“Love, like a chicken salad or restaurant hash, must be taken with blind faith or it loses its flavor.”
Helen Rowland (1876-1950)
Valentine’s Day… it’s like doing your taxes. Every year you either love it, hate it, or pretend it doesn’t exist. Whatever your stance on Valentine’s Day, it’s here to stay—so why not make it delicious? Here are four of my all time favorite recipes from my cache:
- Chocolate Mug Cake—which is perfect if your cooking skills are limited or you need a chocolate fix RIGHT NOW!
- Toffee Butter Crunch—Probably the most addictive substance on earth, make a double batch.
- My very own Mom K.’s Caramel Corn—You’d better make a triple batch of this stuff.
- DIY “Kahlua”—turn ordinary liquor into Ambrosia that goes well in coffee, on ice cream, or all by itself.
In lieu of waxing poetic on my own love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day here are some tips on dining for the occasion.
With Valentine’s Day as commercialized as it is, chances are good that if you go out to a restaurant it will be packed to capacity with couples trying to enjoy a romantic dinner. Not only that, but often restaurants will forgo their usual options for a choice between two or three courses. Forget that! Cook at home! A home-cooked meal is much more romantic anyway, and you can really concentrate on your lover with a tenderly prepared meal. Ahhh, romance…
Set the stage for romance with aphrodisiacs
Candlelight, flowers, and music are obvious choices for setting the mood for a romantic evening, but did you know that the food you eat can also enhance the experience? Certain foods are historically believed to have aphrodisiac qualities—properties that enhance sexual desire and make for a much more exciting meal.
The history of aphrodisiacs goes back to ancient times. Poor nutrition was a common problem, and undernourishment was often the culprit for a low libido and infertility.The origin of the word aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
Here are some palatable aphrodisiacs for your romantic dinner that just may add a little spice to your night.
A great way to begin a romantic dinner for two is to start with a glass of wine and some finger foods such as almonds and cheese. Wine is great for relaxation, and it helps stimulate the senses. But as you’ve probably experienced, too much wine can kill the mood, so take your time and savor the glass. Almonds have long been a symbol of fertility, and the smell is rumored to create amorous feelings in females. Honey is another food that has been linked to fertility and was considered the nectar of Aphrodite. A great way to serve honey is to drizzle it over some brie cheese and serve it on a small piece of toasted bread. For that matter, any appetizers you can eat with your fingers will help turn up the heat during a romantic dinner.
A salad is always a good starter, but it isn’t always easy to make it romantic. With a raspberry vinaigrette and fresh fruit throughout, a spinach salad has a lovely pink and red color that fits the occasion perfectly. Red onion can be fairly un-romantic (no one likes onion breath), so if you still want some crunchy and tangy flavor, try adding pomegranate seeds. They’ll add even more red color, and are thought to be a natural aphrodisiac. Whether or not that’s true, they’re still delicious!
Oysters are known as the ultimate aphrodisiac, so Oysters Rockefeller or simple oysters on the half shell are great dishes to serve for a romantic dinner’s main course. Oysters are loaded with zinc, which has been linked to increased sex drive and fertility. Casanova, the legendary master of romance, was rumored to eat 50 raw oysters at breakfast to pump up his powers of l’amour.
If you really want to spice things up, prepare a meat dish spiced with chili peppers. The chemical that’s responsible for heat in chilies, called capsaicin, also increases your pulse and stimulates nerve endings, guaranteed to get your heart fluttering. For added flavor, you can also add a little garlic, which is thought to increase sexual desire. Just be sure to have some post-meal breath mints on hand.
When it comes down to it, Valentine’s dinners are really just about the dessert, aren’t they? This one is ideal for the occasion: a light, fizzy sorbet from strawberries and champagne that ends up the perfect color to match the holiday. Plus, a little alcohol in your dessert is never a bad idea. (Unless you’re underage or abstaining, in which case, some lemon-lime soda will do the trick.) Top it with strawberry slices cut in heart shapes for that extra bit of adorable factor.
Chocolate is known far and wide to be the ultimate aphrodisiac dessert. Beyond its immensely pleasurable taste, chocolate contains a stimulant called phenylethylamine that creates a feeling of excitement and well-being that has often been joked about as being better than sex. If chocolate isn’t your passion—don’t panic—there are other desserts that do the trick, too. Bananas foster is a tasty treat that revs up the libido beyond the banana’s phallic nature. Bananas contain a good amount of potassium and Vitamin B, which are necessary for the production of sex hormones.
You’ll be wanting a drink with your romantic dinner, and nothing says romance quite like wine. Romance doesn’t have to be all sexy and sultry and red-wine all the time. Romance should be fun, too! A nice sangria will give you the best of both worlds: the warmth of wine with some festive and fun fruit. Plus, the color will be a slightly lighter red, which should match the holiday nicely.
Did you know?
In ancient times, Greek newlyweds would drink beer and wine laden with honey for a month after their marriage. That’s where the term honeymoon comes from!
However you choose to spend the holiday, please give yourself a gift of love like some quiet time alone or those new yoga pants you’ve been eyeing…
Thanks for reading, and enjoy love wherever you are.