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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Celebrating Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is my son's Valentine party at school. I am actually looking forward to this; although, I have no idea how my toddler is going to behave. (The party is at 1:00 and so is her naptime.)

Valentine's Day was fun when I was little -parties at school, the little boxed valentines, making all those crafts -- no wonder my son is so excited about it.

When I was a teenager, there was too much angst involved. Watching a few girls get flowers in class, while the rest of us stared longingly was just not fun. And then, if there was someone in my life, there was just too much debate -"Should I get him something?" "Is he getting me something?" "What do I do if I get him something, and he doesn't give me something --how embarrassing!" And on and on and on...

Now that I'm married, it is no longer an issue. Preparation for V-Day consists of helping my children with their valentines, and buying my husband a card. That's pretty much it.

My husband and I used to have conversations in early February that consisted of:

Me: "Valentine's Day is coming up. Want anything?"

Him: "No, I don't really care. Just get me a card... what about you?"

Me: "I don't know... a little box of chocolates, I guess... that's it."

Him: "Alright."

Me: "Ok."

Yeah, we're romantic like that.

This year, at my son's request, I'm going to try and make a special recipe on Saturday. (We are not about to go out to eat and fight the crowds!)

Since it contains spinach (which my son loves) and crab (which my husband loves), I thought this would be tasty. I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, and by the way, I'll get valentine cupcakes for dessert (which my daughter and I love), so everyone will be happy! (I hope)

Paula Deen's Crab and Spinach Casserole

2 10-oz packages of frozen leaf spinach (thawed and drained)
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tblsp grated yellow onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk (“Not 1% or 2%,” says Paula.)
1 cup (1/4 lb) grated Swiss cheese
1 cup half-and-half
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of garlic powder
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh crabmeat, picked through twice for shells
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the broiler. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish or eight ovenproof individual ramekins.
2. In a 12” skillet over medium heat, sauté the spinach in 2 tblsp of the butter with the garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Drain the spinach mixture and chop finely. Transfer the spinach into the baking dish.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tblsp of the butter. Stir in the flour and whisk until smooth. Reduce heat to low and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a spoon until smooth and thickened; this should take 8 to 10 minutes. Once the sauce is thickened, add the cheese, half and half, lemon juice, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt and cayenne. Cook over low heat until thickened again, about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and carefully fold in the crabmeat.
4. Pour the mixture evenly over the spinach. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining 2 tblsp butter (you may need more bread crumbs if you're preparing individual servings).
5. Broil about 5 minutes, until browned
6. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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