There's something in the air besides Covid - it's LOVE! With Valentine's Day this Sunday, we thought it would be fun to create a fantastic Valentine's Day Dinner from start to finish for you and your loved one(s) to enjoy.
Before you get started on the meal preparation, here are a couple of tips you will find helpful:
If you have pretty glass dishes or china, use them. Be sure to use your pretty wine glasses or everyday glasses. Everything doesn't need to be matchy matchy so feel free to mix and match. If you're not having wine, it's still nice to put sparking cider or a mocktail in a wine glass as well.
Candles - candles are a must for your table. They help create the mood for the night.
You can create a simple and beautiful floral centerpiece with flowers from Trader Joe's or your favorite grocery store flowers and m & m's. Visit this website on how to create this festive, beautiful and easy centerpiece!
Fresh flowers and candles for a centerpiece make your table beautiful. It doesn't matter if the rest of your home is in disarray, turn down the lights, light your candles and no one else will notice the rest of the house.
If you're grandchildren will be joining you for dinner, you might have them decorate some pretty placemats. This will keep them busy while you are getting the dinner on the table.
Go grocery shopping at least the day before. Read through your recipe and know exactly what your prep and cook time will be. This way there are no surprises as to when dinner will be served.
Create a playlist of your favorite artist on spotify or pandora to create a mood.
Since it's Valentine's Day, here are our favorite red wine suggestions:
For a very reasonable price, try J. Lohr 2018 cabernet sauvignon for about $12. It's dry and smooth with hints of vanilla.
For under $25, try the 2019 Juggernaut Cab. It's aged in French Oak barrels and according to www.Vivino.com, is similar to wines costing twice as much.
Ready to splurge for the special occasion? The 2017 Artemis Cab by Stag's Leap is rated a 92 by Wine Enthusiast.
Do you prefer a lighter red wine? Try the Meiomi Pinot Noir for around $16 with a medium body and rich cherry flavor.
Caprese Salad Appetizer
For a festive appetizer, all you need is a heart shaped cookie cutter to make this cute Heart Caprese Salad. It’s such a simple & stunning way to serve caprese! The salad comes together in minutes with just three main ingredients and makes a special starter to your Valentine’s meal. Why not turn this into a fun activity for you and your grandchild. They can easily help with cutting the mozzarella using the heart-shaped cookie cutter!
All you need is:
· 4 Roma tomatoes. Slice into 1/4" slices
· Fresh pre-sliced mozzarella log, cut into heart shapes using a heart-shaped cookie cutter (about 12 mozzarella hearts)
· Fresh basil
· Olive oil
· Balsamic glaze
· Flaky sea salt
· Toasted baguette
Start by forming the tomato slices into a heart shape on a serving board or platter. I have this board which I really love using. Top the tomatoes with the fresh mozzarella hearts. Place a leaf of fresh basil next to each mozzarella heart. Drizzle the entire heart shape with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve with toasted baguette slices.
I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this Heart Caprese Salad and that your Valentine’s Day is filled with love!
This is one of my favorite salads. It has five ingredients and is so easy to put together. I think it pairs well with the other dishes and will be a perfect addition to your Valentine's dinner.
1 bunch of fresh Romaine lettuce. Washed, dried and torn into small pieces. (Keep refrigerated until ready to toss.)
Croutons (homemade croutons are easy to prepare and make a wonderful addition to your salads.)
Fresh Parmesan Cheese
Freshly ground cracked pepper
Homemade Caesar Dressing or if you're pressed for time, my family's favorite Caesar dressing from a jar is CARDINI"S.
In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves, Add half of the croutons and Parmesan cheese and toss again. Top with remaining croutons and cheese. Finish off with a garnish cracked pepper and serve immediately.
Flavorful chicken breasts will set the mood for Valentine's Day this year. Simmered in a tangy sauce and scattered with colorful capers, this dish will put a smile on your loved one's face. It is an easy dish to prepare and full of flavor.
4 chicken breasts, cut crosswise and lightly pounded
Salt and pepper
6 tbls unsalted butter
6 tbls olive oil
2 tbls fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup of capers, drained
4 tbls fresh parsley coarsely chopped
6 medium garlic cloves diced
Cut the chicken breasts crosswise and place between plastic wrap and lightly pound. This is the most important step. To learn more on why pounding chicken breasts prior to cooking is vital to your dish, check out the article by Lifehacker. Next, salt, pepper, and dredge in flour.
Heat the skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Add chicken breasts and cook on each side until browned.
Remove chicken from skillet and add garlic, saute one minute. Add wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until liquid has reduced. Combine chicken broth plus one tablespoon of flour and whisk, add to the pan to thicken. Add in capers and lemon juice, return chicken to pan. Simmer for five minutes. Top with parsley when serving.
As a side dish, angel hair pasta pairs nicely.
Pucker up buttercup!
"Cooking is like love: It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." -- Harriet van Horne
Cherry Chocolate Brownie Bites
1 box brownie mix - 9 x 13 size
water according to directions on package
oil according to directions on package
eggs according to directions on package
1 - 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries drained (reserve juice for the frosting)
5 Tbsp butter softened
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups powdered sugar
3 oz. softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp reserved maraschino cherry juice
Mix brownie mix according to directions on the package with the required eggs, oil and water. Use a cookie scoop, scoop the batter into a well-greased mini muffin pan.
Bake brownie bites for about 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
After you remove brownie bites from the oven, press an indention into each one, using the back of a 1/2 tsp spoon. Place 3 semi-sweet chocolate chips while the brownies are still warm into each center. Let the chocolate chips sit for a few minutes until they are softened and then press a cherry on top of the melted chocolate.
While brownies are cooling, make the frosting. To make the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer. Once the mixture is well combined, add the reserved cherry juice and beat until smooth. You can either frost with a decorating tip or with a knife. You can also keep some of the brownies unfrosted, if desired.
Strawberries and Cream Truffle Hearts
I haven’t tried this one yet, but looks so yummy that I’m going to do this one as well and give to my family.
Strawberries & Cream Ganache
8 oz. frozen strawberries, thawed & drained
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
12 oz. white candy melts or white chips
1/2 oz. freeze dried strawberries, crushed into fine crumbles
Coating & Toppings
16 oz. white candy melts or white chips, melted
2 Tbsp crushed freeze-dried strawberries
For the Strawberries & Cream Ganache, purée thawed strawberries with sugar and lemon juice using a blender or food processor. Press purée through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
Measure out 1/2 cup of puree and pour into top bowl of a double boiler. Use any remaining purée for another use.
Heat 1“ of water over low heat in a saucepan and set bowl of strawberry puree on top so that bowl seals around edge of pan but doesn’t touch water. Pour white melts or chips over top of purée. Stir every few minutes until most of white chips are melted. May take up to 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and then stir in crushed freeze dried strawberries.
Pour ganache into silicone heart molds that are about 1 1/2" wide or pour into a foil lined 8” square pan. Let truffles firm up for 3-4 hours at room temperature.
Pop truffles into freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove mold from freezer and immediately push hearts out. If you used a square pan lift up tin foil and peel it off. Use small heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out hearts.
For coating and toppings, spread a thin layer of melted white candy melt on bottom side of each truffle heart and allow coating to harden. Then dip hearts completely in white candy melts and set on parchment paper lined baking sheet. While candy melts are still wet, sprinkle on a small amount of crushed freeze dried strawberries. Freeze hearts for 3-5 minutes until the candy is hardened.
Put into a pretty bag or box and can be stored at room temperature for up to 7 days.
We wish you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine's Day!