Posts Tagged 'Valentine’s Day Recipes'

Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Recipes

Since I just passed on these recommendations to a certain someone (I won’t give you away!), I thought I might as well share them with the rest of you.  These are recipes that I think are special enough for your sweetie but fast and easy enough for the cook to be able to relax and enjoy the evening.

Chicken with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Juicy chicken with elegant presentation, plus you can assemble it a day ahead.

Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Parsley Sauce – Use wonton wrappers to make almost-homemade ravioli.  This one can even be made a day ahead (or frozen) to make mealtime that much easier.

Halibut Meuniere – This is a fast, fresh-tasting fish option.  Love that golden crust!

Pan-Seared Steak – No grill required.  This is a great way to create a steakhouse-style meal at home.

Pear and Prosciutto “Carpaccio” – This one is more of an appetizer, but it’s gorgeous and easy.  Reduce the balsamic vinegar a day before to get things on the table even faster.

Penne with Vodka Sauce – Pink sauce is so in line with Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Chops – As I said in the original post, this one is AMAZING.  No one will believe it only took 15 minutes to make.  Be sure to get prosciutto di Parma at the deli, though…  The packaged stuff is borderline inedible.

Raisin-and-Bread-Stuffed Pork Chops – It’s comforting and delicious, and it only takes 25 minutes to go from ‘fridge to table (including a side of veggies).

Let me know if you give any of them a try!

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Chocolate Orange Fondue

And now the Valentine’s Day finale… Dessert!

Dr. O had originally requested cheesecake, but I think a whole cheesecake is a bit much for 2 people to handle, especially before a bed-and-breakfast weekend full of yummy treats. He agreed to chocolate fondue, so I decided to try a recipe I found on FoodNetwork.com: Chocolate Orange Fondue from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa).

This was another super easy one. I started by setting up my own double boiler; I brought an inch or so of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan and then placed a medium heatproof bowl over (but not in) the water. I added 7 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate, 1/3 cup of heavy cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons of grated orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee, and 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier to the bowl and stirred the mixture constantly until it was smooth.

That was it! I put half of the chocolate in a ramekin and served it with butter cookies, dried papaya, pretzels, strawberries, and bananas. (Bananas are my favorite, but the pretzels were a surprising second.) This fondue had a very distinct, delicious orange flavor. I would definitely make it again.

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TIPS: Ideally, you would probably serve this in a fondue pot to keep it warm, but ours didn’t have a chance to get cold anyway. 🙂

If the “homemade double boiler” thing isn’t quite making sense, look at it this way: The mouth of the bowl should be bigger than the mouth of the saucepan. That way, the bowl will slide down into the saucepan a bit but will still sit a few inches above the bottom.

Recipe link: Chocolate Orange Fondue

Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Parsley Sauce

On to the Valentine’s Day entree…

I found this great recipe for “homemade” ravioli – Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Parsley Sauce from the January/February 2008 issue of Everyday Food – right around the same time I finally managed to locate fresh wonton wrappers at my grocery store. (The Asian food section? No. The fresh pasta section? No. In the produce section by the herbs and pre-packaged carrots? YES!) The ravioli looked sufficiently fancy and fun for Valentine’s Day, so I decided to give the recipe a whirl.

Using wonton wrappers in place of homemade pasta (a grand kitchen failure for me circa 2003) made this another quick and easy recipe. First, I mixed up the ravioli filling. In a small bowl, I combined 3 ounces of fresh goat cheese, 1/4 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 pressed garlic clove, and a pinch of nutmeg. I mashed everything together with a fork, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then stirred the mixture until it was smooth.

Next, I assembled the ravioli. I put 6 wrappers on a cutting board and covered the others with a damp paper towel. I spooned 1 level tablespoon of filling onto the center of each of the 6 wrappers. I used my fingertip and a little water to wet the edges of the wrappers and then folded each one over (in half over the filling, basically) to form a triangle, pressing the edges to seal. I flattened the area around the filling to eliminate air pockets and placed the finished ravioli on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. I repeated the process with 6 other wrappers for 12 total ravioli.

I put a large pot of salted water on to boil and used the “waiting” time to make the parsley sauce. I chopped 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley and then stirred that together in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of water, and some salt and pepper.

Once the water had reached a boil, I reduced it to a bare simmer and dropped the ravioli in one at a time. I cooked them for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking. When they were done, I used a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain briefly. I plated the ravioli, drizzled them with the parsley sauce, and served them with garlic-roasted tomatoes.

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Yuuum-my. This was another terrific recipe – bold green, for sure! I loved the taste and texture of the ravioli, and the parsley sauce was a nice alternative to tomato sauce.

TIPS: If you can’t quite envision how to fill and fold the ravioli, check out the recipe link below. There’s a great photo that might help clarify the process.

