Valentine’s Day Ideas – What to Give, Do, Drink and Eat

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GIFTS:

Funny Valentine cards from Etsy

His and Hers highball set. Cheers!

Via Kate Spade - His and Hers Hiball Set

Via Kate Spade – His and Hers Hiball Set

Valentine’s Day macarons, who doesn’t like to receive sweets? RM Champagne Salon will send the Chef’s favorite macaron flavors to that lucky someone. Delivered by RM or you can pick-up.

EAT:

Forgot to make dinner reservations? Check out what is still available in Chicago. You can also go a little rogue and see if your favorite restaurants have openings on Friday or Sunday instead. You might get to skip the obligatory Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu if you opt for a different day.

So you want to steer clear restaurants here are some ideas for cooking at home. A decadent menu and a casual menu.

Image via Bon Appeit

Image via Bon Appeit

DO:

The Tinkerlab has a nice round-up of 30 Valentine Activities for Kids.

DRINK:

Drink some beer at the Brew of Hearts. The Chop Shop will host several brewers such as Soma Ale Works, Goose Island Beer Company, Transient and more.

The 9th Annual Hideout Makeout Party. Drink, laugh and maybe…makeout.

Time To Get Spicy With The Just Launched RawSpiceBar

RawSpiceBar

RawSpiceBar

I love spices but I never seem to branch out. This is why I am very excited to try RawSpiceBar. They send you three spice blends with recipes, the origins of each spice and storage instructions. Stay tuned for the post about the recipe I will be making using their spices when I receive the January delivery.

 RawSpiceBar delivers 3 premium spice blends from around the world direct to your door. They work with top chefs to create a unique and interesting spice blend for you to try out. Each spice box averages ~2 ounces of spice blends and yields a complete 3 dish meal for 8-12 people.  All the spices use ingredients of the highest quality (and they opt for fair trade and organic spices where possible), sourced from global spice producers.  Each box costs $6, RawSpiceBar covers your shipping costs (in US), and you can purchase for a 3, 6 or 12 month period. You can cancel or pause this subscription at any time.
This is also a great gift idea for the holidays, host gift, housewarming and for anyone that likes to eat.  Check out their website for more information.

 

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Tom Yum Goong Soup Straight from Thailand

I’ve been sick for the past 10 days so soup has been on my mind. Well, soup and tropical beaches since it’s February in Chicago. This is what I dream of:

Surin Beach Wave

It’s no surprise that my mind drifted to my honeymoon in Thailand and the wonderful cooking lesson I took with the head chef of the Oriental Spoon at the Twin Palms in Surin Beach. This soup is too good not to share! Continue reading

Fresh Ideas for Super Bowl Sunday Eats

There are a million recipes out there for the Super Bowl so I wanted to save you some time and pass on some delicious and interesting recipes that will make you the perfect guest or host. If the Super Bowl is not for you these recipes will still work for any potluck party this winter.

Chicken wings with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette

Who doesn’t love all things Momofuku? A Cup of Mai has this really easy recipe to make your wings memorable.

Chicken Wings W Momofuku Vinaigrette

Cheese-Topped Guacamole Continue reading

Bon Bini! Welcome To Aruba

There are plenty of restaurants in Aruba but none as laid-back and romantic as Passions on the Beach. Tables are set up 25 feet from the ocean literally on the beach so you can enjoy the sunset with your feet in the sand. Another plus, it is located away from the high-rise madness so no crowds to deal with. I was in a trance from the waves and the breeze and said “sure” when offered the “signature” cocktail, it was out of the 80s but made me laugh and just added to the fun.

Requisite Beach Cocktail

I’d like to say the meal was amazing but there was only one really great standout which turned out to be a very simple dish. The Watermelon Salad. The sweetness of the watermelon mixed with the saltines of the feta is always a beautiful thing but the addition of the chili dressing made this dish memorable. It’s also really easy to recreate which I have multiple times since returning from the One Happy Island.

Almost everyone that was dining on the beach was celebrating a birthday or anniversary or seemed to be on their honeymoon or with someone they loved so it didn’t matter that the food wasn’t the main attraction. Just being there was the point…oh and the view…

Here is a recipe I found that is a good reference to make your own beach watermelon salad creation courtesy of Miri Leigh. You should really make it while we still have summer.  Ban come! Let’s eat! 

10 sprigs thyme
1 serrano chili
1 small shallot
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 oz fresh baby spinach, rinsed and dried
3 lbs seedless watermelon
4 oz crumbled feta

Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs by gripping each sprig with your thumb and forefinger near one end and, with your other hand, pulling the sprig away from you so that your thumb and finger run along the stem opposite to the direction that the leaves grow.  Set aside half of the leaves to use as garnish.  Place the remaining leaves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade along with the serrano chili (remove some or all of the seeds for less heat), shallot, lime juice and zest, olive oil, canola oil, vinegar, and salt.  Pulse a few times until the chili and shallot are chopped, then process until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the dressing until it is fully coated, reserving 1/4 cup of the dressing for the last step.  Arrange the dressed spinach in equal quantities among four plates.  Slice the watermelon as thinly as possible and arrange over the spinach.  Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the watermelon and garnish with the remaining thyme leaves.  Drizzle the remaining dressing over the feta, about 1 tablespoon per plate.  Serve immediately.