Let’s get set for a Valentine’s Day at HOME…

…at home, because Bob and I are farty old married folks who don’t like crowds very much (mostly Bob). Of course, when we were dating and newly wed, we used to go out for a fancy dinner. Bob usually felt obligated to buy flowers for me, or some sort of chocolate, or some sort of jewelry. Later on, we realized that I don’t really care that much for fresh flowers in my house since they only last a few days and they end up smelling rather stinky (something in the water?). It seems like I’m perpetually on a diet, so even though I love chocolate, I will eat it (and love every single bite of it), but then I’ll feel bad about it. And fortunately, Bob has given up on giving me jewelry; I’m just too difficult for him to figure out. Now, I might sound like I’m sad or bitter about this supposedly non-romantic state of affairs, but actually I’m relieved that years ago we started staying at home and I often cook this particular dinner I will present to you over the next couple of posts. We usually buy some exotic chocolates together for both of us to consume. Since this is primarily a food blog, other aspects of our romantic life will remain a mystery. I can just hear my daughters groaning from embarrassment, rolling their eyes in an exaggerated Liz Lemon fashion…

I think we (now, what do I mean by ‘we’? Do I mean women, or Americans, or just people in general? Hmm.) fall into the trap of believing that ‘romance’ must follow some sort of formula that involves intense pressure to buy the perfect gift, or make plans to go on the perfect getaway, or stage the perfect ‘popping of the question.’ Shouldn’t romance be found in the routine experience of simply sticking around in a relationship, whether married, living together, or merely dating on a steady basis? I’ll choose day-to-day romance, rather than a once-a-year demonstration—I mean the kind of romance that laughs at your stupid jokes, puts up with your cranky moods, and helps with cleaning, laundry, and any other boring or messy chore that might need to be done. Is it just greeting card and chocolate companies, Hollywood, and women’s magazines which fuel the Valentine’s Day Romance Machinery? All holidays end up excluding someone for various reasons (we can’t all be veterans or grandparents), but Valentine’s Day seems crueler than most other holidays because of its own particular exclusivity. Sometimes I just wish certain holidays would just settle down, you know what I mean?

In case you are frustrated by my middle-of-the-road attitudes about this holiday, check out the related articles below for unbridled enthusiasm and jaded realism regarding this sometimes annoying day…

Anyway, I like to purchase a gorgeous tomato, either beefsteak or vine-ripe, to slice and serve on the side. Next time, I’ll share my “Steak with Benefits” to accompany these loaded potatoes, so stay tuned.

Valentine Potatoes for Two

  • ¾-1 pound small red potatoes (do not exceed 1 pound!)
  • 1 ounce premium precooked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 2½ ounces garlic/herb cheese (such as Alouette or Boursin)
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons 1% milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions or fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned bread crumbs

Microwave the potatoes until tender. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Fry the bacon until crispy in a medium skillet. Set aside on a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 425°. Coat 2 1-cup ramekins with cooking spray and place on a medium baking sheet. In a medium glass bowl, microwave the 2 tablespoons butter until melted. Add the cheese through pepper and whisk thoroughly. Break the potatoes into small chunks and add to the bowl. Crumble the bacon and add this to the bowl, along with the scallions or chives. Mix well. Divide evenly into the prepared ramekins.* Sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon of the bread crumbs. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in half and place one portion on top of each. Bake 15 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Serves 2; cover and chill leftovers.

* You could make these in advance up to this point: set in fridge for an hour or two. Let stand at room temperature ½ hour before proceeding.

This is like a deluxe baked potato in a bowl. It’s very easy to double this to serve 4-6. Place in a 1½-quart casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes.

Valentine Potatoes for Two

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