New recipes

Where to Take Your Sweetheart for Valentine's Day in Chicago

Where to Take Your Sweetheart for Valentine's Day in Chicago

Valentine’s Day is a day to share the love, and how better to do it than through the stomach? Restaurants around Chicago are setting the scene for a perfect romantic evening. Dust off the poetry and invite your sweetheart to enjoy one of these incredible menus.

Azzurra – In addition to their seasonal a la carte menu, Azzurra will be offering a special prix fixe menu. Courses will include tuna carpaccio, lobster bisque, and veal saltimbocca. The menu is available for $30 per person, and reservations can be made via their website.

mK the Restaurant – Lovers of all kinds can take advantage of a special tasting menu on February 14th. The four courses include charcoal-grilled Kobe ribeye, Alaskan king crab, and a chocolate ganache dessert. Reservations can be made by calling (312) 482-9179 for $79 per person, or $119 with wine pairings.

Roka Akor – Set the right mood with Roka Akor’s sexy five course Valentine’s Day menu. For $125 per diner, enjoy exotic and exciting dishes such as shrimp shooters with yuzu and cherry blossom and chocolate lover’s cake with jasmine tea filling. Make a reservation by calling (312) 477-7652.

The Boarding House – Enjoy a night out with your partner at Alpana Singh’s classy restaurant. The special $65 menu offers a number of delicious choices for each course, such as foie gras torchon, Colorado lamb chop, and Scottish salmon. You can take a look at the entire menu and make reservations on the website.

Sixteen – Treat your date to a luxurious dinner with Sixteen’s sumptuous seven course menu. Highlights include Maine diver scallop with uni butter and blood orange, soft poached farm egg with black winter truffle rice, and waygu ribeye with bone marrow, oxtail custard and caramelized brussel sprouts. Beverage pairings at various levels can be added, creating the ultimate romantic experience. Make reservations via the website.

Bistronomic – Diners can order from the a la carte menu at Bistronomic for Valentine’s Day or partake of a special three course menu. The prix fixe is $58 per diner and offers traditional and vegetarian options. Enjoy dishes like chilled seasonal oysters, handcut parmesan gnocchi, and lemon curd crepes. Take a look at the entire menu here.

Kabocha - try out something different with Chef Shin Thompson's six course tasting menu. At $75 per person, guests can enjoy dishes such as Scallop & Crab Motoyaki, Roasted Peking Glazed Pheasant, andStrawberry Yuzu Cheescake with chamomile ice cream. Beverage pairings are available for $35, and reservations can be made by calling (312) 666-6214.

Sweetheart Hoya Is the Perfect Valentine's Day Gift for a Plant Lover

This tiny houseplant is so easy to love, both for its cuteness and because it's easy to grow.

A glance at sweetheart hoya (Hoya kerrii) will take you right back to Valentine&aposs Day in grade school when you would cut out little paper hearts for all our classmates. But it&aposs even better than a love note because it&aposs a houseplant. Also known as Valentine plant, this heart-shape hoya makes the perfect alternative to a bouquet of flowers to give (and definitely get) for Valentine’s Day this year. If you&aposre concerned about your plant parenting skills, don&apost worry. You don&apost have to be a gardening pro to enjoy this cute little houseplant as it is not difficult to care for at all. Just follow these Hoya kerrii care tips that will help you keep it alive until the next Valentine&aposs Day and beyond.

Especially around Valentine&aposs Day, you&aposre probably most likely to find sweetheart hoya as a single potted leaf that&aposs only a few inches tall. That leaf is thick and fleshy and similar to other varieties of hoya it will eventually grow vining stems with lots of heart-shape leaves spread out along its length. It can even produce small clusters of flowers, too.

Luckily, sweetheart hoya is easy to care for. It loves getting plenty of indirect sunlight, so give it as bright a spot as possible, like a table near a south-facing window. As this lovable living decor slowly grows its long vines, it&aposs perfect for a hanging basket ($9, Etsy). Valentine plant can tolerate low light, but it&aposll grow even more slowly.

As for watering, sweetheart hoya can handle a missed watering here and there. We wouldn&apost recommend letting its soil dry out completely, but it can get by on just one or two waterings per month. Water when the soil is dry to the touch, but be careful not to flood it with water (especially if your plant is in a decorative pot without drainage) because overwatering can cause the leaf to rot. A terra-cotta pot with good drainage will help keep this hoya happy.

If you&aposre looking to put a smile on your Valentine&aposs face this year, sweetheart hoya will surely do it. As it&aposs grown in popularity, this plant has gotten easier to find, and you&aposll likely see it at your local plant store around Valentine&aposs Day. You can also order one for just $35 from Urban Stemsਊnd have it shipped right to your (or your sweetie&aposs) front door.

