Happy belated Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day, in addition to being the national holiday dedicated to love, is also the anniversary of the day that a cocky yet sheepish 19-year-old Paul picked up a dozen roses and headed over to my dorm room to ask me to be his girlfriend. He wrote me the cutest little poem declaring his affection inside a Snoopy-themed card. According to his college roommate, he worked for hours writing that poem for me. He was no Robert Frost (I think one of the exact lines was "I think you're divine/will you be mine/my valentine") but it worked and we have been a splendid pair ever since.
Before he left for work in the morning, Paul surprised me with a beautiful potted rose plant!
I may not have the greenest of thumbs (Ok....I kill everything I touch), but I do love flowers. Even if they do end up looking like this....
Of course, we had a special valentine waiting for Matthew when he woke up Valentine's Day morning...
...He was thrilled and, even though the chocolates have long since been devoured, he insists that his animal crackers and other portable snacks be placed inside the puppy box.
Paul and I had a date last night that almost did not happen. The sushi restaurant that Paul had made reservations at a month ahead of time informed us that they planned on seating us at a hibachi table, where we could enjoy our cold sushi in front of 6 other couples all ordering and watching the hibachi show.
No, thank you.
We really had been looking forward to a quiet, intimate evening out where we could eat and speak to one another without interruption from our little blonde terror.
Luckily, Paul found a last minute (literally, five minutes before our babysitter showed up) reservation for us at another sushi restaurant. Unfortunately, it meant we would not be eating until 9:00pm. However, we took advantage of the opportunity to go see a movie. It was the first time we had been to a movie theater since before Matthew was born. We originally had wanted to see Star Wars 3D but Paul wanted to see something a little more in the spirit of Valentine's Day. So, we settled for The Vow. He REALLY had to talk me into going to see that one. I am not a Rachel McAdams fan (I kind of loathe her, actually) and from what I saw of the trailer, I was afraid it was going to be another super cheesy Nicholas Sparks movie. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. Plus, it was nice to sit in a dark theater and enjoy just holding Paul's hand (again...uninterrupted!) for two hours.
And the sushi? It was worth the wait. The spicy lobster roll is a new favorite.
While we were out, one of Paul's co-workers and his future wife agreed to babysit Matthew for the evening. They are the ones who usually watch him when we go out and they never let us compensate them. I am so grateful to them that the least I can do is have a decent meal prepared for them. I made a White Chicken Chili and had it prepared with a side of chips and salsa and some heart-shaped chocolate dipped Rice Krispies Treats. The chili is a variation on a family favorite that my Mom prepared while I was still living at home. It is not as heavy as a traditional beef chili, but just as warming and soulful. Plus, it is a quick, easy, and cheap meal! Instead of roasting your own peppers, you can use a couple cans of green chilies or jalapenos. Just watch out...it can get spicy!
White Chicken Chili
1 Anaheim pepper
1 Poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne (or less if you do not want it too hot)
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken*
3 cans Cannellini or Great Northern beans
Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Roast the Anaheim and Poblano peppers under a broiler until the skins are blackened, turning often. I actually like to use my gas stovetop. I just let them hang out on the burner, turning every so often with a set of barbecue tongs until done. Once roasted, stick them in a paper bag or a dish with a cover to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel the skins off under running water by lightly rubbing with your hands. Mince and set aside.
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until the onion is translucent, about five minutes. Add the roasted peppers, garlic, and spices and let cook/stir until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, and let cook for 15-20 minutes. At this point, you could also remove the pot from the heat, let cool to room temperature, and then stick it in the fridge until dinner time.
Add the beans and the chicken and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with lots of cheese, sour cream, and cilantro!
*I usually take two chicken breast halves, brush them with a little oil, and lightly sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper before roasting them in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160. Let cool slightly before shredding with two forks or dicing!