Love, Winter, and St. Valentine's Day...

We've returned from our month-long sojourn at the Circle B Kitchen West and have just about got ourselves re-acclimated to the reality of our winters here in the Midwest.  This is no small shift, both emotionally and physically, from "winter" on the Central Coast of California.  We've traded the stunning colors of brilliant green hillsides, blue skies and turquoise ocean for varying shades of brown and grey.  Snow is moving in tonight so tomorrow all of this dreary will be clothed in sparkly white and it will be beautiful and lovely, and until it melts away, I'll be a little happier about looking out the window.

And really I haven't had much time for staring out the window anyway.  It's taken all of our time over the past few days to get ourselves unpacked, and get this place up and running again.  I also haven't had time to get to any of the recipes I want to share with you.  Cooking has been mostly about convenience and availability.  I feel pretty derelict in my culinary responsibilities here, but I promise I'll be getting back on the horse very soon.

In the meantime, in looking at the calendar this morning, I realized that exactly one week from today is Valentine's, and perhaps some planning is in order.  And so I thought I might, at the very least, share some of that with you.  Not everyone is into Valentine's Day for all sorts of reasons, and I have my own reservations about it, but in the end, the idea of putting aside a day, an evening or an hour to celebrate love, with food, always ends up sounding pretty awesome to me.

In my mind, food and romance are very easily intertwined.  I suppose we all have our personal ideas of what constitutes romantic foods, but for me, seafood (i.e. shrimp, scallops swordfish) when beautifully prepared can be very romantic.  And pasta... a gorgeously silky pasta is always rather dreamy.  Or a platter of small bites to be shared with a glass of champagne or vino can be quite romantic as well.  Chocolate.  Of course, always chocolate.

So, if you're starting to think about Valentine's, or even if you're not the least interested, here are a few ideas I'm bouncing around on the right side of my brain this week.... 'bout a scrumptious LASAGNA that can be (and should be) made ahead so your evening can be totally devoted to your loved one.

Or possibly some gorgeous SCALLOPS with a homemade romesco sauce.

Or one of my personal favorites... SPAGHETTI WITH CLAMS IN PARCHMENT.

There really are few things as wondrous as a perfectly cooked piece of SWORDFISH and I give you step by step instructions on how to do just that.  And an amazingly delicious provencal sauce to go with.

And if you're into a big platter of finger foods to be shared between you...

This is one of our favorites... A SALMON NICOISE PLATTER, complete with yummy roasted salmon, olives, baby mozzarella balls, sliced potatoes, hard boiled eggs and seasoned green beans, and don't forget the fresh, crusty bread.

And there's the ubiquitous PASTA ALLA PUTTANESCA, which is ever so spicy and yummy.

But, of course, in the end, the king of romantic meals might just have to be this GRILLED SEAFOOD PASTA.  It's beautiful and just ever so scrumptious.

And any one of our 300 desserts would be a lovely finish to your Valentine's meal, but here are a few that I'm considering...


Romantic desserts don't actually have to be chocolate... case in point, this incredibly delicious COCONUT PIE CREAM PUFF.  Doesn't get much better that this!

And then there are these amazing little CREPES FILLED WITH NUTELLA, MASCARPONE AND BANANAS. Not even kidding about how good these are...

And really, people.  Is there any more romantic dessert than TIRAMISU?  I think not.  Yes, make this and life will be complete.  We're done.

Alrighty then, this is what I'm thinking about and pondering for our Valentine's moment here at the Circle B Kitchen. Having been together for 49 years now, The Husband and I don't need a Hallmark-invented holiday to dictate romance, but having said that, neither are we going to turn down any excuse to create a romantic evening with delicious food, a little wine and lots of fun.  Of course, we all know that we don't have to wait until February 14th to make a beautiful meal for someone you love.  Happy Valentine's Day from The Circle B Kitchen!!