Valentine Recipes

February is well known for hearts, roses, cupids, and chocolates. However, less known is that February has been the American Heart Month since 1963. The focus of this month has been to highlight cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. All through the month of January I have been highlighting low fat and low calorie recipes. This collection of recipes is also healthy, but geared towards one of our most loved holidays.

Valentine’s Day is ripe with symbolism…from red roses to hearts and from cupid to paper valentines, there are many traditional items associated with Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the most incredible is the amount of chocolate and candy consumed on Valentine’s Day. In 1995 alone, 35 million heart shaped boxes of candy and 10 billion conversation hearts were sold in the United States. Americans on average consume over twelve pounds of chocolate a year.

Holidays are the perfect time to enjoy a little extra sweetness and romance, but not at the cost of your health. However, it seems that to make up for the lack of the quintessential box of chocolates that something really special is required. That is what these recipes are. They are all healthy, but at the same time will offer a special touch of romance perfect for Valentine’s Day. Make sure to save a few of these recipes and brush them off all the year round. Make them for other special occasions, or just when you would like to bring a little romance into your life. Or make them for the best reason of all…make them for someone you love.

Vanilla Angel Food Cake with Red Raspberry Sauce

We’ll start off with my Valentine’s favorite dessert…angel food cake. This tempting vanilla cake has a tender flavor and rich vanilla-ness that is sure to please. It is great plain, with fresh fruit, whipped cream, frozen yogurt, or the luscious red raspberry sauce I have included. Vanilla sugar works really well in this recipe. I always have several pounds on hand. To make vanilla sugar, store a vanilla bean in a tightly sealed container of sugar and shake once a day. Within a few days you have a richly scented sugar that is excellent to use in recipes, to dust sugar cookies, to serve over cereal, and makes a great addition to tea or coffee. It is necessary to sift the dry ingredients three times to get them finely blended. Do not skip this step as it is essential. You will need 11-12 eggs for this recipe. When whipping egg whites it is absolutely essential not to use a plastic bowl and to make sure that your beaters, spatula, spoon, and bowl are totally clean. Even a smidgen of fat will cause the eggs not to whip correctly.

  • 1 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, salt, and ½ cup sugar into a small bowl three times. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until broken and foamy. Add the water and cream of tarter. Beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff, but not dry. (A spatula cut through the egg white mixture will leave a permanent path.) Sifting small amounts of the flour mixture over the egg whites at a time, slowly fold in the flour mixture until combined, folding until incorporated before adding more. Scrape the batter into an ungreased angel food pan with removable bottom. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven, turn upside down and place the center hole over the neck of a bottle to cool. Once completely cooled, loosen the sides of the cake with a knife or spatula. Carefully remove the cake from the pan. Serve as desired.

Red Raspberry Sauce

This is my general purpose raspberry sauce. I use it on everything and in everything. It makes a great sauce to add to pies with a little cornstarch or gelatin. It is a great filling for cakes, pastries, and other dishes. It is also marvelous on roast turkey sandwiches for a change of pace from cranberry sauce. Use as much sugar as desired, depending on taste. The fabulous flavor comes from the fact that the berries are never cooked, just tossed in a flavorful reduced syrup. Frozen raspberries actually work better in this recipe than fresh.

  • 12 ounces frozen raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1teaspoon – 3 tablespoons sugar

Thaw and drain the raspberries, reserving the juice. Gently squeeze the berries to remove as much juice as possible. Place the berry juice in a small heavy saucepan or microwave dish along with the lemon juice and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the amount of liquid is reduced by half. You can also microwave on medium to medium-high until the amount of liquid is reduced by half. While the syrup is cooking, press the berries through a fine sieve to remove the majority of the seeds. Toss the raspberry pulp with the syrup and serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Chocolate Raspberry Fluff in Phyllo Cups

This decadent little treat is one of my favorite ways to make low fat, low calorie, and very tasty treats perfect for entertaining. They are simple, yet elegant and make the perfect finale for a romantic dinner or an upscale dinner party. I have also used them as desserts for wedding showers and the delicateness of the dessert combined with the “let the bride fit into her wedding dress” fat and calorie count are always a big hit. Serve these little treats with fat free whipped topping, fresh raspberries, and mint leaves for a garnish. This recipe is also smashing with fat free white chocolate pudding. Yum! For real decadence (and more fat and calories) add a small sprinkling of grated chocolate or chocolate curls.

  • 4 sheets thawed frozen phyllo dough
  • spray butter substitute or butter flavored cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package fat free chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons seedless all fruit raspberry jam
  • 1 ½ cups fat free whipped topping
  • Whole raspberries (optional)
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heavily grease 6 ramekins or large muffin cups. Unfold the phyllo and lay out one sheet flat, keeping the remaining sheets covered with a damp towel. Liberally coat the phyllo with the butter spray. Add the second sheet and liberally spray with the butter. Sprinkle the sugar over top. Add the last two sheets, spraying with the butter each time. Cut the phyllo into six squares. Gently press into the greased cups and ruffle the edges. Spray the edges that extend over the sides liberally with butter. Bake for ten minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the cups and let cool on a wire rack. In a medium bowl mix together the pudding mix and the milk until smooth. Stir in the jam and mix well. Fold in the whipped cream. Chill. Spoon the pudding mixture into the shells before serving. Top with additional whipped cream if desired, raspberries, and mint leaves. If desired, the shells can be filled immediately after making the pudding. Just chill for ten minutes and serve.

