Valentine's Plan B

Hey, Valentine, there's been a change in plans. Over the past 24 hours, much of the country has been walloped by dastardly weather -- a buffet of tornados, blizzard conditions, nonstop snow and the dreaded wintry mix, which means Valentine's Day could be a white-out, slippery ride or simply a big mess.

Don't let Mother Nature take the fizzle out of your romantic plans, she says, putting on her boots; we've got a love parade to catch, and it's happening, snow or shine.

Below, a variety of home-spun Valentine's menu options to match the possible scenarios that may now apply, given the weather conditions and change in plans. It's a Valentines' Plan B-a-rama. Come on, let's get busy, before the snow in upstate New York starts to fall again.

Snow Day, minus kids, and you want a kitchen project:

You've got all day to let yeast rise, so how about some bread? Consider kneading on a few loaves of whole-wheat raisin-walnut bread or Buttermilk Honey bread. Keep one for the house and give the second loaf to your sweetie, a snowed-in neighbor or someone in need of some cheer.

Cold weather calls for hot stuff, like a gooey mountain of mac & cheese, a simmering pot of braised lamb shanks or turkey chili, Pot pie that you make up along the way.

Snow Day, with kids, and you NEED a kitchen project:

Spiced hot chocolate for a post-sledding warming up or for later tonight when you and your sweetheart can curl up together

The bambinos are gonna need a snack to go with the hot cocoa, perhaps a batch of lower-fat chocolate chips will do... for supper, get everyone involved in a pot of meat sauce on top of spaghetti.

You're broke and need to pull off a romantic dinner for less than 10 bucks

A steaming hot bowl of Asian noodles always wins my heart, and one of my favorite go-to suppers is vegetarian fried rice, made with the veggies I've got on hand. Wash it down with a sip of white wine or your favorite beer.

One of the most heady meatless dishes I know is roastedcauliflower, Sicilian-style, redolent with raisins, pinenuts, lots of garlic (with or without anchovies, depending on your preferences).

When asked what he'd like for his Valentine's supper, one of Mr. Groom's top three choices included meatloaf, which makes him a very cheap date indeed.

A roast chicken, with the skin on, brick style, or in the spirit of Valentine's Day, completely naked (i.e. without her skin) and given a good rub down of Indian-style spices.

You've got a few more bucks to spare and can swing a home-cooked affair for $20 :

A few extra bucks in my pocket means a seafood dinner. I might opt for a batch of sizzled clams with udon noodles, Mister Groom's favorite, chile shrimp, or if I knew a few others were joining the fun, a big pan of seafood paella.

Now if you really want to impress your Valentine on a low budget, pull out your whisk and literally whip up a blue cheese soufflé

You want a sugar high and nothing else:

Here's an all-dessert buffet, for any time of the day:
Chocolate-cherry brownies, Chocolate bark, vegan brownie bites, chocolate truffles, Red velvet cupcakes...that enough to put you into oblivion?

Totally last minute, I forgot it was Valentine's Day and I'm an ass, let me make it up to you, sweetheart (aka dishes that take less than 45 minutes to prepare, start to finish)

Breakfast for dinner in bed with a frittata, made in a cast-iron skillet, the aforementioned chile shrimp (see the $20 category above), a bowl of hummus to share and eat with your hands, a grilled cheese sandwich with red onion and a strong mustard (argue that it's better than fondue) and plenty of red wine.

Happy Valentine's Day!

P.S. At 1:20 this afternoon, I'm asking Washington Post Radio host Sam Litzinger if he'll be my Valentine. From what I understand, his dog, Ella Fitzgerald, is first in line.

By Kim ODonnel |  February 14, 2007; 11:55 AM ET Valentine's Day
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Happy day to you, Kim. I just had the greatest time watching your videos of making lamb shanks and blue-cheese souffle. I'm going to try making them. And blessed with the spirit of adventure that you share with all of us, I know they'll be terrific. Thanks for taking the time to blog with us!

Posted by: Van Ness | February 14, 2007 3:27 PM

I love all the options. Especially those last ones! And the thought that it doesn't matter so much what you do -- just the thought and feeling behind it.

Posted by: Karen | February 14, 2007 4:06 PM

My wife loves it when I make her nuts. The fast lane to her heart is with a modification of the old edition of "Joy of Cooking" recipe for spiced nuts. Sugar, Cinnamon Allspice, Nutmeg, and Ginger get stirred into a beaten egg white with 2 TBS cold Water. Then 1/2 pound of pecan halves get stirred in to coat, and then get placed on a cookie sheet to bake 45 minutes at 250. She goes crazy over them!

Posted by: Angus | February 14, 2007 5:09 PM

A frozen pizza sounds better.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 8:20 PM

Hi all--just wanted to say that I made the cauliflower sicilian style for the hubby and me on Valentine's day--it is REALLY good! We had it over wheat fusilli with spring mix and sliced baked chicken with Paul Prudhomme's poultry magic on the side (I don't dare pull a V-day dinner sans meat on the hubby). This recipe has lots-o-advantages--you probably have everything you need for it already, and you can bake ahead of time and keep warm, and/or bake a little chicken along with (only a half hour or so for the chicken). Even if you're not a fan of cauliflower give this a try--you won't regret it! And if you do at least you have the rest of the wine!!

Posted by: LISA | February 16, 2007 4:46 PM

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