Valentine’s Day…24 hours to profess your love and appreciation of those you love – significant other, friends, and kids.
Making it mean something to you is important; otherwise it can seem a little overrated. Have you ever tried making dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day? It’s quite a task, with some people – my restaurant sources say – booking their reservation months in advance!
So, if you’ve forgotten to make reservations, or you’re just opting for a quiet bit of romance and appreciation at home, the following recipes are sure to please. Best part? The ingredients are easy to find, and the preparation is simple. Enjoy!
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Chicken Parmigiana, yikes, don’t be turned off by the name, it merely translates to chicken with parmesan cheese. This recipe is amazingly tasty, one of my dinner guests once commented with a dribble of pasta sauce on his chin: “it tastes just like in a restaurant!”
4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
½ cup bread crumbs (add 1 tsp, of oregano)
1 egg, beaten
2 T. olive oil
1 jar of pasta sauce (about 3 cups)
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 T. parmesan cheese ½ c. mozzarella cheese
Spaghetti, linguine, or other pasta of your choice
1. Heat oil in pan. Dip each chicken breast in the egg and dredge through the bread crumbs.
2. Place in chicken in pan. Brown both sides of all four pieces of chicken.
3. Next add the jar of pasta sauce and the garlic to the pan, making sure to cover the sides of the chicken breasts. (Lift the chicken gently to get some sauce underneath, too). At this point, start preparing your choice of pasta according to package directions.
4. Bring chicken to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink.
5. Sprinkle 1 T. of parmesan cheese on to each chicken breast. Next, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese onto the chicken breast. (Do this when the rest of the meal is ready) Cover for 2 minutes, until cheese is melted.
6. This dish is ready to serve! (Serves 4)
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Greens are good for you, that’s a fact. But, really they are somewhat tasteless. The best thing to do is to add an assortment of zip! A kick-butt dressing, mandarin oranges and avocado always do the trick!
Avocado & Mandarin Orange with Mixed greens
(adapted from Winners, the Best of Bridge)
½ c. olive oil
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry mustard
1 garlic clove
4 c. mixed greens
2 green onions, thinly chopped
1 mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into cubes
Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds
1. Place the dressing ingredients into a jar, tightly close the lid, and shake until ingredients blend together.
2. Mix salad ingredients into a salad bowl. Shake dressing again before drizzling on salad. Toss. Sprinkle with *toasted sunflower seeds. (Serves 4)
Warm 1 T. of butter in a pan at a medium heat, add sunflower seeds. Turn down heat and stir seeds until slightly toasted.
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It is said that asparagus is an aphrodisiac. Therefore, it’s an appropriate inclusion in your Valentine’s dinner, or any dinner for that matter. Besides its sexy reputation, it also tastes darn good with balsamic vinegar and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Who knew?
Oven Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar & Parmesan
1 lb. of asparagus
2 T. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Prepare asparagus by breaking off the bottom of the stalk where it naturally bends and snaps. Soak in cold water for a 10 minutes to wash and ensure tenderness.
2. Remove asparagus from water and pat dry. Place asparagus in an 11×17 baking pan and toss with olive oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until tender.
3. Remove from oven and toss with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and black pepper. (Serves 4)
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By far, the dessert recipe that gets the most play in my kitchen – Chocolate-y Fudge Pie. It was once just a lowly chocolate pie recipe, but over time, by adding more and more chocolate it has become what it is today…oops, I just drooled on my keyboard! (I think you get the message…)
Chocolate-y Fudge Pie
6 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened baking chocolate
1 ½ c. butter (3 sticks)
3 ¾ c. sugar
¾ c. milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. of 2 deep dish frozen pie crusts
Whipped cream for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a medium pot at a low heat on the stove. When mixture is almost melted, remove from stove and let sit until mixture is finished melted. Transfer chocolate to large mixing bowl.
3. Add sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture. Whisk until completely combined.
4. Pour half the chocolate mixture into each pie crust.
5. Place pies on the middle rack of the heated oven. Bake until just set, about 35-40 minutes. (pie puffs up a bit, then will deflate once cooled.) (Serves 8 )
Cool for about 30 minutes…freezes wonderfully…
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And because Valentine’s Day is about being sweet to the ones you love, another amazingly simple dessert for those that maybe can’t do chocolate (it’s a crying shame, but it happens…) Here’s a exotically creamy version of rice pudding. Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you!
Rice pudding with cardamom and mango
6 c. whole milk
1/3 c. uncooked basmati rice
½ c. non-fat sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. salt
2 c. chopped peeled mango
1. Combine whole milk and basmati rice in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil 40 minutes or until mixture thickens. (Mixture will be a chowder-like consistently.)
2. Stir in sweetened condensed milk, cardamom, and salt; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon ½ c portions into dessert bowls, top with chopped mango.