Chicken & Broccoli

Dave and I always say we would probably pick Asian food if we only could have one type of food for the rest of our lives.  It’s too hard to decide within that realm… we LOVE spicy Thai food, Szechuan, good old Chinese takeout, Vietnamese, Sushi… it’s all so good!  I try really hard to not order takeout during the week, so sometimes I end up picking recipes during my menu planning that are healthier versions of some of our favorite takeout dishes.  And subsequently needing to buy a Costco size jug of low sodium soy.

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Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Happy New Year everyone!  Yesterday, Dave and I started a two-week Food Lover’s Cleanse.  The Cleanse is from Bon Appetit- it’s all about getting back in the kitchen and cooking healthy whole foods.  They limit refined starches, sugars, saturated fats, and dairy.  After eating like pigs over the holidays, we could use the cleanse!  If you feel like taking the challenge and joining in… let me know!  The cleanse and all recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks can be found here.  I’ve already been cooking up a storm making fresh sauces and dressings to get ready for the next few days.  It’s been a lot of work but it’s been fun so far!

Meanwhile, another goal for the new year besides getting back on track with eating is for me to continue to blog!  It’s been so hard with my new job, planning our wedding, and now it’s even more difficult with our new puppy, Snoop!

Our puppies!!

Our puppies!!

Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (or Sriracha)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (divided)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemongrass Paste (or sliced peeled fresh lemongrass)
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Garlic (or 2 cloves)
  • 1 cup sliced Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, sliced thin
  • 2 Stalks Celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, shredded
  • 8 oz Haricot Verts, trimmed
  • 1lb boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Cashews
  • 1 Thai Chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds to garnish

Preparation:

1. Combine brown sugar, chicken stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sambal oelek.
2. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add lemongrass and garlic; stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a small bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, carrots and haricots verts to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon; add to lemongrass mixture. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken in a single layer; cook 2-3 minutes or until browned. Add cashews and chile to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in stock mixture and vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until sauce begins to thicken. Serve immediately and top with sesame seeds.

Adapted from:  Cooking Light

Still lovin' my Gourmet Garden herbs.  I use the garlic with everything and it's great to use the Lemongrass when needed so I don't have to buy it fresh and take the time to peel it!

Still lovin’ my Gourmet Garden herbs. I use the garlic with everything and it’s great to use the Lemongrass when needed so I don’t have to buy it fresh and take the time to peel it!

Such a nice RED on that bell pepper...

Such a nice RED on that bell pepper…

Yummy Cashews!  I love the  buttery crunch they add to this asian dish.

Yummy Cashews! I love the buttery crunch they add to this asian dish.

Everything ready to be stir-fried!

Everything ready to be stir-fried!

Finished product!  Usually, Dave and I like our asian stir-fries to be a little saucier, but this one is so flavorful, it's okay that it's not drenched, I promise!

Finished product! Usually, Dave and I like our asian stir-fries to be a little saucier, but this one is so flavorful, it’s okay that it’s not drenched, I promise!

Something I have always loved about Stir Fry recipes is that you can customize it so easily according to what veggies you have available and what you and your family enjoy!  Try it with broccoli, spinach, peanuts, or really anything!

What is everyone doing for the New Year?  Any good recipes to try?  I am saving some good ones to make after our cleanse!

 

 

 

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles

I was driving through Silver Spring, Maryland where I was stationed during my training for the new job when I came to a HAULT.  Is this for real?

tumblr_m0d5h5tw9E1r17icbo1_400

Am I driving around with nothing to do and did I really come across a Korean Supermarket in the process?  Yes!!!  Now, I know we have lots of these in Philly and I could easily go to one any day, but after stops at Trader Joes, Superfresh, Giant, Whole Foods, etc… who wants to go to another market?!  This was meant to be.

After walking around aimlessly in awe of all of the new produce, types of kimchi and rices, I stopped and literally just stared at the noodle section.  I was in heaven.  I decided that I had to buy some, and good ol’ Soba was the winner.  While Soba Noodles are available at some markets, they certainly aren’t abundant and certainly aren’t affordable.  I’m talkin’ I got a 2lb package for $2.99.  Awesome.

Now that I’m back home and busy as a bee trying to start my business in my new job… I’ve had little time (and cash flow) to go food shopping for us.  I’ve been making some pretty creative things, but last night I just was craving something warm… and spicy.  The soba noodles popped into my mind and I just could not get them to go away.  So, soba noodles it was!

