If you’re like me, you like to show love with food. As Valentine’s Day draws near, I teamed up with someone I love, my friend Rachel, to create three lovely events to show those close to us just how much we care. Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday, so we’ve got your whole weekend planned. Cozy up with girlfriends for PJ Potluck on Friday night, entertain your kiddos with a Valentine’s themed play date on Saturday, and romance your honey with an enticing Sweetheart’s Brunch on Sunday morning.
Fridays can be exhausting. The idea of cooking for a crowd doesn’t appeal to many. Make a few things (some ahead of time) and ask your gal pals to contribute the rest, potluck style. “Throw what you need in a silverware caddy and dish out sweets in small, portable portions,” suggests Rachel. Trade work clothes for yoga pants, pop in a movie (or three) and indulge in some serious comfort food.
Take movie night to the next level with these tomato and truffle popcorn soup shooters. Saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine and had to give it a shot. I actually used half the recommended amount of truffle oil and found it to be just enough. Make the soup a day or two in advance, heat and garnish with popcorn. Rachel put the rest of the popcorn in easy-to-pass-around tins.
I wanted to give local entrepreneurs some LOVE in this post by making an indulgent and (appropriately flavored) pasta dish using chocolate penne from the Little Lakewood Pasta Company. Recipe follows.
And I also LOVE friend and fellow TV news veteran, Tiffani Tucker’s, new Bundt cake business. Have a Slice mini heart-shaped cakes were the perfect complement for our Valentine’s Friday night dessert. She prepared five different flavors that could also double as favors.
On Saturday, create a no-frills craft and healthy lunch. “Kids like to eat on the go,” adds Rachel, “so serve in it the middle of the action.” The kiddos can help themselves while they decorate cards for the local nursing home, or a children’s hospital. Dig up that heart-shaped cookie cutter and make sandwiches with strawberry jam and almond butter.
Since my little sweeties like to dip things, I roasted some red peppers and added it to homemade hummus, and provided a pile of sweet and crunchy sliced red and yellow peppers. Recipe follows.
For something to sip on that’s also good for the heart, I made smoothies in my daughters’ favorite color-purple. Toss in frozen berries, a banana, almond milk, and a generous splash of this vibrant fresh pressed juice from Restore Cold Pressed, made with raw and organic apples, beets, carrots and lemons. Rachel poured them in a fun glass so the kids can slurp them up happily.
Dessert doubles as a holiday-themed activity with decorate-your-own mini cupcakes. More sprinkles ended up on the floor than on the cupcake display…but kids love to be involved in the fun.
And why wait until Sunday night to treat your honey? Create a beautiful brunch or breakfast in bed. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then deviled eggs are the fast lane.
Hard boil eggs and make the deviled filling the night before. (I add mayo, yellow and Dijon mustard, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and salt/pepper) Fill and top them on Valentine’s Day. I painted hearts with Sriracha, sprinkled capers on a second set, then used the remainder of my pancetta from Friday night’s pasta recipe for a third variety.
To satisfy meat eaters, make this impressive Breakfast Stack with sausage, cheese, sautéed veggies and potatoes. Recipe follows. This can also be prepped ahead of time to allow for less labor and more snuggle time on this romantic day.
And for a decadent dessert, my go-to is a Chocolate Strawberry Panini, a recipe from my culinary crush, Giada De Laurentiis. I used my Panini press, but if you’ve got a Foreman Grill or a grill pan, those will do the trick too.
“Skip the heart-themed setting and keep it simple,” says Rachel. Create a Valentine pink bubbly by dropping in a few Red Hots for color and just a hint of cinnamon flavor. Or brew up your love’s favorite blend, and finish it with the care and attention of a seasoned barista.
Show us how you’re sharing the love with your valentine! Post your pics on facebook, twitter and instragram #sheintheCLE
Chocolate Penne: 1 lb. dried chocolate penne pasta, 1 jar prepared Alfredo sauce, or about 2 cups homemade, ½-1 c. asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces and blanched, 2-3 T. pancetta or bacon cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 Roma tomato, halved and sliced, pinch of nutmeg and cardamom (optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions, 7-10 min. In a sauté pan, fry up pancetta, then set aside. To the same pan, warm sauce and add nutmeg and cardamom. Toss the pasta in the sauce, and then add asparagus. Top with sliced fresh tomatoes and crispy pancetta.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: 1 red pepper, olive oil and salt, 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, I lemon, juiced, 1 clove garlic, chopped, 1 T. parsley, chopped, ¼ t. sesame oil, ¼ c. water, ½ c. olive oil, salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425* Coat the red pepper generously with olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven until skin is slightly charred. Set aside to cool then peel the skin and remove seeds and stem. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, sesame oil, water, salt/pepper and the red pepper (cut into strips). Blend until smooth, gradually pouring in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill and serve.
Breakfast Stack: ½ lb. breakfast sausage, ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese, 2 T. each, red and yellow bell peppers, 1 T. white onion, chopped, 1 small potato, shredded, 1 egg, beaten.
Preheat the oven to 350.* Brown the breakfast sausage and set aside. Shred the potato like hash browns and then wring out as much moisture as you can, with a cheese cloth or clean dish towel. Season and pan fry until golden brown. Set aside. Combine chopped veggies, season and sauté until softened. Generously coat a medium ramekin (about 10 oz. size) with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheese on the bottom for the bottom layer. Add a layer of sausage, then veggies, then potato. Pour in the beaten egg, making sure it filters through the layers. Finish with a final layer of cheese. Bake 20-25 min. Cover with a plate and flip to remove from ramekin and serve.