plain, lavender or orange-scented honey, for drizzling
  1. Press cheese and pine nuts into the top of each fig. Place in preheated oven (350°) and cook for about 10 minutes. The goal is to soften and warm the fig, and for the gorgonzola to melt inside and over the fig
  2. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately on a small plate with a tapas size fork. Or, get a little messy and devour with your hands (finger licking up to you).
The Main Attraction... lollipop lamb chops w/vanilla-balsamic drizzle; caramelized fennel w/arugula
*Lollipop chops are simply a cut up--and cleaned up--rack of lamb. For two people, plan on 4-6 chops.
**The "drizzle" is made by steeping balsamic vinegar with an open vanilla bean. Since it's delicious on other foods as well (including vanilla ice cream) start with a ratio of one vanilla bean to 1.5 cups of balsamic. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. Easy. Peasy.
For the chops:
  • Lightly dredge chops in a salt-pepper-flour mix. (I use Wegmans' gluten-free pan-searing flour.)
  • Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high until almost smoking
  • Sauté chops 1-2 minutes per side
  • Either plate chops and drizzle vanilla-balsamic glaze over each, or drop about 1.5 tbsps. of glaze onto each plate and place chops on top.
  For the caramelized fennel & arugula salad fennel 1 large fennel bulb 1/8 cup olive oil Kosher salt black pepper 1/4 lemon
  1. Cut the top and bottom from the fennel bulbs; remove tough or bruised outer layers
  2. Slice bulbs in half and remove the cores from the fennel. Cut the fennel lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
  3. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and fennel slices
  4. Spread the fennel out in the pan to encourage browning
  5. Cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping the fennel slices every few minutes, until golden brown
  6. Remove the fennel from the pan and place on paper towels to soak up any excess oil; season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice
  7. Place a handful of arugula on a plate and top with a generous spoonful of fennel. Pour just a touch of extra-virgin olive oil over top, along with a squeeze or two of lemon. For an over-the-top version, add a medallion of fried goat cheese and sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.
Dessert: Strawberries w/aged balsamic vinegar, black pepper & honey whipped cream
For those of you who like exact measurements, I am not always the girl to go to; I am generally an "eyeball it and taste it" cook, except when it comes to baking. For this recipe, I trust you'll do just fine playing around.
strawberries and balsamic
To start off, buy yourself some plump, juicy strawberries, and bring them to room temperature before you start dousing them with balsamic and pepper. Next, grab a couple of your prettiest cocktail glasses or dessert bowls and fill them with hulled, sliced strawberries. Be generous; you're going to like these.
Just before serving, cautiously pour about a tablespoonful of balsamic over the strawberries and toss to coat. Next up, grab your pepper grinder and generously shower the strawberries. (I like to do this in a separate bowl then scoop into my cocktail glasses.) Scoop the berries into your serving vessels, and top with a hearty dollop of honey whipped cream. For the ultimate dessert high, pull out a tawny port or smoky scotch. The pros might not recommend that, but it's a crazy good combination. As is this entire decadent meal...
Happy seducing...


Guest Bloggers Wanted!

I am so happy to announce that starting October 2012, I will be featuring two guest bloggers a month over here at Sweet Stella's!

Have something artsy, crafty, DIY, fashion or inspiring to share? Here's the place to do it!

Everyone is welcome to apply, and after reviewing your entry, I'll let you know if you were selected, and when I will need your post by!

Applying couldn't be easier!

Guest Bloggin': Censie from Building Our Story

When I realized that I didn't have a post scheduled today {ya know...with being at BlogHer and all}, I immediately went to Censie from Building Our Story and asked if she wouldn't mind guest bloggin' over here. Thankfully, she said yes, and she talks about a subject that while I don't post too often about my life as a mama, is something that I can completely relate to.

I am, afterall, a fearless formula feeder, since breastfeeding wasn't all that it was cracked up to be {for me...the girls just did not cooperate and it contributed too much to my PPD. Eventually I had to decide that the best thing I could do for my son was to give him a happy and healthy mom}.

Here is Censie's story and, her fears.

I am honored that Shannon asked me to guest post for her while she ventured to Blogher12.  While I am so happy for her I am simply jealous that I had to miss the conference this year!  I cannot wait to hear all about your trip and experience lady!!  Hope you are having a blast!!  

My name is Censie, said like Kenzie, I am the proud mommy of Jude (our turtle) who just turned 2 years old and happy wife to hubby Jeremy who is an amazing father, provider, husband and artist!  We are expecting our second child, a baby girl, in October 2012!  Excitment in our home for sure!!

  I hope all of you who love Shannon will also come visit us at our blog - Building Our Story! 
Thanks for reading!