Sesame-Crusted Kabocha Squash Cakes

Kabocha winter squash has a sweet and creamy deep orange flesh. Its water content varies, so adjust the amount of bread crumbs accordingly to produce firm cakes. Butternut or acorn squash can be used in place of kabocha. Serve with Plum-Ginger Relish and Japanese-Style Kimchee.

1 kabocha squash (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon tahini paste
5 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon to 2 cups bread crumbs, as needed
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, or more
Cooking spray or oil

1. Preheat oven to 500°. Cut squash into large sections of uniform size and roast on a cookie sheet until squash can be pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2. Scrape cooled pulp from squash into a large bowl. (Discard skin or save for another use, such as stock.) Add tahini, scallions, cardamom, ginger, and salt, mixing thoroughly.

3. Add enough bread crumbs to stiffen squash mixture. (It must be firm in order to form cakes.) On waxed paper or plastic wrap, form 1/4-cup portions into 3-inch cakes and coat with sesame seeds.

4. Lightly spray or oil a large nonstick skillet and set over medium heat. Sauté cakes, a few at a time, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.

5. Allow two cakes per person for an appetizer. Serve with 1 to 2 tablespoons of Plum-Ginger Relish and about 1 tablespoon of Japanese-Style Kimchee.

Makes about 12 3-inch cakes.

PER 2 CAKE SERVING: 106 CAL (34% from fat), 4g PROT, 4g FAT, 16g CARB, 226mg SOD, 1mg CHOL, 4g FIBER

Citrus Scented Champagne Sorbet

This is one of the simplest, most elegant desserts you will ever find. The combination of champagne and citrusy flavors makes for a marvelous light dessert, palate cleanser between courses, or even breakfast treat. By using a whole orange instead of the mixture of fruit, the taste resembles a mimosa and is delightful. I normally use vanilla sugar in the recipe, rather than the sugar and the vanilla extract. To make vanilla sugar, store a vanilla bean in a tightly sealed container of sugar and shake once a day. Within a few days you have a richly scented sugar that is excellent in this recipe. I like to serve this in champagne flutes with slices of lemons, oranges, and limes attached to the rim of the glasses. Fresh berries or grapes make a wonderful accompaniment. Another excellent, but not quite so heart healthy, go along are rich French butter cookies.

  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 thin slices lime
  • 2 thin slices lemon
  • 4 thin slices orange
  • 2 cups champagne

Place the water, sugar, vanilla, and fruit slices in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is all dissolved. Once the mixture is boiling and the sugar dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove the fruit slices from the mixture and set aside. Let the fruit cool so that they can be handled and squeeze any remaining juice into the sugar mixture. Pour the syrup through a sieve into a large bowl. Add the champagne and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions until the sorbet thickens. Spoon into serving dishes and serve immediately, or else place in a tightly sealed container and store for up to 24 hours.

Plum-Ginger Relish

Increasing the oil and vinegar will produce a tasty salad dressing for greens or roasted vegetables.

3 red or black plums, pitted, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely diced red onions
2 tablespoons finely diced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon pickled ginger, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve at room temperature with kabocha cakes.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

PER TABLESPOON: 12 CAL (50% from fat), 1g PROT, 1g FAT, 2g CARB, 45mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 0.2g FIBER

Japanese-Style Kimchee

A fresh take on the traditional Korean condiment. This is hot!

1/2 medium red onion, peeled and thickly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon oil
2 cups rice wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons ground annatto (see glossary) or paprika
1/4 head napa cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 scallions, chopped
Salt to taste

1. In a large saucepan over high heat sauté onion and garlic in oil until onions just begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, stirring to remove any browned bits from the pan. Add cayenne and annatto, boiling until liquid is reduced by half. Add cabbage and remove from heat. When cool, add lemon juice, scallions, and salt. Kimchee should be very spicy and sour.

2. To serve, allow kimchee to come to room temperature. Kimchee will keep refrigerated about five to six days.

Makes about 2 cups.

PER TABLESPOON: 7 CAL (25% from fat), 1g PROT, 1g FAT, 2g CARB, 35mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 0.3g FIBER

Chocolate-Raspberry Love Bombes :JAPANESE-STYLE KIMCHEE

Raspberries are one of the most romantic of fruits, but of course the perfume-y, tart berries are not in season as winter howls. Too bad. The frozen berries are a nice solution. You can also substitute any other berry preferably red.

Chocolate-Raspberry Love Bombes

Don’t be intimidated by the many steps of this recipe; it’s actually quite easy and can all be done ahead of time. The reward is a visually stunning and sophisticated dessert that will leave a dazzling final impression at a dinner party or at an intimate Valentine’s supper for two.

