The funny thing about living outside of the United States is that a lot of holidays just come and go. Unless we make a really conscious effort to remember them (like Thanksgiving) they slip by. Earlier this week it dawned on me that Valentine’s Day is soon. Truth be told, we don’t usually do much. I might make the boys a special breakfast and MarocBaba and I may go out for coffee or dessert but it’s kind of like every other day. I’ve never been swept up in the sentimental side of the holiday and so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing? But, I have found a lot of my friends who are young professionals, new parents, or just on a budget (and who our age isn’t on a budget?) don’t have the cash or ability to invest in a fancy night out.
Instead I propose a celebration at home and I’m going to share 10 special ideas for food you can make at home, and some suggestions to make it more than a meal, but a destination inspired celebration!
Dark Chocolate Orange and Pistachio Greek Yogurt Cups from Cupcakes and Kale Chips – Greece
This one was fairly obvious. If evenings are difficult for you, why not make a breakfast date? These yogurt cups are quick to put together and a special treat. Consider practicing the Greek tradition of “kidnapping” the bride - if even just in spirit! Wake up a little early and share breakfast over a sunrise.
French Onion Soup from Dessert for Two – France
France is one of the countries in which Valentine’s Day supposedly got it’s beginning and really is there anywhere else on earth that conjures up more romantic notions than France? After a nice dinner, why not slip into a warm bath with scented flower petals or candles? A pre-marriage ritual that can easily be replicated today either alone or in tandem!
Skillet Mushroom Dip for Two from Farm Fresh Eats – Finland
This is a stretch but we ate some amazing mushroom dip with blini’s in Finland so why not? To celebrate in Finnish style, wait until the sunsets and light as many candles as you can find, then dig into this delicious dip. What’s more romantic than that?
Honey Ginger Pork Tenderloin from Nosh and Nourish (Chicken would work in this recipe too!) – Japan
Men are off the hook in this culture! In Japan it’s women who gift men chocolates on this day. If you want something fun and more of a challenge pick up some different colored and patterned papers and see how many origami patterns you can master. End the evening by sharing some Japanese green tea
Stovetop Mac and Cheese from Dessert for Two – A Cozy Cabin in the Snow
Love can be expressed in many ways and personally I think gooey cheesy is one of the most perfect. This is serious comfort food to be enjoyed while huddled under blankets, watching the snow come down and enjoying the fireplace. Even if it’s a fireplace DVD!
Spiced Sirloin Roast for Two from An Edible Mosaic - Argentina
Why Argentina? Because it produces some of the most delicious beef in the world! Invite your loved one to dinner with a homemade card and a Spanish poem inside like; Las rosas son rojas, Las violetas, azules, El azúcar es dulce Y también eres tú! (Cheesy, yes but also fun!) Play some music from this region during dinner and include some Argentinian wine or juices with your meal.
Pesto Potatoes and Veal Chops from The Hungry Goddess – Italy
Italy claims St. Valentine as one of their own and it’s no surprise that the holiday is a BIG deal in Italy. Poetry and letter writing were big parts of courtship rituals of the past, why not continue it today? Let your partner know in the morning that you’ll be sharing something handwritten with them at some point during the day and encourage them to do the same (sometimes romance needs some encouragement). It’s a cheap and meaningful way to show you care!
Skillet Spanikopita from Dessert for Two – Greek Islands
Up for some late night stargazing? After tucking into this skillet dish, bundle up and head outside to search the night sky. Sailors, of which the Greek Islands have many, often wore the symbol of a compass because they believed it would help lead them home.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two from Like Mother Like Daughter — Brazil
South America produces lots of cocoa – and you’ll need it for these cookies. Brazilians love to dance, so download some great samba music and use your kitchen or living room as a dance floor. Not sure what you’re doing? There are loads of free dance lessons on YouTube.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two from Like Mother Like Daughter – Savannah, GA
The ultimate love story? It’s got to be Gone with the Wind. Set in the American south during the Civil War this is a classic film to enjoy over and over again. It’s perfect with some coffee, tea, or cocoa and these peanut butter (Georgia!) cookies.
Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Mixed Berry Pie from Jew Hungry – Los Angeles, CA
Home to the original counter culture movement, free love, and what grass smoothies Los Angeles is a destination that this dessert inspires. There’s really only one solution for what to do while eating this dessert…enjoy one of the hundreds of romantic films Hollywood has produced. Vanity Fair has an eclectic mix to start with.
Whether you’re looking forward to something special on February 14th or any day of the year, I hope these recipes and ideas inspire you to keep the love alive!