This year, you can join the reigning Miss USA, Alyssa Campanella, for an exciting Valentine’s Day class at ICE that helps a very special cause.

Alyssa was named Miss USA in June 2011 and since then has been working as a spokeswoman for breast and ovarian cancer education, research and legislation — a platform that is close to her heart as it has personally affected a member of her family. In her free time, Alyssa also has a great love of cooking and baking and is enthusiastic about food. Earlier this January, Alyssa starred as one of the contestants on Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off (Did you catch our students in Episode 2?). Alyssa followed her interest in food into the kitchens at ICE to learn more, working with Chef Instructors Mike Schwartz and Anita Jacobson to master the culinary arts.

This Valentine’s Day, she will combine her passion for sweet treats and her charitable work by teaming up with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer founder Gretchen Holt-Witt to put those newly found skills to work in support of a good cause. Alyssa will host a one-of-a-kind cookie class with 100% of proceeds going to support pediatric cancer research. Whether you are planning a bake sale or simply looking to acquire some great cookie recipes for your personal repertoire, you will leave this class with new techniques — and the knowledge that you’re helping a good cause.

Join Miss USA and Chef Instructor Melanie Underwood to bake an assortment of cookies, including some from Gretchen Holt-Witt’s cookbook, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Best Bake Sale Cookbook (she donates 100% of royalties to pediatric cancer research). To learn more about what you’ll make in class, check out the menu online.

For a chance to win two spots in the class and meet Miss USA, simply comment on this blog post and tell us your favorite romantic meal. The winner will be selected at random on February 8. The winners must be in the New York City-area to claim the prize.


  1. My idea of a romantic dinner would be at home. Dimly lit table with romantic gold and red table setting. Dinner would be cognac sauce pepper steak with creamy fluffy garlic mash potatoes along side with asparagus tips in a light garlic lemon butter sauce with a glass of champange . For dessert i would say roasted strawberries dipped in chocolate tuxedo style.

  2. When it comes to romantic dinners, my main concern is dessert! Great company will get me through any appetizer or main course, but no romantic evening is complete without a sweet finish. My all time favorite? Splitting a classic warm brownie with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.

  3. My idea of a romantic dinner is a simple roasted chicken–just a bit of rosemary, salt and pepper, plus a side of a fresh cucumber salad (dill, olive oil and vinegar) and roasted veggies, like sweet potatoes and squash. We’ll eat it with a crisp white wine, like pinot grigio, and top of off the meal with chocolate mousse (which I learned how to make at an ICE class).

  4. My favorite romantic meal to share with my love is to start off with a glass of Prosecco and a delicious cheese plate with fig spread, honey and fruits… Then we lead to a roast pork with sweet carmelized onions and creamy, whipped potatoes and a smooth Pinot Noir.
    For desert we indulge in a chocolate fondue with fruits, pretzels and graham crackers for dipping~
    Food is Love!

  5. My favorite romantic dinner is anything my boyfriend cooks for me. His specialties are Japanese curry, steak and potatoes, and spaghetti with meatballs, to name a few. Even if he misses an ingredient or things don’t go as he planned, I know he’s made it with love, which is about as romantic as a meal can possibly get.

  6. I like to plan my Valentine’s dinners with my loved ones. Being that we’re avid fans of the foodnetwork, we select some recipes and plan a menu from the foodnetwork website! Since relationships are about “give and take”, we plan a menu that has favorites for all! The best part is that we love to cook and experiment in the kitchen. This is done together on Valentine’s day! An array of homemade cookies would be a nice idea for dessert this year!

  7. My favorite meal would happen to be anythng Italian, most specifically, pasta fra diavolo with shrimp!

  8. My favortite romantic dinner was a surprise dinner made by my husband on a Valentine’s day. Since restaurants were fully booked. He surprised me with a candle-lit dinner at home instead. We had roasted bone marrow appetizers, steak dinner (Alton Brown’s pan seared rib eye steak recipe) and finished it up with fondue dessert (fresh strawberries and banana dipped in dark chocolate). Plus, not to forget a bottle of Carbernet Sauvignon red wine. My husband is a big fan of Food Network, so made that dinner extra special for me… Anyway, every dinner is special and romantic for me as long as my husband make it! He is my personal aspiring chef!

  9. The most romantic meal was a surprise picnic that my boyfriend set up for me in his parent’s basement when we were younger, cooking wasn’t his strongest skill so he ordered in sushi and set up a blanket on the floor with candles and flowers. It wasn’t fancy, just thoughtful and sweet.

  10. Over the past few years, I’ve had the luxury of intimately dining/visiting (perhaps romantic) with some of NYC’s homeless young adults that live in Tier II shelters for domestic violence. (I know-this story doesn’t sound romantic, but it has a good ending-I promise!) I bake cookies and treats for the young adults and I bring it to them and visit with them. Two years ago, I sat and ate cookies with Janet, a 21-yr old mother of 2. We chatted for awhile about her life, her challenges and her future. When I went to the shelter last year in 2011, a staff person handed me a note that Janet wrote to me but she couldn’t figure out how to get it to me. The note said, “Mr. Johnny, thank you for brightening up my day on Valentine’s Day. Not even my family comes to see me, so it meant a lot to me. The next time you see me I will be back on my feet, taking care of my kids and working.” The staff person said to me that Janet is now working full-time, living in housing and her kids are in school. I was so happy to learn that. Must be all the love I put into making the cookies on Valentine’s Day.

