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Surprise, Valentine

February 15, 2011

My husband is a sweetheart.  Seriously—he’s romantic, sincere, kind-hearted, giving…the list goes on and on.

And I’m…well, I’m an asshole. 

While he spends time making sweet gestures that strengthen our marriage, like surprising me with flowers, I spend my time making fun of his beard, or his field of study, or his love of Smallville, or all three at once. 

Here’s the Valentine’s Day card I got for my sweet husband:

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Nice, right?  Here’s the inside:

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Aaaaaand I’m an asshole.  As my dad likes to say, “That’s my M.O.”  (Wonder where I got it from?)

But somehow, day after day, month after month, year after year, Ryan puts up with me.  And so, every so often, I decide to surprise him with a romantic gesture of my own…Lord knows he deserves one. 

For Valentine’s Day, Ryan made reservations for us to try a semi-new restaurant in downtown Altoona—Bold.  While I’m still excited to try this restaurant, when he told me that he’d made the reservations, I began to hatch my own plan for how to surprise him with a Valentine’s Day dinner at home.  Ryan has surprised me twice now with fun, romantic meals (remember the owl appetizers?), and I’ve yet to do the same for him.  Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect time to get a little sneaky with a romantic surprise.

I planned a meal that wouldn’t really require any unusual ingredients, so I was able to throw everything I needed into the cart during our regular shopping trip on Sunday without Ryan even noticing.  The meal plan: provencal roasted carrots, caramelized onion and goat cheese risotto, harvest salad, and strawberry wontons for dessert. 

When Ryan left for campus yesterday, I got to work caramelizing the onions.  Caramelized onions are always a struggle for me, mainly because I’m so impatient.  The key is to put them over *very* low heat, but I always try to pump the heat a little higher to hurry the process along, and then the onions end up getting burned.  Yesterday, I took my time:

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(two onions, chopped, plus a table spoon of olive oil and a 1/2 tsp. salt)

And they ended up perfect, about 45 minutes later!

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I also did a trial run of the wontons.  To make the filling, I simply mixed about a cup of strawberries, diced very small, with a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a few teaspoons of sugar.  You could leave the vinegar out, but I think it gives the filling a nice sweet tang. 

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To make the wontons, I simply used store-bought wonton wrappers, placing a very small amount of filling on one side, and then folding the other side over.  Wetting the edges of the wonton wrapper helps them to adhere. 

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Later that night, after our actual dinner, I brushed the top of each wonton with an egg wash, sprinkled some sugar over them, and baked the wontons (6 total) for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees.  It doesn’t take long, and you have to watch them closely—otherwise, they’ll burn. 

But, before we got to dessert, we had…dinner! Ryan had a guitar lesson from 5:00 to 5:30, so as soon as he got out of the house, I got to work on the risotto.  I think some people are intimidated by risotto, but once you learn the method for cooking it, it really is no-fail.  Here’s the recipe I used last night:

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Risotto

Ingredients:

3-4 shallots, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1 generous pour of white wine (about a cup?)

4 cups broth

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup caramelized onions

1/4 cup goat cheese

Directions:

In a pot, put the broth over low heat.  It should be warm when stirring into the risotto.  On a separate burner, in a heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil.  Add shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to shimmer.  Add rice and cook over medium heat until rice begins to toast a bit, about 5 minutes (you can do this longer for a deeper flavor, but be careful not to burn the rice).  Season with salt and pepper.  Add wine, deglazing the pan.  Allow to boil down, and once wine has been absorbed, begin ladling in broth on cup at a time; with each cup, allow the rice to absorb the liquid, stirring frequently, before adding more. 

After about 30-40 minutes, you should have worked your way through all of the broth, and the rice should be done—creamy, but not falling apart.  Stir in the parmesan cheese plus additional salt and pepper if needed. 

Top with caramelized onions and goat cheese and serve immediately. 

