Quick Recipes and Easy

Stupid Cupid-Valentine’s Day Mush and How to Spoil Your Loved Ones

Watch out for Cupid’s arrow, or better yet, avoid the greeting card aisle. Valentine’s Day is approaching and like is in the air. For many hopeless romantics out there, February 14th is a wonderful, starry-eyed opportunity to give and receive special tokens of affection like flowers, chocolates, and of course, store-bought or homemade valentines. If your significant other is not so romantic the rest of the year, it’s practically mandated on Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, singles can delight in being exempt from all this romantic (and financial!) pressure and focus completely on spoiling themselves. And besides, there are always plenty of ridiculously fun Anti-Valentine’s Day parties going on in most cities. In that spirit, I’ll start with a special chocolate spa day designed just for single women. Chocolate IS a girl’s best friend. Moving on to the mushy stuff, I’ll tell you how to spoil the loved ones in your life, whether it’s your kids or your hubby. In the right spirit of Recipe4Living, the way to anyone’s heart is the stomach. Delight in!

History? I got your history

Okay okay, if you must know WHY we celebrate this silly holiday called Valentine’s Day, let me clarify briefly. Valentine’s Day started with a priest, St. Valentine. Rumor has it that during the third century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II chose that single men made better soldiers than married men and thus outlawed marriage for young men. Recognizing the injustice of this, St. Valentine continued to marry young people in secret and was imprisoned and eventually killed. Other rumors say that St. Valentine helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons and that he may have even sent a like letter from prison to an admired woman, signed “From Your Valentine.” As St. Valentine was later a favorite saint in France and England, Valentine’s Day became popularly celebrated in the seventeenth century. In 1840, the first mass-produced “valentines” appeared in America. Today, 85% of Valentine’s Day cards are bought by women. Is this because men are buying flowers?

Boycott this Silly Holiday and Spoil Yourself!

Chocolate Foot Spa

Here is a list of “needed” supplies for an indulgent foot spa experience.

Ingredients

Marbles

A foot basin

Whole milk

Vanilla extract

Chocolate extract

Brown Sugar

White sugar

Olive oil

Directions

Place a handful of marbles in the foot basin or any large container to soak your feet in. Fill halfway with cold water. Warm enough whole milk to fill the basin and whisk until frothy. Add 1 Tbs. each of vanilla extract and chocolate extract. Soak feet for 5 minutes while you are rolling them over the marbles. The lactic acid in the milk naturally sloughs off dead skin and softens them. Next, mix a handful of each brown sugar and white sugar with enough olive oil to form a paste. Massage this paste into the feet, ankles, knees and calves. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. End with lotion that has been warmed in the microwave. You can add a few drops of vanilla extract in your lotion to keep the vanilla scent on your skin.

Chocolate Bubble Bath

So sweet and indulgent, it’s the perfect bath for chocoholics – but please, don’t drink the bath water.

Ingredients

1 C. unscented bubble bath

1/3 C. unsweetened Soya Brand Milk

3 oz. dark chocolate

Directions

Heat the Soya milk and add in the chopped chocolate, stir well until melted. Do not boil. Allow cooling down. Mix with the bubble bath and pour into your bath and delight in.

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

This is a really simple way to make a normally complicated dessert. Delight in these while you are lounging in the tub.

Ingredients

1 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 C. orange-flavored liqueur or 1 tsp. orange extract

1 can chocolate or fudge frosting

Toppings: Coconut, chocolate sprinkles, ground nuts and cocoa

Directions

Melt chocolate chips in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in orange liqueur and frosting; blend well. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or until firm. Place coconut or other toppings in pie pan. Scoop mixture into 1″ balls; drop onto topping. Mixture will be sticky. Roll to coat. Place in foil candy cups, if desired. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 6 dozen

Like Bites

Ingredients

1 shot vodka

Splash of peach schnapps

Equal parts cranberry and grapefruit juice.

Lime for garnish

Directions

Mix together all ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish top of glass with a lime wedge.

Some Essentials for Spoiling Loved Ones

Flower Meanings- Every flower has a meaning, many of which have endured for centuries. So unless you want to give a woman the symbol for mourning this Valentine’s Day, make sure you look into these meanings before picking a bouquet. Not only will you have the perfect gesture with the flowers, but you’ll impress that special someone with your knowledge. He or she will reckon you are quite thoughtful (just don’t let on I told you).