In Jane Austen's (yes, another one) tale of 19th-century England, Mrs. Bennet hopes to marry her stubborn and opinionated daughter to a prosperous gentlemen, including new arrival Mr. Darcy. The 1995 miniseries features a star-studded cast including Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha and Alison Steadman.

Set in London during the &lsquo50s, the film tells the story of renowned dressmaker, Reynolds Woodcock, whose carefully tailored life is disrupted when a beautiful, young women enters his life and quickly becomes his muse. Oh, and did we mention it won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 2018? So, you&rsquoll really feel like you traveled back in time.

1 of 15

Easy Ideas for a Fun Valentine's Day Breakfasts

There are several ways to create a fun twist on breakfast foods with romantic aspects, says Cedric Harden, executive chef at River Roast in Chicago. "Try making a heart shaped toad in a hole, an assortment of pink/red berries, cut watermelon and strawberries into heart shapes or make heart shaped cinnamon rolls, red velvet pancakes with cream cheese icing, homemade chocolate waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, and even heart shaped bacon," says Harden.

"Wash it down with raspberry/strawberry puree mimosa," he says. Plus, if you have kids, let them help in the kitchen to surprise mom or dad in bed, since many of these are easy for them to prepare themselves and it gets the whole family involved, he adds.

For Friends

Love is friendship, friendship is love. If love fails, friendship should remain. For friendship is the foundation of love.

There is no safer feeling than the comfort of sheltering from life’s storms in the harbor of friendship.
David Baird

Love is temporary, but friends are forever.
Kelly Wheeler

There is an important difference between love and friendship. While the former delights in extremes and opposites, the latter demands equality.
Francoise D’Aubegne Maintenon

One friend in a lifetime is much two are many three are hardly possible. Friendship needs a certain parallelism of life, a community of thought, a rivalry of aim.
Henry B. Adams

Some people care too much, I think it’s called love.
Winnie the Pooh

The cure for all ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows and the crimes of humanity, all lie in the one word ‘love.’ It is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life.
Lydia Maria Child

No measure of time with you will be long enough, but we’ll start with forever.
Edward Cullen

There is no greater thing two friends can do for each other than simply to be each other’s friends.
David Baird

Make sweets for your sweetheart for Valentine's Day

Did you know, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 65 percent of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day most often by giving greeting cards? But the second most popular Valentine’s gift is a romantic dinner, and 44 percent will be celebrating by dining out at a romantic restaurant with the bill averaging $164.

But wait, why not save some money, do something a little different this year and stay home and cook a romantic dinner for that someone special? I have teamed up with my sister, Chula King at the Pudge Factor blog, to give you some ideas for a special romantic dessert that will be the perfect end to a perfect evening.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart is the ultimate dessert for those chocolate lovers in your life. The rich and decadent filling with two kinds of chocolate is almost truffle-like in its consistency, and you won’t believe how utterly delicious the biscotti crust is. Combine that with a scrumptious raspberry sauce, and you have an unforgettable restaurant-quality dessert that is quick and easy to make and perfect for showing that special someone how much you care.

Coeur à la Crème with Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce is an elegant dessert that’s easy to prepare. (Photo: Chula King)


Coeur à la Crème with Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce is an elegant dessert to serve for Valentine’s Day. This classic dessert (French for heart of cream) is quite easy to prepare but amazing in its presentation and taste.

Raspberries and Cream Dessert

Sweeten your Valentine’s Day this year with a creamy and decadent raspberries and cream dessert. This sweetly romantic dessert of pure deliciousness would be the perfect ending to a romantic dinner or any dinner for that matter.

Flourless Chocolate Cake is rich, decadent and gluten free. (Photo: Chula King)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake is amazingly dense, rich and decadent, with every bite packed with intense bittersweet chocolate flavor. Perfect for that special someone for Valentine’s Day. If you like chocolate, you will love this cake. And, a bonus, this delicious cake is gluten-free.

Sharon Rigsby is the blogger behind Grits and Pinecones, a Southern cooking and hospitality blog. Browse all of her recipes by visiting Chula King is the blogger behind Pudge Factor.Visit Pudge Factor at

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

1/2 stick of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

8 biscotti cookies, about 5-1/2 oz

1/4 cup raspberry jam or preserves

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

Raspberry Sauce:

1 half-pint fresh raspberries

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 Tbsp Cointreau, optional

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform or tart pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the biscotti, brown sugar, and butter in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Blend until the mixture forms moist crumbs.

Pour the crumbs into the prepared springform pan and press firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Spread 1/4 cup raspberry preserves evenly over the crust but stop about 1-inch from the side of the pan.

