Things I Love Thursday | Valentine’s Day Edition

It’s Valentine’s Day! And I could not be happier.

Being a barber (although this applies to pretty much all service industry folks), I prefer to make money instead of spend it on holidays like this. This is a really good money week, is what I’m saying.

Sheldon and Pancakes

Sheldon is a tiny dinosaur that thinks he’s a turtle. He loves you enough to share.

But still, in the spirit of the season, I thought I would round up some Valentine’s Day fun for this inaugural edition of the new Things I Love Thursday feature. This one is for those of us who hate pink, and could definitely do without all the hearts and flowers and lace and frills, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of you guys out there.

For the record, I am madly in love with my husband of 6 months, partner of 3 years, but even so this particular hyped-up holiday is way too much for me.

So here are your Valentines, in love or not fellow Valentine’s Day downers, with some neat, sweet (but not too sweet), and delicious V-Day love from some of the most crushable folks on my blogroll(s).

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Coconut & Almond Milk | Three Ways

Coconut & Almond Milk Three Ways

As you may know, Papa Bear and I have been doing a cleanse for the last two weeks, and now we’re entering into the third. Some of the recipes call for a lot of almond milk and coconut milk, so we have had quite a lot on hand lately.

Turns out, I’m hooked. Really really hooked. I have been buying the Silk brand varieties of both, and although they’re both delicious straight (and my favorite, mixed together!), I wanted to find a few ways to dress them up even more!

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Chai Apple Cider Caramels with Pink Himalayan Salt

Caramel may be my favorite substance on this entire blue marble of ours.

Especially when the weather turns cold, I want it in every form, on everything.

The richness of the slightly burned sugars and butter and cream are lent a depth and complexity with the addition of a black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove-infused apple cider syrup and spicy chai. Then we add a bright but earthy acidity that comes from a dash of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Chai Apple Cider Caramels

All of these flavors are pricked up and made to sing with a sprinkling of mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt right at the end. In short, these caramels are probably the best thing you will put in your mouth this winter.

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Grill-Smoked Applejack-Molasses Beowulf Turkey

This year may have been the year of the best turkey I’ve ever made. It was also the most oven space I have ever had to work with for a Thanksgiving meal (though still not enough – we need a second oven).

The trick was on the grill. And shellacking it with a sweet boozy basting liquid. Oh yes, and brine and smoke. If you have ever wanted to make people’s jaws hit the floor when the bird hits the table on Thanksgiving day, this is the way to do it.

Grill-Smoked Applejack-Molasses Beowulf Turkey

This thing looked downright MEDIEVAL. My dear brother-in-law described the legs as looking straight out of Beowulf – thanks for the name, Matt!

Keep reading for the full recipe, as well as all of the steps to a perfect bird.

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Cornbread Stuffing with Kale, Bacon & Pecans

Stuffing is always one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Or dressing, as the case may be.

Because there is no way in hell I’m putting something this good inside a bird. I know there are stuffing vs. dressing fans on either side of the debate, but here’s why I will never eat anything cooked while stuffed inside a chicken or turkey.

Cornbread Stuffing with Kale, Bacon & Pecans

The bird needs to be 165 degrees in the white meat and 175 in the dark to be done and safe to eat. While that giant bird is cooking over many hours, raw poultry juices are soaking into the stuffing inside the bird. Juices that are sitting in the danger zone, temperature-wise, for many hours.

When the meat is cooked, what temperature would you guess the inside of that bird-juice-soaked stuffing is? If it’s anything less than the breast meat, you’re heading for food poisoningland. I do not like food poisoningland.

Final point – how is there any way that the cavity of that bird can contain the amount of stuffing needed to feed the amount of people you have gathered? There isn’t. So let’s just skip the middleman and the E. coli, cook in a casserole separately, and call it dressing. Good deal.

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