Amaryllis or Iris- Both of these flowers are perfect for the artists or actors you know. Amaryllis is dramatic and the iris is inspiring.

Carnation- To be blunt, many women view carnations as a “filler flower,” but if you know this person likes carnations go with yellow or pink. These express cheerfulness and gratitude respectively.

Gardenia or Day Lily- Symbolizing joy and enthusiasm respectively, these are fantastic universal flowers to brighten anyone’s Valentine’s Day.

Lilac- Have a serious case of puppy like? Lilacs are the symbol for first like. Your spouse or fiancé will giggle.

Orange Blossoms- Do you have a friend or significant other trying to get pregnant? Or one that has recently become pregnant? Orange blossoms are the symbol for fertility.

Orchid or Hibiscus- As would be expected, orchids and hibiscus symbolize delicate beauty. Depending on the person, this can either be touching or somewhat offensive.

Pansy, Yellow or Red Tulip- While all these flowers are gestures of like, the pansy is the least strong, and the red tulip is a fantastic first declaration. Yellow denotes a hopeless romantic devotion.

Rose- Red roses are the ultimate gesture of passionate like. If you have only been dating a small time, this is too strong a gesture. White roses are a symbol of purity (making them particularly well loved at weddings). Pink roses symbolize friendship. A mixture of red and white denote unity, making them perfect for a married couple of many years.

Sunflower- These unique flowers show adoration. You can’t help but smile when you see a sunflower.

Chocolate

Melting Chocolate- Because chocolate is very delicate to heat, you have to melt chocolate slowly, well-removed from heat. Always heat chocolate over low heat or it will quickly become an unappetizing mass. Use a double boiler, or place the saucepan with chocolate on top another saucepan with boiling water on the stovetop. Keep in mind that chocolate will continue to melt even after removing it from a heat source, so be careful not to overcook.

Unsweetened chocolate will easily liquefy when melted, but sweetened chocolate must be continually stirred. Chocolate flavored coating contains cocoa and vegetable oil, rather than cocoa butter. Coatings are well loved because they are simpler to use for things like dipping, but the taste and quality are nowhere near real chocolate. For the Kids

Cherry Bubbles

Sweeten bath-time for the kids or for yourself with this tasty recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 C. unscented shampoo

12 drops cherry fragrance oil

2 drops red food coloring

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 C. water

Directions

Mix together the shampoo and water in a jar. Add the salt and stir again until the mixture thickens up. Add the cherry oil and the red food coloring and stir the mixture thoroughly once more. Bottle the mixture until ready to use in your bath. To use; add 1 Tbs. to running bath water. Soak as desired.

Crafts for Kids (Compliments of our RSVP writer Sarah Potts)

Valentines- Go out and buy a bunch of colored construction paper and have a “card making” station. Have scissors, heart patterns, stickers and markers supplied so the kids can make their family and friends Valentine’s Day cards.

Candy Lollipop Flowers- This is a fantastic and non-messy activity for children. All you will need is wrapped heart-shaped lollipops that you should be able to find any where in the seasonal section, green chenille stems and scissors. First have the children start at the top of the lollipop stick (just before the end of the sucker) and tightly wrap the chenille stem in a coil around the lollipop stick. Once this is done, cut off the extra chenille. You can use the extra piece or another piece of chenille and wrap this around the stem as well to make the “leaf,” just make sure the leaf is secure. There you go- your child can now have a fun bouquet of small hear shaped flowers to give to anyone.

Foam Like Letters- Give your child the gift of like this Valentines Day. These simple to make foam letters spell out the word “like” and would be adorable in any small girl’s room. ed.myfree.com/r/r.php?src=fcp102″ target=”_blank Click here for how to make!

Rose Valentine Coffee or Tea Mug- Here’s an inexpensive Valentine’s Day gift that you can make yourself for your special valentine. It is simple and it is fun, any child could make this for his or her mom. The Web site provides the free, full-sized rose stencil pattern (at right) – or you could use your own romantic theme. ed.myfree.com/r/r.php?src=fcp104″ target=”_blank Click here for how to make!

Spoil Your Sweetie- In my mind, there is no greater gift for a loved one than a fancy meal. Here are a couple fancy menus perfect for Valentine’s Day, and a few more thoughts to inspire you.

Menu 1

Shrimp in Champagne Sauce With Pasta

This dish takes some effort to prepare, but is the perfect touch for a romantic dinner for your special Valentine.

