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Happy Valentineve! What you should be cooking tomorrow night....

Hello, lovebirds! 

Valentine's Day is (obviously) drawing nearer - approximately two hours and twenty minutes to go here in Boston, until the air is filled with love and tiny cartoon hearts begin to appear in all of our eyes! Woohoo! 

Personally, I couldn't be more excited. Despite what they all say about Valentine's Day becoming a commercialized "Hallmark Holiday," I can't help but love any holiday that makes wearing pink and red from head-to-toe a socially-acceptable feat. While I don't think we should reserve any day in particular for love - every day should be Valentine's Day when it comes to showing our loved ones how much we care! - je t'aime the romanticism of it all: the flowers, the chocolates, the cheesy proposals on the floors of restaurants. What's not to love about Valentine's Day?

As for those of you celebrating Singles Awareness Day, my advice to you is to STOP! You're only hurting yourself by accepting such a narrow-minded definition of love this Valentine's Day - Valentine's Day is not just about the romantic kind of love! Your "Valentine" need not be a Christian Grey or an Edward Cullen (Side note: would admitting I'm Team Jacob be considered an inflammatory statement?); you need not be hyper-aware of your singleness just because it's February 14th. For happiness on Valentine's Day - heck, for happiness 365 days a year - I strongly advise that you worry less about Mr. Right and pay more attention to the people in your life who will always be Right: your friends, your family, and, most of all, yourself. After all, at the end of the day, the only person who needs to love you is you!

An update on my Single Ladies' Tea Party tomorrow: Let's just rip the Band-aid off, shall we? It's not happening :( Valentine's Day weekend also happens to coincide with the beginning of February break where I'm at, so most of the ladies are either gone (or, duh, spending time with their beaus). While I'm sad that all the time I spent making those quaint little invitations (teacup-shaped pockets, tea bag-shaped invites complete with pink and red strings, a pressing question: "Tea Mine?") was all for naught, my family plans on spending the morning eating pancakes and drinking tea instead, so I choose to be grateful instead of disappointed. Positivity is a far better use of my precious time & energy! And come on - who could ever feel disappointed with pancakes on the table?!

Another update (about Sassy Saturday!): due to special Valentine's Day posts and my long-promised Holden & Sexuality post happening this Sunday, this week there will be a special Marvelous Monday feature in lieu of Sassy Saturday. For those of you who missed my first Sassy Saturday post last week, Sassy Saturday is a new feature on the Chick Lit Kitchen where I share with you lists of my favorite things, things I'm grateful for, or things that simply make me smile. Just think of Marvelous Monday as Sassy Saturday + 2 days! And don't worry - this arrangement is only temporary. Next week, the sassiness will return to Saturdays as usual and the Universe will hang in the balance once more.

Whew! That was a long-winded introduction - thanks for sticking it out with me while I prated on and on about Tea Parties and Marvelous Monday. Now that we've taken care of business, let me tell you why I'm really here: Gnocchi! 

This Valentine's Day, I'm sure you're all wondering: what should I cook?!?! Whether you're trying to woo a lover, impress your sister, wow your Dad, or seduce yourself tomorrow night, I have the answer to your prayers. And that is...

Sweet potato gnocchi! Yep, that's right! This recipe is one of my favorites. Paired with a fresh homemade tomato-basil sauce, you simply can't get better than some piping-hot gnocchi (yet again, I may be biased - I am Italian!). You'll love it so much, you'll want to take it home and make it your Valentine. 
Not only is this the perfect recipe for a romantic dinner, but it also makes for some pretty darn delicious comfort food. The time spent prepping and cooking is a-plenty, but it's basically free therapy. In my humble opinion, there is nothing more soothing than rolling out some fresh gnocchi dough (and savoring the fruits of your labor afterward). 

By now, your mouths are hopefully watering, so I won't keep you waiting much longer. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you....

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Basil Sauce

For the gnocchi:
1 large sweet potato, mashed
3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
(Note: use 1 cup if using all-purpose flour)
1 egg

For the tomato sauce: 
3 tomatoes
1/4 of a white onion
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
3 leaves fresh basil, sliced thinly
a sprinkle of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
  1. You'll want to start making the sauce first so that your gnocchi and your sauce will be ready to eat at the same time. Begin by finely chopping the onion and slicing the tomatoes into quarters (I recommend leaving the gooey seeds in for maximum texture!). Then, in a large pot, saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until the onions are translucent, or almost, but not quite, see-through. Then, add the tomatoes, basil, water, and seasonings. Let this mixture simmer for about 30-45 minutes, uncovered, while you assemble your gnocchi! 
  2. Rinse the sweet potato, then bake it in the microwave by piercing it with a fork and heating it on high for 6-8 minutes until squishy all the way through (you may also want to try wrapping it in a wet paper towel - my mom taught me this; it keeps the potato soft and moist!). Wait for the potato to cool before cutting it in half, scooping the orange "guts" into a large mixing bowl, and mashing it up with a fork. 
  3. Combine the sweet potato, flour, and egg in a large mixing bowl. Dust a clean, flat surface, such as a countertop, with flour and knead the dough until elastic. Roll the dough into a long, round log about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Slice off 1-1.5 inch sections with a sharp knife and imprint with the flat side of a fork. 
  4. Heat water to boil in a large pot. Add three to four gnocchi to the water at a time and boil until the gnocchi float to the surface - they will expand when cooked, and will be firm to the touch, but not hard. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and lay them flat on a row of paper towels or a cookie sheet to dry (I recommend a cookie sheet, as the paper towels will sometimes stick to the gnocchi). 
  5. Once all the gnocchi are boiled, take your sauce mixture off the heat and pour it into a food processor. Pulse until the sauce has your desired consistency (I prefer mine just the slightest bit chunky!). Plate your gnocchi, top with sauce, and enjoy a piping hot plate of freshly-made joy! And, be sure to congratulate yourself for all your hard work: you deserve this.

A slight warning: I tend to be a guesstimater when it comes to cooking - measuring simply doesn't run in my family! (My great grandpa, when making raisin bread, explained this quirk eloquently: "You just add it till it feels right.") Thus, my recipes turn out slightly differently each time I make them; I try to write down the best version, but sometimes my memory fails me. You may want to try adjusting the quantities a bit until you find the version that works best for you! 

Thank you, darlings, for reading - as always, my heart goes out to all of you (especially YOU - you know who you are!). Try out this recipe and let me know what you think at @chicklitkitchen! I'd love to see your romantic gnocchi dinners on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to tag me if you decide to tackle this most rewarding of mealtime challenges. And most of all, just remember: no matter who you are or who you're sharing your Valentine's Day dinner with this year, you are beautiful, you are worthy, and you are loved! 

XOXO (and Happy Valentineve!), Haley


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