These recipes originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
There’s a bit of romance in the icy air this month, but fond childhood memories beckon me back to those who first defined love for me.
A week or so before Cupid’s arrows flew, my mother would take me on a special outing to select a box of Valentine’s Day cards for my classmates. Working on them all week from the vantage point of our kitchen table, I’d painstakingly made big decisions, such as who gets the kitten card, the one with the “You’re Purrrr-fect!” boldly inscribed across the front. It was no easy task for a first-grader who always feared the worst — a boy receiving the wrong message of true love.
At a very young age, I appreciated the exclusivity Valentine’s Day brought. Comforted by our teacher’s specific instructions, there would never be a risk of being left out or fearing other people’s feelings being hurt.
On the big day, 21 festively decorated bags hung beneath the chalkboard awaiting our perfectly matched Valentines. I couldn’t wait to share the crayoned masterpieces I had created with my schoolmates. After school, I’d board my bus, my precious bag of cards in tow, wondering if I’d uncover a secret admirer or be jilted by a crush. Once home, I’d rush inside to find my mother playing the piano, dinner simmering in the kitchen. Upon seeing me, and all my excitement, she would stop and sit patiently, allowing me to share each silly-rhymed message from my bag.
As evening approached, I’d linger by the front window of our home on Barcelona Way, eagerly awaiting my father’s return from work. Eventually, he’d steer into our crushed-shell driveway, leisurely climb out of his white ’68 Ford Mustang, and saunter up the pathway. “He’s home,” I’d squeal. Peeking from behind his back was a pink heart-shaped box of chocolates for me, and a larger, more elaborate, red box for my mother. Year after year, it was this simple act of remembering his sweethearts that stole my heart. Together, my mom and dad set the stage for loving well.
Looking back it wasn’t the kitty cards or the pink heart-shaped boxes that defined love for me; it was the effort in giving well that still lingers.
This month, remember — loving is giving.
So, heat the oven and get ready to put the stove on simmer. Use your table to give well and make a few purrrr- fect memories of your own.
BBQ Beef • Makes 6 servings
2.5 lb. boneless Chuck Roast Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 tsp. Chili powder
1 Tbsp. onion, chopped
1 stick butter
1/2 c. vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/3 c. Heinz Chili Sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
Using a paper towel, pat the roast dry. Salt and pepper the roast generously on all sides. Add olive oil and roast to a cast iron Dutch oven and place on medium heat. Brown roast on all sides. Cover and simmer for two hours, or place roast in slow cooker and time your cooking until roast is tender. Shred roast with a fork. Mix the next six ingredients in a bowl. Place sliced roast back in Dutch oven and pour mixed barbecue ingredients over top. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
From the Heart Mac and Cheese • Makes 6 servings
1 16 oz. box of elbow macaroni
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. milk
8 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tbsp. butter
Boil macaroni according to package directions in salted water. Strain pasta. Mix next four ingredients and combine with pasta. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
For a special presentation, bake in a heart-shaped, greased muffin tin. Baking time will be reduced.
Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Shortbread Cookies • Makes 2 dozen
1/2 c. Pecans, coarsely chopped 2 c. All-purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. butter, cubed
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coarsely chop pecans in a food processor. Add chopped pecans to the mixer bowl with flour and sugars. Add cubes of butter and mix until dough begins to clump together. On a floured surface, knead dough until it holds together. Cut dough in half and roll out with rolling pin. With a cookie cutter, cut heart shapes, then transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. For decoration, prick with a fork at 1/2 inch intervals (optional). Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. In a double boiler over medium heat, stir gently while the chocolate chips melt. Dip half of cooled cookie in chocolate, shaking gently to remove excess chocolate. Dry on wire rack and store or gift on layered sheets of waxed paper.
For more biblical and practical counsel for the home, subscribe to HomeLife here!