I modified a recipe I’ve saved from Cooking Light and whipped up some pretty delicious (warm and spicy) Soba Noodles.

Okay, if you’re sitting here and you’re all like… “wtf is Beth talking about, what are Soba noodles?!?!” … take a second and check this out  or just be happy with my explanation:  they are really pretty and delicious buckwheat noodles that take like two seconds to cook and taste extra nutty and work well in most Asian dishes.

Soba Love

Soba Love

Oh, and I do of course have to mention that one cup of cooked Soba is over 100 calories less than one cup of cooked spaghetti.  BAM.

photo from Gourmet Garden

photo from Gourmet Garden

Another star of this quick and easy noodle dish that I absolutely HAVE to tell you about is my new Gourmet Garden herbs!  You’ve probably seen these in the refrigerated section in your produce aisle, but have you used them yet?  They are a lifesaver! These tubes are jam-packed with fresh herbs that are pre-washed, chopped, ready to use and will NOT go bad as fast as regular fresh herbs (my downfall when using herbs).  In this recipe, I used Chunky Garlic, Chili Pepper, and Ginger.  No spicy, garlicky, smelly hands… no peeling, no chopping.  Ah-May-ZING!

these bad boys are the bomb.com!

these bad boys are the bomb.com!

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles

Ingredients:

2 bundles Soba Noodles

2 Chicken Breasts

Green Beans, Carrots, Broccoli, or other Veggies as desired

1/3 cup Water

1/3 cup Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

1 Tablespoon peeled, chopped Ginger (Gourmet Garden)

3 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons Honey

1-2 teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper

1 pinch Ground Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chili Pepper

1-2 teaspoons chopped Garlic (or Gourmet Garden)

Green Onions, sliced (I used my Freeze-Dried Chives)

1/4 cup chopped Dry Roasted Peanuts

Directions:

1.  Boil the chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks or strips, whichever you prefer, and set aside.  Cook whatever vegetable you want to use too.  Set aside.

2.  To cook the Soba Noodles, bring salted water to a rolling boil.  Drop the noodles in and lower the heat a little.  Boil for 4-5 minutes.  Drain and rinse under very cold water.  This will help prevent the noodles from clumping up and sticking together.

3.  Meanwhile, stir the water, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, peppers, and garlic together in a medium-sized bowl with a whisk until well combined.  Taste and re-season according to how hot you prefer.

4.  Combine the noodles, chicken, veggies, and sauce.  Top with crushed peanuts and green onions.  Serve and enjoy.

Recipe inspired by:  Cooking Light

Mix up that sauce

Mix up that sauce

Crush some peanuts

Crush some peanuts

Combine everything together...

Combine everything together…

Voila!

Voila!

I don’t think there’s any better sauce than one that’s sweet, spicy, and has peanut butter.  I mean, really… how can it get better than that?  The Gourmet Garden herbs were kick-ass in the sauce and saved me so much time.  And needless to say, I am in Soba love!  MMM!

Check out Gourmet Garden on Twitter @FreshMadeEasy

Find Soba Noodles Here

and while you’re at it, look at these other sweet n spicy recipes from yours truly!

Mango-Sriracha Chicken

Mango-Sriracha Chicken

Slow-Cooker Asian Beef

Slow-Cooker Asian Beef

Peanut Butter Soba

Peanut Butter Soba

Sweet n Spicy Citrus Marinade

Sweet n Spicy Citrus Marinade

Dak Bokkeum w/ Spinach (Korean Stewed Chicken)

com·fort food
noun
  • 1.  food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.

What’s so great about comfort food is that it can really be anything.  It’s all personal.  Comfort food is about what makes YOU feel good.

It might be warm and gooey like home baked chocolate chip cookies.

It might be cheesy and creamy like a mac and cheese.

It could even be crispy and crunchy like deep fried chicken.

For my boyfriend Dave and I… comfort food is Asian Takeout.  Thai, Indian, Szechuan, or plain old Chinese… any type will do the trick.  It’s just so darn comforting.  Add some spice and you’ll probably make something that we’ll consider our “favorite meal ever”.  We just love the stuff.

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you not only because it’s delicious, but because I found it on a Cooking Light Comfort Food collection.  I couldn’t believe this was on there… right up our alley.  This unique Korean chicken dish is on the same list as some pretty soul-soothing recipes like Chicken Noodle Soup, Pot Roast, Meatloaf, and so many more.  It was just sitting there on the webpage screaming for me to make it.  So I did.

