Photos by Aimee Broussard

Aimee’s Pretty Palatte: All Things Lovely

What initially began as inspiration for an at-home date night in honor of Valentine’s Day quickly approaching culminated in incorporating my love for crawfish, as crawfish season’s arrival conveniently coincides with my birthday month.

Valentine’s. Galentine’s. Mardi Gras. The return of crawfish season. My birthday month—yes, I said month. This February, I’m covering all the bases for whatever celebrations the month brings your way.

If you have someone special you want to spoil with a date night in, try my Crawfish Risotto for a creamy and indulgent meal that doesn’t require reservations. And while the process of risotto is one of the low and slow nature, this decadent meal is still pulled together in about an hour. Pair it with a simple side salad and a glass of wine and no one needs to know how easy it is to prepare. It also welcomes back crawfish season in the most delicious embrace.

Finish the evening with a slice, or two, of Southern Chocolate Mayo Snack Cake from my best-selling Small Batch Snacking Cake cookbook and you’ll quickly win over any chocolate lover’s heart. While the name “snack cake” leads one to believe the small size is exclusively for snacking, the recipes also work well for simple celebrations when you don’t need an entire cake. The buttercream frosting is also sized down to give you just enough.

If you have a friend like I do who has traded Valentine’s Day for Galentine’s Day, a celebration of girlfriends instead, then you’ll want to whip together some quick and easy Peppermint Oreo Truffles. While you may be thinking the Christmas holiday has passed and I’ve certainly lost my mind, the flavor combination of mint and chocolate has no expiration date in my opinion, and these little balls of goodness bring joy year-round. If you don’t have candy canes left over, just grab red and white peppermints at the drugstore. Voila.

Cheers to a month of delicious celebrations.

Crawfish Risotto

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Parmesan Risotto

½ cup Arborio rice, dry/unrinsed
5 cups chicken stock
½ cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp. Creole seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
12 oz. frozen crawfish tails, thawed
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, heat 5 cups chicken stock over medium-low heat. Once warm, ladle 4 cups into large Dutch oven reserving remaining 1 cup for later. Stir in rice and place lid on top.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes, or until most liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente.
Remove from oven and stir in remaining 1 cup chicken stock and wine. Add parmesan, mascarpone, lemon juice, Creole seasoning, butter, salt and pepper.  Stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes. Rice should be thick and creamy.
Drain crawfish and use a spatula to gently fold it into risotto.
Garnish with a bit more grated parmesan, parsley and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.

Southern Chocolate Mayo Snack Cake

Ingredients For Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup mayonnaise
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup mini chocolate chips
For Chocolate Buttercream:
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
Pinch of salt
3 tsp. heavy whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For Cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mist 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment sling.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda. Add mayonnaise, milk, water and vanilla and mix until evenly combined. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
Scrape batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out mostly clean.
Transfer pan to wire rack to cool completely. Remove cake from pan, discard parchment.
For Chocolate Buttercream, in a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, 1½ tsp. of cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add remaining 1½ tsp. of cream as needed in ½-tsp. increments until frosting reaches desired consistency.
Frost cake and cut into squares.
Makes 1 8-inch cake.

Peppermint Oreo Truffles

1 (10.7-oz.) package Oreo cookies, finely crushed
1 (8-oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. peppermint extract
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
16 oz. semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 regular-size candy canes, crushed into small pieces

Line baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse Oreo cookies until finely crushed. Add cream cheese and peppermint extract and pulse until mixture is smooth. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
Use small cookie scoop to measure, then roll into cookie balls. Place into freezer to chill, about 15 to 30 minutes.
Once cookie balls are chilled, melt chocolate and vegetable oil in microwave for 1 minute in 20-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until just smooth and creamy. Do not overheat.
Drop each cookie ball into melted chocolate, coating evenly. Use fork and lightly tap excess chocolate. Place back onto parchment paper-lined pan. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with crushed peppermint. Reheat chocolate as necessary if it becomes thick.
Refrigerate for 1 hour, until firm and ready to serve.
Makes 24 to 36 truffles.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at