Create Valentine’s Day Memories from the Comfort of Your Home – Harrisburg Magazine

By Jessica Paholsky

Love is in the air this month. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with your sweetie, daughters, furry friend, or taking the day off to pamper yourself, let’s not forget that love is a journey – learning more about yourself and on the other person over months, years, decades. For couples, there is no one better to experience the world than the one you love. From romantic getaways and a honeymoon to the tradition of family vacations, every long-term relationship seems to have elements of travel.

But Valentine’s Day seems a little less traditional this year. As travel restrictions continue and the holidays fall on a Monday, how can you show your other half that they are the light of your world? How can you create memories from the comfort of your (or their) home while still feeling the lure of travel?

Once upon a time there was a pesto. No, I’m not reciting a fairy tale. I want to share eight unique Valentine’s Day ideas for you and the person you’ll be spending the holiday with. Every idea stems from my food and travel content on

I created Once upon a time there was a pesto in 2016 with a mission to teach others about the many foods and cultures of the world. To shed light on the internationality of pesto, a sauce that is not limited to basil and pine nuts. Pesto comes from the Italian verb meaning “to crush” or “to crush”. This means pesto is a process, not specific ingredients. You can make pesto with almost any ingredient by simply blending it with a few other ingredients in a food processor or blender. Then you can use each pesto in a variety of dishes, from breakfast and drinks to dinner and desserts. Once upon a time there was a pesto offers it all (40 different pesto recipes, to be exact), plus ways to use each pesto, cultural stories, fascinating history, and fun food facts.

Here are eight ways to use Once upon a time there was a pesto to create your own romantic foodie journey this Valentine’s Day:

1. Treat yourself to breakfast in bed.

Like you, I never thought of using pesto for breakfast until I discovered that pesto doesn’t go well with pasta. If you’re aware of the latest TikTok food trends, you know pesto eggs. Beyond eggs, pesto pairs perfectly with other breakfast or brunch dishes. At, I share breakfast ideas ranging from sweet to savory, inspired by different countries around the world. You can enjoy one or all of them while lying in your own bed. Here are a few:

– Bacon monkey bread made with maple syrup pesto, inspired by Canada
– Spanish tortilla (similar to a frittata) with red cabbage pesto, inspired by Spain
– Oat bars with cherry pesto, inspired by Russia
– Plantain Bread with Yam Pesto, inspired by Nigeria

2. Enjoy a passport-free stay.

Having traveled extensively during my university studies and at the start of my professional career, I discovered both the advantages and disadvantages of exploring the world. While there is so much to learn and learn from visiting other countries, traveling can be exhausting. As technology advances and the global pandemic has inspired new ways to experience other places (like virtual museum tours), it’s easier than ever to book a stay. Once upon a time a pesto is only a resource. At, I offer 40 different places to choose from – choose one or choose several. If you and your boo have always wanted to visit Europe, head over to the Europe section of my website, and there you’ll find 10 countries to explore, taste and learn more about.

3. Taste the city of love with a French-inspired pesto.

If you’re like me, traveling from country to country sounds cool, but it’s more rewarding to immerse yourself in a country and get to know it well. That’s exactly what I did during my four months of study abroad in Italy. While my classmates traveled to Prague, Barcelona, ​​London, etc., I took trains and planes to discover the 20 regions of Italy. And if there is one place to dive into on Valentine’s Day, it’s the city of love: Paris. One of the 40 countries I focus on is France. Put on your beret and mix up a batch of broccoli pesto to use in traditional French dishes like crepes. Or find out if French toast really comes from France. Either way, you and your date can savor all that this stylish European gem has to offer with just a few steps from your kitchen to your dining room.

