Ahhh, Valentine’s Day…since I’m not one for sweets, sappy rom-coms (lol), or going outdoors in general, this one easily falls into the “holiday created by card companies” category for me. However, my hopeless romantic (John) loves it and so do a lot of you, so I’m going to try and be helpful and provide some recipes and relationship advice!

Luna’s reaction to anyone kissing

You Asked, I Answered!

I get SO many relationship questions all the time… turns out this is an interesting subject for you guys? Haha. By no means do I consider myself an authority on love and relationships, but we did get some good questions through Instagram so here goes nothing!

1. What has been your best Valentine’s Day date? Handle: @tastephenson1.

I really don’t care about Valentine’s Day or going out on dates – it’s John who cares. Trust me, I can go days of doing nothing and staying at home – I would thrive. Before you yell at me, I do go out from time to time to appease John, but it’s not as frequently as you’d think. My favorite dates are actually when we stay home and John cooks – he’ll either make Jamaican Chicken or Jerk Lamb Chops (depending on my mood) and it’s truly my version of heaven. Both are so rich in flavor, but make sure to eat them with banana rice and plantains for that perfect mix of sweet and salty!

We’ve been together pretty much most of my adult life, so I can’t say I remember all our Valentine’s Day dates, but my favorite date will always be at home. in my robe. with wine. watching my reality show. with John cooking.

Jamaican Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder, plus more to taste
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 to 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 fresh scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and finely minced (or, for milder chicken, 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely minced)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ pound green beans, trimmed and halved

Directions:

  1. Season chicken with, salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon curry powder; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until evenly browned and deep golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Remove and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the oil.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, paprika, and the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons curry powder and cook, stirring, until the onions soften and the spices are fragrant, 5 minutes. You can either add the scotch bonnet here, or in step 6 with the vegetables. 
  4. Add the coconut milk, broth, bay leaf, and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
  5. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the chicken thighs, then the potatoes and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook, covered, until the mixture is thickened, 40 minutes. 
  7. Add the green beans and cook an additional 10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

recipe courtesy of Immaculate Bites

Jerk Lamp Chops

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons jerk seasoning, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Pickapeppa sauce (Jamaican seasoning sauce, available at supermarkets), or Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 pounds baby lamb chops, cut into individual chops
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of the jerk seasoning with the Pickapeppa and garlic in a Ziploc bag.
  2. Add the lamb chops, seal the bag and smush around to coat. Chill to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. 
  3. Remove the chops from the fridge, pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons jerk seasoning and the salt.
  4. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Grill the chops until nicely seared, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook until medium-rare, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Garnish with thyme and serve with lime wedges.

Sweet & Salty Banana Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small bananas, cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Toss the bananas with the sugar and salt and sauté until slightly caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and salt and cook, stirring occasionally (but don’t mash up the bananas too much) until very hot, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Taste, and stir in more salt until you get a good balance of sweet and salty. Serve with lime wedges.

recipe: Hungry for More, page 190

Fried Sweet Plantains

(If you didn’t catch this video of me making plantains and facing my archnemesis: the mandoline, watch here.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 dark, super ripe plantain
  • ½ cup coconut oil (or canola, peanut, whatevs)
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice the plantain.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat until it’s melted and very hot (but not smoking).
  3. Fry the plantain slices until deep golden in color, 1-2 minutes per side.
  4. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season immediately with salt. Serve hot or warm.

2. How do you recommend celebrating when you’re single? Handle: @mereditheeng

LIVE. IT. UP. Meet up with friends, go out until 2 A.M. (when you can!) and live life! And if you need a non-lovey-dovey song, here’s Toons with her new single:


3. My husband wants to know if John is the little spoon? He is certain that he is. Handle: @tiffanie_arnott

John will always be the big spoon!

4. What’s the most overrated “romantic” food? Handle: @_rubyfalls

Chicken breasts and Nutella. Obviously, not together, but both are overrated. Pick a different part of the chicken! And just have chocolate. 

5. How do you and John still make date night a priority while you’re running around the world? Handle: @jegalle16

Please see Question 1 lol. Our date nights are mostly at home, but John is really good about watching my shows with me (I will watch all his sports stuff too!) and that’s how we spend time together. The kids keep me busy when he’s not home, but we do a lot of FaceTime and will try and be together as much as possible. When he’s traveling on tour, I’ll go with him – one of my favorite things is to explore different cities together (especially now with the kids) and eat the famous food(s) in each or when he’s home we’ll cook something and watch docs (usually murder or crime related). We’ve been together for so long, that we’re almost used to not being in the same place most of the time, but somehow we make it work. 

6. Valentine’s Day dinner ideas for kids? Handle: @tired_mama_of_4

Kids love to be treated like grownups, so have them dress up in their favorite “fancy” outfits, and make something that feels special but that they’ll still eat – my Herb-Butter Chicken Thighs Over Potatoes, a great pasta dish, and of course a super delicious dessert like my magic shell ice cream!!

Homemade “Magic Shell”: Hungry for More, page 245

7. Favorite Galentine’s Day recipe? Handle: @forreverav

Reservations! (Just kidding. Sort of.) While it’s great to go out with friends, what tells your friends you love them more than a home cooked meal? Maybe salmon, delicious salad, and lots of great wine.

8. Do you have a recipe for an easy, tasty dessert? Handle: @ameliamauro

There’s nothing sexier than berries and cream – use a whisk to whip a carton of heavy cream yourself in a bowl with a bit of vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, then pile over sliced berries and top with crumbled cookies of your choice.

9. What do you get your man who says he doesn’t want or need anything? Handle: lotusflower1924

Nothing. He shouldn’t have said he doesn’t want or need anything if he wanted or needed something.

10. What is your favorite thing to do on Valentine’s Day? Handle: claud_ch18

Now with Toons, I will buy the sh*t out of Amazon and Etsy to make little Valentine’s Day cards for her classmates and make all the cutesy things. Stickers, anything heart-shaped, glitter, I’ll buy it all. It’s essentially more for me than her, but it brings me so much joy. That and stuff like this 😫😫😫:

Main Photo Credits: Rankin / Love Magazine