Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Given that I will be in Las Vegas (YAY!) this weekend and Valentine's Day is the next weekend, I wanted to write a quick post about the dreaded lovely holiday!
I thought I'd Google the history and found these interesting tidbits on the History Channel's website:
♥ The history of Valentine's Day - and its patron saint - is shrouded in mystery.
♥ The Catholic Church recognizes three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
♥ One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
♥ Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
♥ According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.
♥ Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Some more interesting statistics:
♥ According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.
♥ Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.
♥ Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum.
On to other Valentine related things:
I'm a huge cupcake fan (I have a small catering business) and I love all things cupcake! However, I'm thinking that part of the reason I had to start WW at all has A LOT to do with "taste testing" my creations...so now when I make cupcakes, I use my DBF as my tastebuds. Last weekend I made over 96 cupcakes for a client and was left with extras at my house. They were staring at me. So I gave them all away to my co-workers and friends...let them deal with the temptation instead of me!
But anyway, Valentine's Day is all about chocolates, desserts and sweet treats to share with your cuddly buddy. I was browsing through WW recipes online and found a WW approved recipe for red velvet cupcakes - my favorite cupcakes in the world. I haven't tried it, but I looked at the recipe and to be honest the only thing that's different is the light butter and the frosting only calls for cream cheese instead of cream cheese and butter. I think this could be a good, non-guilt way to enjoy Valentine's Day with your sweetheart...
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. table salt
1 t. baking soda
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
1 t. white vinegar
2 t. vanilla extract, divided
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. light butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. Neufchatel cheese, softened
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare 16 muffin tins with paper muffin liners.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa; set aside.
In another large bowl, mix together buttermilk, vinegar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; set aside.
With an electric mixer on high speed, cream granulated sugar with butter until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and add eggs, one at a time, until well-incorporated.
Add about 1/3 each of flour and buttermilk mixtures to sugar mixture; beat until just combined. Repeat until all of flour and buttermilk mixtures are incorporated; add 1 1/2 ounces of red food coloring and mix well with mixer (do not over beat batter).
Fill each muffin tin about 2/3 full with batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out dry, about 25 minutes; cool for 5 minutes in pan and then cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, to make icing, combine powdered sugar, cheese and remaining teaspoon of vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well-combined and creamy. For a looser icing, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of warm water. Ice cooled cupcakes. Yields 1 iced cupcake per serving.
Option: Top with a cute red fondant heart like The Pink Cake Box does.
For Valentine's Day this year my DBF and I are going to Malibu and treating ourselves to Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. When I started WW, I told Troy that my reward for reaching my 5% would be going there to eat. But when I reached that goal, we didn't have any extra money so we put it off. Then I lost 10 pounds and we decided we had to make it out there. They have the best mojitos and fried shrimp! I'll try to be a good girl that day, but I really can't promise anything. I hope I'll be able to keep in mind that I have weigh in 2 days after so I'm going to have to restrict myself somewhat or be disappointed at WI.