Tag Archives: valentines-day

Love at First Bite: Pan seared New York strip with red wine jus

Love at First Bite: Pan seared New York strip with red wine jus
VDay steak sm logo

Simple, sexy and divinely delicious!

To many folks, the thought of a Valentine’s Day meal conjures up images of a sumptuous steak dinner. Believe it or not, achieving a perfectly cooked steak with complementary pan sauce in the comfort of your own home is easier than you might think.

To jazz up the typical steak and sauce duo you’d find at a steakhouse, I used a few secret ingredients (which aren’t so secret anymore): steak rub and marinade by Stubb’s Bar-B-Q. Giving the steak a rub down with the Stubb’s Beef Spice Rub (pun intended) gives it a great crust when it’s seared and the spices add a nice pop of flavor. For the red wine jus, whip up a simple pan sauce in the same pan that the steak was seared in. Cook the leftover drippings from the seared with a bold red wine. Enhance the sauce further by adding Stubb’s Beef Marinade. You can certainly play with different steak rub and marinade pairings for this recipe (or with other proteins), just make sure the flavors pair well together. My advice? Taste the products by themselves and then together. Also look for similar ingredients in your rub and marinade.

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Swoon-worthy ‘Shrooms: Mushroom Bourguignon, a vegan take on the classic French dish

Swoon-worthy ‘Shrooms: Mushroom Bourguignon, a vegan take on the classic French dish

What if I said that you could take an amazing dish that’s traditionally made with beef and make it equally as delicious with a swap-out of mushrooms?

If you’re thinking about taking on the seemingly daunting task of cooking for your sweetheart this Valentines Day, but haven’t a clue what to make, then you’ve come to the right place. Yes, you could go the usual route and do the steak and potatoes thing, but it’s so…common. And what if your date isn’t of the omni/carnivore persuasion, eh? What if I said that you could take an amazing dish that’s traditionally made with beef and make it equally as delicious with a swap-out of mushrooms? Now you’re curious. Read on.

The following is a great twist on the classic French dish, Boeuf (beef) Bourguignon, where beef stew meat is cooked with carrots, onions, herbs and tomato paste. It is then simmered in red wine until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened and concentrated all of those lovely flavors into a savory, gravy-like sauce. This mushroom bourguignon replaces the beef with hearty mushrooms, like portobellos and criminis, but uses the same techniques — and most of the same ingredients — as the original. The traditional dish uses pearl onions, but I opted for peas as they give the dish some more color. Even better, this mushroom version takes a fraction of the time to cook.

Lastly, I must give credit where it’s due. This recipe was adapted from the original incarnation of Mushroom Bourguignon by Deb Perelman on SmittenKitchen.com. It’s featured in her new cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and the first time I laid eyes on the recipe — and the book — I was smitten. I highly recommend picking up this book; it’s full of dazzling looking dishes that are great for cooks of any skill level, and it features both meat and vegetarian main dishes.
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Opposites attract in sweet and salty Maple-Bacon Kettle Corn

Opposites attract in sweet and salty Maple-Bacon Kettle Corn

Chocolate is très cliché and cupcakes are so passé. With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, many of you might be racking your brain with ideas for treats to give to your sweetie, but think twice before choosing one of the aforementioned sweets. Think outside the box a little and go for something a little less traditional this year: Maple-bacon kettle corn.

As the old adage “opposites attract” holds true in many relationships, the saying also proves accurate when combining the basic tastes of sweet and salty. Plus, not everyone is a fan of the typical Valentines fare of chocolates and super sugary candy. The slightly sweet, caramelized sugar covered popcorn studded with bits of crispy bacon is sure to satisfy both your sweet tooth and your sweetheart’s salty palate.

And, believe it or not, you can make popcorn without using a microwave. As I’ve come to find, popcorn made on the stove top (as this recipe is) is a thousand times better than the bagged stuff with powdered butter that you nuke the heck out of and it’s incredibly simple to prepare. All you need is a large pot with a lid, popcorn kernels, oil and a few minutes of your time. It’ll be another milestone you can check off your bucket list.