You have all probably figured this out but I am pregnant – GASP!!  LOL It’s true.  I am actually 28 weeks along now.  Amazing how fast it goes!! 
Now, just like all pregnant women I have my anxieties, worries, and concerns about my upcoming labor and delivery as well as welcoming a new baby into the world.  Yes, even the second time around you feel these things – along with excitement, joy and happiness of course!!
The difference this time around for me has nothing to do with the PAIN, water breakage, or hospital bag.  The only thing that I am worked up about right now –
That’s it but let me tell you I am nervous, embarrassed, and just plan ANXIOUS as f*&k (excuse the offensive language)!
And now time for my confession; a sentence that is hard to say in a world of negative comments, negative people and BULLIES!   Before I let that sentence out I would like to preface this all by saying – do you what you want with your babies/children, it is your choice, BUT the negative and condescending comments will do you NO good here – bullies will not be tolerated!! 
Here we go -
Confession out – do you still like me?  And now for the problem I am having after I proudly say that I have no desire to go through the heartache, pain, frustration, and overall STRESS again.  For my story of why I struggled with nursing Jude please click this link!! 
The hospital I am delivering at is an amazing, fairly new hospital in the Denver area – same hospital that I delivered Jude at and I love it.  It is what is considered a “Baby Friendly” hospital (funny name, I would hope all hospitals were baby friendly! Lol) 
Here is what they describe as “Baby Friendly” = Breastfeeding immediately after birth, discourage pacifiers, bedside sleeping/in room sleeping (love this!) and discourage bottles and formula.  Yes, pretty baby friendly, I agree with that.  Well unless your body or baby decides that nursing just is going to work or if you as a woman decide that you have no desire to feed your baby from your boob! 
So this is what I am afraid of – I already told you my confession – I do not want to nurse my baby!  BUT I also do not want to hear from every single nurse or lactation consultant that I am doing something wrong.  So what does this anxious mommy-to-be do?? 
Am I able to bring my own formula and bottles?  Do I “fake” it and nurse while we are at the hospital?  Just be a strong woman and own up to the nurses from the beginning?  Am I ready for the looks of disgust?
For those of you who have walked into a hospital delivery room with these worries, what did you do?  How did you make the experience as blessed as your first? 
And by the way – my 2 year old boy who was a formula baby is one healthy, active little man – formula did he well!  And formula helped me keep my sanity!  Okay, most of it! 
Thank you for listening to my confession!

Special Post: Mother's Day Crafting with Shizz

So its the day before Mother's Day, and did you get anything for Grandma?  No?

Well, here I am to save your day :)

This super easy craft is cute, quick (30 minutes tops) and definitely something any grandmother/mother/aunt/sister/friend would love!

small flower pot
hole punch
craft knife
colored cardstock
green pipecleaners
small block of floral foam
self-healing cutting mat

1 more supply item:
Toddler for tracing :)

Cut our your hand template.
I labeled mine with his age, because I plan on using it again in the near future.

Pick out your colors of cardstock, trace out the number of hand "flowers" you want.

Using your craft knife on your self-healing mat, cut out your flowers.  Make sure to cut ever so slightly inside your traced line, so that you don't have a line that shows up on the flowers.

Next (not pictured) punch holes in the bottom of your flowers, about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the flower.
Then, fold a pipecleaner in half.  Insert the folded end through the hole in the flower, and fold down the tip about 1/2 inch and pinch flat.  This allows your flower to stand straight, and not flop over.

Now twist the ends of your pipecleaner together to make it more sturdy.

Using a bread knife (don't worry Mizzle, I used the cheap one), cut a small cube of flower foam that will squish down in your flower pot.

Then, using scissors to first poke holes in the foam, insert your flower stems and arrange to your liking.
I added a little bit of brown shredded paper "dirt" in the bottom, which also helped to make the flowers stand better.
Now give it to Grandma!

This is a super easy craft that can be used for almost any holiday.  Birthdays, Easter, Mother's Day, Teacher Appreciation (use a handprint from each child in the class), Grandparent's Day, etc.

Enjoy, Happy Crafting!

Guest Bloggin': How I Rock My Marriage

Hey friends!!

While it is moving day and I said that there wouldn't really be a post today (that post is coming later...oops! So much for scheduling!) I am guest bloggin' over at Elf: A Family Blog about How I Rock My Marriage, so while we're waiting on the moving truck to take arrive, I thought I'd shre it with you all!

Have a read...and quite possibly a giggle!

Happy Monday!

Talk-To-Me Tuesday...with Casey Roberts

Good morning everyone! I have a very special treat for you mamas, WAHMs, SAHMs...just about all of you out there!

Her name is Casey Roberts, and she is amazing. Casey contacted me a couple of months ago about doing a guest post about continuing education. I find that so many of my mama friends are either in school doing their Masters at a physical institution, or are taking continuing education courses online.

Without further adieu, here's Casey and her 10 Essential Tips for Moms Going Back to School

With the start of another new semester, it can be normal for everyone to ask themselves if they should go back to school. With many mothers (and fathers) experiencing higher bills, it can also be a great way to increase your earning power while setting a good example for the kids. For those of you who are hesitant to do so or have already begun, check out these ten essential tips for moms going back to school.

