Valentine Dinner

Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for me these days.  The last one my husband and I celebrated, he wasn’t feeling very well and six days later he died.  While I have a new love, the day is too close to the day he died and is often full of the memories of my life with Larry.  Skip does his best, but it is still hard for me. 

It was a day Larry always honored in his own way.  I have never been a big fan of February 14.  To me, you should celebrate your love all year.  Showing his love was something Larry did very well, but he always wanted to do something special for me on this day too.  I never made it easy though.  I told him don’t buy me flowers because cut flowers die. He didn’t always listen. He did have the ok to buy something I could plant though.  I love chocolate, but he knew not to buy me those heart shaped boxes.  I don’t like nuts in my chocolate for the most part and some of those creams I don’t like.  He just skipped the box and would get me Hershey’s Kisses or Kit Kats.  One year, we just had a picnic at the lake, nothing extra, but time together and that made it very special. 

He loved to doodle.  He was constantly drawing on scraps of paper or envelopes or napkins.  He always had pens of many colors so he wasn’t restricted to just blue and black.  Sometimes it was just colorful shapes, sometimes it was something more elaborate.  In 2011, he had taken time to put a whole little booklet together for me.  He drew daisies and lilies and roses and suns and hearts on the pages and filled them with little phrases to show his love for me.  It was 18 pages of his love and time and it meant more to me than getting a bouquet.  It was especially poignant when he passed away a week later.  I have held onto that and many more of his little doodles even after all this time.  That man loved me so much. 

Dragons were his favorite.  I had found a dragon at the store that last year that played “Burnin’ Love”.  His wings moved and his mouth lit up and he danced.  I have that dragon next to Larry’s photo on my dresser to this day.  Of course, he loved it.  Every year since then, the aisle at Walmart has had a Valentine dragon and I break down once a year, maybe the first time I see it or maybe the 10th time, but it gets me every year.  This year is no different.  There is a dragon at Walmart.  I didn’t cry too much.  I have that dragon now too.  For some reason, I needed the dragon this year. 

He usually cooked dinner for us.  While the dinner below is not the dinner he cooked our last Valentine’s Day, it is one he made for me.  Make your grocery list and pick up something special your loved one really likes.  Then meet me in the kitchen for a simple dinner just for two!

Caesar Salad

Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

4 Tbsps. grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsps. spicy brown mustard

2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed 

½ cup shredded or shaved parmesan cheese

1 tsp black pepper, more or less to taste

Croutons for topping

In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I usually use just a sprinkle of salt and up to a teaspoon of pepper.   Lightly shred lettuce and place in a large bowl.  Add parmesan cheese and sprinkle with pepper.  Top with ½ cup of dressing and mix to coat well.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  Serve topped with croutons.

 

Seafood Spaghetti

12 oz. spaghetti

2 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

½ lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ lb. scallops, patted dry

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 small shallot, minced 

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup milk

¼ cup heavy cream

¾ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth 

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

1 cup chopped tomatoes 

¼ cup freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish 

Juice of 1/2 lemon

In large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.  Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shrimp and scallops and season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes per side, then transfer to plate.  To skillet, add shallot and garlic cook until soft and fragrant, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, Parmesan, tomatoes and parsley and season with salt. Simmer 3 minutes more, then return shrimp and scallops and toss until combined. Squeeze with lemon juice.  Add cooked spaghetti and toss until fully coated.  Garnish with parsley and serve with Parmesan.

Note: Any seafood can be used.  I go with shrimp and scallops because they cook for the same amount of time.  If you want to use something else, just make sure you pay attention to how long each cooks and add them at the right time.

Recipe adapted from delish.com.

 

Garlic Parmesan Asparagus

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

½lb fresh asparagus

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Olive oil spray

Heat large skillet over high heat. Add oil and asparagus. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Add garlic to pan. Cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat.  Add parmesan and toss asparagus so it's well coated. Serve immediately.

 

Molten Chocolate Cake for Two

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

4 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

3 Tbsps. granulated sugar

pinch of salt

½ tsp instant espresso powder

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsps. all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425°F, and spray 2 small ramekins very well with cooking spray.  In small bowl, combine chocolate chips and butter. Heat in 15-second pulses in microwave, stirring in between each pulse until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from microwave before chips melt completely, and stir to melt them entirely. The mixture should be smooth and shiny.  If you have a chocolate melting pot, use it.  It keeps you from burning the chocolate.  In medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed egg, egg yolk and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy--it will fall off the beaters in ribbons.  Next, add salt, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.  Stream in melted chocolate and butter, and beat until combined.  Finally, fold in flour with spatula.  Divide mixture between two ramekins. Place ramekins on a small baking sheet.  Bake for 13-14 minutes, until tops of cakes appear dry and edges are starting to turn dark brown.  Let cakes rest for 1 minute only on baking sheet. If you let them sit longer, they will finish cooking all the way through.  Run knife around edges of each ramekin, and tip cake out onto plate.  Serve immediately.

 

Recipe from dessertfortwo.com.