For the filling: Place the chocolate chips in a medium size bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan over medium heat and heat until just before it starts to boil. Pour the cream over the chips and mix until all of the chips have melted, and the mixture is smooth. Pour into the crust. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight!

For the raspberry sauce: Place the package of raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 4 minutes. Pour this mixture into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the mixture is smooth. Add the raspberry preserves and Cointreau if using and process until everything is well combined.

When serving the tart, top with the raspberry sauce.

Coeur À La Crème With Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2-1/2 cups cold heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

1 pint fresh raspberries for garnish

Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce:

1 cup (1/2 pint) fresh raspberries

1 cup (12 ounces) seedless raspberry jam

1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier*

Place the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest and vanilla seeds and bet on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a heart-shaped mold with dampened cheesecloth so that the ends drape over the sides and place it on a plate for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate and carefully remove the cheesecloth. Drizzle raspberry sauce around the base and serve with raspberries and extra sauce. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Grand Marnier Raspberry Sauce: Place raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil lower heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and Grand Marnier into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Strain through wire mesh strainer to remove seeds. Chill. Yield: 2 cups.

*May use Chambord or raspberry liqueur in place of the Grand Marnier

Raspberries and Cream Dessert

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 half-pint fresh raspberries

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, sugar, and salt and constantly stir until the sugar dissolves. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Don't let the mixture come to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Bring the water to a boil by placing it in a microwave for about 2 minutes. Immediately pour in the powdered gelatin and stir with a fork or small whisk until it is completely dissolved. This will also take about 4-5 minutes.

As soon as the gelatin is dissolved, stir it into the warm cream mixture and mix well. Cool completely.

As soon as your mixture is completely cool, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla extract.

Pour or spoon into individual small bowls, or you can leave it in one big bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Top with fresh raspberries, and serve chilled.

- Sharon Rigsby, Grits and Pinecones

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup (6 ounces, 170 g) bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces, 113 g) unsalted butter

3/4 cup (5.25 ounces, 149g) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon espresso powder* (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1.5 ounces, 43g) Dutch-process cocoa

Ganache Ingredients:

1 cup (6 ounces, 170 g) bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (4 ounces, 113 g) heavy cream

3/4 cup (4 ounces, 113 g) bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (3 ounces, 85 g) heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8” round cake pan cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.

Cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft, about 2 minutes on 60% power. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary.

Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.

Remove cake from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely before adding the ganache.

Ganache: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth. Spoon the ganache over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit.

Whipped Ganache: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature. Beat until thick and piping consistency. Pipe with #21-star tip.

Allow the ganache to set for several hours before serving the cake. Yield: 8-inch cake, 8 to 12 servings.

*As a substitute for espresso powder, grind regular coffee very finely in coffee grinder.

Share a Red Velvet Latte with Your Sweetheart for Valentine’s Day

While we’d certainly never turn down a mocha, there’s something extra special about this perfectly pink chocolate coffee drink – especially for Valentine’s Day. Thanks to its rich hue, the red velvet cake was traditionally seen as a celebratory dessert. Today, we think that still holds true: The bright color of this latte makes it perfect for sharing with that special someone. To make sure you’ll always be able to sip on something sweet in the morning, we’re also sharing two recipes – one for a traditional latte and another for a creamer that’s great on the go. Happy Love Month!

The History of Red Velvet

The concept of a ‘velvet’ cake first appeared in the Victorian Era, when it was used to describe a cake’s soft and silky texture. Bakers at the time found that this fluffiness was frequently helped along with the addition of cocoa, which helped combat the coarseness of flour. Adding cocoa to the cakes created a reddish hue, created by a chemical reaction between the cocoa and the acid. Today, the processing of cocoa means this reaction doesn’t occur. As the terms ‘velvet cake,’ ‘cocoa cake,’ and ‘red velvet’ began to spread, the cookbook The Joy of Cooking, published in 1943, made the name official.

Shortly after, the dawn of World War II forced civilians to ration off ingredients like sugar, butter and cocoa. To keep their cakes soft, bakers began using beet juice in their cakes. This helped maintain the fluffy texture they were after and – you guessed it – made the cakes a vibrant red color. Red cakes continued to remain popular and feel extra special.

Today, food coloring is used to give the cakes their vibrant color. But, regardless of how we achieve the bright hue, many bakers agree that it feels particularly celebratory.

Red Velvet Latte

Want to celebrate but don’t want to dive into a slice of red velvet cake first thing in the morning? This sweet, chocolatey and very pink latte is the perfect compromise. Using chunks of chocolate, sugar, whole milk, and vanilla, this latte delivers a mocha-like flavor. Red food coloring dresses it up a little more, making it perfect for Valentine’s Day (or for showing your loved ones you care any time of the year).


