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Keeping it Real for Valentine’s Day

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There are some who will go all out for Valentine’s Day – reservations at a romantic restaurant, roses, chocolates, champagne, etc.  That’s wonderful and sweet and everyone should experience that once in their lives.  For some of us though, a more casual event is in order.  If you are like me and you are married, and a mom, and you have to get up for work the next day; you might want a simple evening at home.  Maybe you’re hosting a singles party for those without a significant other.  Maybe you and your sweetie can’t be together for whatever reason.  That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourselves.  I have the perfect menu for you.  The recipes that are fun and easy and great for any time of the year.

Aphrodite’s Love Boats

Ingredients

Romaine Lettuce – 1 head or 2 hearts
Hearts of Palm – 1 can (15 oz.)
Artichoke Hearts (in oil) – 1 can (14 oz.)
Cucumber – 1
Feta Cheese – 8 oz. (crumbled)
Red Pepper Dressing (recipe follows) – ½ to 1 cup

Directions

  1. Cut the base off the romaine, leaving the leaves intact. Rinse the lettuce and drain.
  1. Drain the hearts of palm and artichoke hearts.
  1. Thinly slice the hearts of palm and artichoke hearts.
  1. Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds by scraping with a small spoon. Thinly slice the cucumbers.
  1. Arrange 8 – 12 romaine leaves on a platter.
  1. Toss together the hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, cucumber, and feta cheese and fill the romaine leaves with the mixture.
  1. Drizzle red pepper dressing over the top of the “boats” and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Ingredients:

Red Peppers – 3-4
Red Wine Vinegar – ¼ cup
Olive Oil – ½ cup
Garlic – 1-2 cloves (fresh or roasted)
Fresh Basil – 4-5 large leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
Salt and Pepper – to taste

Directions:

  1. Char red peppers until skin is completely blackened.
  1. Put peppers in a bowl and cover with foil to steam.
  1. When they are cool enough to handle, remove skins and seeds.
  1. Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until blended.

Note: You can use store bought roasted peppers. Drain them and skip to step number 4. The dressing will be a little denser but you can thin it out with more liquid like vinegar, oil, or even water.

Venus de Mezze – Mediterranean Appetizer Platter

Chicken Gyro Meatballs

Ingredients

Ground Chicken – 3 lbs.
Bread Crumbs – 1 ½ cups
Eggs – 3
Garlic – 1 or 2 cloves – minced
Dried Dill – 2 tsp.
Dried Coriander – 2 tsp.
Dried Oregano – 1 tsp.
Salt – 2 tsp.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Mix meat, bread crumbs eggs, garlic, dill, coriander, oregano, and salt together .
  1. Form and roll mixture into small meatballs.
  1. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Spanakopita Bites

Ingredients

Phyllo Dough Cups – 2 pkgs (15 each)
Frozen Spinach- 2 boxes (thawed)
Red Onion – 1 small
Garlic – 2 cloves
Eggs – 2
Feta – 4 oz.
Dill – 4 sprigs
Scallions – 3
Salt and Pepper – to taste
Olive Oil – as needed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  1. Thaw spinach, then wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze excess water out.
  1. Dice red onion and mince garlic. Chop dill and thinly slice scallions. Beat the eggs.
  1. In a large sauté pan, cook onion and garlic until softened.
  1. Turn off heat and mix in spinach, dill, and feta. Stir in eggs and add salt and pepper.
  1. Fill each phyllo cup with 1-2 tsp. of filling.
  1. Place cups on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes until filling is cooked through.

Hummus

Ingredients:
 
Garbanzo Beans – 1 can (drained and rinsed)
or ¼ lb. of dried garbanzo beans (soaked, and cooked)
Garlic – 1 clove (or more to taste)
Sesame Oil or Tahini – 1 tsp.
Lemons – 1- 2 (juice and zest (optional)
Olive oil as needed
Salt to taste
Pita Chips (4 pitas toasted)

Directions:
 

  1.  Wash and dry lemons and zest them.
  2. Crush and peel garlic clove.
  3. Add drained beans, tahini, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice (to taste) to the food processor. I like lemony hummus so I use a lot of lemon.
  4. Start processor and drizzle in olive oil until you get the consistency you like.
  5. Adjust seasonings.
  6. Serve with toasted pita chips.
Eros is My Hero – Steak Sandwiches with Thai the Knot Chimichurri Sauce
Ingredients
London Broil – 2 lbs.
Marinade (recipe follows)
Chimichurri (recipe follows)
Good Quality Bread – 8 thick slices or 16 thin slices
Olive Oil – 2-3 tbs. for toasting the bread

Directions

  1. Marinate the steak for at least an hour in the fridge or up to 24 hours. Take it out about 30 minutes before grilling so it can come to room temperature.
  1. In the meantime arrange the greens on a serving platter.
  1. Remove steak from marinade and discard marinade.
  1. Place steak on a hot grill for about 2-5 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  1. Allow meat to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  1. Slice thin pieces against the grain.
  1. Drizzle bread with olive oil. Toast bread in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned and slightly crisp around the edges.
  1. Arrange about 4 oz. of meat on 8 pieces of bread. Drizzle with chimichurri. Can serve open-faced sandwich just like this or place second piece of bread on top.

Marinade

Ingredients

Pineapple Juice – 1 cup
Tamari (Gluten Free Soy Sauce) – ¼ cup
Rice Wine Vinegar – ¼ cup
Garlic – 3 cloves – grated or chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece – peeled and grated or chopped

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  1. Pour over the steak and let it marinate for 1-24 hours.

Thai Inspired Herb Dressing

Ingredients

Basil – 1 handful
Cilantro – 1 handful
Mint – about 5 leaves
Garlic – 1 clove
Ginger – 1 tsp. grated
Limes – 2
Rice Wine Vinegar – ¼ cup (if needed)
Salt – to taste
Neutral Oil – ½ cup (vegetable or canola)

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor combine basil, cilantro, mint, garlic, ginger, a pinch or two of salt, and the juice of 1 lime.
  1. Blend until ingredients are combined.
  1. Drizzle in oil until you get a dressing consistency.
  1. At this point, taste and adjust. You can add more salt or lime juice or rice wine vinegar as needed.

Note: Sometimes limes don’t provide enough juice. You can use rice wine vinegar to add a mellow acid note if the limes aren’t juicy enough. You can also just use the vinegar if you don’t have fresh limes on hand.

Love me 2 Thymes Potatoes

Ingredients

Red or White New Potatoes – 30 small
Salt – 2-3 tsp. as needed
Olive Oil – 2 tbs.
Lemon – 1 (zest and juice)
Dried Thyme – 1-2 tsp.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Scrub potatoes. Place in pot with enough water to just cover them. Simmer until cooked through. Add 1 tsp. salt while potatoes are simmering.
  1. Drain potatoes and allow them to cool slightly.
  1. Using a pastry scraper or small pan, press on potatoes to flatten them.
  1. Zest juice the lemon.
  1. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, lemon zest, 1 tbs. of lemon juice, thyme, and a few pinches of salt.
  1. Spread potatoes in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  1. Bake until potatoes are browned and slightly crisped.

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