February 10, 2011

ROMANTIC V-DAY DINNER…IN!



Day 9
Posted by Lori~

This past weekend, Steve, Mur-Man, and I were in big city, ND.  We had plans to go out to dinner and hopped from restaurant to restaurant attempting to find a restaurant with less than an hour wait.  Yes, it was a weekend, but not a special holiday.  Here comes Valentine’s Day!  And already reservations are being made and your wait could be longer than ever and your bill larger than ever.  Guess what WOMs, no need to eat out on V-Day!  Dine in—it’s fabulous, special, and affordable.
I recently hosted a dinner party at my house complete with some of my favorite and oldest friends from the WHS class of 1996 (Ethne and my classmates) and tested out my romantic dinner plans for V-Day.  The menu features:  spicy Thai cucumber salad, Cajun chicken pasta, French bread, and chocolate CRAZY cake.  The meal was a hit—friend tested and friend approved!  The following are recipes to make this FAB-U-LOUS meal!  Your valentine will LOVE you for it!
I asked Ethne what she plans to make for dinner and WOW does it sound great.  Her meal features steak (remember her food=L.O.V.E. post), seasoned by Shaun since he's the beef master in their home, baked potatoes (Shaun's favorite), probably a nice salad, wine and chocolate (any kind will do).  Since they like to cook together, a meal 'in' is very romantic.

Sara is a WOM!  Busy cutting the bread.
First up, Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad (from The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking by Mai Pham)
Dressing  (mix and add to salad):

¼ C rice wine vinegar
¼ C sugar
½ tsp salt
3 T water
1 tsp red chili paste (found in the international cooking isle of your local grocery store)

Salad:

2 cucumbers (halved lengthwise and thinly sliced)
½ small yellow onion (finely chopped)
10 fresh mint leaves (finely chopped)
6 fresh cilantro springs (finely chopped)
Optional items (that we do not add):  2 T chopped roasted peanuts for garnish and 1 T fried shallots

Kelly looking FAB and mixing the salad!


Everyone gulped it up...just a little left!

Up next, Cajun Chicken Alfredo (from The Food Network and Guy Fieri)
Ingredients:
4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C blackening spice
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T minced garlic
1 C roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes
¼ C white wine
3 C heavy cream
¾ C grated parmesan
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked fettuccine
½ C sliced scallions

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Dredge the chicken breasts in the blackening spice and place in a cast iron skillet over very high heat.  Blacken both sides of the chicken and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.  Slice in strips on the bias and set aside.

You will need to cut-up the sundried tomatoes
In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.  Add garlic and lightly caramelize.  Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and the chicken slices. 
Deglaze the pan with the white wine.  Add the heavy cream, increase the heat to a simmer, and reduce the cream sauce by half.
When the cream sauce is to desired consistency, stir in ½ cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, and pasta.

Bubbly YUM!
Nest the pasta on large rimmed plates, pour sauce over pasta, and garnish with scallions and the remaining ¼ cup parmesan.
Note:  Thank you Karla my FAB-U-LOUS FRIEND, wine and cheese expert, and Mur-Man’s godmother, for turning me onto this wonderful recipe! 

Pasta and bread--gotta LOVE those carbs!
A meal isn’t complete without a yummy, moist chocolate cake.  This recipe comes courtesy of Crafty G-Ma (Lori’s Mom) and is the simplest chocolate cake to make.  It is a staple in my family.  What’s makes this cake crazy is that it requires no mixing bowl (LESS DISHES).
Chocolate Crazy Cake:
Ingredients:
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 C flour
2 C sugar
1/3 C cocoa
1 tsp Vanilla
2 T vinegar
¾ C  salad oil
2 C cold water

Instructions:
Mix salt, baking soda, flour, sugar, and cocoa in an ungreased 9 by 13 pan.  Make 3 holes in the mixture and pour into each hole:  vanilla, vinegar, and salad oil. 



Dry ingredients with three holes!

Pour water over all and mix well.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.


Mix well!  Look:  NO mixing bowl!

Chocolate Frosting:
Ingredients:
½ C sugar
6 T butter
6 T milk
1 C chocolate chips

Instructions:
Combine sugar, butter, and milk in a pot.  Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and add chocolate chips.  Stir until the mixture thickens to a frosting mixture.

This CRAZY cake screams:  EAT ME!

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