When I was in college, I had a friend who insisted on wearing all black on Valentine’s Day. It was her way of protesting the hubbub and commercialization of the holiday. Though I could see her point, I didn’t follow suit. I remained utterly charmed by a day devoted to love.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I have become a little disgusted with how much money people think it takes to do Valentine’s Day right. If you believe the marketing, you need a second job to make your sweetie feel loved. Restaurants take particular advantage of our expectations and raise their prices for the day. A meal that would regularly cost $50 doubles to $100. Wine and cocktail prices ratchet up precipitously, as well.
Here’s my suggestion. Instead of blowing through wads of cash on a meal out, treat your honey to a special-occasion, home-cooked meal. You’ll spend a fraction of the cash you would on a fancy-pants dinner and with just a few carefully placed candles, you won’t lose even an ounce of the romance.
A recipe that works really well for a cozy dinner for two is Giada’s Short Rib Lasagna Rolls. It can be made over the weekend (this is The Weekender, after all) and stashed in the fridge for February 14. All you have to do when you get home from work is pop it into the oven, make a salad and pour glasses of something bubbly.
Before you start braising, read these tips »
It’s all about harmony and yin-yang.
Which sounds tritely New Age-y, but really is the key to Chinese cuisine.
Because as with so much of Asian cooking, the blend of seasonings known as five-spice powder is intended to trigger a sense of balance in the mouth and nose.
How? A careful selection of spices that simultaneously hit notes of warm and cool, sweet and bitter, savory and searing.
Because that’s what you get with five-spice powder, a mix of fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns.
Like spice blends around the world, the proportions of those ingredients vary by region in China, but some variant of it is used throughout the country.
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The Fuelin' Roadie: Wendy Jo Peterson
With the Grammy’s right around the corner we sought to answer questions like how do musicians keep their voice in tip-top shape, or what do musicians eat on the road? I had the pleasure of speaking wit...
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Much like chicken, pork is a hefty meat that can handle the robust flavors and textures of any number of dry rubs, marinades, stuffings and more. When it comes to shopping for pork tenderloins, you have a few options. You can pick up a single, multi-pound tenderloin or look for several longer, skinnier ones that each hover around one pound. Fix your family a dinner of tender, juicy pork using Food Network’s top five pork tenderloin recipes, which are an ideal mix of classic and creative preparations.
5. Pork Tenderloin With Seasoned Rub (pictured above) — Equal parts garlic powder, oregano, thyme, cumin and coriander complete Ellie’s herbaceous dry rub.
4. Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin — Sautéed cremini mushrooms, breadcrumbs and garlic are easily stuffed in butterflied tenderloins.
Get the top three recipes »
Pistachios are wonderful on their own, but they make a great appetizer when drizzled with honey and served with apples and cheese.
No other nut boasts an emerald hue like the pistachio does. Find out what you’re getting when you crack open a pistac...
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You could win this cake!
Rich and moist, this Decadent Chocolate Cake from Sweet Sally’s is the perfect treat to bring to a Valentine’s Day party or to share with your honey at home. Made with only five ingredients, you’d never gues...
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Chocolate lovers won’t just lick these bowls clean — they’ll eat them whole. To make some yourself, temper one pound semisweet chocolate. Dip the top of a partially inflated balloon in the chocolate, flip the balloon back up and twirl it to distribute the chocolate. Hold the balloon upright and let dry for about a minute. Repeat the dipping process two more times, then spoon some melted chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and center the balloon, bowl-side down, on the melted chocolate base. Repeat with more balloons, reheating the chocolate as needed (1 pound chocolate will make 4 to 6 small bowls). Refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour, then pop the balloons and peel them away. Store the bowls in a cool, dry place for up to three days.
Photograph by James Wojcik
Something happened a few weeks ago while I was at the farmers’ market. As I scanned the stands, looking over the slim produce pickings here in the Northeast, I decided to get to the root of the problem — root vegetables, that is. It’s February, and we’re knee-deep in parsnips, turnips and potatoes. How I long for the first green cylinders of zucchini and sweet pods of green peas. Soon enough, asparagus.
Since I can’t get in a time machine and fast forward to spring, I decided it was time to get creative and work with what I had before me. Into my bag went a big bundle of carrots. Then they sat in the bin for a week. A whole week — thank heavens root vegetables are resilient and forgiving. I originally picked them up since they’re one of my daughters’ favorite vegetables. The problem is I tend to fall back on standard serving ideas, like simply roasting them or cutting into sticks to pair with dip. Not bad, but certainly a one-way ticket to boredom if done too frequently.
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Treat yourself to a road trip like no other: We found America’s best spots for chocolate lovers, from coast to coast.
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