Tag: Valentine’s Day

Crispy Duck Breasts on Parsnip Purée with Spicy Cherry Sauce–Date Night

Crispy Duck Breasts on Parsnip Purée with Spicy Cherry Sauce–Date Night

Cooking in your own kitchen for date night has this wondrous side result: you get to eat at home. There are no ever-louder-as-they-drink-more folks at the table next door and your comfy jeans are fine to wear all night long.

The love of my life, my fave sous chef in our kitchen.

The wine glasses happen to be the ones you like best, maybe purchased at an estate sale or while on a trip, or even inherited from your great-aunt. Music? Whatever you like, not what the restaurant manager thinks will best go over to all age groups. Hey–you also get to set the table or ask your partner or guest to do the honors while you stir up a little dinner.

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Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.

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Dijon Mustard Beef-Barley Stew with Horseradish for Valentine’s Day

Dijon Mustard Beef-Barley Stew with Horseradish for Valentine’s Day

There’s little to recommend a restaurant--any restaurant–on Valentine’s Day. There are exceptions, but often the specials are lackluster, the kitchen is slammed, the servers are exhausted by 7, the other diners are trying to pack a year’s worth of romance into one night (doesn’t work), and the prices are jacked up like the red roses at the florist. Instead, cook at home that night. And, while you’re at it, think about an IOU for the roses when they’re not $75 a dozen. Some quiet unknown evening in April or May, just pop in with them and call that good sense.

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Salmon with Scallion Pesto on Broccoli-Parm Mash–Valentine’s Day at Home

Salmon with Scallion Pesto on Broccoli-Parm Mash–Valentine’s Day at Home

Mardi Gras Red Beans and Rice

Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday Bacon-Granola Pancakes with Fried Egg

Nothing says lovin’ like something from the…top of the stove. I hope you’re skipping the long wait and perhaps not-so-great-service at the restaurants on Valentine’s Day.  Go to your favorite spot some other time and give your best servers a break…  Instead, stay home and fix this luscious meal for you and your happiest partner, you and a friend, or just for yourself.

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Almond and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Almond and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

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When you’re looking for food to fit specific diets or food preferences and you’re not used to cooking or baking those profiles, it’s best or easiest, anyway, to pick dishes that are naturally gluten free, for instance, or come perfectly vegan all by themselves, for another. Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème is a simple, happy dessert for a gluten free eater.  No flour to replace there.  Sumptuous summer strawberries and raspberries glistening with finely minced mint fills the bill for vegans, I’m thinking, because who doesn’t like strawberries and raspberries?

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Grilled Tuna Bowl Tonight–Rice and Beans for Lunch Tomorrow

Grilled Tuna Bowl Tonight–Rice and Beans for Lunch Tomorrow

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Have a healthy, happy Valentine’s Day!

Lately I’ve been looking for something I could make that would include:

  • protein
  • whole grains
  • vegetables
  • dark, leafy greens

Dave and I both love meals in bowls. The búns and salads at one of our favorite local Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Cafe, are perfect one-dish meals because they’re full of noodles or greens, herbs, chicken or tofu or shrimp, and are happily topped by a tiny load of peanuts. The Chipotle bowls and salads are addictive and are happy layers of rice and beans with loads of spicy meat or crumbled tofu, my favorite vegan lunch to eat out. Rich and filling without being fattening, you can add cheese or guacamole if you’re feeling lean. The bright and just spicy enough pico de gallo is usually enough for me and I skip the extra fat calories.

At home I occasionally throw together similar meals, but generally leave it to the restaurants so we can enjoy the bowls there.  But when you eat all three meals together at home as we do (except when one of us travels, which is often), you begin to look for something that will be cooked up at either lunch or dinner, yet could provide leftovers for the next day so that you’re not always trying to create meals from scratch.  Today I spent the entire day going over the changes needed to be made to the book after the proof readers had their way with it.  I was buggy-eyed and sore-backed by the time I got out of my chair at 5.  (While it seems like it’s taking God’s own time, I’ve only been working on this book for a year and a half.  It’s just that I figured it’d be done just a bit more quickly.  Insert scream.)  In other words, I needed simple. Continue reading “Grilled Tuna Bowl Tonight–Rice and Beans for Lunch Tomorrow”