Valentine’s Day Dinner Made Easy
It’s always tough when a holiday falls in the middle of the week, but it’s especially hard for special days like Valentine’s Day when you want to do something special but are pressed for time. Most of the couples I know are waiting until the weekend to celebrate or skipping it all together. My sweetie and I are celebrating low-key this year. I did some hunting through my recipes to find a few special, tasty, but quick recipes. I have pulled together a menu that is a little more special than our normal weeknight meals, will be finished cooking in under an hour, and uses a minimum of specialty items. Here is the menu I have come up for our Valentine’s Day meal:
9 ounce frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6 ounce jar of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
crusty bread rounds, pita chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 8×8 baking dish, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a food processor, place cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, and red pepper. Process for about 30 minutes to combine. Drain and squeeze out water from thawed spinach. Add spinach and artichoke hearts, and pulse to chop vegetables and combine with cream cheese mixture. Pour dip mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle grated Parmesan across the top.
Cook in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes until heated through and beginning to turn golden around the edges.
Serve hot or at room temperature with crust bread rounds, pita chips, or chips of your choice.
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-1/4 cup water, divided
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
5 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 pound shrimp, 13/15 (colossal) or 16/20 (extra-jumbo) size
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together soy sauce, 1 cup water, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and honey. Bring to a simmer. In a small cup, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4-cup cold water. Whisk cornstarch slurry into simmering soy sauce mixture. Allow mixture to come back to a simmer. Cook until mixture reaches desired thickness. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.
De-vein and peel shrimp, rinse in cold water. In a medium mixing bowl toss the shrimp in 1/3-cup of the teriyaki glaze to coat. Reserve remaining glaze for dipping. Keep shrimp cold until ready to grill shrimp.
Preheat grill pan over medium high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place marinated shrimp in a single layer on the preheated grill. Cook 5 to 7 minutes total cooking time, half on each side. When done, the shrimp will be pink and the flesh opaque white.
Serve immediately with remaining teriyaki glaze.
2 cups jasmine rice
1-1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup small pineapple chunks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup, scallion greens, sliced
1/4 cup toasted almond slices, optional
In a medium sauce pan, combine rice, broth soy sauce, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. In a medium pot, over high heat, add the rice, broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Allow to cook for 15 minutes. Add pineapple and scallions and stir to combine. Cover and let cook for 15 more minutes. Turn off heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve. Top with toasted almond slices, if desired.
1 pound broccoli florets, trimmed and clean
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut florets into bite-size pieces. In a large mixing bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Spread coated broccoli onto prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes until broccoli is just tender. Serve hot.
Cream Cheese Batter:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cups sugar
To make the cream cheese batter
Place the cream cheese and the sugar in a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Blend in the flour. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, lemon juice, zest and vanilla then gradually add to the cream cheese mixture. Whisk until smooth and set aside.
To make the brownie batter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Melt the butter in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add the chocolates and remove the pot from the heat after one minute. Let stand until the chocolates are melted, stirring occasionally.
Lightly beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and then add the chocolate mixture, whisking to blend. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the flour over the chocolate mixture in 3 additions, folding gently with a whisk just until blended. Fold in the pecans with a rubber spatula. Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and set aside.
Spoon the remaining batter into the baking pan and spread evenly with the back of a soup spoon. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top, spreading it to form an even layer. Drop the remaining batter by tablespoon, at random, over the cream cheese mixture. Insert a paring knife halfway into the batter and swirl the 2 layers together to create a marbled effect. Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is puffed and set. Do not over bake. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let the brownies stand for 3-4 hours before cutting into 2-inch squares.
This recipe makes 16, 2-inch brownies.
Your Turn: What are you cooking for your Valentine’s Day meal? Whatever you are serving, we hope you and your sweetie have a very memorable and special Valentine’s day together!