1 You are not alone – As educational options become more available, a wider variety of students are enrolling. This includes everyone from the traditional college age kids to foreign students to working parents. If you think you will be the only mom in the class, chances are there will be at least one more.

2 Financial aid – It isn't just for kids who can't get their parents to pay for school. It is also for working families. How much financial aid you qualify for depends on many things like number of dependents and income, which are huge factors in determining how much aid you qualify for.

3 FAFSA – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a must for any student in college. It is a lengthy form but is essential to the financial aid process of just about every school.

4 What if I need help? - If you need help with the FAFSA or any other aspect of financial aid, speak to the counselors at your current or prospective school to get all of your options. They are paid professionals whose job often entails making school as affordable as possible.

5 Grants – These are forms of financial aid that can be earned by filling out the FAFSA. They are tax payer funded and intended to help needy students of all ages get a college degree.

6 Working parents options – In addition to the usual grants, there are also those for working parents who are trying to get a degree. There are even some especially for single mothers going to college.

7 Loans – We've all heard about the burden student loans can become. The student loan is quite the temptation. It offers a huge sum up front, no payments until graduation, and low interest rates. However, it is recommended to exhaust other methods of paying for school before considering a student loan.

8 Fine print – So what is the catch with all this financial aid? Those who are granted any form of financial aid can often be asked to keep a minimum GPA of 2.0 (C average) or higher. They must also graduate on time.

9 Daycare – But what will I do with the kids while I'm in class? This is a common question that many schools are answering by providing free or low cost daycare at their facilities, which is a good thing to look for when applying for schools.

10 Degree or no degree – If you know what career you are looking for, make sure you know what kind of degree, certification, licensure, etc. you need before beginning studies. You should also make sure that graduation from your degree program qualifies you to take any exams or tests you need to work in your desired career.

Casey Roberts is a student and also writes for Radiology Assistant which helps students find the right radiology degree.

Talk-To-Me Tuesday...with Kristal Lee!

I am over the moon about today's guest blogger, Kristal Lee from Atutudes Handmade Tutu's.

Kristal creates simply the most amazing tutus that I have ever seen! We met by way of the Artisan Group and it was a match made in heaven! She's even going to be decking out some of my models for my spring photo shoots with Hanlon Lain Photography!!

How did Atutudes get it's start?

My best friend, Jennifer, and I were planning her daughter Elan's first birthday party. We were looking for just the right outfit for her big day. Not finding what we were looking for, we decided to do some research and see if we could learn how to make our own tutus. Once we learned how to make them, we were hooked! It was so much fun to create beautiful things. We thought, Why not try to make a career of it?

Why do you love making tutus?

I love to have a creative outlet. I am a very girly girl. I love fashion and celebrities. I love anything that is glamorous. I have a special affection for things vintage and retro. It is fun to be able to see something that inspires me and create my version of that for little girls to get all dolled up in. They are very popular for flower girls, photo shoots and birthday parties. I love to take a theme and bring it to life.

What is your favorite one to make?

I love to make the Audrey Hepburn inspired tutu dress. It is our best seller. I love Audrey Hepburn. The iconic opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany's emulates her timeless style. It is the image that pops into my head when I think of her. Nothing is more classic than a little black dress and pearls. I admire Audrey because she was a great woman as well as a humanitarian. She was kind and giving. I wanted to be like her when I grew up. I feel nostalgic. I had dressed up as Audrey for a Halloween party in 2009. When Halloween rolled around for 2010, I searched Google and Etsy but did not find any listings or photos for one. I could not believe that noone had done one before! I had never been so excited about an idea. I listed it in October 2010. Someone pinned it on Pinterest and it went viral. The rest is history. I believe many women my age love her too and are drawn to the concept. What little girl would not love to dress up in a little black tulle dress, a tiara and pearls?

Where do you see them going?

Atutudes has gone so much further than I ever dreamed it would go. I think back to it's humble beginnings at the local flea market. To think that my designs have been in the Emmy, Golden Globes and soon to be Oscars Celebrity Gift Lounges is a dream come true! We have shipped to Canada, Germany, France, and Australia. It is crazy! I can see them going everywhere now.

If you could dress anyone in full Atutudes for an event, who would it be?

I would love to see Bella Thorne wearing one of my designs. She is so adorable! I love her style.

Any new products or styles to announce?

We are always working on new designs. My head is spinning with ideas that I have not had time to get out yet. We have a big themed photo shoot planned for this summer. It is hush hush, but I can say that it will be tied to an event we hope to partcipate in this coming fall. My absolute favorite part of the process is making a new design and working with the talented photographers to create my vision. I love to tell a story in pictures and see it come to fruition. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such amazingly talented photographers and friends.