Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's Cooking, Good looking?

I woke up this morning to a text from my little sister:

"Hey. Do you have any good ideas for Valentines for Jordan? (Her boyfriend). I'm not sure what to get him or what to do... Thanks."

Then of course my best friend calls me up.  She's been with her man for 3 years now.

I don't know what to do....I already got him art supplies for his birthday a couple months ago.  There's nothing that he really ...needs....What do you think I should do?

At first, talking about Valentines' day made me feel a little bit grumpy. Ok, fine.  A lot grumpy.  (Nice grammar Dia. High five). 

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, opened my bunk curtain and slithered out of my bus bunk.  The humidifier in the hallway had been knocked over a couple of times in the night due to the bumpy road.  The carpet was soaked, hence, my socks as well. (These aren't just any socks people. They have little faces on them and look like gophers. Yes, they make wearing socks way more fun. Yes...sometimes I am a child).   I walked to the front of the bus and peeked out of the window.  Pennsylvania.  Tour date...number 23? 15? 30?  It's hard to keep track of days on the road.  Our rider of dried apricots, apple cider vinegar, hummus, cups, plates, almonds, coconut water, etc. had arrived already.  I looked back at my phone and frowned. 

I went inside the arena and took a cold shower.  Jonathan (bass player) said that if you turn on all the sinks in the bathroom and all the showers in the shower room (Yup, gang showers), that it gets luke warm.  Eh, tepid would have been acceptable, but I think all the warm water was used up before me.  Being number 7 out of 9 to shower comes with consequences. I need to start waking up earlier.

However, the point of all this, is that after the cold shower, I felt an odd change of heart about the dreaded Valentines' day.  I know, I know.  You can tell me a million times that it's "just another day" or that "the flower companies invented it for money" but to me, it is a reminder of love and being loved.  But putting that aside, I decided to channel all of my negative energy, into positive energy for my sister and my friends, and maybe even you!  Now my "single and bitter" emotions shall hopefully dissolve once finished with this blog. And low and behold, I'm already getting more cheery.  I love to help people plan things, especially for people special to them.  So, with that being said......



I've always thought the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, just like my momma used to say.  However, don't think this counts you out boys.  Whenever a man has made dinner for me.... he's definitely gained some points in my book.  

Presents are all fine and dandy, but if you are lucky enough to be with your special someone on this special day, I think you should buy some candles and rose petals, dig out your lace tablecloth, and wipe the dust from your antique candle holders.  

With that being said, here are some of my favorite recipes that I have gathered over the years. (No, I didn't create any of them...and no...not all of them are vegan...but I cheat...sometimes!)  I hope this inspires some creativity when you're thinking of your Valentine this year! XOX - Dia



P.S. I don't know why some words are blue. Haha. Ignore them!

Scalloped Potato Gratin (Tyler Florence) 
4-6 large servings
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Butter
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.
While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.
Note from Dia:  Make sure you slice the potatoes REALLY thin.  I use a machine to do this. (I'm a cheater). Dried thyme is fine, but if you can go the extra mile, scale your neighbors fence, outrun their dogs, and pick a fresh sprig from their garden, it makes a big difference. I bake my gratin covered with tin foil for 45 minutes, and then remove it, add cheese on top so that it crisps, and bake another 15 minutes.  (One time I had to bake this baby for an hour and a half, so check to make sure it's completely done and the potatoes are soft before turning off the oven).  This is fool proof boys! You got this!  

This next one is SUPER easy!  I Promise.  And very yummy....who doesn't like pasta?    
Creamy Farfalle with Asparagus and walnuts (Giada De Laurentiis)
6-8 servings (If you have 7 girlfriends or are from Utah this might be perfect for you!) 
Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Directions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and most of the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the farfalle. Stir in the mascarpone and nutmeg and toss until the cheese coats the pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time to moisten. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve.
Dia's notes: I love nutmeg so I add just a tad bit more.  But the recipe portion is legit too!  It's kind of a sweet, simple pasta, so if you were looking for savory, this might not be for you.

Now, we both know that you can't seal the deal without desert!  And if she/he doesn't like desert...what in the heck are you doing dating them?!?
If you live in LA or NY you may have heard of Magnolia Bakery.  Magnolia bakery is a delicious bakery which is pretty popular for their cupcakes and cheesecakes, however, I think their banana pudding is off the wall! If this doesn't make them yours forever, I don't know what will.
Magnolia’s Famous Banana Pudding
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
1 12-oz box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (recommended brand)
4 cups sliced ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)

1. On medium speed of a stand mixer or in a small bowl, beat together sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Sprinkle pudding mix over the liquid and beat well until all the powder has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Cover and place in refrigerator until completely set, about 3-4 hours or over night.

