Celebrating Valentine's Day with the Family

Everyone is home as we all know and we can celebrate Valentine's Day together as a family or if you are not into Valentine's Day these recipes are great for a family meal together. You can get the family involved in preparation as there are a few steps and some great moments to educate in the kitchen. 

Enjoying food together doesn't have to be for a special occasion, it can simply be to have a conversation about how everyone is doing during these crazy days and a chance to laugh and reach out to those closest to you in your home. 

The cookies are heart shaped for Valentine's Day but you know what, any day you love you can enjoy these cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are a family favourite for many but if Oatmeal Raisin will make everyone's day then shape those into hearts. Share a little love with food and family this weekend if you can! Happy Valentine's Day weekend and of course Happy Family Day as well! 

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Tenderloin 

Pork tenderloin is stuffed with flavourful mushrooms offering up a tender roast that is delicate enough to serve with the sweet puree of butternut squash.

2 pork tenderloins (about 2 lbs/1 kg total)

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, divided

12 oz (375 g) mixed fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

4 small shallots or 2 large, finely chopped

2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley 

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) veal or beef broth

1 cup (250 mL) dried mushrooms (about 1 oz/30 g)

Butternut Squash Puree:

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) peeled and cubed butternut squash

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, cubed

Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped toasted hazelnuts (optional)

Butternut Squash Puree: Bring squash to boil in salted water for about 20 minutes or until very soft. Drain well and return to pot. Using potato masher, mash well with butter, salt and pepper. Stir in hazelnuts, if desired. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large skillet, melt 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the butter over medium high heat; cook mushrooms, shallots, parsley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Set aside and let cool.

Using a chef’s knife, make an incision lengthwise in centre of tenderloin across the middle not cutting through to the other side. Cut along each side to open up a bit more. Stuff centres with mushroom mixture and close back up. Tie tenderloins with butcher’s twine in about 2 inch (5 cm) intervals and place seam side down on parchment paper lined baking sheet; sprinkle with pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in 400ºF (200ºC) oven for about 20 minutes or until hint of pink remains. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine dried mushrooms and broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk in remaining butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread squash in centre of plate and place pork slices alongside. Spoon sauce and mushrooms over top to serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Chocolate Chip Heart Cookies

Say I love you simply and sweet with this cookie heart! Homemade cookies are always a special treat to share but taking a few extra seconds to shape it into a heart makes it all the more special. For many smaller hearts you can shape a log of dough into a heart and freeze or refrigerate until solid. Slice and bake the cookies as in the recipe.

1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened

1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla

3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 bag (300 g) mini chocolate chips

In large bowl, beat butter until light. Add brown and granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until combined. Beat in vanilla. 

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to distribute evenly. 

Using tablespoon, scoop dough into hands; roll into ball and shape into a heart. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan on rack. Remove to cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Big Heart Cookies: You can make any size of heart cookie, use about 1 cup (250 mL) of the dough and shape into a heart. Check the timing when baking a larger cookie. 

Freezer Storage: You can freeze the cookie dough or the baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Let thaw at room temperature.

Room temperature storage: Store cookies in cookie tin for up to 5 days.


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