Valentine’s Day Menu

Looking to impress your Valentine this year with a romantic meal you’ve made yourself? I’ve got you covered! I’ve put together a meal that you can either make for your loved one or make together for a perfect Valentine’s night in. There is one menu, but it can easily be made gluten free with one quick swap out. The menu includes bacon, if pork isn’t your thing use turkey!

Click on the link below to download the grocery list, menu and meal information. I want you and your special someone to feel loved this Valentine’s day so this menu can be downloaded for FREE.


There is no price on romance but if you feel like subsidizing the love I’ve put into the menu however, I’ve decided to try out the “pay what it’s worth to you” method. I’ve provided a link to my PayPal account, click below if you’d like to support menu love.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!


Savory French Toast with Tomato-Avocado-Basil Maple Syrup


Last night I made my savory french toast with roasted red pepper-tomato maple syrup recipe, but with a slight modification. I omitted the red pepper and added diced avocados and fresh basil. Fantastic summer dinner!

Here’s the original recipe

Quick Lentil Soup

In preparation for our big move, I’ve started to clean out the fridge. Perhaps it’s a bit hasty since we are here in Seattle for about 6 more weeks, but I’m getting excited! In the fridge I found a package of Trader Joe’s cooked lentils and a half eaten container of red pepper hummus, these got me thinking about my favorite curried lentil soup recipe by Molly Wizenberg. She adds pureed chick peas to the cooked lentil mixture right before serving, it’s a fantastic soup, I’ve included a link at the bottom of this post. So using her recipe as inspiration I made a quick lunch.

2C Cooked lentils

1/2C Hummus  (I used a red pepper hummus, but I bet most flavors would work well)

1 1/2 -2C Vegetable broth

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, stir together lentils, hummus and 1 1/2 C vegetable broth. Add more broth if you like a thinner soup. Season with pepper.

Optional: serve with lemon wedges and pita bread or chips.

Serves 2-3

Chicken Tacos

In the heat and humidity of summer I try not to turn the oven/stove on, so this means we end up eating a lot of large salads. Which is perfect for highlighting all the fantastic produce that’s available this time of year, but there comes a day when I want something hot. And since I don’t have an outside grill I generally turn to the crock pot. These easy tacos are a great way to use up any leftover produce, plus I can slip in a can of refried beans after the meat is done cooking and my husband is none the wiser!

2# Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

1 1/2C Salsa (any and every kind will work-green, red fresh, jarred….)

1-2C Vegetables diced (onions, peppers, mushrooms, kale…whatever you have in your fridge)

2 Cloves of garlic, minced

1tsp Ground cumin

1 Lime juiced

Optional additions after the allotted cooking time- can of refried or regular beans, or corn kernels.

Put all the ingredients into a crock pot and give it a little stir. Set it on high for 4hrs or on low for 8hrs. After the meat is cooked, use a large wooden spoon, or two forks, to gently break the chicken apart. (If the mixture is too liquidy at this point ladle some of the juices out and pour it into a small sauce pan and place on a medium-high burner until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour the reduced liquid back into the crock pot.) Taste the taco filling and add salt or some hot sauce if needed.

Place a few tablespoons in a tortilla and top with your favorite toppings: grated cheese, cilantro leaves, sliced avocados, sliced radishes, sour cream….



Roast Chicken Thighs and Silken Kale

Easy one pan dish, where the kale takes on a creaminess from braising in the chicken juices, but also the tops get super crispy almost burnt, but in a good way!

1 bag kale, washed and chopped (or 3 cups)
1/2 white onion, diced
1# chicken thighs, skin on and bone in (buy small thighs, usually organic chicken thighs are small)
1 T of your favorite herb or spice mix
2C brown rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put the entire bag of kale and the diced onion in a 9×13 in baking dish. Evenly distribute the chicken pieces on top of the kale; any exposed kale will get extra crispy! Let this sit on the counter while the oven is preheating to slightly dry out the chicken skin. When the oven is hot, pat the skin dry with paper towels, and season with a little salt and the Tablespoon of herbs or spices and put the pan into the oven. Roast for 15 minutes  and reduce the oven temperature to 350, and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile cook the brown rice following the package instructions.
Serve lemon wedges on the side allowing the diners to squeeze fresh lemon juice on the kale and chicken.

Lasagna Cheat

I love the way a bechamel* sauce tastes in lasagna, so creamy and rich, just makes the whole dish that much more decadent! But sometimes I get lazy and don’t feel like making it, or I just don’t have the time. Yesterday was a lazy day and I thought I’d just skip the bechamel, until I saw the buy one get one free pasta sauces and decided to try alfredo sauce as the white sauce replacement. So I did a layer of noodles topped with roasted eggplant and the alfredo sauce,another layer of noodles topped with ricotta-spinach-basil mix, and noodles, tomato sauce and cheese to finish it off. All I can say is yum!

*Bechamel sauce is milk thickened with a roux (flour and butter) Alfredo sauce is reduced heavy cream and cheese. Both amazingly delicious!

Fresh Corn Risotto with Bacon and Basil

I grew up in a small town in Southern Minnesota, surrounded by corn and cows. Where, besides the obvious weather, you could tell the time of year by what food was available, or at least that’s how I judged the passing seasons. Fall began when you could go to the apple orchard and pick apples, get cider and mini doughnuts. Winter was when you could make snow ice cream after a big snow storm. Summer started when the Dairy Queen opened, and everyone lined up to get a Blizzard. The middle of summer was when 2 local families sold corn out of the back of their truck. And for some reason everyone was loyal to one family or another. If you bought corn from the Grism’s you never bought corn from the Hagan’s. Looking back it seems silly because I’m sure they both had equally good corn.

Here in Seattle it’s supposedly the middle of summer, so corn is what I’m craving. It’s pretty damp and rainy so for tonight’s dinner I wanted something warm and filling and here’s what I came up with.

3 Slices of bacon, chopped
1 Small Onion, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 Cup arborio rice
1/3 Cup white wine
2 Ears of corn, kernels removed from the cob
3-4 Cups chicken broth
3/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat a large skillet or pot brown, when the pan is hot add the bacon and cook until it’s crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the same pan and cook until they are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and the rice and cook 5 minutes
more, stirring costantly. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add the corn and 1/2 cup of the broth, stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of broth and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the last step until you have added 3 cups of the broth, then taste to test the doneness of the rice. Add more broth if necessary. Stir in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the risotto into a bowl and top with the cooked bacon and some roughly chopped basil.

Serves 4-5