6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/4 – 1/2 tsp red food coloring

Add sugar, milk, and chocolate to a saucepan. Heat over low-medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to melt sugar and chocolate.

Once melted, remove from heat. Add food coloring gradually until the mixture is red. Mix in vanilla.

Divide espresso into two mugs or glasses. Pour milk mixture on top and stir to combine.

Red Velvet Creamer

Looking to save time in the morning? Mix up red velvet creamer in advance so you can add a dose of sweetness to your morning cup. This creamer keeps for about a week in the fridge and is best for adding to brewed coffee or an americano.

Want to try something spicier instead? Try our pumpkin spice creamer recipe.


1/2 – 1 tbsp red food coloring

Whisk together milk, half n’ half, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat.

Allow to heat through, mixing well until sugar is melted and cocoa powder is dissolved.

Add in red food coloring gradually, until desired color is achieved.

Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into a glass jar or container and refrigerate for up to one week.

Spend Valentine’s Day in Sunriver

Some may consider it cliche, while others revel in the peaceful rest with their loved one — sitting in front of a fireplace, snow falling outside the window, sipping a tasty Oregon pinot noir and watching a movie together. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be over the top or include grand gestures. It’s about spending quality time with the one you love and when you rent a Sunriver vacation home you can do just that. Choose a home with a hot tub and soak away your worries. Challenge your partner to a friendly game of Scrabble. Hit Mt. Bachelor to ski until your heart’s content and then enjoy a hot beverage in the lodge.

A romantic getaway in Sunriver is different to every couple and yours to create. For the music lover in your life, opt to attend the Sunriver Music Festival’s Valentine’s Dinner & Concert at Sunriver Resort’s Great Hall. The event brings Blue Skies Big Band to Sunriver to perform classic swing music from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s. Enjoy a delicious multi-course plated meal and dancing to the music of the 17-member big band.

Carson’s American Kitchen at Sunriver Resort will also be hosting a romantic five-course chocolate-themed Valentine’s dinner. They haven’t announced the menu yet, but after looking at the food served in 2019, your favorite foodie will be floored. From cherry tomatoes dipped in chocolate to butcher’s beef tenderloin with a coffee and chocolate rub, the creative concoctions of this elegant dinner are a Valentine’s Day treat.

Casual Valentine’s Day Ideas

Are you and your sweetheart more casual than luxe? Enjoy Valentine’s dinner at Sunriver Brewing and toast your love with a pint of Cocoa Cow Chocolate Milk Stout. The Brewery will no doubt have Valentine’s Day dinner specials your sweetheart will love.

Looking for something even more low key? Order a pizza for delivery from Blondie’s Pizza and you won’t have to leave your cozy vacation home in Sunriver to enjoy a great meal and time well-spent with your loved one.

Flowers and Chocolate in Sunriver

If you want to treat your partner to traditional Valentine’s treats, you can still access quality chocolates and beautiful floral arrangements in Sunriver. When it comes to chocolates — it’s no secret that Goodies offers all of your favorite sweets – from truffles to caramels to ice cream after your casual dinner in The Village.

For flowers, Sunriver has two florists to choose from that will deliver door-to-door and both offer online ordering. Visit Flowers at Sunriver Village or Wild Poppy Florist for all of your Valentine’s Day floral needs.

Celebrate Your Special Someone this Fall

Dine surrounded by flowers at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory this fall

Photo: Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

This Valentine’s Day, Como is asking folks to look to a promising future and give your Valentine the gift of a November evening together dining in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory surrounded by fall flowers, palms and plants. Instead of the traditional February 14 Valentine Dinner in the Conservatory, Como is now taking reservations for a one-of-a-kind evening that will take place on Saturday, November 20, 2021.

String musicians will play while each guest enjoys a gourmet dinner that includes a salad, hearty entrée with seasonal sides, dessert, and two glasses of wine or beer. The evening will even include a visit from one of Como’s animal ambassadors.

The all-inclusive event is $170 per couple (a portion of which is tax deductible please consult your tax advisor). Seating is limited and advance reservations are required. There will be two seatings, 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Reserve online or call 651-487-8250.
—5:30 p.m. seating information and reservations
—8 p.m. seating information and reservations

The first 100 people to register before February 12 will receive a Marjorie McNeely Conservatory Valentine card to give your special someone indicating your purchase of this evening.

Ideal for V-Day Weekend takeout, Baby Loves Tacos is a community-focused Mexican food joint with some really awesome tacos. Feeling crafty? You and your date can buy one of their DIY taco kits and spend the evening perfecting your own delicious creations.

Dining options: Takeout. *Not open on Sundays

This is just a small sample of the amazing restaurants that have the perfect Valentine's Day meal planned for you. Reservations are recommended, and leave plenty of time to enjoy all courses. Happy Valentines Day!