Posted on

Valentine’s Date Night Menu

As Valentine’s Day approaches, make sure all your preparations for a lovely date night are ready. Start by setting the mood with some DIY decorations, send the kids off to grandma’s house and spend the night-in with a well thought out Valentine’s date night menu for you and your sweetie that you can cook together.

Here are some of our favorite recipes from inspiredtaste.net to get you started:

1. Lovely Appetizers

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 medium ripe tomatoes, at room temperature (1/2 pound or 225 g)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Six 1/2-inch thick slices Italian or French bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

How to make it:

  • Halve tomatoes then remove and discard the majority of the seeds. Chop tomatoes into 1/4-inch chunks then add to a medium bowl with a generous pinch of salt, small pinch of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the basil. Stir and let sit 10 minutes.
  • Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare an outdoor grill or barbecue (medium heat). Drizzle bread slices with remaining tablespoon of oil then grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side until warmed though and grill marks appear.
  • Remove bread then lightly rub one side with garlic — two to three strokes per bread slice should do it.
  • Stir tomatoes one more time, taste then adjust with more salt or pepper as needed. Then, spoon a generous amount onto each bread slice. Drizzle a little of the juice remaining at the bottom of the bowl over tomatoes and enjoy.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (450 grams) large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Lemon wedges
  • Cocktail sauce

How to make it:

  • Heat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a large bowl, toss shrimp with the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Tumble shrimp onto the baking sheet and spread into one layer. (If you are doubling this recipe, you may need two baking sheets. Try to leave some space between each shrimp).
  • Roast shrimp for 5 to 10 minutes until pink, firm and cooked through.
  • Serve with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce on the side. (This can be served straight from the oven or cold)

2. Veggie Lovers

Butternut Squash And Pesto Pizza Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (13.8 oz) can Pillsbury Artisan Crust with Whole grain
  • (Substitute 12 ounces of refrigerated pizza dough)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups (466 grams) diced butternut squash (about half of a
  • medium squash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup (60 grams) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

How to make it:

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Then, spray a baking sheet (with sides) with cooking spray.
  • Form pizza dough into a 15-inch by 10-inch rectangle (this doesn’t have to be exact, just close). Place dough onto baking sheet then bake for 8 minutes.
  • While the pizza crust bakes, add olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the butternut squash and a 1/2-teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes or until the squash begins to brown.
  • Add vegetable (or chicken stock) and cook another 5 minutes until the squash can be pierced with a fork and is tender.
  • Evenly spread the pesto over the baked pizza crust then scatter the butternut squash, mozzarella cheese and cherry tomato halves on top.
  • Bake the pizza 6 to 10 minutes until cheese has melted and starts to bubble.

3. Pasta Lovers

Spicy Pasta: Diablo Pasta Sauce with Clams and Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth (Sauvingnon Blanc works well too)
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (San Marzano Tomatoes are great)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 8 small clams, unshucked
  • 8 large shrimp
  • Pasta (fettuccini works well)

How to make it:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Add the olive oil and butter to a pan (with lid) over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the diced onions and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Next, add the minced garlic and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the vermouth and allow to simmer for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and brown sugar then simmer for another 8 minutes.
  • While the sauce is simmering, prepare and de-vein the shrimp, then place the shrimp in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the clams to the sauce and cover the pan with a lid, allow to steam for 4-5 minutes. After 4-5 minutes, the clams should have opened, if one or two have not, remove it from the pan and discard. Toss in the shrimp and some pasta with about 1/4 cup of pasta water, then sprinkle with parsley and serve with a lemon wedge.

4. Chicken Lovers

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) fresh orange juice (about 3 small oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 3/4 pounds (794 grams) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)

How to make it:

  • In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, mirin, honey, ginger and sesame oil.
  • Cut chicken thighs into bite-size pieces then add to the marinade. Let marinade for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a large saute pan or wok (with lid) over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot use a slotted spoon to add the chicken, but not the marinade. Save the marinade until later.
  • Cook chicken, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides. Turn the heat to medium-low then add the marinade and cover pan with lid. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid then check to see if chicken has cook through. If cooked, remove the chicken to a clean bowl. Allow the marinade to simmer for 1 to 3 minutes until thickened then toss with the chicken.
  • Sprinkle top of teriyaki chicken with orange zest then serve with rice and/or vegetables.

