Sunday, February 14, 2016

Celebrating Valentine's Day - Traditions and Recipes

For Valentine's Day, we typically have a special breakfast. This year, I saw a pin on Pinterest that led to Land O'Lakes French Toast with Strawberry Butter.

We haven't had French toast in a long time, so I thought it would be nice to have. Plus, the recipe is different than I normally I make since it contains both half & half and vanilla.

Left: Sophia and Olivia ready for breakfast. 
Looks like Lucy is trying to sneak in.
Right: Shadow sitting in my spot wanting some French toast. 
Aspen has her head under the table looking for 
any food that might fall on the floor.

I didn't make the strawberry butter because we had a fresh fruit on the side. (See below for more information.)

French Toast

French toast that I made.

Ingredients for French Toast
8 (3/4-inch) slices Italian bread
1/3 cup half & half
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter
Powdered sugar

Ingredients for Strawberry Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves

Combine 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup powdered sugar and preserves in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Cover; refrigerate until serving time.

Cut bread slices with a 2 1/2- to 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Combine half & half, eggs and vanilla in 9-inch pie plate; mix well. Dip 4 bread shapes into half & half mixture, turning to coat both sides; let stand 1-2 minutes.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch nonstick skillet or griddle until sizzling; add coated bread. Cook over medium heat, turning once, 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Carefully clean skillet with paper towel, if necessary.

Repeat dipping remaining bread shapes into egg mixture. Melt remaining butter in skillet and cook bread as directed.

Also for breakfast I made a heart fruit plate after seeing a pin on Pinterest that led to a photograph. I used about 3/4 a quart of strawberries, 1/3 pint of blueberries, and three kiwis.

Fresh fruit in a heart shape.
It was nice having fresh fruit for breakfast.

After breakfast, everyone received a few small gifts in their Valentine's Day bag that I hand-embroidered many years ago.

Sophia and Olivia with their Valentine's Day gifts.

We didn't each much lunch - just some Chex mix that I made yesterday - and Russian tea. The breakfast was filling and we knew we were going to have a big dinner.

Aspen and Cooper taking it easy on the couch. 
It was a special day, 
so they got to sit on the couch for a little while.

For dinner we had lasagna that my mom used to make. The recipe came from my Aunt Arlene who served the lasagna one night when we went over to dinner at their home. My mom asked for the recipe so she could make it, and she did which we always enjoyed. It was one of our favorite dinners.

Sophia set the table, and 
the girls put handmade cards by each place setting.
Sophia enjoys Valentine's Day, and 
bought gifts for everyone (they are on the plates).

I use the lasagna recipe as a base and have adapted it to my taste preferences. Each time, I change the recipe slightly. Sophia asked me to type the recipe, so I'm adding my modifications in parenthesis.


Lasagna and French bread.

1 pound hamburger
1 cup onion (I used one onion)
1/2 cup green pepper (I used 1 cup)
3 1/2 cups tomato sauce (I used a 1 pound 13 ounce can)
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 cup mushrooms, drained (I used a large can)
1 crushed garlic clove (I used a full teaspoon and and then added another half teaspoon)
1 teaspoon oregano leaves (I used 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt ( I used 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (I used 1/2 teaspoon, but could have added more. Didn't want to make it too spicy because Olivia doesn't like spicy food)
1 teaspoon basil leaves (I used 3 large pinches of dry Thai basil from our garden. If I was used basil leaves in a jar, I'd probably use 2 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon rosemary (I used 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon accent (I didn't use any of this)
8 ounces lasagna noodles
2 cups cottage cheese (Sophia used a big container of fat-free cottage cheese)
1 cup Parmesan cheese (Sophia used about 3/4 a container of Parmesan cheese)
2 cups shredded mozzarella (Sophia used about 3 cups)
(1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese)


Brown the hamburger, onion, and green pepper in a skillet. Drain grease. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, mushrooms, clove, oregano, salt, pepper, basil leaves, rosemary, and accent. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook noodles, rinse, and drain.

Put 1/3 sauce in the bottom of a 9"x13" pan. Top with 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 remaining sauce, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 cup cottage cheese, remaining sauce, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup mozzarella. (Note: We added ricotta cheese. It can be added in layers at any point.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let sit for about 5 minutes. On the first day, the sauce and cheese will be "saucier" and on subsequent days, it becomes more firm...for a lack of a better description.

The lasagna can be cut into individual portions and frozen. It reheats very well.

So, for Valentine's Day, I made the sauce and noodles

Sauce I made for lasagna.

Sophia took over and did the layering of the lasagna.

Left: Lasagna that Sophia made.
Right: We had lasagna and French bread for dinner.

For dessert, Sophia made an incredibly delicious dessert: chocolate cake with 1 1/2 cups of coffee in it. She cut the cake into heart shapes and then covered them with a homemade ganache topping. She decorated each of the hearts with candies.

The dessert that Sophia made. 
I wish the lighting were better to show this dessert. 
She did such a nice job with the dessert. 
It was delicious.

Sophia decorated the living room, family room, dining room, and kitchen with some items that I had made in the past and that I keep in a bin with Valentine's Day items.

Some embroidered things I've made in the past.
The tiny shoes on the right are in front of shoes 
that we purchased in China. 
They are the kind that were used for girls and women 
who had their feet bound.

We have to put the items high enough so the dogs won't eat them.

Some of the window stars I've made in the past 
that decorated our windows this year.

We learned the hard way that when they are along, they have separation anxiety and will find things they can reach and chew on them.

A window star with the pine tree in the background.
It was snowing outside, so it wasn't as bright as Saturday.
The minimal light still illuminated the pattern.

Today I have been enjoying the beautiful red cardinals at the feeder. There are multiple males and females eating the seeds I put out for them. My parents loved cardinals - especially my dad. Each time I see them, I am reminded of them - of the love they had for one another, the love they had for their families, and for the love they showed towards others.

1 comment:

Rita said...

Everything looked good! I haven't made lasagna for so very long. I might have to think about that. :)
Always have loved your red window snowflakes. :) Happy Valentine's Day--late.