Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Awesomeness!

Valentine's Day dawned with coughing, snotty-nosed kids and tired parents. We had special French toast (the Kneader's style chunky kind, but we used Pepperidge Farm apple cinnamon thick-sliced bread that I got for a dollar per loaf--- I adore our PF outlet and the 75% off savings there!) with caramel syrup and strawberries. Oh man, it was divine. But we didn't really savor it because we had to go drop off one car for an 'exam' early. By the time we went back down in the afternoon to pick it up and came back home, we'd probably spent at least an hour and a half in the car going back and forth. The rest of the day we tried to take it easy (we all needed rest to boost our immune defenses) and just enjoy a quiet day at home.
 Eric brought each of his girls a rose (I got one too)-- Gwen and Caroline loved them!
But I think they loved the surprise things from "Cupid" even more! Eric's family has a tradition of Cupid visits on Valentine's Day (kind of like ding-dong ditching only you drop-and-run at your own house switching doors while the kids try to guess where Cupid will hit next) This year our wing-ed naked baby friend brought balloons, elephants, Elsa/Anna rings, and chocolate. Exciting!

 Since Emmett is not going to bed early enough for us to put him down BEFORE a date out and we didn't want to bring him WITH us (because nothing says romance like a crying baby ruining everyone else's quiet evening, right?), we decided the least stressful way to spend Valentine's Day was at home. We've done this a lot (almost every year, actually) and we enjoy cooking for each other. We like to surprise each other, which really makes it quite fun and exciting! It worked out perfectly this year since we had sick kids at home anyway and going out would have been problematic. I was in charge of dessert and Eric took charge of the meal. Here he is preparing shrimp (which I wasn't supposed to really see...). Most of the ingredients were either thawing under towels (so I couldn't peek) or were in tupperwares in the fridge that I was instructed not to open. It was fun to be working together in the kitchen (I was preparing the girls' food) without knowing what he was up to.

The girls got a special dinner early so we could have a date dinner all to ourselves. Apparently the best part was the pink strawberry milk (which was chalky and gross in my humble opinion, but hey. Whatever floats your boat).

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I accidentally deleted ALL of our romantic dinner pictures from Valentine's Day off my camera. Irretrievable. I feel sick about it. So the following pictures are 'posed' the day after and do not quite capture the magic achieved for our special date, but at least the amazing food is documented!

On the menu: 
Gorgonzola risotto with pear-oregano puree
Castelvetrano green olive salad with red pepper flakes
Prosciutto wrapped pork loin pan-fried in rosemary/garlic olive oil and served on a bed of baby spring greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette
Macadamia nut crusted Jumbo shrimp skewers deep fried and served with mayonnaise 
Some of the ingredients were quite challenging to find. Eric went to several stores before successfully locating the Italian green olives. And he wanted the best brand of risotto grain so he ended up ordering it online when he couldn't find it in stores. The things my husband does to impress me in the kitchen! Seriously, the man is amazing!

I got to help by making the risotto, which was lots of fun! I LOVE cooking with expensive ingredients, (I'd only prepared REAL risotto once before, in a cooking class), so this was a real treat.  Eric still wanted me to be surprised, so he asked me to focus on the 'fussy' risotto lest I see everything he was fixing up. So we were together laughing and enjoying each other's company all while NOT watching Eric too closely. There is something about cooking together that just deepens a relationship. Quite miraculous and wonderful. 

Eric removed a leaf from our table to make it cozier for two and we had lit taper candles. It was quite funny to have our private romantic dinner with Emmett next to me in the bouncy chair cooing and gumming his plush knight and the girls watching Pocahontas just a few feet away from us in the living room. :)

After the kids were in bed, we had dessert and some non-alcoholic drinks. 
 I was worried that my gift to Eric-- this dark chocolate cheesecake with raspberry-chocolate sauce-- would pale in comparison to the fabulous dinner we'd just eaten. I needn't (altered per Amber's suggestion!) have worried. The cheesecake (recipe from Seriously Bittersweet) was an adventure. Only my second cheesecake ever (the last one attempted 5 years ago), but it was delightfully simple to follow the recipe's instructions and tips... and it turned out beautifully! Not too dense, nice and fluffy yet moist and rich... I am pretty certain I'll be making more cheesecake in the future! My waist might not like that so much because I could eat this whole thing myself. Good thing Eric thought it was divine so he will end up eating it up before I can give in to temptation... at least, before I give in TOO much! :)

 Eric loves to fix up drinks for special occasions. He has collected some really amazing recipes-- all non-alcoholic!-- with wonderfully exotic flavors and combinations. 

 This beauty was a Tuscan Fresco: rosemary (muddled), white cranberry juice, peach nectar, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a hint of club soda. Wonderfully bright yet balanced with herbal depth... a foodie's non-alcoholic delight! The round ice cubes are especially aesthetic, don't you think? He does it for me. Aesthetics are romantic in our household. How bout yours?

I'd say it was a pretty successful Valentine's Day! The food was especially delicious and will be hard to top next year. Good thing we've got a full year to come up with something amazing!


  1. Definitely puts the heart-shaped pizza to shame!

  2. I think it's needn't (like "need not"). But fabulous dinner!! you guys are awesome!

  3. It was a very enjoyable date. I love you, hon!

  4. Our FHE a couple of days ago ended with a hysterical Eden bawling her eyes out because Jesus hasn't come to see her at her house yet and she wants him to come NOW and could I please pray for him to come NOW and did he say he was coming RIGHT AWAY?!?

    So she loves Jesus. Win.

    I doubt (oh mother of little faith) that He's coming to visit our house RIGHT AWAY. Fail.

    From now on I think I should just do the intelligent thing and copy whatever you are doing. :)