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For Valentine's Day dinner, we almost always eat pasta. Usually, we make our Italian favorite, spaghetti and clams. This year we're experimenting with beet ravioli. It's a Valentine's color, delicious and the ultimate interactive fun to have with your kids. Food tastes better when you've made it together. 

Pasta is a food that makes everybody happy. It's perfect for kids because kids love to make a mess and they can get really creative in the kitchen. 

For Valentine's Day Beet Ravioli:
basic pasta dough:
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons water, if needed
2-3 small beets
for the filling:
11 oz of goat cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 T chopped chives
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Roast beets at 400 for about an hour. Let them cool then quarter the beets and place in a food processor.  Add the eggs and flours.  Pulse until a ball of dough forms.  Add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms that is not dry, but still a little bit sticky. Take the dough out, knead a little on the counter and place on a sheet of floured plastic wrap and wrap. Let rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes.  Cut the dough in quarters and roll out for ravioli. Follow pasta machine instructions for rolling out the dough. We started on a number one and gradually went to a number five which was perfect for our ravioli. 
Flour the ravioli mold. Lay a sheet of pasta over the mold and scoop a small spoonful in each little groove. Cover the ravioli with the remaining overlapping sheet. Run a little rolling pin over the top and gently press down. This allows for the ravioli to come out clean. Repeat with the other three quarters. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook half the raviolis (we froze the other half) and cook for about four minutes. Scoop raviolis out of the boiling water and place into a pan of butter and olive oil. Toss gently and serve with a Parmesan (you can also top with hazelnuts, pinenuts, chives, raisins...)  

   We also made some fettuccine (same recipe without the beets).

This Valentine's Day, stay home and make pasta. 
Also see this pasta inspired post:

Love, Love Me Do (deux)

Valentine’s Day will be here soon! Have you shopped for your loved ones yet? Here are a few ideas and inspirational poems that I think would add extra happiness to your Valentine's Day. 

The Eskimo has fifty-two names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love. ~Margaret Atwood
Valentine's for Her: 

Golden sparkler heart wand I plan to add mine to a chocolate cake...and maybe let my kids have some fun outside. 
PARIS : An Inspiring Tour of the City's Creative Heart  Take a dip into the most romantic city in the world.
Valentine Heart bra and panty set Inspired by Josephine Baker who worked her magic on Parisian high society.
Alice + Olivia Heart d'Orsay flats comfortable and sweet.
Bando hearts You can never have too many sparkly hearts!

The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.
~Barbara Kingsolver
Valentine's for friends:

LOVE necklace "L" is for the way you look at me...
Heart Pasta I can't wait to see my children's faces when I serve them heart pasta for Valentine's Day. 
Send your love with these beautiful assorted Valentine's Day cards
Heart apron Lucille Ball would approve.
Raspberry Basil Lemoncello Cocktail Three of my favorite bar ingredients: raspberries, lemoncello and rose sparkling wine...the perfect Valentine's Day cocktail to share with your best friend.

Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
~Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Valentine's for Children:

Rock Monkey...that funky monkey might become my son's favorite animal to sleep with!
Thames & Kosmos Perfume Science Kit I would have loved it if someone gave this to me when I was a teenager. This is my kind of science.
Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love A beautiful children's Valentine story about the world that can be hidden in the simpliest of things. Also, it has a recipe for apple cake.
Heart Pajamas A little baby would be wrapped in your love.
Girls' Striped heart sweater Perfect for Valentine's Day and also very French!

Westley: "I told you I would always come for you. Why didn't you wait for me?"
Buttercup: " were dead."
Westley: "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while."
~William Goldman, The Princess Bride

Valentine's for Him:

Leather card wallet rustic...just like him!
Manicure set with everything your man needs.
Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die stunning photographs for your adventurous cyclist.
Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties fascinating facts about the Beatles’ music, their lives and the sixties.

More love inspired posts:

Mastering the Art of French Eating: love, food and France

You know those books that grab hold of you from the moment you start reading the first few pages? Mastering the Art of French Eating is one of those treasures.

