I stumbled across these recipes the other day when I was cleaning out my recipe cupboard. The first two recipes are family favorites in which anyone can make. Kim’s taco casserole is great for using up leftover nacho or corn chips from any party. Top it off with Mom’s cherry cheesecake, and you have a super easy Valentine dinner. If you promise to do the dishes, you will be giving your wife one of the best presents. If you are more adventuresome, try the pork roast and sweet potatoes with fluffy blackberry dessert. Not really hard, but it does take some time to bake. Serve it on your good china with a few lit candles and soft music. You cannot find that at any restaurant. Top either meal off with a glass of homemade Sangria. I served this over the holidays and ran out before I could get a glass. I will have to make extra next time. Enjoy.

Taco casserole by Kim Carrier
1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 envelope taco seasoning (or a combination of chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper)
1 cup water
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
6 ounces corn chips
10 ounces enchilada sauce or salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    Brown ground beef and onion; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water; simmer 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in vegetables. In a 9-inch square pan, sprinkle half of corn chips. Add half of browned meat mixture, top with half enchilada sauce and half of cheese. Repeat each layer beginning with corn chips and ending with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Add remaining corn chips and bake an additional five minutes.

Cherry cheesecake dessert by Becky Dowell
Pre-made graham cracker pie crust
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounce container Cool Whip, thawed
20 ounce container cherry pie filling
1 tsp. almond extract
    Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into pie crust. Mix pie filling and almond extract together and pour over cream cheese filling. Ready to eat.

Pork roast and sweet potatoes
3- to 4-pound boneless pork roast
1 Tbsp. lemon-pepper
1 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 baking apples, quartered and cored
2 small oranges, thinly sliced
    Sprinkle roast with pepper. Sprinkle top and sides with flour and put the remaining flour in the baking bag. Roast at 375 degrees for one hour. Combine honey, lemon juice and brown sugar. Set aside. Pull the roast out of the oven after an hour. Slit the top of the bag and slide the roast out into the pan. Pour the juices inside the bag in the pan. Place sweet potatoes around the roast. Spoon the honey mixture over the roast and potatoes. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover and return to oven for 1-1.25 hours. Arrange apple quarters, cut side up on sweet potatoes. Brush with honey mixture from pan. Cut a slit in the orange slices to make a twist. Place on top of roast. Return to oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Fluffy blackberry dessert
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. orange extract or Triple Sec
2 cups blackberries rinsed
2 Tbsp. butter
    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Flour a large pie plate or tart pan. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Set aside. Whisk eggs, cream, milk vanilla and orange flavoring. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Pour in pan. Scatter berries on top. Dot with butter bits. Bake 40-50 minutes until barely set; will still jiggle. Serve warm for brunch or a special dessert.

2 large oranges, washed. Slice one, juice the other
1 large lemon, washed and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Triple Sec
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine, chilled
    Add orange, lemon and sugar to large pitcher. Mash gently with wooden spoon till fruit releases juice and sugar dissolves, about one minute. Stir in orange juice, Triple Sec and wine. Refrigerate for at least two hours up to eight hours. Before serving, add 6-8 ice cubes to pitcher. Stir briskly. Serve immediately.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.