“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles M. Schulz
How perfect is that for Valentine’s Day? Even though the first mention of St. Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday appeared in the writings of Chaucer in 1382, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that chocolate became associated with this day. Richard Cadbury, a descendant of the British chocolate making family, improved its chocolate making technique. Through this process, Cadbury was able to product many more varieties of “eating chocolate”. Recognizing a great marketing opportunity, Cadbury started selling these chocolates in beautifully decorated boxes that he himself designed.
Now I’m all for celebrating with a reasonable amount of chocolate, but how about starting your day of love with something that will give you the strength to say “Just one piece of chocolate, please”? Because of the red cherries used, I thought this recipe lent itself to this day.
Creamy Breakfast Grains Recipe
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup coarse ground bulgur (I could not find bulgur, so I used quick cooking oatmeal that I had on hand)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
3 c. milk (plus extra for serving)
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
Pinch of salt
3/4 c chopped dried tart cherries
1/3 c slivered almonds, toasted (I did not toast mine)
Heat oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
Add grains and spices to pan and toast lightly, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
Carefully (mixture may splatter) add milk, agave nectar and salt, stirring well.
Heat mixture over medium-high heat, but do not boil.
Reduce heat to low and cover partially (mixture will boil over if covered tightly).
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes (check at 10 minute intervals)
Remove from heat and stir in cherries; let sit for 3-5 minutes.
Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of the almonds and additional milk, if desired.
Going out to a nice restaurant is always a great way to celebrate, but what if you’d prefer a cozy dinner for two? I thought this recipe fit the bill for being worthy of a special occasion, but not difficult to pull off.
Sirloin with Greek Yogurt and Roasted Beets
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2 t. freshly ground coriander
1.5 t. Worcestershire sauce
pinch of salt to taste
1 lb. baby beets, green removed (other beets may be used, but will take longer to roast)
1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. granulated sugar
14 oz. wagyu sirloing or other good quality beef, cleaned of any silver skin and excess fat
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together
1. Wash the beets to remove any dirt. Dry and place on a 1/2 sheet pan.
2. Roast in the oven at 300 degrees until a paring knife can be inserted with no resistance (about 1 hour for baby beets, more for larger beets).
3. Let cool and then peel with a kitchen towel by gently rubbing off the skin.
4. Slice into 1/8 inch pieces and place into a non-reactive mixing bowl.
5. Heat the rice wine vinegar, water and sugar in a small saucepot until the sugar has dissolved.
6. Pour the pickling liquid over the beets and let sit for at least one hour (the beets will keep for a week refrigerated).
1. Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste and let rest at room temp for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour.
2. In a large saute pan, heat a thin film of neutral oil, such as canola oil, over high heat.
3. Once the oil begins to smoke, add the beef, turning every minute or so to get an even crust all the way around.
4. Once well browned, place the meet in a 300 degree oven until the desired temp is reached; about 10 minutes for medium rare.
5. Let cooked beef rest for 10 minutes, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces against the grain.
1. Place at least 1/4 cup of the spiced yogurt in the center of each plate, adding more as desired.
2. Arrange the sliced beef on top of the yogurt.
3. Re-season the beef with flake salt, if desired.
4. Place beet slices on top of the beef (if beets were refrigerated, allow them to reach room temp before plating)
We can’t forget about the kids! How about something other than chocolate? This is an old recipe that takes me back to my childhood. I think that’s when Knox Blox first appeared on the scene. Even though they’re a kids’ treat, they take me back to the good ole days.
Creamy Knox Blox
3 1-oz. envelopes of unflavored gelatin
3 small (3 oz.) boxes of flavored gelatin (I used cherry)
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup heavy cream
1. In a large bowl, combine the gelatins.
2. Add boiled water and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
3. Stir in the cream and pour into a 9 x 9 dish (I also used silicon molds, lightly sprayed with cooking spray)
4. Chill until firm, then cut into squares or use cookie cutters for fun shapes.
Whatever way you choose to celebrate, John Lennon and Paul McCartney said it best: