Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentines Day Menu

This year my husband and I decided because of our previous bad luck in years past to find restaurants for Valentines Day, that we would make dinner at home and save ourselves the nightmare of waiting for 2 hours for a table at some random restaurant.  I don't know if you readers have the same trouble in your area, but for us it seemed silly to wait til 8pm to eat even though it meant we had to be at the restaurant at 6pm because NOWHERE takes reservations anymore!  So anyway, I thought about it for a few weeks, searched recipe pages online and combed through Pinterest endlessly, and I came up with a few ideas for a fancy romantic dinner of my own.  I hope you like them and maybe find them useful for your Valentines dinner next year, or maybe just for any romantic occasion you have coming up.

I decided my menu would be:
Linguini with Shrimp, Roasted Red Peppers, and Artichoke hearts in a garlic cream sauce
Stuffed Mushrooms
Homemade Caesar Salad with homemade croutons
Roasted Garlic Artisan Bread (most local grocers sell this--check out your store's bakery)
and for dessert...Cheesecake with sliced strawberries.

I cheated and bought the cheesecake and the bread.  And I used that new stuff out there called Philadelphia Cooking Creme for the garlic sauce on the pasta.  But here I post the recipes for the Stuffed Mushrooms and the pasta, and the croutons for the salad.  I usually don't cheat so much, but I am 6 months pregnant and tired these days and I didn't want to spend all of my energetic time cooking, rather than spending it with my husband.  I wish I had pictures but unfortunately I forgot to take them the night of and my husband ate all of the leftovers before I got around to it.  Sorry about that!

First here is the recipe for the croutons since you'll want to make those ahead.

Homemade Croutons

1 loaf french bread (whatever you can get cheap at the store)
4-6 tbsp olive oil
seasoning salt or salt and pepper to taste
granulated garlic
parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the bread into cubes.  I actually like to wait a day or two after I buy the bread so its a bit stale but not super dried out.  Toss bread in olive oil and seasonings and then spread in an even layer on a cookie sheet.  Make sure you don't have any overlapping pieces, and use 2 cookie sheets if needed.  They can be close together, just not on top of each other.  Bake for about 10 minutes, then use a spatula to move them around and turn them all over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, til golden brown.   Let cool and then store in a large ziplock bag.  When you are ready to make your salad, just toss them with your cut up romaine lettuce, more parmesan cheese, and your Caesar dressing.  I added some diced heirloom tomatoes, too, but that was just a variation my husband and I love.  You could always also add some diced roasted red pepper, or some grilled chicken (if you weren't already doing the shrimp pasta).  Enjoy!

And now for the....

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb large cap white mushrooms, about 16 mushrooms (I got mine at Costco, for some reason they always have giant mushrooms!)
1/2 c breadcrumbs (seasoned or not, doesn't really matter
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1-2 tbsp olive oil or butter
4 slices bacon, diced fine, optional (I didn't use this this time, but my sister says it's my brother in law's favorite.  If you use bacon, you can probably omit the oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms and carve out the insides to make room for your filling.  Leave the caps in tact, but you'll want to take out some of the outer edge around the stem, so you can fill it up with your filling. Place the trimmed mushrooms onto a cookie sheet.

Dice up your stems and a couple other whole mushrooms very finely.  They need to be small so they can be spooned into the caps easily and not fall out or have big air pockets.  Saute the mushrooms with the olive oil and garlic until about half their volume.  Place this into a medium mixing bowl.  Add breadcrumbs and cheese, and mix together til well combined.  Using a teaspoon, spoon your filling into your caps, trying not to over fill or spill.  Top your filled caps with more cheese, and then bake for about 20 minutes.


And lastly, the pasta.

Shrimp Linguini with Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Hearts

1/2 lb linguini (I used fresh, but it doesn't really matter what you use, just cook according to pkg directions)
1 lb raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
1 15 ounce can quartered unmarinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 or 2 roasted bell pepper halves (I bought the jarred ones, but you can do your own under your broiler), diced
1 container Philadelphia brand Cooking Creme, classic garlic flavor
1 small can lump crabmeat, drained and rinsed

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.  

While you wait for the water to boil, saute shrimp in a bit of olive oil and some garlic powder or fresh minced garlic.  Remove from pan when they just barely get pink (overcooked shrimp turn rubbery and unflavorful, not good).  In the same pan you cooked the shrimp, add your cooking creme and mix with the garlic oil and shrimp juices. Stir in your artichoke hearts and roasted bell peppers and let the flavors come together for a bit.  

Meanwhile, cook your pasta.  If it's fresh pasta then it should only take a couple of minutes, if its dry then it will take about 7 minutes or so.  Once it's fully cooked, drain it and add it to your saute pan.  At this point you will want to reduce the heat, and add back your shrimp and then your crab meat.  Toss it all together til the pasta is coated and everything is well combined, then transfer to your serving bowl and serve immediately with your salad and bread and stuffed mushrooms.

And that's it!  Enjoy your meal with your special someone, and when you are ready a couple hours later, have some cheesecake, too.  You have to be decadent sometimes....

1 comment:

  1. This sounds fabulous. Especially the pasta. I'm always stuck in a rut when it comes to pasta. I do the same thing ALL the time. I'm going to try this. It sounds delicious.