You can make the ravioli a day ahead or even freeze it, if you’d like. If you make it a day ahead, take the parchment-lined baking sheet with the ravioli, cover it in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. Otherwise, freeze the ravioli on the baking sheet for an hour and transfer the frozen ravioli to a resealable freezer bag. They’ll keep in the freezer for a month, and cooking time is the same as it would be for fresh or refrigerated ravioli.

Recipe link: Goat Cheese “Ravioli” with Parsley Sauce

Tenderloin Steaks with Gorgonzola and Herbs

So the actual title of this post is “Tenderloin Steaks with Gorgonzola and Herbs and Roasted Garlic and Grape Tomato Pasta with Basil and Arugula,” but I thought that was a bit much. I can’t count myself among Rachael Ray’s fans, but I did try a recipe of hers by that title on Saturday night.

I so rarely treat Dr. O to steak (I think this goes back to the fact that we don’t have a grill) and Central Market had a great coupon, so I splurged and bought some top-notch filet mignon. I’m extra pleased that the end result justified the cost of the meat.

Rachael Ray bills this as a “quick” meal, but I have a hard time prepping AND cooking at the same time the first time I try a recipe. I like to have everything I need prepped and waiting to be tossed into the pot or pan at the right moment. Therefore, I started by making my herb-and-cheese topping, rather than trying to cook pasta, roast tomatoes, chop herbs, and prep steaks at the same time.

I only made a half recipe since there were just two of us, so double all the ingredients if you’re cooking for 4. I chopped one scallion (white and green parts), thinly sliced 5 fresh sage leaves, and finely chopped a handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley. I combined the scallion and herbs with 4 ounces of Gorgonzola crumbles and set the mixture aside. I also grated 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded 10 fresh basil leaves, and chopped 1 cup of arugula to use later for the pasta.

Next, I boiled 8 ounces of penne rigate according to package instructions, using the minimum cooking time. (It ends up sitting in a hot sauce later in the recipe, so keeping the cooking time to a minimum prevents soggy pasta.) While that cooked, I lined a baking sheet with foil and tossed 1 pint of grape tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic (cracked but left in skins), and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil together on the sheet. I seasoned the tomatoes and garlic with salt and pepper and roasted them for 20 minutes at 450 F.

In the meantime, the pasta finished cooking. I drained it, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking water for the sauce, and put it in a covered pot to keep it warm. I also prepped my two steaks by rubbing them with a peeled, halved garlic clove, seasoning them with salt and pepper, and rubbing them lightly with olive oil.

When there were about 5 minutes left on the tomatoes, I heated my cast iron skillet over high heat and cooked the steaks for a minute and a half per side to caramelize the meat. I removed the skillet from the heat and topped the steaks with the Gorgonzola-herb mixture.

This is where things got hairy.

At this point, I was supposed to take the tomatoes out of the oven, put the skillet with the steaks in the oven, turn the oven heat off, and let the steaks cook for 4 – 5 minutes in the still-hot oven. Rachael said, “The Gorgonzola will melt down over the meat and the steaks will be tender and pale pink inside.”

Riiiiiiiiiight.

She recommended tenderloin steaks that were 1 1/4-inch thick. I had an extra 1/4 inch on mine, maybe. When I used my digital thermometer fork to check the steaks after 6 minutes (not even 4 or 5), my meat was at a whopping 96 F. Not good.

I ended up turning my oven back on (at 450 F) and checking my steaks every 3 minutes. My smaller steak ended up needing an extra 9 minutes to get to medium; Dr. O’s took 12.

To put a positive spin on the delay, this did give me extra time to finish the pasta (though that was quick and easy, actually). I removed the roasted garlic from the skins and mashed it into a paste using a fork. I transferred the garlic paste to a pasta bowl and added the 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water. I whisked the garlic and water together with my fork to make a garlic broth. Next, I added the roasted tomatoes to the bowl and mashed them with a potato masher until a sauce formed. I added the cooked penne, grated cheese, arugula, and basil and tossed until the ingredients were well combined.

When my steaks had finally finished cooking, I served them with the pasta.

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Despite my complaints about things not going as planned, this meal was absolutely delicious. The super fresh pasta sauce – not a canned ingredient in sight! – was exceptional. This would be a great recipe for Valentine’s Day, if you’re planning anything special. Just make sure you allow extra cooking time for the meat.

TIPS: I just kind of guessed at what Rachael meant when she said to crack the garlic cloves but leave them in the skins. I just bent each clove “backwards” until I heard a snap. I was amazed at how easily the cooked garlic came out of the skins this way.

Also, it seems like you make a heck of a lot of cheese topping for 2 (or 4) steaks, but you’ll need it. I lost a bit to the skillet when I initially topped the steaks, and then I appreciated having a bit extra to add during my extended cooking time.

Recipe link: Tenderloin Steaks with Gorgonzola and Herbs




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