  11. Cynthia Clemente

    My favorite romantic dinner is at home cooking for my partner..I’ll dress the table with red cloth…
    To start wine and red hot lips sipping. Then with strawberries while waiting for the main meal.
    Angel hair pasta with marinara sauce with salmon, shrimp, squid and scallops..topped with basil..
    Side dish of salad consisting red ridicchio, red leaf lettuce, spinach with balsamic vinegar and olive oil;
    Another side dish of steamed Oysters cooked in red cooking wine…
    Finally, dessert is Red Velvet cake and red chocolate and hot chocolate… If this meal will not make you feel Romantic..then you’ve never been In Love…

  12. Hands down, the most romantic and loving meal was a tasting menu my husband prepared for my birthday. Beautifully-set table, complete with candles, flowers and a printed menu complemented the six-course meal he prepared, largely from recipes he got from your cooking classes. It was one for the books!

  13. Valentines is a day for romance and what better way to woo your significant other than with a romantic dinner for two. The dinner should not be complicated or have you dashing around when time is better spent with your loved one.
    Before you even get close to the Valentine Recipes you may want to think about the table, decorations and drinks which is why creating a romantic dinner for two ranks as one of the most daunting meals to prepare. It is also the one event where setting the mood on your table is as important as the food on the plate.
    As anxiety, stress and exhaustion are not conducive to romance, here are a a few tips to help ease them and how to set the scene for a fabulous evening.
    A classic for a starter are oysters perhaps because they are considered an aphrodisiac? Perfect for romance. You can serve the oysters fresh and unadorned, or how about Warm Oysters with Chive Sauce so light and easy to prepare and cook. If you are anxious about choosing oysters,have a look at this simple guide.
    Prawn Cocktail is another light and easy starter and again can be made in advance which makes it a good choice.
    Make a light, simple soup such as Pea and Mint Soup or favourite Carrot and Ginger.
    Like the starters keep the main course simple so you don’t spend the evening in the kitchen. Choose something which can be made in advance and simply needs to be whipped out of the oven at the last minute. Perfect is a Venison Pie. You can make the filling in advance and finish just before the meal. At dinner, place the pie in the center of the table and share.

    Another great sharing dish is a Wild Mushroom Lasagna . This is an exotic dish of earthy wild mushrooms and for a touch more elegance sprinkle with truffle oil before serving. Pop it in the middle of the table and dig in. By the way this is a perfect dish for vegetarians.
    If you prefer something lighter then consider fish. This Sea Bass with Lemon Potatoes is perfect in its lightness. Prepare to the cooking point and store, then pop it into the oven as you sit down to your long, lingering starter and it will be ready when you finish. How easy.And for the sweet finale
    Chocolate is the ultimate dessert for a romantic Valentines dinner. You are bound to find something romantic in this collection of Favourite Chocolate Recipes which fits the bill perfectly.
    Want an alternative to chocolate? How about a Champagne and Rhubarb Jelly, a light sophisticated dessert and very easy to make. Serve it with tiny biscuits or buttery Scottish Shortbread .
    For the ultimate in easy, light and delicious is a Lemon or a Clementine Posset.
    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!!

  14. lawrence haynes

    My romantic dinner would be a an indoor picnic a sheet on the floor so we can get comfy two tbone steaks done on a griddle with cucumber salad on the side with a bottle of Red wine & sweet potato pie with whip cream”YUMMY”for dessert would be my partner”YUMMY” LOL

  15. My favorite romantic meal is a meal especially prepared for me by my hubby since going out that day is too much crowded, long waiting. Any meal will work for me since I am the one who always prepare/make our meal on a daily basis. We loved to watch cooking show and he always got an idea but just don’t have time to prepare it. I’m sure on a special occasion like Valentine it will be lovely and awesome meal knowing him and the fact that he loves to surprise me. Valentines is always sweet and romantic day for us.

  16. The most memorable romantic dinner was with my girl friend, now wife, at a seafood restaurant in Weekhawkin NJ. On the menu was sumptuous appetizers, fresh seafood entrees and decadent desserts! Though the food was excellent it wasn’t what set the mood. The restaurant sat on the Hudson River facing the New York City skyline. At the time, New York City represented both our ambitions and dreams of where we wanted to be. Having this background made our dinner to be the memorable ever!

  17. My idea of a romantic meal would be a great italian pasta dinner in a restaruant that has the perfect soft lighting. And ending the dinner with a great sweet desert.

  18. My perfect romantic meal would be fondue. Cheese with bread and vegetables to dip, meats to cook in broth, and of course chocolate to dip fruit and marshmallows! And afterwards wine by the fireplace 🙂

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