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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Bob and I have a Valentine's tradition of not eating out. Instead, we take turns making a nice dinner for each other. It's a chance to try out dishes we might not otherwise make as we try to impress each other.

This year was my turn. We started out with a strawberry chop salad with a strawberry vinagrette dressing. You can find the recipe here. It was not only beautiful (which is not fully reflected in the photo), but even Bob, the non-strawberry eater in our family, gave it a big thumbs up.

Valentine's Salad
The main course was chicken in a basil cream sauce, which was one of our favorite culinary discoveries this year. Here's the recipe. And the photo showing Bob's very own hand!

Valentine's dinner featuring chicken with a basil cream sauce
Sides included a mushroom rice pilaf with red peppers instead of green (it's Valentine's Day!) and roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar (our new favorite way to roast asparagus).

One of the highlights of the meal was the heart-shaped chocolate cake:

Heart-shaped Valentine's Cake
The cake was fairly simple, but won the title of Coolest Thing Ever from our teenage daughters (they also thought it tasted really good when we ate it later). I remember making this cake when I was 14 or 15 with a church group. But I think the advisor who helped us make them must have had miniature cake pans, because this cake turned out to be enormous. Seriously, the only thing we had that it would fit on was a cookie sheet (aka a jelly roll pan), and then it barely fit.

I used a chocolate cake mix and put half of the mix in a 9-inch square pan, and half in a 9-inch round pan. After it was baked and thoroughly cooled, I cut the round cake in half and placed each half along the side of the square cake (turned it diagonally) so that it formed a gigantic heart.

I debated whether to make the lattice on the cake out of whipped cream or frosting. I opted for frosting; we (we being the girls and I) also debated whether to make the frosting pink, cream-colored, or light chocolate. You cans see that plain cream won out, and I think it was a good choice given the visual intensity of the cake. I used this frosting recipe, doubled it, and barely had enough. The frosting turned out to be a good choice, as we didn't even come close to finishing the cake in one sitting, and the frosting will hold up much better than whipped cream would.

I've already reminded Bob that it's his turn next year. Good luck, Honey!

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