And serve immediately…we did! After I sent him on a little Nick Nolte/Julia Roberts-style goose chase (I Love Trouble, anyone?), he arrived home around 6:00  to a fully-cooked Valentine’s dinner!

We sat down to risotto:

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…and salad:

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…and roasted carrots:

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…and, of course, wine:

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After dinner, I cooked up the wontons and spooned the remaining strawberries and sauce on top:

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We really liked this dessert! I foresee some wonton experimenting in our future… 🙂

Ryan was very pleased with his sweet surprise…which is good, because it probably won’t happen again for at least another six months.  It’s back to asshole mode for me.  Sorry, Matisyahu. 

Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day too!

42 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 2:52 pm

    Your dinner looks fabulous!

  2. Kelly permalink
    February 15, 2011 3:02 pm

    So funny…Keith is the romantic one in our relationship too. Every so often I try to surprise him too but more often than not I am the “boy” in our union! haha! That dessert looks awesome!

  3. February 15, 2011 3:08 pm

    LOL – Jason is the romantic one too. Maybe men are really more romantic than women and they just have been hiding it???? Dinner looks fantastic (as usual). I never get caramelized onions right b/c I’m too impatient.

  4. February 15, 2011 3:15 pm

    What a perfect dinner Anna! It looks incredible!

  5. February 15, 2011 3:43 pm

    Yes, we’ve noticed.

  6. February 15, 2011 5:34 pm

    What an amazing meal!

  7. February 15, 2011 6:38 pm

    Don’t worry, I’m a bigger asshole than you! I am the least romantic valentine’s day scrooge ever! I’ve never done anything for valentine’s day, at least you got your husband a card!

  8. February 15, 2011 7:14 pm

    That risotto looks amazing!!!! Your card looks like something my bf and I would write if we even got cards for eachother

  9. February 15, 2011 7:58 pm

    Ha! My husband is definitely sweeter than I am, so I can totally relate! (although I’m the planner who scored us the good dinner res..) Your meal – and your sentiment – are lovely. Wontons are such a good call!!

  10. February 15, 2011 7:58 pm

    WOW–I am totally impressed!

  11. February 15, 2011 8:49 pm

    wow! everything just looks incredible!

  12. February 15, 2011 8:59 pm

    Just wow, the dinner looks amazing! Super impressive! I can be an asshole too not being anywhere near as romantic or spontaneous as my hubby, sigh.

  13. February 15, 2011 9:29 pm

    Wow those wontons look AMAZING. I didn’t realise you could bake them as well as fry them! That’s a good tip.

    Caramelising onions takes FOREVER what is up with that? but they are absolutely delicious, aren’t they?

  14. JenATX permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:32 pm

    pretty food!
    And Ryan likes Smallville?! Well of course you make fun of him then, haha

  15. February 15, 2011 9:41 pm

    Haha! A lot of times I wonder how Peter puts up with me too. Glad there are good men like ours out there. And that dinner looks fabulous.

  16. February 15, 2011 11:35 pm

    bahahaha I’m a jerk and made my husband photograph his soup while I ate mine. I cooked it… so obvs I get to eat it first! haha

    The strawberry won-tons are so fun! You’re so creative in the kitchen!

  17. Ayla permalink
    February 15, 2011 11:47 pm

    Being an asshole isn’t all that bad.. although I wonder how people still manage to love us. Maybe we’re just lovable jerks. Or something. I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe I should ask my sister since she’s a huge asshole and manages to still have friends and family that love her..haha.

    Your homemade Valentines meal looks absolutely delicious! Everything is so pretty and perfect looking!

  18. February 16, 2011 12:39 am

    Man, you went all out! The dinner looks fantastic!

  19. February 16, 2011 1:08 am

    Oh, that wonton dessert looks delish! Of course, I love anything covered in strawberries.

    So did you not go to Bold?

    • February 16, 2011 1:38 am

      No, I secretly cancelled our reservations! But, I still want to try it!

