Sunday, February 16, 2014

A "Love"ly Day

Happy Belated Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope you all had a really special day that included at least one sweet gesture from that special someone in your life. Personally, I enjoyed several sweet gestures from my loved ones.

First, my husband came through on Valentine's Day morning (with the not-so-secret help of our youngest daughters) by giving me a card.

But this was not just any card, mind you. It was a card from Papyrus (a division of American Greetings, where I now work part-time as a Marketing Editor). And it was a card that might have just as well been designed just for us.

You see, my husband has always had a dream of taking a cross-country trip out West on a BMW motorcycle (which he does not own, yet). I said I'd go with him, but I also kidded that since I don't rough it so well, I would definitely need a side cart with a shield (to avoid getting bugs in my teeth), a cup rest (for my beverage), a reading stand (for my favorite magazine), and headphones so I could communicate with him. He said ok to everything except he couldn't guarantee that his headphones would work. (Very funny, I tell him.) So you see, this card was absolutely perfect. (I especially love the heart-shaped mirrors, don't you?!)

Second, my  husband took me to see a movie at the theater.

Granted, it wasn't a romantic comedy (which would have been my first choice, had he only asked). But hey, beggars can't be choosy. You see, going to the theater is a rare treat for us. Not because we don't enjoy going to the movies. But because they've become so friggin' expensive! We figure we could see about 7 times as many movies by just renting them from Redbox. (Boy, do we sound cheap. But factor in the cost of popcorn and maybe even a couple pops, and suddenly that number rises even more dramatically!)

However, every once in a while, for a special occasion, going to see the big screen is a treat for us. And coincidentally, the cinema we went to just got remodeled. So we got to sit in large, cushy, uber-comfortable recliner seats. We're now spoiled for life.

When we finally got back home, there were a dozen beautiful red roses waiting for me. (Again, another not-so-subtle helping hand from our daughters.)

Frankly, I think there are few things that shout "I love you" more than red roses. 'Nuf said.

Then last, but certainly not least, our daughters made us dinner. It was a meal that was totally impressive. Purely decadent. And believe it or not, entirely healthy and low-cal. (I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true!) In fact, it was only 7 total Weight Watchers points (for anyone who's counting). But there's no way, no how, that anyone would've guessed...because it was simply that delicious!

The main course was Asparagus-Goat Cheese Risotto (6 points/serving).

And dessert was Cupcake Brownies (only 1 point/serving thanks to a secret ingredient; but I cheated and added some whipped cream on bad).

I had the most wonderful Valentine's Day. Hope you did, too.

Now if you'd like to duplicate this fabulous dinner--whether you're watching your weight or not--here are the recipes. Enjoy to your heart's content!

Serves 4

Creamy, rich, decadent, and divinely satisfying, this is one low-calorie risotto recipe that will be certain to impress. A hint of tangy goat cheese and asparagus puree combines to create a heavenly risotto that is surprisingly low in points.



  • 1 lb asparagus spears, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp light butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep it vegetarian)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place rice in a medium sized bowl and add just enough water to cover it. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the water it soaked in, and set both aside.

All photos by Adrianna Adarme

2. Cut the tips off of the asparagus, and place both the tips and remaining spears into a pot of simmering water. Let cook for 5 minutes, then drain and place the tips in a separate bowl, and set aside. Place the spears into a food processor. Process the spears until smooth.

3. Set a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Melt butter, then add in onions and garlic. Sauté for just 1-2 minutes, then add in the rice and toast it a bit, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

4. Stir in the reserved rice water and the wine, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes.

5. Turn heat to a medium simmer and add in broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes. Continue this step until all broth is used and rice is tender and of a creamy consistency.

6. Stir in the asparagus puree and the goat cheese until well combined. Season as desired with salt and pepper.

7. Mix in the asparagus tips, and cook for just another minute until the asparagus tips are heated through.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Low calorie, Reduced fat
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: Italian
Calories: 242
Fat: 7.5g
Protein: 8g
Entire recipe makes 4 servings
Serving size is about 1 cup
Each serving = 6 Points +
PER SERVING: 242 calories; 7.5g fat; 35.5g carbohydrates; 8g protein; 3g fiber

Serves 12 (but only if you can stop at 1 per person!)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus
1 tablespoon brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
3. In a second bowl stir together remaining ingredients.
4. Pour water mixture over flour mixture and stir until batter is smooth.

5. Pour into a nonstick 12 hole muffin tin coated with cooking spray, filling until half full.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool.


Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks said...

Love love love the card! The dinner looks delicious.

Maria Isabella said...

I thought you would! I just know how much you love all things hearts and Valentine's Day especially! Hope you had a great one.