Raspberry layer:
1 12-ounce package frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon arrowroot (see glossary) or cornstarch
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons agar flakes (see glossary)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Chocolate layer:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)
1/2 stick vegetable margarine
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash black pepper
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum (optional)
Cooking spray

1. To make the raspberry layer: Lightly spray 12 2-ounce or 6 4-ounce timbale molds or muffin tins. In a colander set over a bowl, thaw raspberries, reserving juice. Set raspberries aside and dissolve arrowroot powder in raspberry juice.

2. In a medium pan over low heat, combine coconut milk, sugar, and agar. Stir until sugar and agar are dissolved. Raise heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Add vanilla, cayenne, and black pepper. Slowly add arrowroot mixture, stirring constantly until mixture starts to thicken.

3. Gently fold in raspberries and remove from heat. Spoon mixture into prepared molds, filling halfway.

4. To make the chocolate layer: In a double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate and margarine.

5. In a small bowl, combine soy milk, sugar, instant coffee, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, and rum, if desired. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Add to chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until mixture warms and becomes smooth.

6. Remove from heat and spoon chocolate mixture over raspberry layer, dividing evenly between molds. Chill until set, 4 to 5 hours.

7. To unmold bombes, dip molds in hot water and run a hot paring knife around inner rim. Unmold onto serving plates. Surround with Hot Cinnamon Syrup, and garnish with Spice Cookies, if desired.

Makes 12 2-ounce bombes.

PER BOMBE: 217 CAL (46% from fat), 1g PROT, 11g FAT, 29g CARB, 34mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 2g FIBER


Hot Cinnamon Syrup

Spicy hot…the clear tea-like color is deceiving. The flavor is pure cinnamon lollipop!

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cranberry juice concentrate

Combine all ingredients in saucepan over high heat until sugar completely dissolves. Will keep, refrigerated, indefinitely.

Makes about 1 cup.

PER TABLESPOON: 26 CAL (tr% from fat), less than 1g PROT, less than 1g FAT, 7g CARB, less than 1mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, less than 1g FIBER

Cinnamon-Espresso Cream

A silky, spicy topping for Valentine Cobbler (recipe follows) or your dessert of choice.

6 ounces silken tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable margarine
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon arrowroot (see glossary) or cornstarch
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1. In a food processor or blender, puree tofu, margarine, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. In a small bowl, dissolve arrowroot in 1/4 cup soy milk.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine remaining soy milk, sugar, and coffee. Heat until boiling. Slowly add arrowroot mixture, stirring constantly, as mixture thickens.

3. Remove from heat and whisk in tofu mixture. Mixture will seem very thick, but will relax a bit as it cools. Chill before serving. (Will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week.)

Makes 1-1/2 cups.

PER 1/4 CUP SERVING: 125 CAL (35% from fat), 2g PROT, 5g FAT, 18g CARB, 44mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 1g FIBER

Valentine Cobbler

Serve the biscuits hot from the oven with Cinnamon-Espresso Cream and warm raspberry compote, for a romantic update on classic comfort food-just the thing to share with your sweetheart on a cold February night. This is delicious with hot chocolate or mulled cider.

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon soy milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable margarine, very cold
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Raspberry Compote:
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon framboise (see glossary) or orange juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot (see glossary) or cornstarch
1 12-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar

1. To make biscuits: Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment. In a small bowl or cup, combine 1/2 cup soy milk and lemon juice and let stand until mixture looks curdled.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon.

3. Cut margarine into 1/4-inch cubes. Using a fork, pastry blender, or mixer on high speed, blend margarine into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Make a well in the center and slowly add curdled soy milk. Mix just enough to make the dough hold together-it will be crumbly.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with a heart-shaped cutter. Re-roll scraps and cut more hearts; you should have 12. Lay half of the hearts on prepared baking sheet, brush with soy milk and sprinkle with half of the brown sugar. Top with remaining hearts to make 6 double biscuits. Brush tops with soy milk and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top but no longer wet in center. These are best on the day they are made.

5. To make compote: In a small dish, combine lemon juice and framboise with arrowroot, stirring to dissolve. Combine berries and sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly add arrowroot mixture to berries, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and serve warm. (Will keep refrigerated for a week.)

6. On each plate, place bottom half of a split biscuit. Top generously with raspberry compote and a dollop of Cinnamon-Espresso Cream. Place top half of the biscuit slightly off-center, so that compote and cream are visible.

Makes 6 servings.

PER SERVING: 370 CAL (21% from fat), 5g PROT, 8g FAT, 71g CARB, 595mg SOD, 0mg CHOL, 4g FIBER

Sharmin Begum

The author Sharmin Begum

I have loved spicy food, Mexican in particular, since I was a child as my father was from El Paso where I acquired a taste for it on our many visits. I have cooked Tex-Mex all my adult life, but about 7 years ago I began cooking authentic Mexican food using my own ingredients and making my own tortillas, tamales, etc. On one of my visits to NM I attended the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta and took some excellent cooking classes at the Santa Fe Cooking School and the Old Mexico Grill. I love New Mexican food equally as well as Mexican.

I also grow my own chile peppers, tomatillos, and herbs like cilantro and epazote because they are not available locally.

I got into web publishing because I enjoy “meeting” fellow Chile-heads from all over the world and sharing my passion with them.

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