Dak Bokkeum w/ Spinach (Korean Stewed Chicken)

Recipe Makes:  4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup gochujang (Korean chile sauce)*
  • 1/4 cup (1/2-inch) slices green onion bottoms
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice (I used Wegman’s Aztec Blend: Ancient Grains, Red Rice, Brown Rice, and Split Peas)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup slices green onion tops
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in chicken. Cover and marinate 30 minutes.
  2. Cook the rice according to the package directions.
  3. While rice cooks, bring 1/3 cup water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add chicken mixture; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in green onion tops and spinach. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Recipe from:  Cooking Light 2012

*Note about Gochujang: Gochujangis an indispensable Korean sauce based on fermented soybeans and chiles. You’ll find it in Asian markets, or seek out Annie Chun’s brand, which is more widely available.  Or just use some Sriracha like I did!

**Note about serving size:  Dave and I like everything we eat to be super saucy.  This recipe above will make four servings.  I halved the chicken and the rice but kept the rest the same.  This way, there was a ton of spinach and extra sauce.  If you want to make four servings and have it be extra saucy like me… just double the sauce/marinade section.

Sweet lookin' marinade we've got here!  Whisk it up and add the chicken.

Sweet lookin’ marinade we’ve got here! Whisk it up and add the chicken.

What it looks like after a half hour.  Give it a good stir or two.

What it looks like after a half hour. Give it a good stir or two.

I really like Wegman's Ancient Grains blends.  They are hearty, healthy, and more interesting than boring old brown rice :)

I really like Wegman’s Ancient Grains blends. They are hearty, healthy, and more interesting than boring old brown rice 🙂

This recipe gets a few bonus points for asking me to use my dutch oven

This recipe gets a few bonus points for asking me to use my dutch oven

Ta-Da!!

Ta-Da!!

What was really exciting to me about this recipe is that it calls for Chicken Thighs.  This might seem normal to most people, but I have a hard time getting Dave to eat anything but white meat when it comes to chicken.  I decided to just go for it and the sauciness and sweet/spicy smell permeating through the house would convince him to eat it.  And it did.  And he liked it.  Go figure.

Now, what I want to know is what is your favorite comfort food?  Leave me a comment, I’d love to try some of your favorite feel-good recipes!  

Here are a few of my personal most comforting recipes on the blog so far…

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Blue Cheese & Spinach Orzo

Blue Cheese & Spinach Orzo

BBQ Deviled Eggs

BBQ Deviled Eggs

Slow-Cooker Asian Beef

I am so excited to tell you that I used my slow-cooker for the VERY FIRST TIME yesterday!  Well- that is… the very first time to make something other than Chili.

All my favorite bloggers and friends are all wintered-up, talking about their slow cooked meals that are easy as pie and ready when they come home for work.  I was starting to get jealous.  I was determined to find an awesome recipe for a hunk’o’meat and try this whole thing out myself.

The recipe I found was from the blog Foodie w/ Family and obviously got my attention since my boyfriend Dave and I LOVE two types of food:  Spicy & Asian.  This recipe happens to be both.  Not too bad!

Dave and I stopped by the Italian Market over the weekend and picked up a 3lb Boneless Top Round Roast from the butcher.  I made the marinade Monday night and put it in the refrigerator in a container so it would be all ready for me on Tuesday.

Scenes from the Italian (Market... not restaurant!)

Scenes from the Italian (Market… not restaurant!)

We're loving the plethora of fresh and inexpensive produce just a 5 min drive away

We’re loving the plethora of fresh and inexpensive produce just a 5 min drive away

Tuesday afternoon, I stopped home to let the dog out and put the meat & marinade into the slow cooker.  Pressed “Low”… and waited.  And waited.  Okay, so I “waited” while I drove back to work, finished my work day, worked out for 2.5 hours, and THEN came home for it to be ALL DONE and waiting for me to devour it!

There are some other steps in between, but you can read about that down here…

Slow-Cooker Asian Beef

Recipe adapted from:  Foodie w/ Family

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-4 pound Boneless Top Round Roast (or you can use bottom)
  • 1 cup Beef  Broth
  • ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Honey plus 2 Tablespoons for later
  • 1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (depending on how hot you like things)
  • 4 cloves Garlic, peeled and lightly smashed with the side of a knife.
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of Ginger, lightly smashed with the side of a knife or sliced.