Ingredients

1 C. sliced mushrooms

1 Tbs. olive oil

3/4 lb. medium shrimp, shelled

1 1/2 C. champagne

1/2 Tbs. garlic pepper seasoning

2 Tbs. minced shallots or scallions

1 large tomato, diced

1 C. heavy cream

1/2 lb. dried thin spaghetti

3 Tbs. chopped parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Sauté mushrooms in medium saucepan in hot olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook just long enough to release mushroom juices and let them evaporate. Remove mushrooms and set aside. In same saucepan, combine shrimp, champagne and garlic pepper seasoning. Over high heat, heat to simmer. When liquid just boils, shrimp are done. Remove shrimp from cooking liquid with a slotted spoon immediately. Set shrimp aside.

Add chopped shallots and tomatoes to cooking liquid. Boil over high heat until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 C., approximately 8 minutes. When liquid is reduced, add 3/4 C. heavy cream and boil 1-2 minutes, until slightly thickened and reduced. Add shrimp and mushrooms to sauce; heat through. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain thoroughly and return to cooking pot. Toss with remaining 1/4 C. cream and parsley. To serve, divide pasta between two plates. Spoon shrimp and sauce over pasta. Garnish with parmesan to taste.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

If you have never tried mixing spinach and strawberries together then you must try this recipe. It is very simple and simple and so excellent.

Ingredients

2 Tbs. sesame seeds

1 1/2 lb. fresh spinach

1/3 C. vegetable oil

1/3 C. red wine vinegar

1 Tbs. sugar

2 tsp. minced green onion

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 C. fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved

Directions

In a 7 inch skillet over medium heat, stir sesame seeds until golden; set aside. Wash spinach thoroughly; dry on paper towels and tear into bite size pieces. Wrap and chill. Blend oil, vinegar, sugar, onion, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. In large glass bowl, mix together spinach, strawberries, dressing and seeds.

One Bowl Spicy Chocolate Cake

Don’t be frightened of the cayenne pepper and spice up your dull chocolate cake.

Ingredients

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 C. sugar

1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. hot red pepper (cayenne)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 C. water

1/2 C. vegetable oil

1 Tbs. white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 8″-square baking pan. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, hot red pepper and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Beat with a fork just until all dry ingredients have been moistened. Bake cake 35 to 40 minutes or until center springs back when gently pressed. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes. Remove to serving platter. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over top. Cut into 4 squares; cut each square diagonally in half to make 8 triangular pieces.

Yield: 8 servings

Menu 2

Crab-Stuffed Fillet Mignon with Whiskey-Peppercorn Sauce

Incredibly elegant and flavorful, this is the perfect meal to impress that special someone. Brilliant for anniversaries, Valentine’s Day or any day!

Ingredients

Crab Stuffing:

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. minced onion

1 tsp. minced green onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. minced celery

1 tsp. minced green bell pepper

2 Tbs. shrimp stock or water

1 6 oz. can crab meat, drained

2 Tbs. bread crumbs

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

Peppercorn Sauce:

1 1/4 C. beef broth

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 oz. whiskey

1 C. heavy cream

Steaks:

4 6 oz. filet mignon steaks

4 slices bacon, cooked lightly

Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. minced shallot

1 C. crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 oz. whiskey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Directions

To make crab stuffing, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion, green onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper until tender. Stir in shrimp stock, crab meat, bread crumbs, and Cajun seasoning. Remove from heat, and set aside. To prepare peppercorn sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine beef broth and cracked black pepper. Simmer until reduced to 1 C., stirring frequently. Add 1 oz. whiskey and 1 C. cream. Continue simmering until reduced to 1 C. Remove from heat, and set aside. To prepare steaks, slice a pocket into the side of each steak, and stuff generously with crab stuffing. Wrap bacon around side, and secure with toothpicks. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and shallot for 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms, and sauté until tender. Remove mushroom mixture, and set aside. Place steaks in skillet, and cook to desired doneness. Remove from skillet, and keep warm. Deglaze skillet with 1 oz. whiskey. Reduce heat, and stir in peppercorn sauce and Dijon mustard. Add mushroom mixture, and reduce sauce until thickened. Remove toothpicks and bacon from steaks, and arrange steaks on a plate. Top with sauce.

Note: Partially cook the filets in the pan, and end them on the grill. This recipe works well with roasted red potatoes and a nice glass of wine.

Yield: 4 servings

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