I recommend using a cast iron dutch oven if you have one — either enameled or not — because cast iron evenly transfers heat around whatever you’re cooking. Thus, it will cook faster and more evenly and you’re less likely to have a mess of scorched sugar on the bottom of your pot when making plain popcorn or kettle corn.

Now if you’re not a fan of bacon or don’t eat it because of dietary or religious reasons, simply omit it and use all canola or vegetable oil for this recipe and add a little more salt to the pot. You could also score a bottle of Bacon Salt seasoning to still get the flavor of the original, pork-laden recipe (and, believe it or not, Bacon Salt is vegan). And for a more caramel-flavored kettle corn, use brown sugar in place of white.

Use this popcorn recipe as a base (with or without the sugar) and experiment with different flavors and seasonings: Parmesan and truffle oil, cocoa powder and cinnamon, chipotle powder and cumin, vanilla sugar and rosemary — the list goes on. Just keep the popcorn to oil ratio the same and you can’t go wrong.

Now get popping! (Warning: this recipe is highly addictive.)
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Move over Godiva!: Easy and decadent homemade Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Move over Godiva!: Easy and decadent homemade Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Forget buying overpriced chocolates and goodies for your sweetie or friends this Valentine’s Day. Why not give them a more personal way of saying “You’re Special” by making them a sweet gift yourself? These rich and decadent chocolate truffles are sure to please any chocolate lover.

Believe it or not, chocolate truffles are not difficult to make. I decided to take on the challenge for the sake of this post and prove that it can be easily accomplished (you’re talking to Miss Anti-Pastry, remember?). So what if they don’t look as perfect as those expensive Godiva ones? They taste amazing and they’ve got a whole lot more love in them than anything you could buy in the store.

For this recipe, I decided to flavor mine with dark rum. I suggest using good quality chocolate (for taste) and chocolate chips in a bag will suffice just as well (go for Ghirardelli or other fancy brand, if you do). Indulge, enjoy, and have a happy Valentines Day!
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Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle

Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle

Trifle 4_smWhen you think about Valentine’s Day, what first comes to mind? For most people, it evokes images of roses, Champagne, and chocolates in heart-shaped boxes. But for some, the first thing that comes to mind is a decadent dessert. (Well, for me at least.)

I know this is hard to believe, but there are many people out there who don’t like chocolate. When brainstorming up a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe, I wanted something simple to prepare but still classy-looking like a dessert you might see at a restaurant, not to mention something that could please almost anyone’s palate (chocolate haters included).

Tiramisu seems to be a favorite confection for many, but making it can be somewhat complicated and time consuming in the preparation — and not all of us are skilled pastry chefs here. I did want to utilize the ladyfingers, mascarpone cream and liquor-infused elements of the dish, though. And then it hit me — trifle! One of the easiest, throw-together desserts man (and woman) has ever created. Trifle is also a great quick-fix for a make-ahead or last-minute treat as the the components are simply layered atop one another, traditionally in a clear glass container to give it a nice presentation.

This Hallmark holiday is a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, and with this easy and elegant recipe (below) you’ll be able to impress your special guest(s) with a swanky-looking final course that you spent practically no time preparing — and they’ll be none the wiser. The ingredients are also pretty inexpensive, and because it’s strawberry season here in Florida, you can pick up a pint of them for a few bucks.
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Move over blondies, Redheads will excite your sweetie with a spicy kick!

Move over blondies, Redheads will excite your sweetie with a spicy kick!

redheads

Move over brownies and blondies- here comes their more fabulous and feisty cousin, the Redhead! It’s my personal take on a blondie/brownie — a little sweet, a bit nutty, with a spicy little kick at the end! If I were a baked good, I’d definitely be this one (and I’m a redhead too, coincidence?).

I complain about not really being much of a baker, but these one-bowl delights are so easy to prepare and definitely worth the (minimal) effort. I suggest serving them topped with ice cream or whipped cream and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and cayenne, and some Red Hots candies.

Want to bake up something to ignite the flames of passion (or your tongue) this Valentines Day? Then these will be a sure fire hit, because everyone knows: redheads do to it best.
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