Living a balanced life with lots of creative food, exercise and exploration!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

on February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  I hope everyone has a lovely holiday, filled with family, friends, and hopefully a special someone 🙂

Being that my special someone lives far away, we are breaking down the celebration between the two weekends.  First weekend: My turn to plan.  What do I do?  Cook of course!

I started with back issues of my Vegetarian Times magazines in search of a perfect menu.  Lo and Behold, they didn’t disappoint AND even found a romantic and fancy vegan recipe combination for the appetizer and main course.  Total win.


AppetizerCreamy Red Pepper Soup with Balsamic Reduction

Main Course: Black Pepper Fettuccine with Chardonnay Sauce and Grilled Asparagus

Dessert: Molten Chocolate Cake

Teaser shot!

I started in the morning making the balsamic reduction because it needed to cool before using in the soup.


  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar


  1. Bring vinegar and agave nectar to a boil in a small saucepan
  2. Reduce heat to medium, simmer 15 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Let cool
  4. Notes: I had to simmer longer to make it thicken…and then proceeded to slightly burn it.  My recommendation would be to half the recipe (it’s just a garnish, definitely don’t need that much), and then 15 min should be sufficient

Next up: Red Pepper Soup


  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp (heaping) red pepper flakes
  • generous sprinkling of chili pepper
  • 1 clove minced
  • 6 cups vegetarian vegetable broth (I used 4 cups broth,  2 cups water)
  •  2 large Red bell peppers, diced


  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat
  2. Add red onion and sweet potato, cook 5-7 minutes
  3. Add spices and saute 3-5 minutes
  4. Add broth and bell peppers; bring to a simmer
  5. Cook 30 minutes or until bell peppers and potato are softened
  6. Blend soup in batches until smooth
  7. Drizzle with Balsamic reduction (which can make fun shapes! It sinks at first, then floats to the top and you can make a design)

Note: I already had a mashed sweet potato from earlier in the week I hadn’t gotten to yet, so I just added it in with about 10 minutes to go on the simmering.

Final Product:


Nutrition Facts (provided by Vegetarian Times)

Per 1 cup service and 1 tbs reduction:

172 cal, 5g total fat, 2g protein, 29g carbs, 3g fiber

Black Pepper Fettuccine with Chardonnay Sauce and Grilled Asparagus



  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cups chardonnay
  • 1 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1tbs lemon juice
  • 1 ts black pepper


  • 1 box fettuccine noodles (I used spinach flavored)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • small bunch asparagus spears
  • 1/4 bell pepper, cut into thin strips


  1. Sauce: Soak cashews in water overnight.  Blend cashews and 1 cup water in blender until smooth. Strain out solids using fine mesh strainer (I couldn’t do this part, didn’t have a strainer, wish I had though!)
  2. Simmer Chardonnay in a small saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until reduced to approximately 1/3 cup liquid
  3. Stir in cashew mixture, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and black pepper.  Keep warm
  4. Pasta: cook fettuccine in boiling salted water according to package directions
  5. Meanwhile, saute asparagus in a Pam sprayed, non-stick fying pan, on medium heat (don’t stir often, it gets nice grill type marks if you leave it)
  6. Once the asparagus has some nice marks, add about 1/8 cup water, spinach, and red peppers, and cover pan, letting all these ingredients steam to cook another 3-4 minutes
  7. Season asparagus with seasoned salt and garlic powder
  8. Drain fettuccine and return to pot.  Toss with Sauce and put onto plates
  9. To serve – arrange the pasta in the center of the plate and place asparagus radiating outward


A little wine for the recipe, and a little wine for the cook 🙂

Sauce in the pot and a little seasoning

Final Product:

Nutrition Facts (from Vegetarian Times): 3/4 cup pasta and 1/4 cup sauce

386 calories, 16g fat, 15g protein, 49g carbs, 5g fiber

Molten Chocolate Cake

I’ve made this recipe before, it’s from Chef Anne Burrell on the Food Network.  It’s decadent, fancy, and special.  Plus, very chocolately which is perfect for Valentine’s! Find the recipe here.  I made a third of the recipe, for 2 servings, and substituted milk chocolate because it’s just better.  And note, totally not vegan, but definitely yummy!


  • 1/3 sticks unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar, for the ramekins
  • 1/6 (6-ounce) bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 eggs
  • 13 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus a little more for dusting
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/6 cup all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Coat inside of two ramekins with butter, then coat with granulated sugar.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a small sauce pan. Gently stir the butter and the chocolate together until melted and the mixture is smooth. Turn off the heat and reserve.
  4. Combine the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. (This can also be done with a hand beater.) Beat the egg mixture until it doubles in size, and gets very thick and very pale.
  5. Gently whisk the melted chocolate and butter into the egg mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently stir in the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Remove the cakes from the ramekins, and arrange them on individual serving plates. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with white chocolate chips if your Special Someone walks in the kitchen while you’re baking and grabs for them 😉

Egg and Sugar mixture

All fluffy:

Add the chocolate, with some helping hands:

All cooked up:

Presentation 🙂

The tablescape, as Sandra Lee would say:

And to drink, natural sodas from the local health food store!

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤


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