  20. February 16, 2011 1:20 am

    Haha, Ryan likes Smallville?! What a weirdo. And I can say that because I’m not his Valentine.

    As a fellow asshole(clearly), I can sympathize how hard it is to show our special kind of affection. Looks like you did a terrific job; caramelized onions = love.

  21. February 16, 2011 1:22 am

    Both of those recipes look amazing! I definitely want to try them both :o)

  22. February 16, 2011 1:23 am

    You are too funny! That dinner looks fabulous 🙂

  23. February 16, 2011 1:59 am

    wow those onions, those berries and those wontons…holy tastebud-gasm. I can almost taste all the flavors…how delish!!

    and you’re not an a-hole 🙂 anyone who cooks like that for their man, definitely gets major props! But i am a smart*ss, myself 🙂

  24. February 16, 2011 2:01 am

    Jason wrote me a card about how much he loves me and how the past four years that we’ve spent Valentine’s Day with me have been so great and I wrote, “Love, Lee” on his card. I’m kind of an asshole too.

  25. February 16, 2011 2:32 am

    haha, love the card LOL

    The dinner looked perfect, and dessert, well, sure wish I could have a bite 😉

  26. greensandjeans permalink
    February 16, 2011 3:17 am

    Hahahaha, that card is amazing. I’d want to be your Valentine after that.

  27. February 16, 2011 4:08 am

    LOL! the card is hilarious….I think it’s a keeper for when you grow old, and you just laugh about it together. “Hey, remember the time when I was an asshole…” “You were always an asshole!” “Hahahaha!”

    Something like that. 😉

    That is quite the lovely meal you prepared, Anna. no matter what you said, he’s a lucky man!

  28. February 16, 2011 5:03 am

    LOL! that is so cute!

  29. February 16, 2011 11:18 am

    YOU crack me up! And that risotto recipe warms me up…a must try!

  30. February 16, 2011 12:02 pm

    whoa! That all looks awesome! Way to go! Especially the goat cheese risotto….oh my goodness! I bet the man was thrilled 😉

  31. February 16, 2011 2:22 pm

    I’d say we’re about equally romantic to one another but he’s better at actual surprises because I can’t keep my piehole shut. 🙂

    What is it about all the really awesome *ryan*s out here in the blogosphere?! Your dinner looks amazing. The risotto looks like a perfect recipe for me to try on Sunday!

  32. February 16, 2011 4:25 pm

    Haha this is super random but you have AMAZING handwriting. So glad I’m not the only one who prefers cursive!

  33. February 16, 2011 9:45 pm

    I am the same way…I try to do something nice but then my asshole natures manages to shine it’s way through somehow! Love it.

  34. February 16, 2011 9:51 pm

    Wow, SO impressive! That is a great idea because my Dude loves to cook and usually makes the fancy meals for special occasions. His birthday is in March and I might just try those wontons! Fabulous presentation, you a** 😉

  35. February 17, 2011 2:20 am

    Your meal looks amazing! How sweet of you to surprise him!

  36. February 17, 2011 3:13 am

    That is too sweet! I absolutely loved your card lol totally something I would do. I actually hate lovey dovey romantic cards (probably because they say things everyone knows I would never really say), but your dinner made everything fantastic 🙂

    I haven’t heard of Bold!! I’ll have to ask my mom about it – can’t wait to hear if you like it or not!

  37. February 17, 2011 4:22 pm

    That meal looks AMAZING, girl! Wow!!!

    I love the card! My Valentine’s Day card to Mark was something along the lines of “You know you’re happy married….when you share a good snore!” and it’s got a couple in bed sawing them off. It’s only approrpriate for us…we’re in bed by midnight no matter what! We’re so lame 🙂

  38. February 17, 2011 10:09 pm

    Aw that dinner looks so good. I was kind of an asshole too this year, I waited until the last second to get my husband a card and he was with me and saw it…oops.

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  1. Low-Key V-Day « On Anna's Plate

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