Since I've been with Mark, I've had some pretty great Valentine's Days. I always get beautiful flowers and delicious dinner. Two years ago, he gave me diamond earrings; and he knows me well enough to know that the gift of a stuffed animal would make me vomit. So yeah, I'd say, since 2006, I've had great Valentine's Days.
This year, though, February 14 just kind of sneaked up on us. I wanted to do something but I didn't want him to have to blow a ton of money (because I want a ring) and I didn't want to have to get all dolled up, you know? So around 4:00 p.m., we still didn't have plans. I had gotten him a gift (a circular saw. Yeah, I'm pretty much the best girlfriend ever.) and I wanted to do something a little special to give it to him, so I suggested I make dinner at my house and we watch a movie.
So, at 4:30 p.m., I went to the grocery store, knowing not what I was going cook. I ended up with a pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, fennel, parsnips, a red onion, a garlic bulb, almonds, a lemon, an orange, and a bottle of wine. I got home at 5:30, cleaned up my house, whipped up a roasted vegetable souffle, a honey rubbed pork tenderloin and lemony green beans, set the table, made a cute heart-shaped sign for the front door (it read, "Welcome to the LOVE Cafe. Chef PeyPey on Duty Tonight), made myself pretty and had a mouth-watering dinner on the table when Mark walked in the door at 7:30. (I'm getting closer and closer to confirming my suspicions that I may indeed have super powers.) Mark showed up with a delightful bouquet of roses along with some chocolates, we ate dinner and watched Time Travelers Wife. It was a cozy Valentine's Day spent with Marquez and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I wanted to share my recipes with you all (more to impress you, not because I know you're dying to make a pork tenderloin, ok? Ok.) So here we go...
Roasted Vegetable Souffle For Two
*First off, let me say this: If you don't have a mandolin, go get one. I found mine at TJMaxx for $6. It will revolutionize the way you cut vegetables.
1 Sweet Potato
3 Parsnips (they look like carrots but are white)
1 Fennel Bulb (don't use the stalks, only the bulb. Save the stalks to lay on the plate under your tenderloin.)
1 Red Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 cup Catalina Dressing
1/4 cup Cranberry Juice
1/8 cup Pancake Syrup
Pinch of salt
(I know, I know. It sounds weird, but just go with it, ok? I promise it'll be a flavor explosion in your mouth.)
Preheat oven to 400. Using your mandolin (don't make this if you don't have one), thinly slice the first five ingredients into a mixing bowl, toss using tongs and put into a glass baking dish. Next, using a whisk, mix the last three ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Bake for about an hour. (I used my tongs and mixed it up about halfway through so that the vegetables on top didn't burn.) Get ready for deliciousness.
Honey Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
1-1 1/2 lb. Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup Catalina Dressing
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves (holding a sprig of Thyme at one end, pull the leaves downward. You don't want the stalks in there.)
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp honey
Heat the oven to 425. Spray a glass roasting pan with nonstick spray (I failed to do this and now have a two-day old, soaking, glass roasting pan sitting in my sink with black tar stuff stuck to it.) Poke a few holes in the meat. Brush 1/8 cup of the Catalina Dressing onto the meat. Mix your dry ingredients and rub the mixture onto the meat. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Mix the remaining 1/8 cup of the Catalina Dressing and the honey and brush onto the meat. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Tenderloin will be pretty firm when pressed and internal temperature should be around 160 degrees. Remove from oven and LET REST!!!! for 5-10 minutes. Slice an orange and lay the stalks of your fennel on a platter and put the tenderloin on there. (It's alllll about the presention, people.)
Lemony Green Beans with Almonds
Quite possibly the easiest side dish ever, take a bag of frozen, steam in the bag, long, uncut green beans and microwave them according to the bag directions. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter with the juice of half a lemon. Pour green beans into a pretty bowl and pour the melted lemon butter over them. Top with slivered almonds and toss.
Channeling my inner Sandra Lee, here are the Valentine cookies I made...
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Like Girl Scout Thin Mints, only without the awkward answer-my-front-door-in-a-towel-to-a-group-of-green-clad-little-girls-wearing-berets moment.
Oven goes on 350. Get a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough and add 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (like Nesquik) in a mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer, blend together until dough is mixed well with cocoa powder. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface, adding a bit of flour to the dough itself. You can use a heart shaped cookie cutter or just roll into round balls. Bake according to package directions. While these are in the oven take a container of chocolate icing and mix in 1/4 teaspoon Peppermint Extract. Take 8-10 peppermints and, using a food processor, crush the mints into tiny pieces. When cookies have cooled, ice them with the minty chocolate icing using an offset spatula and sprinkle tops with crushed mints. Oh my goodness, they're so good. Serve with vanilla ice cream (or scarf down half a dozen before you even get to the serving part).
So that was my Valentine's Day. How was yours?