4. Go classic with dinner and a movie.

Once upon a time there was a pesto is something I do on the side. I’m a full-time Video Marketing Coordinator at Milton Hershey School. And while my upbringing and professional career has been video-focused, watching movies is something I’ve only recently gotten into. If I had to choose one genre as my favorite, it would probably be romance or romantic comedies. This Valentine’s Day, you and your date can pair a pesto featured on with a romance film set in the same location that the pesto was inspired by. Here are some options for you:

– Green Bean Pesto, inspired by New York with “When Harry Met Sally”, which takes place in Brooklyn and Manhattan
– Zucchini Pesto, inspired by Italy with “Under the Tuscan Sun” or “Romeo and Juliet”
– Any Asian-inspired pesto recipe, with “Crazy Rich Asians”
– Pickle Pesto, inspired by Fiji with “A Summer to Remember”, which takes place in Fiji

5. Learn about each other’s heritage and cook a cultural dish together.

I’m no love expert, but one of the keys to a successful relationship is getting to really know the other person. This may involve learning more about your partner’s culture. Thanks to DNA testing products like 23andMe, many people are discovering more information about their family history and heritage. This means that you can take these discoveries and learn more about the countries related to your ancestry. So, let’s say your Valentine’s Day date is part Puerto Rican. You can make this holiday memorable by using the passion fruit pesto recipe on the Puerto Rico page of to make something delicious for both of you. This sets the stage for a conversation about each other’s traditions and cultural values.

6. Create a couples to-do list, then kick it off with a meal.

Everyone has their own approach when it comes to making a to-do list. Life circumstances and personal goals influence when and how this happens. If you’re in a serious relationship, why not create a bucket list together? It’s probably less daunting than opening a joint bank account, isn’t it? Once upon a time there was a pesto is the perfect, low-risk, low-cost way to create and execute a to-do list together. You don’t commit to paying hundreds of dollars for international flights or expensive hotels. The adventure is yours and among the six continents to explore on, your list of things to do as a couple can take you far. If snorkeling in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is high on your to-do list, my Aussie-inspired macadamia pesto would be the most natural way to celebrate turning dreams into reality.

7. Savor four dishes (and pestos) inspired by four different countries.

While developing and testing recipes for Once upon a time there was a pesto, my goal was to make a collection of dishes that could satisfy all palettes and preferences. Some pesto recipes are dairy-free, others nut-free. Some dishes are simple as “one, two, three”, while others require a little more culinary prowess. There are breakfast dishes, snacks, salads, appetizers, side dishes, gluten-free options, vegan ideas, drinks and desserts. That of each individual the experience is personal, customizable and always rewarding. If you and your Valentine’s Day partner want to have fun with a four-course meal, each prepared with a different pesto, Once upon a time there was a pesto is here to help. Here is an example of a menu I made:

– First course: Feta Dip made with Caper Pesto, inspired by Cyprus
– Second course: kale salad with pecan pesto, inspired by the Midwest of the United States
– Third course: Mac ‘N Cheese made with olive pesto, inspired by Egypt
– Fourth course: Tapioca pudding with lemon pesto, inspired by Myanmar

8. Host a food and culture quiz night.

Whether you’re watching Jeopardy or browsing quizzes on Buzzfeed, we all love the challenge of quizzes. On every page of, I found the most fascinating culinary and cultural information that applies to each of the 40 countries or cultures highlighted on the website. For example, when you go to the Brazil page, you will learn how pineapple plays an important role in this South American nation, what traditional Brazilian steakhouses really look like, and how to prepare the dessert called pudim. When you look at the sum of these global treats, you have an adventurous night of trivia at your fingertips. The best part is that you can pair the fun with the food and recipes you’ll also find throughout the game. Once upon a time there was a pesto experience.

There you have it, a list of food and travel-based ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year while staying safe at home. But don’t limit these ideas to one day when there are 364 other days to explore food and culture from around the world. Once upon a time there was a pesto can take you, your loved one, friends and family on international experiences any time of the year, whenever someone catches the “travel bug”.

Jessica Paholsky is the creator of Once Upon a Pesto. As the Video Marketing Coordinator at the Milton Hershey School and having traveled to over a dozen different countries, she is a storyteller and visual creator with a passion for having a global perspective.

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