Thursday, October 6, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

Normally, Hubs and I celebrate Valentine's Day by going out to dinner.  We exchange cards and he normally brings me flowers and I make him a chocolate chip cookie cake.  My family grew up with Valentine's Day presents, but Hubs's family didn't do that, so I was willing to forego that exchange of gifts once we were married.  But I digress.  So, yes, normally we go out for a fancy-schmancy dinner; and that's it.  After all, although we've been together (in some capacity) for the last six V-Days, we've only actually been together for two.

Well, this year, Hubs took me out to dinner Friday night so we could celebrate Valentine's Day over a weekend and indulge just a little bit more.  But given the fact that we'd actually be together on the day, I wanted to do something special Monday night as well.  I couldn't just forget the whole day, so I planned a special meal of  filet mignon, roasted potatoes, and Caesar salad...until I remembered we were going to a steak place for dinner Friday night.  I needed to do something different.  And I'd like to keep it relatively healthy since we're trying to get back to South Beach Diet type foods now that I'm done with nursing school.

So, I did what I always do when I'm in a cooking pickle!  I asked Mama A for some ideas.  She gave me two wonderful meal plans, complete with appetizer and dessert choices, plating diagrams to make the meal pretty on my dishes, and an offer to come help me prep!  I am saving one meal for our anniversary in April, and the other I'll share with you here.  It was super easy, super healthy, and super pretty....oh yeah, and super duper tasty!

Romantic (& Healthy) Valentine's Dinner for 2

Pan-seared salmon with black bean salsa
French-style Rice
Steamed asparagus with roasted red pepper rouille
Dark chocolate mousse with raspberries

Pan-Seared Salmon

1 (1 - 1 1/4 pound) salmon filet, skinned
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
1 clove diced garlicsalt and pepper pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Divide filet into four serving portions; pat dry.  Allow salmon to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat butter, olive oil, and garlic in large heavy skillet over high heat.  Cook salmon 2 minutes on each side, until goden-bown.  Remove to heated baking sheet; bake in preheated oven 5-10 minutes.  Do not overcook as the salmon will be very dry.  Remove from oven, tent with foil.  Let stand 2-4 minutes before serving.

Black Bean Salsa

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 C frozen white and yellow corn, thawed
1/4 C canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 T roasted red pepper, diced (comes in a jar in my produce section)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 T canned chopped green chilies
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 T olive oil
2 tsp. minced cilantro)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir, adjusting seasonings to taste.  Let stand 30 minutes, refrigerate to store.  This is also good over chicken and with chips!

French-Style Rice

1 C. long grain rice
2 quarts chicken stock (or can use water)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T. butter
2 T. freshly minced parsley

In large pot, heat stock to boiling (this seems like ALOT of liquid, but it is a correct measurement for this recipe).  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the rice; stir.  Boil uncovered 13-14 minutes, until rice is softened.  Drain in sieve or colander.  Place in heatproof serving dish, toss with butter and parsley, salt and pepper to taste.  Tent with foil, to cover, but not tightly.  You do no want the rice to steam.  May hold in 160 degree oven for up to 2 hours.  Stir before serving.

Steamed Asparagus

Simply trim one bunch asparagus to even length of each stalk.  Place in single layer in microwave safe dish with 2 T water, salt and pepper, a dash of lemon juice, and 1 clove diced garlic.  Cover with wax paper and microwave 3 minutes, until asparagus is crisp-tender.  Toss with 3-4 pats of butter.

Roasted Red Pepper Rouille

1 1/2 C mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 T pureed roasted red pepper
3 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste

Combine mayo, garlic, and pepper puree in food processor.  Slowly add vinegar.  Add seasonings and correct to taste. Refrigerate.  Rouille will keep 3 - 4 weeks in refrigerator.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Go buy your favorite boxed mousse mix and top each serving with fresh raspberries just before serving!  Yes, I cheated on this one!

To plate your meal, arrange asparagus spears at the top of the plate so that half the stalks are facing one way and half the other.  Using a squirt bottle (like diners keep ketchup and mustard in - find one for $1 at Walmart), drizzle the rouille over the asparagus.  Pack hot rice in individual ramekins and invert over the center of the asparagus to form a round "pillow".  Place the salmon filet lengthwise so that one end is resting on the rice.  Top the salmon with salsa and garnish the empty space on the plate with extra rouille.  (Check out my pictures of that didn't make sense)!

Bon appetit...and thanks, Mama, for some fabulous Valentine's Day recipes!!

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