The great Indian philosopher and religious leader Buddha once said, "If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way."
If you stop to think about it, food, and the sharing of it, is one of the most basic and essential, nurturing ways people come together. In our families, whether the meal is sumptuous or simple, the preparation for our loved ones is an act of giving.
Valentine's Day celebrates romantic love and is perhaps a consumerist event created to drive candy and stationery sales. But as much as Vibes expects a token or treat from our significant other on this occasion, the love expressed in a special home-cooked meal is without compare. This does not have to be extravagant or expensive. A favourite comfort food for Vibes at Valentine's is a lovely meat loaf. Whatever the preferred main course, here are a few easy ways to satisfy the sweet tooth of your sweetheart any day of the year.
Chocolate is a go-to for any festivity and February 14 is probably its biggest day. The silky richness of a mousse is very simple to achieve at home (the hardest part is making sure you don't burn the chocolate while melting it) and you can decorate as uniquely as you like - chopped nuts, strawberries, candies and chocolates are delicious embellishments. Your chocoholics will love you for this.
A special tart
A tart can be another way of marking this special day and you can use whatever fruits you have on hand, plus juicy, tangy Jamaican lemons (or limes). Our delectable creation only has seven ingredients but looks like a pastry chef lives at your house.
For the young ones, packing a sweet, satisfying treat in the lunch bag always makes their Valentine's Day. They don't need to know that our pumpkin and oats muffin is not only yummy but is also good for them.
Another dessert that takes just a little more preparation but is quite basic in its shipping list is the Belgian Waffle. A simple pancake batter with a fruit topping of your choice and a dollop of ice cream impresses children of all ages.
Pumpkin Oats Muffins
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cooked, crushed and cooled pumpkin
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins
1. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and add to dry ingredients just until moistened.
2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
3. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
4. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.
Use fruit of your choice. Mulberries are a favourite if the kids haven't raided the tree.
9 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup liqueur (e.g. coffee liqueur, tia maria or rum)
2tbs vegetable oil
2tsp vanilla extract
11/2 cups heavy cream
1. Melt chocolate over a water bath or microwave on medium for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds more or until chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth.
2. Add liqueur, oil and vanilla, stirring to combine. Cool to room temperature.
3. Beat heavy cream in bowl until soft peaks form, using electric mixer at medium-high speed. Gently fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture.
4. Garnish as desired. Whipped cream, nuts, fruits, chocolates are great options.Blueberry Lemon Tart
3 cups frozen blueberries (or fruit of choice)
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
11/4 cups granulated sugar
13/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
Zest and juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup juice), or use limes
Icing sugar, for dusting
1. If using frozen berries, drain them to thaw slightly. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. In a large bowl, mix lightly the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Don't overmix it or it will be tough, it should look like very coarse breadcrumbs. Place the flour mixture into a spring form pan and press it down to form the crust.
3. Bake for 20 minutes until set.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
5. Spread berries over the bottom and set aside.
6. Beat the eggs with the remaining sugar (3/4 cup) for 5 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Pour it over the fruits and bake until it is set about 30 minutes.
7. When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar.
If you don't have a waffle iron, use the same recipe for great pancakes