Directions:

1.  Place the beef in the slow cooker.  Drop in the garlic and ginger around the beef.  Mix the broth, vinegar, 1/4 cup of honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sriracha sauce and pour the entire thing over the roast.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4 (I did low and slow!).  The beef is done when it is fork tender.  … go ahead and just stab it to see!

2.  Remove the beef from the crock and place on a cutting board.  Carefully take the juices from the slow cooker and place into a saucepan (I used a ladel- the crock was VERY hot).  Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of Honey to the sauce and boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce as much as you’d like for a thicker sauce.  *I was starving when I got home so I only reduced it for about 10 minutes, probably by about 1/4.  It was still VERY thin… next time I’ll try to be more patient for a thicker sauce!*

3.  Meanwhile, shred the beef using two forks.  You can mix the sauce directly in or pour over each individual serving.  

The finished product

The finished product

The beef and sauce went great with the stir fried veggies and organic quinoa

The beef and sauce went great with the stir fried veggies and organic quinoa

This looked so yummy too- I might have to try a sandwich next time.

This looked so yummy too- I might have to try a sandwich next time.

The beef turned out soooooooo yummy!  It just melted in your mouth and had such good flavor from the marinade.  It wasn’t too spicy but it also wasn’t too sweet, it was sorta just perfect.  Dave and I went low-carb cooked up some Quinoa and a Veggie Stir Fry on the side (Onion, Carrots, Celery, Jalapeno, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Green Beans, and Tomatoes). We decided to sauce our plates ourselves so we were able to pour it all over the entire plate… mmm!  Our roommate Adam even dug in and ate the beef as a sandwich on soft potato rolls… they looked amazing!

The Slow-Cooker verdict is:  Thumbs Up!  Both of the boys asked for me to make this beef again, and to use the slow cooker more often.  Considering how easy this was… I absolutely will!  

You should really check out these other fab recipes:

Quick Beef w/ Yogurt Sauce (a Weight Watchers Recipe!)

Quick Beef w/ Yogurt Sauce (a Weight Watchers Recipe!)

Sesame Beef Stir Fry

Sesame Beef Stir Fry

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Sampan

When Mer asked me if I had ever been to the famous, fancy, delicious Asian restaurant, Sampan… I thought she was crazy.  I tried to explain to her that it’s pretty good but that it was just normal Chinese food… nothing special?  Mer was convinced she heard it was pretty spectacular… so I decided to go to my dear friend, GOOGLE.

Apparently… Sampan is indeed a fancy Asian restaurant downtown, not just the neighborhood place I grew up walking to.

1 point Mer.  0 points Beth.

Once I glanced at the menu, I was sold.  Mer… we’re so in!

We ended up going for Happy Hour on Wednesday for Center City SIPS with both of our guys (Dave and Mike) and their friend Lee.

The Happy Hour Menu is sorta like asian tapas.  Everything is from $3-$5.  Here’s what we picked out (and a fabulous ordering job done by Mer):

Korean BBQ Beef Satay:  Short Rib, Kim Chee, Ginger
Edamame Dumpling:  Truffle, Pea Shoot, Sake Broth
Pork Potsticker:  Kim Chee, Scallion, Shallot
Kobe Slider:  Soy, Swiss, Brioche
Kobe Hot Dog:  Smoked Mustard, Brioche
Pork Bao Bun:  Shallot, Pork Belly, Mint
Chicken Bao Bun:  Chili Sauce, Shallot, Sweet Basil
Kim Chee Fried Rice:  Shrimp, Shallot, Sunny Side Egg

Kobe Hot Dogs… 3 orders! I wished there was more mustard and maybe some kind of topping?

While I was most excited for the Kobe Hot Dog, that was probably the biggest disappointment.  I mean, it was a great hot dog and all… but there wasn’t much to it.  The biggest surprise was the Kim Chee Fried Rice… omg it was heavenly.

The server popped the egg and mixed up the rice for us tableside.

Closeup of the Fried Rice

I had some great expectations for the Edamame Dumplings due to tons and tons of Yelp reviews, and they lived up to their high standards.  The dumpling was really light while the edamame filling was super creamy.

Now, for the great “Bao Bun” challenge… which is better the Pork or the Chicken?  Dave and I are not really into pork so we were thinking the chicken would be better.  I tried the chicken first and thought there was NO WAY the pork could beat this.  It was soooooooo good.

Chicken Bao Buns

Winner, winner, Pork Bao Bun dinner!

