“All You Need Is Love…”

And, maybe some paper, glue, scissors… This Valentine’s Day post is obviously a bit late, but it’s better than never. David and I agreed (well, I told him my idea and he was on board) to do something handmade for Valentine’s. Although I appreciate the sentiment, I feel it somewhat silly that David should spend twice as much (maybe more) on roses or any other flower because it’s Valentine’s. I prefer spontaneous flowers, anyway. I also don’t think it’s a one-way street where only a man should get a woman a gift. While we did go out for dinner last year, we usually make a nice dinner at home for this particular holiday. Basically, David wanted to be responsible for dinner, and I had plenty of ideas for what I would make for him.

Using an idea I saw here, I decided to make David a “love” message board.

I modified it slightly (mostly because Harrison took a couple of the rosettes off twice, and I was getting tired of re-gluing) by putting some velcro on the frame and back of the rosettes. I also put some velcro on the back of the frame and the wet-erase marker. It has been a nice way to leave “love” notes to each other. I have kept track of our messages in a little notebook so we can look back at what we wrote. We use to always leave each other notes, and we may have gotten a little off track with that since having Harrison and everything else.

Like I said, David made dinner for us, and he went all out – appetizer and everything. He looked around on my Pinterest boards, and made some delicious dishes, starting with eggplant fries drizzled with honey and sea salt. Harrison almost couldn’t stop eating them to have the rest of his meal. Next, we had an avocado salad, followed by grilled balsamic-garlic encrusted pork tenderloin and roasted seasonal vegetables. I can’t gush enough over my husband and how much it meant that he slaved away in the kitchen like that. Harrison and I made dessert earlier in the day (he wanted in on the handmade process, too) – vanilla cupcakes that we cut into thirds so we could put our homemade whip cream between the layers. We dusted them with powdered sugar and topped them off with raspberries and a bit of chocolate sauce. High impact with little effort. Gotta love it.

Harrison also made a great card for his daddy. I got that idea from here.

We cheated a little on Harrison’s gift because we’d already gotten it for him before we decided on the handmade idea. David’s parents gave Harrison a zoo membership for Christmas, and we received a letter in the mail about their adoption program. This year it was for the red panda. Harrison loves all things animal, and he was talking about pandas a lot, recently. We decided to adopt a red panda in Harrison’s name, and he received a stuffed red panda, along with a cool adoption certificate. His name is on a member list at the zoo, as well. To make it even sweeter, the package came with a penguin t-shirt transfer. Harrison loves him some penguins!

It was a wonderful Valentine’s day, and although there’s plenty of love to go around here everyday, it was nice to set aside a special day to talk about how much we love each other and the different ways we can demonstrate that.

The recipes David used for our delicious Valentine’s meal can be found here, here, and here. He just “winged” the roasted vegetables based on other times we’ve made them.

The cupcake “recipe” was an idea from Real Simple magazine that I found in the August 2005 issue. I can’t remember the name of them to search the website, but I’m sure you could find it there. 

Something Tasty: Lemon Orzo Salad

Cooking in the summer has always been difficult for me. Not because I don’t enjoy cooking. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I really love cooking, and I struggle with making meals in the summer that don’t have me and the kitchen really warm by the time it’s all said and done. Plus, I don’t really like heavy foods in warm weather. This means I need something quick and yummy. Enter, lemon orzo salad with asparagus and tomatoes. I found this on Pinterest (seriously, you need to join if you haven’t yet. I probably sent you an invite). Doesn’t it just look yummy?!

It was delicious and super easy. Harrison kept asking for “More, please” (like 3 times) and saying, “Juicy” (for the tomatoes). The great thing was that I had everything on hand. I knew what I wanted to use, and it happened that I had pinned this recipe just yesterday. High-five to myself. Here’s a link to the recipe. I’m not sure what fresh asparagus runs these days at the store since I’m not sure it’s in season anymore, but I always have a bag of frozen asparagus spears from Trader Joe’s in my freezer. I also used lemon juice since I didn’t have a fresh lemon. Now, make it and enjoy!

Something Tasty: Rutabagas and Carrots

Late…again. Last week was our second week of our CSA. Here’s what was inside:

  • Specialty lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Rutabaga
I have never cooked with rutabaga before. For anyone interested, here’s a link to more information on the lovely root vegetable. Do make sure to peel enough of the skin off; otherwise, you’ll be left with some roughness even after boiling or roasting it. I went with a recipe featured in the insert our CSA provided.
This simple dish only required 5 ingredients (6 if you want to include water): 4-5 carrots, 1 medium rutabaga, 3-4Tbs butter, ground pepper, kosher salt. Peel the carrots and rutabaga and cut into 1″ cubes. Put the carrots into a large saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then add the salt and rutabaga. Once this has come to a boil, cover and boil for 10-15 minutes (or until vegetables are fork-tender). Drain off the water then add the butter cut into small pieces. Mash and add ground pepper. I slightly mashed my vegetables, making sure to leave some chunks. I just did this because Harrison is into eating with his fork, lately. (Side note: even with the fork, Harrison refused the rutabaga. He liked the carrots, though.) The next day, David had the good idea to add a bit of grated sharp cheddar, and this was quite delightful.
*Rutabaga image can be found here

Something Tasty: Kale Chips

Last week was the first week of the CSA we are participating in. You can read more about that here. I thought it would be a good idea to feature a recipe that we try each week and let you know how it turn out: good or bad. We were gone last week (more on that later), but our neighbors were kind enough to make us some delicious food with some of the fresh produce featured in our box last week. Here’s what was in there:

  • 2 1lbs strawberries
  • Small bunch kale
  • Small bunch spring onions
  • 2 1bs tomatoes
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 8 oz lettuce mix

Our neighbors made us kale chips, and they were delicious. At first, Harrison was unsure of trying them, but once I was able to get him to taste one, he couldn’t get enough. I tried my hand at them today, and they turned out pretty well. I put a little too much olive oil on them, but they were still crispy and Harrison didn’t complain. David enjoyed them, too.

I forgot to take a picture, but here’s a lovely online one:

I didn’t have to wash my kale because it is organic, but one of the most important steps is to rinse the kale and pat it completely dry or spin it in a salad spinner. Break the leaves off into small pieces, lay them on parchment-lined baking sheet. Then, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle a little salt on them. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy.

Update: I made these again yesterday and made some changes. Instead of drizzling the olive oil, I placed the kale in a Ziploc bag with the olive oil and salt and shook it.  This distributed the olive oil more evenly. I also added some curry powder into the mix, and this turned out tasty. 

*Kale chip image found here.