DIY Valentine

by Valerie | 02.14.14 | For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

Be my VALentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Red and pink, x’s and o’s, hearts, flowers, and chocolates – what’s not to love; and how could I not love this holiday when my name is in it? I was thrilled to receive 2 dozen stunning pink roses from Ryan, which I’ve spread around our home – my personal favorite arrangement is the one pictured in the photo above where I used a beautiful, silver pitcher given to me by my mother-in-law.

Here are some fun Valentine’s Day things, for your enjoyment:

by Valerie | 02.14.14 | For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

Putting the Val in Valentine’s Day

Ryan surprised me with not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 lovely flower arrangements, which he put together himself, for Valentine’s Day this year. Ain’t love grand? Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is filled with sweet treats & spectacular surprises.

  • Have you used Songza? I really like it for free music streaming & they’ve got “Valentine’s Day” on their Music Concierge list today.
  • These With Love Straws are adorable!
  • I do like naps.

by Valerie | 02.14.13 | Holidaze | No Comments »

2012: Week 7

2012: Week 7

by Valerie | 02.20.12 | Holidaze, Photography | No Comments »


The picture above is of my father-in-law & mother-in-law. Ain’t love grand? For me, the answer is a definite & very loud, “Yes!” Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • I found this article, Love Ever After: A Valentine’s Day Special, on TIME LightBox; I just love the 3rd photo here – so sweet.
  • Google Valentine
  • Pucker up
  • “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” – Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

by Valerie | 02.14.12 | Holidaze | No Comments »

365 – Day 357

365 – Day 357

by Valerie | 02.14.12 | Photography | No Comments »

Putting the Val in Valentine’s Day

As I’m anxiously awaiting my delicious, home-cooked, gourmet Valentine’s Day feast next Tuesday by my darling husband,  I was thinking about all things xoxo & hearts & flowers & whatnot…

Putting the Val in Valentine’s Day since 1978 – you’re welcome.

by Valerie | 02.10.12 | Holidaze | No Comments »

Valentine’s Day Feast

Valentine's Day Roses

I cook a lot, so as one of my colleagues whose husband also cooks a lot noted, cooking isn’t something that is necessarily a special occasion. But for Valentine’s Day I usually try to up my game and make something that I have never made or try to experiment by making something a bit more complicated than normal. This year I wanted to turn up the heat, bring something sweet, and make a meal with food items known for the aphrodisiac qualities. So with that in mind chiles, avocados, and chocolate were in store. For a bit of food history these foods were commonly used by the Aztecs for their aphrodisiac properties. With that in mind I set out to make a Mexican inspired meal, far beyond any Mexican food I have ever made before. To accomplish that goal I served up a corn, black bean, and avocado salad with a creamy avocado citrus dressing followed by seitan in mole sauce with faux-rizo smashed potatoes. Without too much bragging, our dinner was a display of mad cooking skills. Mad props to me.

Dessert was not my creation, but our meal closed with a couple chocolate covered strawberries and a cookie. We couldn’t eat much more than that after the rest of the dinner.

Oh and why potatoes? They don’t seem to have any sex appeal. Well if you know Val, potatoes are well at the top of her favorite foods list, and a surefire way to her heart.

She loves flowers too, so I picked up this bouquet of pink roses & blooming eucalyptus for her from Pot & Box.

Valentine's Day Roses

by Ryan | 02.16.11 | Holidaze, Recipes | No Comments »

Faux-rizo Smashed Potatoes

Dinner plate

Val loves potatoes; I like them a lot too. I wanted to make them more than just plain potatoes, so with that our side dish for our Valentine’s day feast was born. Note that in the photo here, the potatoes are underneath our Mole Rojo con Seitan.


  • 2 baking potatoes (good Idaho ones), with the peel.
  • lots of buttery spread (2-3 tbsp worth)
  • 1 package of chorizo style seitan
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 tbsp buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (I used my smoked chili powder and La Mesa dark 50/50 blend)
  • 1 tsp of butcher’s pepper
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • some shredded mahon cheese (optional, but recommended)

Prepare the faux-rizo first. Heat an oven to 425 degrees.  Place the tomatoes (removed from the vine) on a baking sheet and into the oven. Roast the tomatoes until the skins begin to wrinkle and brown a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before handling. Once cooled to where you can handle it, core and deseed the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a food processor with the chili powder, salt, and pepper and puree. Heat a skillet up to medium heat, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic and sweat for a few minutes. Add the chorizo seitan and cook until it is cooked through. Add the tomato puree and cook until it is completely incorporated into the faux meat. If you need additional salt to taste you can add it.

Prepare the potatoes however you want – microwave, bake, or boil. Once cooked in a bowl cut them open (this cuts the peels into smaller pieces), add the buttery spread, and mash the potatoes to a texture of liking, I left ours somewhat chunky. Add in about a cup of the faux-rizo and mix into the potatoes until well incorporated.

When you plate the potatoes top with a fair amount of the shredded mahon (or for vegans find a good salty cheese substitute). Enjoy.

Note, this dish makes enough potatoes for 2-3 people with left over faux-rizo for the next day’s breakfast. Also if you wanted to make some rocking taco meat, this is a good first step in my attempts to deconstruct Rick Bayless’ taco skillet sauces. I’d add some additional things like mexican oregano and some kind of chile like a jalapeño or something if I went that route. More to come on that.

by Ryan | 02.16.11 | Recipes | 1 Comment »

Corn, Black Bean, Avocado, Citrus Salad

Corn Bean Avacado Salad

There are many things here that Val loves. Salad, check. Lemon juice, check. Lime, check. Avocados, check. Vinaigrette based dressing, check. Oh and for me, chile and lime roasted corn, check.

Vegan Creamy Avocado Lemon Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp aged white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of course ground black pepper
  • salt to your taste

Salad Ingredients:

  • lettuce of your choice (I used a mix of baby lettuce)
  • 1 can of corn drained
  • 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 avocados cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (I used a La Mesa Dark chili powder)
  • Zest of 1 lime + its juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of flat leaf parsley chopped
  • salt to taste

To prepare the dressing, put it all in a food processor or blend and puree. Heat a pan to medium heat. Add the butter and melt it. Toss in the corn and chili powder and cook until the corn begins to brown a bit. Add the beans in and cook until beans are heated through. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Once cooled add the parsley, zest, lime juice, and salt. Mix well. On a bed of lettuce add some of the corn mixture, top with the avocado, and finish with the dressing.

Serves about 3-4 people.

Corn Bean Avacado Salad

by Ryan | 02.16.11 | Recipes | 2 Comments »

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