It’s almost Valentine’s Day! A time to celebrate love in all it’s forms, whether it’s with your sweetheart, family or friends. My favorite way to celebrate any holiday is with food, of course. I feel like there is no better gift to give than a beautiful meal to those you love the most. It warms your heart. Better yet, it warms you mind, body and soul especially in the middle of the winter. It’s what my message is all about with my book, my blog and everything I do really, spreading joy and love through my recipes. We all have more than enough love to give.
Let me back up a bit. Lately, I’ve been putting a little more focus on health. In other words, my New Year’s Resolution was to try to become more aware of the massive amount of takeout food we order when I need a break from recipe testing for my new book “Busy Moms”. As healthy as my farm to table-style of cooking is, I’d be lying if I told you that I never eat the occasional bowl of potato chips, chicken wings or a pizza. Eventually, it catches up and it’s not just about the way you look but rather the way it makes you feel. I need a lot of energy, just like all of you, to be a successful working mom and wife.
As part of my New Year’s resolution, I’m announcing that I’m adding a healthier version of all my recipes called
“Fit & Fabulous” for all my health-conscious friends. I’m a cook, not a nutritionist. Therefore, I’m going to do my best to tweak my recipes slightly to make them a bit healthier while maintaining their delicious flavor from our already farm to table fabulous ingredients! At the bottom of all my recipes, you’ll now get a few tips on how to make them a little healthier if you choose.
Well that was a mouthful, so let me talk about another passion that I always like to include for the holidays in my blog and my home. That passion is farm-style decor. I absolutely love adding magic and sparkle to every holiday. It’s what “Farm to Table Fabulous” is really all about at it’s core. This includes but is not limited to; mis-matched vintage china, antique chairs, vintage candlesticks, tea lights, fairy lights, branches, pre-lit trees and fresh fruits to create a spectacular (very cost effective) centerpiece!
I’m including some photos for inspiration if you’re cooking dinner at home. Whether you’re cooking for two or twelve (yikes), hopefully this will inspire you to add some romantic, yet nostalgic, flair!
I hope you enjoy some of my favorite recipes and side dishes for this special holiday! I absolutely love cooking with citrus and all of these dishes include it in some form. As always, please do not hesitate to leave comments or message me if you have any questions regarding the recipes or decor. I want you all to succeed and most of all, enjoy the process. I would love to help you create your farm to table Valentine’s Day experience.
Sending you lots of love from our home to yours!
Lemon-Braised Stuffed Chicken Breast with Organic Spinach & Feta Cheese
4 chicken breast trimmed and pocketed for stuffing
1 bag of organic spinach
2 cups of feta cheese
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp butter
In a pan, melt butter and juice of one lemon on medium heat. Sear chicken breasts on both sides, set both pan and chicken aside. In a bowl break up spinach roughly with hands and mix together with feta cheese. Stuff each chicken breast with spinach mixture and place in a baking dish. Cover and bake in 375 degree oven for approximately 1/2 hour or until center of chicken reaches 165 degrees.
In the same pan we seared chicken in, on med-high heat, add chicken broth to deglaze pan and reduce until thickened. Add zest of lemon. Pour over chicken breasts prior to serving. Serves 4. (with leftovers)!
Fit & Fabulous Tip: Omit butter from recipe and replace with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Use low-sodium chicken broth to deglaze pan. You may also omit sauce completely, squeeze 1 lemon and zest over chicken before serving.
Creamy Risotto with Lemon Zest & Fresh Thyme
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
5 cups vegetable stock
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium vidalia onion finely chopped
zest of one lemon
2 fresh thyme sprigs
In saucepan add oil and cook onion until translucent. Add 1 1/2 cups of rice and stir over medium heat. Add just enough stock to cover the rice, simmer, stirring constantly. The rice will absorb the stock, add the remainder of the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly until the rice is cooked. (about 16-20 minutes). Stir in lemon zest and garnish with thyme.
Fit & Fabulous Tip: Substitute Arborio rice with brown Basmati rice. Cook per instructions on package. In a separate pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 medium chopped onion. Stir in rice to combine flavors. Garnish with juice, zest from one lemon and fresh thyme sprigs.
Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons & Fresh Local Parmesan
1 bag of hearts of romaine
shaved parmesan cheese for garnish
8 slices of texas toast or thick white bread
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
stack bread and cut into bit-sized squares. In a bowl, place bread, olive oil, salt and pepper. On a baking sheet bake in single layer at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
Dressing: Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.
In a 2 gallon ziplock place lettuce, add dressing but be careful not to over-dress. Shake until lettuce is evenly coated. Pour into bowl and garnish with croutons and shaved parmesan.
Fit & Fabulous Tip: For croutons: use Ezekiel Bread and just a drizzle of olive oil. For dressing: use 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese instead of 1/2 cup.
Mom’s Rice Pudding
6 cups milk
2 cups water
1 stick butter
1 cup white rice
Bring ingredients to a boil then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl mix:
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix ingredients with cooked rice and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with cinnamon stick or sprinkle with cinnamon prior to serving.
The egg debate: raw egg, yes or no? Well it is in the recipe and my mother swears that it cooks in the hot rice mixture that comes off the stove. I agree but I’m giving you a heads up in advance if you’re not a fan of the egg. I’ve eaten it that way my whole life and during the testing process, it was awesome!
Farm-Style “Romantic” Room Decor Inspiration!
Drip pink and white pearls from found tree branches adorned with fairy lights, pre-lit trees or even your dining room light fixture.
Centerpiece: Any red fruit looks lovely in a glass vase! Here, I’ve used red delicious apples and cranberries.
Break out the pink and white candles for something less traditional and unexpected.
Mis-matched vintage china, red votives, burlap runners, pink rose petals, lots of candles and a little sprinkle of magic create the perfect table scape no matter how many people you are having to this dinner from the heart.
Red glass is one of my favorite ways to decorate a room this time of year.
Don’t forget to add a little sparkle to side tables, buffet tables or any other pieces of furniture within your dining room, kitchen or nook.