February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Feast

As much as I enjoy heading out to dinner on a fake holiday and waiting over an hour for a table (even though I have a reservation), this year we decided to spend Valentines Day with an economic-friendly night at home. For a quarter of the price of a fancy dinner, I made my husband a four course meal in the comfort of our home and pajamas.

The Menu:

Citrus Salad

This is a popular salad in our household. I usually just mix together baby spinach, apples, oranges, sliced almonds, and Brianna's Homemade Dressing, and it's a huge hit every time.

For Valentine's Day I tried to fancy things up by shedding the apple in a food processor.

Lentil Soup

I first came across the recipe for this soup when I wanted to make a lentil soup for New Year's Eve a couple of years ago. It is one of my favorite soups. I follow the recipe exactly as written, except: (1) Before I add in the pasta I puree two cups of the soup in a blender (and hopefully I remember to expose the whole in the blender top and cover it with a towel - trust me, you don't want to forget to do this); and (2) I throw in the pasta 10 minutes before I am ready to serve the soup (even if it is ready before then) because the pasta absorbs the liquid in the soup very quickly.
As an added bonus, this soup is great for leftovers. I either eat it later as a stew (I wasn't kidding about the pasta absorbing the liquid quickly), or when I reheat it, I add chicken broth to turn it back into soup.

If you didn't believe me about that pasta, above is proof of the stew leftovers.

Chicken Picatta

This is one of my husband's favorite dishes when we eat out, but I've never made this dish myself before. I thought I would give it a try, and it turned out great! I even made a "healthier" version by using margarine instead of butter, but you could not tell. Another bonus: It turns out chicken picatta takes about 9 minutes to make. This might end up on our weekly dinner menu rotation.

For a fun Valentine's Day touch the entree was heart shaped.

Mashed Potatoes

The grocery store didn't have the potatoes I usually use for making mashed potatoes, so I grabbed baby red potatoes instead. My secret to making them is that I heat the milk and butter before I add them to the potatoes, and I mash the potatoes with the skin still on the potatoes.

For a special touch, I packed the mashed potatoes into an egg ring (thanks to my bridal registry) and packed them down with a spoon. After I lifted the egg ring, I had perfect round patties of mashed potato.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Raspberries

It was probably just as fun making these as it was to eat them. Although the original plan was to sprinkle white chocolate stripes across each of them, the white chocolate did not cooperate.
I had some extra chocolate after dipping the strawberries, so I dipped a couple of raspberries in the chocolate (why should it go to waste?). The raspberries were great. I think I might make them again as a bite sized dessert.

Next time, I also might experiment with milk chocolate (and, I will do proper research about how to properly melt white chocolate).
Raspberry Tartlettes

I bought frozen filo dough tart shells, and I filled the shells with a mixture of vanilla pudding and fat free cool whip. I topped each tartlette with a raspberry. They were OK, but I would make some adjustments if I made these again. I probably would have spread melted chocolate on the bottom of each tart to fix the texture and to make them a little less bland.

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