Valentine’s Day Recipes with Virtual Potluck and Taste

A delight for an anniversary or Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Virtual Potluck is going to show you how to make more than reservations this year. Each week until Valentine’s Day four of our 12 bloggers will be putting their best food forward as part of a 4 course lovers feast and what Valentine’s Day is complete without a TASTE-y libation? So we teamed up with Otis over at Taste on The N8tion.com to make us custom cocktails to go with each course — they even whipped up some yummy non-alcoholic beverages to help you celebrate, even if you don’t imbibe.

About Taste on The N8tion

Taste is a new mixology show that features cool cocktails from the common guy. From the creative minds at N8tion.com, our resident “booze head” Otis showcases classic and not-so-classic cocktail recipes. Who is Otis???? We found him under a bar in downtown Atlanta nursing a Corona while holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No seriously, after tending bars for countless college parties, he honed his bartending skills in local taverns on the nights he wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer. Taste is a product of N8tion.com, an independent television and radio network founded by brothers Myron and Otis McDaniel.

This week’s participating VP blogs and their dishes

Check them all out and keep an eye out for next week’s 4 course Valentine’s Day Menu.

*APPETIZER by  Diabetic Foodie:  Sweet Potato Wontons

This dish is paired with a  non-alcoholic and low carb drink called A Night in Old Mandaly

*INTERMEZZO by Thyme in Our Kitchen  French onion soup

This dish is paired with a non-alcoholic drink called Light La Garda.

 

*ENTREE Cookistry: Noodles with Tomatoes, fresh basil and artichoke hearts

This meal is paired an alcoholic drink called a Grand Ginger.

 

*DESSERT by Farm Girl Gourmet: Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

This dessert is paired with an alcoholic drink called A Peace of Heaven

Holiday Tidbits: Recipe for a Happy Holiday

Pumpkin cut-out cookies with buttercream frosting and sprinkles~ Thanks to Sarah’s Stands for this beautiful cake stand!

Holidays are undoubtedly a busy time of year. Even my friends who abstain from holidays find themselves drawn into the fray — invited to holiday parties, being handed gifts and cards and of course, the radio, television and Madison Avenue never let you forget that you’re smack dab in the middle of biggest revenue generator of all — Christmas.

Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Thumbprint cookies — BEST cookie EVER!!

Here at the Anthony household, we’re not particularly religious (we do have our spiritual side but that has a lot more to do with nature than with ancient books and rituals.) My husband and I were both raised in households that identified as Christian (his family actually went to church — mine,  only went one time during my entire childhood and it was a drive-in church but that is most definitely another story.) In any case, we both grew up with the tradition of Christmas in our homes and all the trappings that go with it. The gifts he received as a child and the sheer number of them, were much more lavish than any my father’s modest earnings could match. But the holidays were no less magical in our house, as we were growing up.

Rocky Road — so simple: Choco-chips, marshmallows and your choice of nuts

I credit this to my mother, for whom, most holidays were an all-out affair but for whom Christmas was the pinnacle. We may not have had a lot of money but my mom always made our holidays amazing. Volunteering at the schools gave mom access to the large pieces of colored butcher paper used for classroom bulletin boards and each year, as became a family tradition, my mother would talk someone in the office into letting her have one great big piece of it — enough to create our own bulletin board-sized mural on the living room wall. She’d bring it home and work on making little snowy villages out of construction paper, cotton and glitter. Then she’d people it with Christmas-colored elves and peppermint poles.

First time seeing the Nutcracker — for FREE! Yay mommy!

She’d also invite us to join in her in the crafting of the holiday mural. We’d sit chattering to one another about what we were making, maybe noshing on a few goodies she’d made in advance or sipping cocoa and when our pieces were complete, we’d assemble our mural — together. Placing houses and villagers just right — sometimes with Santa flying over head or slipping down a chimney or receiving foot rub, post-deliveries from a couple of his trusty elves.

Christmas Jams

Not only was the end product fun and festive, but the time spent doing that or one of her other crafty holiday projects (like hand-painting and gluing holiday scenes onto blown-out eggs to create the unique ornaments my mother loved) was worth more than any fancy, “hot for this season” toy we could have received. And mom cooked. She baked cookies, and pies, whipped up puddings and candy — there’s nothing my mother couldn’t make — an all of it, delicious!

Making cookies ~ and memories

When I look back on my childhood, I don’t lament all the “things,” I didn’t have or receive each year. In fact, I can’t really remember a one. What I do remember is the year mom saved her pennies to get us each a ceramic to paint and the acrylic paints  to go with it. (I got a rainbow mirror — I still have it!) She also picked a ceramic bank for each of us, that she painted (I got an ice cream cone, lovingly painted to perfection and replete with tiny multi-colored sprinkles that must have taken her forever to finish — I still have this, as well.)

The Junior Baker

It was during the era of Reaganomics, the year dad got laid-off from his job as a machinist and the Christmas that the Sheriff”s department came knocking on our door to serve us an eviction notice. I remember how apologetic that man was, how hard it was for him to look my father in the eye and how he told my dad that he’d asked to wait to serve it until after the holidays but that his request had been denied. I also remember my father assuaging the man’s guilt and wishing him Merry Christmas before he left.

GrooVy Foody as Frosty in the School Christmas pageant (4th grade)

My point is that, like now, times were hard — we ate a lot of beans — but they were also some of the happiest and most memorable days of my childhood and I remember those gifts because of what they said about my family — that we were in this together, that we may have been short on cash but we were long on love and that, to quote Dr. Seuss’ from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! . . .Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

I’m not rich in coin this holiday season either, but like my parents’, our household is rich in love, creativity and homemade goodies and I hope my son is learning the lessons I learned back then, of resourcefulness, togetherness and most importantly love. This is what the holidays, no matter your denomination or lack-thereof should be about — spending time with those you love, letting them know you care, no matter how far away and wishing them the best  for the coming year.

The perfect tree, anointed by the golden light from above 😉

From our home to yours, Happy Holly Days and Merry Winter ~ May your New Year be bright and always, filled with love!

The fabled and elusive “Christmas tree Monster.”

GrooVy and Hubby