 

5. Pork Lovers

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • 2 (1- to 1-1/2-pound) pork tenderloins
  • 2 tablespoons dry spicy seasoning blend/rub of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

How to make it:

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  • Trim each tenderloin of any silver skin (this can be tough when cooked, just use a small sharp knife and slide the blade under and outward to remove it). Pat pork dry with paper towels.
  • Then, roll in seasoning blend/rub.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed oven-safe frying pan over medium heat. You will know when the pan is ready when the oil shimmers.
  • Add the pork tenderloins and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned all over. This should take about 2 minutes per side.
  • Roast 10 to 15 minutes or until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers between 145 and 150 degrees F (63 and 65 degrees C).
  • Transfer pork to a large plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest about 10 minutes.
  • While pork is resting, place the skillet over medium heat, add apple cider and simmer until reduced by half. Add butter then serve drizzled over pork.

6. Fish Lovers

Sour Cream Baked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • Four 6-ounce salmon filets
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (whole fat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

How to make it:

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet or baking dish. (Instead of oiling the pan, you could also line with parchment paper).
  • In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mustard and the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place salmon onto baking sheet then spread about 2 tablespoons of sour cream mixture on top of each salmon filet.
    Bake 10 to 15 minutes until barely done in the center at the thickest part of the salmon. The center should be firm, but with a small amount of uncooked salmon in the very center. Depending on how thick the salmon is, it may need a few minutes longer. (The internal temperature should be around 125 degrees F).
  • Remove from oven then cover lightly with aluminum foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. During this time, the salmon will continue to cook.
  • Serve salmon with your favorite sides

 

7. Lovely Desserts

Tiramisu

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) espresso or very strong coffee, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry Marsala wine, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 8 ounces (225 g) mascarpone cheese (1 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy cream
  • 18 to 20 Savoiardi Italian ladyfingers (from 7-ounce package)
  • 1 ounce (30 g) bittersweet chocolate or cocoa powder for dusting (optional)

How to make it:

Prepare Coffee

  • Combine espresso (or coffee), 2 tablespoons Marsala wine, vanilla extract and a tablespoon of sugar in a wide, small bowl.

Prepare Filling

  • Beat egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of Marsala, and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Use a whisk or, to make things easier, a handheld electric mixer at medium speed. (Do not stop beating until removed from the heat).
  • Remove bowl from heat then beat in mascarpone cheese until just combined.
  • Whip cream in a bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Once the yolk-mascarpone mixture has cooled a little, gently fold in half of the whipped cream into the yolk-mascarpone mixture, then the remaining half just until fully incorporated (the whipped cream will deflate a little).

Assemble Tiramisu

  • Dip half of the ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee, and line the bottom of a 9-inch (23 cm) square dish. (You might find that you need to break a few into pieces to fit them in the dish).
    Spoon half of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers and spread into an even layer. Grate half of the bittersweet chocolate over filling (optional). Then dip the remaining ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee and arrange a second layer over filling.
  • Spoon remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers. Grate more chocolate on top or dust with cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
    When ready to serve, dust with extra grated chocolate or cocoa powder. Leave out at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving. (Tiramisu can be chilled up to 2 days, but no longer or else the ladyfingers will break down too much).

Fudge Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour (we use Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 2/3 cup (75 g) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

How to make it:

  • Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).
  • Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).
  • Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
  • Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
  • Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
  • When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in lined pan.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter). Note: Some have found they need to bake an extra 10 minutes, so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies and use the toothpick test as your guide.
  • Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up.
  • Cut into 16 squares.

Coriander Roasted Strawberries

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

How to make it:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper or foil.
  • Add strawberries to baking sheet then toss with brown sugar and coriander then spread into one layer.
  • Roast strawberries 20-25 minutes until slightly softened.
  • Add cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar to a bowl and whip either by hand or with a hand blender until soft peaks form. Then, top warm strawberries with a dollop of cream and enjoy!