Ann Mah’s book will make you hungry for a crusty baguette and thirsty for a good rosé. Her book is about love, food and France. The life-lessons she learns in France truly give her food for thought and make memories you can taste.

Mah’s diplomat husband was assigned to Paris for a three-year posting. They were living the “American in Paris” dream together until her husband was transferred to Iraq for a year.

Mah’s situation was similar to Julia Child’s…both diplomatic spouses spending their days in Paris learning about French cooking. She even bought a house on the same rue de l’Universite that Julia lived on.

At first, the Skype chats she schedules with her husband are all she’s looking forward to until she gets a part-time job working at the American library and starts exploring France.

Reading her book, we can travel with Ann as she meets fellow food enthusiasts...a farmer’s wife who offered to give Ann the details and secrets of her cultured butter, a fellow food writer that she invites over for dinner to make soup dumplings and a wine adviser who leads Ann through her wine cave in Pommard. 

Using Thomas Jefferson and Julia Child as tour guides she journeys through France, searching for the country’s most famous provincial and iconic dishes. Traveling to Alsace for choucroute, Brittany for butter and crepes, Lyon to experience a Salade Lyonnaise, Languedoc to taste cassoulet and Provence for soup au pistou. As she travels, Mah includes recipes for these regional recipes from her journeys.

Ann writes, “There is no croissant as crisp and flaky or as sweetly buttery as the one you eat, still warm from the oven, on your first morning in Paris after a long absence.”

Ann Mah is easy for me to relate to…she’s shy, has had a love for France since she was a child, is a tea drinker and loves Julia Child. I want to be her friend and make a pumpkin pie with her…a fellow Francophile.

Reading Mastering the Art of French Eating will make you want to be in Paris…preferably with your husband because as she writes,“If you want to go fast, eat alone. If you want to go far, eat together.” And “Somehow everything tastes better eaten with your favorite dining companion.”

Merci Ann! I so look forward to reading your next book. 

Other books you might enjoy that take you on a journey through France: Eight Days in Provence, Paris to the Moon, Almost French, Chasing Matisse, A Year in the Merde, and My Life in France.

Other French inspired posts you might enjoy:




Five things you might not know about dance

Dancers have a wonderful reputation of being overachievers, super hard-workers and multitaskers who can focus on many things at once. This is why they make the best employees! I think of ballerinas as super heros. There's a deep history to making these super hero dancers... 

Here are five things you might not know about dance.                

1. Ballet originated in Italy. We can thank Catherine de Medici who was a huge patron of the arts and brought ballet to France when she married King Henry II in the sixteenth century. The Ballet Comique de la Reine was the first ballet performance and Catherine was the instigator bringing over Italian masters to choreograph the dance. The court was so impressed with the ballet that they tried to copy similar dances then eventually replaced Italian ballet masters with French, and that’s why the language of ballet became French.

2. Before a dancers goes on stage, they say "merde" to their fellow dancers backstage as a way of wishing each other good luck. It seems quite funny if you speak French. Back in the Catherine de Medici days, people would take their horse and carriage to the performances...merde would pile up! Backstage helpers would let the dancers know there was merde...which later meant a simple "good luck " (just a more fun way of saying it remembering dance history). 

3. For the first one hundred years of ballet, only the men danced. King Louis XIV loved to dance and star in Versailles court performances.

4. One tutu can cost up to $2000 and require up to 60-90 hours of labor and several months. It's a labor of love! You can see how much love goes into making a tutu here

5. Most ballerinas wear out two or three pairs of pointe shoes per week. Dancers may carry a wide variety of supplies to break in their pointe shoes: tape, toe pads, scissors, sewing kits, mallet, cheese grater (to rough up the soles of the shoe), pliers, lighters (to singe the ends of the ribbons). Ballerinas use rosin on their pointe shoes to keep from slipping. Rosin is made from pine tree sap. 

I believe with all my heart what Martha Graham said was true..."Dance is the hidden language of the soul."