2. On medium speed of a stand mixer, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in set pudding mixture until blended and no streaks remain (the mixture should be a pale yellow color).

P.S. before you do step 3.  I personally don't layer the bananas, cookies, etc. but just mix it all together, light and fluffy, in a big bowl.  But I know you're going for presentation here so... move onto step #3.  
3. In the bowl you wish to serve the pudding in, arrange 1/3 of the wafers on the bottom of the bowl, they may need to overlap to fit.

4. Then one third of the bananas as the next layer.


Cookie-layer-300x200.jpg
4. Then one third of the bananas as the next layer.
Banana-layer-300x200.jpg
5. Then one third of the pudding mixture, repeat three times in total, until you fill the serving dish.
Pudding-layer-300x200.jpg
6. Save any bits of the wafers for garnish. Cover tightly and place back in refrigerator for 4 hours to chill. Garnish with crumbs and bits of the wafers.
Recipe-final-300x200.jpg





16 comments:

  1. Sometimes I think it's a bit sad how so many people put loads of worry into making Valentine's day special, rather than fully enjoying the day for what it's meant to be. As you said, a simple and loving candlelit dinner would make any girl swoon.
    Definitely going to give these recipes a try, they sound delicious. Thanks Dia! : )

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  2. I just might try one or two of these recipes...thanks! :)

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  3. The blue words are links.

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  4. It's interesting how the act of preparing food is equated with love in many cultures. This must go back to ancient times. This idea must be the original Valentine Day's gift; if they even called it Valentine's Day. It may have been called "ME LUV U DAY." I am pretty sure it was preceded with a club to the head and dragging of the loved one to the house of the food giver.
    When you get married and have children, it takes all day to prepare the food and 10 minutes to eat before everyone's done. Oh, I think that maybe Thanksgiving. Sorry.

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    Replies
    1. I think you are correct about food since ancient times.

      Considering the famines that have occurred throughout human history, it's no wonder that most cultures attach so much importance to food. It's a friggin' lot of work making and preparing food, and as you say, sometimes it's a thankless task, so I'm sure love does play a part.

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  5. I've made a dish similar to the farfalle dish before, pasta is Amazing!:] And I agree with you about Valentine's day, it's not really about the gifts ever. Maybe when you're first with someone you want to have the whole nine yards with flowers, candy and giant stuffed animals but I think that fades away the longer you're with someone. I've been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years and I know that if he had to choose between the newest Call of Duty game or homemade lasagna AND red velvet cupcakes...he'd forget what Call of Duty even was. Everyone appreciates the little more when you put in a little time:]
    Anyways, great post Dia!:D

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  6. Hey I just found out you are in my home town today (Erie, PA) Too bad I dont have a ticket :(
    I met you and your sister a few years back when my band was on warped tour. Good times! Bummed I am missing you tonight. Have a great show!!!
    -Marc

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  7. Honestly, I think I enjoy cooking for a special lady even more than being cooked for. Making a woman happy goes a long way. Amazing givers ya'll are. Always humbling me.

    Tour sucks for relationships :-( Sweetie, you are freakin' adorable. I have a fantastic crush on you from afar - if that counts for anything. A well-read, creative, seemingly thoughtful woman is a jewel. I hope you, Meg and the band have a brilliant V-day.

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  8. Wow Dia you certainly know the way to a mans heart, that potato dish of yours will keep a man around forever, add asparagus and walnuts and than throw in your banana pudding ah love forever. Mom is always right you know, you always get great advice from mom. I'll be passing these recipes on to my valentine, my wife for 20 years. I'll cook for my wife but it's simple stuff, she's the real cook!

    Love the kitchen picture looks like you are ready to host a cooking show, chef Dia. By the way you look great in purple.

    Thanks for the great post as always, love you guys!

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  9. This is making me hungry. The pasta dish looks gooood;asparagus is my favorite veg! And that pudding, oh my! haha

    Cheating on being vegan huh? Cheater cheater cheesy eater! ;p
    (I love cheese. I guess that's why I'm not vegan yet.)

    You have gopher socks? Extra points for Dia! High five! :)

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  10. LOVE the post Dia and of course much love to you! Thanks for sharing the "other something that brings everyon together" FOOD! :) Cheers and the Happiest of Valentines!

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