Valentine’s Day does not have to be boring during a pandemic

Before long we will have all experienced a pandemic first.

First birthday, first Christmas and now a first Valentine’s Day season without social gatherings to feed our spirits.

In winter, these little social perks are important. One thing that is often done during Valentine’s Day is dining out, and sharing with special people in our lives.

Here are some recipe ideas to fill your heart and plates with Valentine’s Day sentiment.

Chocolate cherry upside down cake

This is such a decadent, but quick dessert. Use fresh, frozen cherries or cherry pie filling. Chocolate is a tradition on Valentine’s Day.

Cherry layer:

  • 2 c. fresh or frozen pitted cherries or cherry pie filling 500 mL
  • 1/3 c. sugar 75 mL
  • 1 tsp. corn starch 5 mL

Cake batter layer:

  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1 c. flour 250 mL
  • 1/3 c. plus
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa 75 mL plus 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. soured milk (do this by adding a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk) 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. brewed black coffee 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. oil 60 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla 2 mL

Prepare a nine-inch round pan that is at least two inches deep and line the bottom with parchment paper. You can also use an eight-by-eight inch square baking dish for this cake.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

If you choose to use cherry pie filling, spread it on the bottom of the pan. Do not add more sugar or cornstarch. Also remove some of the extra syrup from the can.

You mainly want the cherries for this recipe.

Blend together the sugar and corn starch and toss the mixture well with the cherries. If using frozen cherries, allow them to thaw for 15 to 20 minutes before using them.

Spread the cherries evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients in the batter. Beat for about two minutes or until smooth.

Carefully pour the batter over the cherries. Try to leave the cherries evenly dispersed by pouring slowly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool in pan for five minutes before turning out onto a flat heat-proof serving plate. Peel the parchment paper off of the turned-out cake.

If you are using pie filling, you will have to remove the parchment paper more carefully because it is a bit sticky. Use a spatula or knife to separate the paper from the cherries.

Serve warm or cold with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Source: www.rockrecipes.com

Baked Bread Sticks

These simple bread sticks are delicious as a snack or appetizer.

Mix:

  • 1 c. water 250 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 3 tbsp. oil 45 mL

Add to the liquid:

  • 2 1/2 c. flour 625 mL
  • 1 tbsp. yeast 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. sugar 5 mL

Work into a ball of dough cover and let rise for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

Prepare two pizza pans and divide the dough into two Place one on each pan and press out until the dough is about one-quarter of an inch thick.

Melt 1/4 c.(60 mL) of butter, and gently brush over the dough.

Sprinkle with garlic powder and oregano to personal taste. Top with grated parmesan cheese. You can also use mozzarella, if desired.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the bread is slightly browned.

Cool and slice into fingers.

Dip in pasta sauce such as marinara or ranch dressing. I like a combination of both. Makes two pans.

Fettuccine alfredo

Many people order pasta when dining out. This recipe is simple to prepare, but gourmet in taste.

Picture yourself out in an Italian restaurant this Valentine’s Day, even though you will be around your own cozy table with your people.

This is a dish to be served in moderation. Reduce the guilt by serving a crisp green salad ahead of time or as a side to the pasta.

When we toured through Spain and Italy a few years back, there was often a salad served with the main course pasta, and of course with a perfectly paired wine.

  • 500 g fettuccine
  • 3/4 c. butter 175 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream ( I used whipping cream) 375 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder or seasoning 1 mL
  • 3/4 c. grated Romanocheese 175 mL
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesancheese (if you cannot find Romano cheese, use all Parmesan. Kraft has a combo with Parmesan, Romano and Asiago that is good as well) 125 mL
  • squeeze of fresh lemon
  • fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

Note: Add sides of grilled chicken pieces or sautéed mushroom slices if desired. It provides a flavour and nutrient boost.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for eight to 10 minutes or until al denté. Drain.

In a large saucepan, melt butter into cream over low heat. Add salt, pepper and garlic. Add the cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice and stir until melted and the sauce is thickened slightly. If you want your sauce thicker, sprinkle cornstarch over the top and stir over low heat.

Add pasta to sauce. Use enough of the pasta so that all of the sauce is used and the pasta is thoroughly coated. Plate and add sides like chicken and mushrooms if desired and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately. Makes four to six servings. Source: adapted from www.allrecipes.com

Iced pumpkin spice cookies

We need spice this time of year and these little “cake like” cookies deliver.

  • 2 1/2 c. flour 625 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 1 c. white sugar 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar 125 mL
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin puree 250 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5 mL

Glaze:

  • 1 c. confectioners’ sugar 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. milk 30 mL
  • 2 tsp. melted butter 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 2 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). And prepare a baking sheet.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 c. of butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on the cookie sheet by the tablespoonful. After dropping the dough, flatten the top slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool cookies.

To make glaze: combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Drizzle the glaze onto the cookies with fork.

Enjoy with a tall, cool milk or a hot tea or coffee. Side with some fresh berries for an antioxidant hit.

Makes three dozen cookies. Source: adapted from www.allrecipes.com

Rose water face mist

Mist those winter blues away with a do-it-yourself face mist. I love spritzing toners and face mist to refresh myself as the day progresses.

It’s just a little pick me up.

You will need fresh roses, or maybe you have had some delivered for Valentine’s Day.

This recipe makes enough for about eight small or two large spray bottles of face mist.

  • 7 fresh roses of white, pink or red colour
  • filtered or distilled water
  • essential oil of your choice, like lavender (optional)
  • 6-8 small or 2 large spray bottles

Remove the petals from each rose. An easy way to do this is to hold the base of the petals and carefully tear the stem off. The petals should easily separate.

Place petals in a large pot and cover with filtered water. Only add enough water to cover the roses. Press gently on the rose petals to submerge them.

Turn stove to medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the petals have fully lost their colour.

Place the strainer over a large bowl and pour rose water into the strainer. Cover rose water and let cool.

To assemble face mists, add one ounce of rose water for every three ounces of water to spray bottle. I prefer a plain rose water, but you can add two to three drops of your favourite essential oil and screw on lid. Shake to mix.

This batch makes enough for giving. Add a tag and some ribbon to customize the bottle. Source: www.jillianharris.com

Also, commit to using clean products in your self-care regimen. This winter, I was given a bottle of pure apricot oil to sooth dry winter skin.

It is amazing on the face, body and hair and is available at some pharmacies, health-food stores and online. I have tried the Now brand with success.

Also, relax your body with an Epsom salt bath or foot soak to boost your magnesium. An amazing winter habit for health and wellness.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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