Well, let me tell you… the next bite I had was the Pork Bao Bun and it was even better.  Couldn’t believe it!  The sauce it’s cooked in is sweet and tangy and the pork has a really nice crispiness to it.  WOW.

Kobe sliders were great as they usually are.. Kobe anything really… right?

The Pork Potstickers were tasty but nothing special… I guess this is comparing them to the Edamame Dumplings!

Korean BBQ Beef Satay was one of the last things to come out… it was amazing but I was too full to really enjoy it as much as I should have.

Lee let us know that missing dessert wasn’t an option.  We ordered some kind of Peanut Butter Smores Pie… UM WOW.  We almost fought over it.  Not a drop was left on the plate.

We also ordered the Mini-Ice Cream Cones… we were pretty disappointed by these.  Although the “Vanilla-Twizzler” flavor was strangely dead-on to Twizzler… there were only two (despite the fact that there were 3 holes for cones in the holder they used) and they were like… really really really small.  Not big enough to share.

Mocha Chocolate & Vanilla Twizzler Ice Cream… YUM! I want more!

All in all, Sampan in PHILLY is pretty awesome.  The restaurant itself is “trendy” and would work for happy hour with friends, a date, or really anything.  AND, just a little tip for when you go: Lee told Mer and I to check the bathroom… instead of music playing they have classic movie quotes.  How perfect for us two filmies!

Oh, and anywhere that has Sriracha on the table is a fine place for me!

Pod on Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day this year, I asked to go to a fun, romantic dinner, just the two of us.  Dave and I decided on POD, a Stephen Starr classic, featuring Dim Sum, Sushi, Pan-Asian dishes, and something I had never heard of:  Robata…but more on that later.

 

There is one thing I have to order EVERY time I go to ANY Stephen Starr restaurant:  Calamari Salad.  This salad happens to have been featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate, and let me tell you, it’s so true

 

Delish Calamari Salad

The Calamari Salad at POD differs from some of the other restaurants because it is served tossed in a Lemongrass Dressing.  It’s very light but flavorful and the spicy/citrus tang of the lemongrass pairs perfectly with the lightly breaded calamari. 

 

Unsure of what else to order besides a sushi roll, I asked our server what he recommended.  He told me about the Robata menu.  Robata, for those of you who don’t know (we didn’t!) is a Japanese grill that reaches up to 1000 degrees, double that of a normal charcoal grill.  The meat or veggies are grilled on skewers, lightly charring the outside but keeping the inside juicy and tender.  He also let me know that POD is the only restaurant in Philly that has a Robata grill.  Ding ding ding!  The alarm immediately went off in my head, we HAD to get this! 

 

We changed our order around (which ended up saving some money too!) and selected the Short Rib Robata served on two skewers with Truffle Miso sauce.  O-M-G.  I would go back to POD any day and order just this dish.  It was perfect, I can’t even find the right words to describe it.  YUM!

 

One of the best beef dishes I've ever eaten!

Dave and I agreed on ordering the Spicy Crunchy Yellowtail Roll, since it was one of the smaller ones.  And- if you know anything about us you will understand why it just wasn’t an option when you hear that there was jalapeno and mango inside!  MMM!  The sushi was very fresh and thankfully didn’t have very much spicy sauce or crunchy on it. 

 

You can even see the fresh mango!

Since we were ordering the Robata AND the sushi roll, we decided to order a side dish and a veggie instead of two entrees, saving us almost $50!  We ordered the Crab Fried Rice (Jasmine Rice and Jumbo Lump Crabmeat) & Wok Roasted Baby Bok Choy served with Garlic Sauce. 

 

Dave almost couldn't wait to dig in!

The rice was amazing.  Crabmeat was mixed throughout and every bite had crab in it.  Using the jasmine rice makes it have a unique taste and it also lightened it up a little. 

 

I was surprised to see the Bok Choy arrive at our table, I couldn’t believe how much was in one $6 serving!  They were so yummy and we were happy this was all the food we ordered, because we were STUFFED!

 

gorgeous color green baby bok choy

Of course not too stuffed to order an unbelievable, creative dessert!  We chose the Fluffernutter Spring Rolls.  Just the name of the dessert is enough to swoon over.  These spring rolls are stuffed with marshmallow fluff and peanut butter, served with a dark chocolate dipping sauce described by our server as “mandatory, not optional”.  These rolls were heavenly as expected, and we were both REALLY stuffed afterwards. 

 

PB&Fluff Spring Rolls

Take a peek inside! MMM!

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Valentine’s Day with Dahv!