How to whip up a quick Valentines party

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Tim Laird, america’s chief entertaining officer, joins WGN to share quick party ideas.


Cupid’s Cocktail

In a shaker with ice, add:

  • 1 ounce Finlandia vodka
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • ½ ounce Chambord liqueur
  • Candy hearts for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a spear of gummy candy hearts.


  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more, as needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved, plus 2 more, minced
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • Capers

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and brush each side with olive oil. Bake the bread until toasted, about 4 minutes per side. While still warm, rub cut sides of garlic over one side of the toast then top with a smear of goat cheese.

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, minced garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Top each toast with the tomato mixture, capers and basil.

Serves 6-8

Note:  For a smoky flavor try grilling the bread.

This Caesar Salad Rules!

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 hearts of romaine, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

In a large salad bowl, preferably wood, add the garlic and anchovy paste, mash together with a fork.  Add the olive oil, mustard, lime juice, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.  Mix vigorously.  Add the parmesan cheese and black pepper.  Mix until incorporated.  Toss with romaine lettuce and plate immediately.  Garnish with Garlic and Herb Croutons and Parmesan Tuilles.

Serves 4–6

Pasta Angelo

This is a delicious, flavorful and easy-to-make pasta.  What sets it apart is the added flavor of the bacon and a touch of cream.

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box angel hair pasta
  • Olive oil

Cook pasta until it is still slightly firm or al dente.  This might be less time than what is recommended on the package.  Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat to render the fat.  Do not burn.  Discard the bacon and add the shallots and garlic to the pan.  Sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, pepper, salt and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the cream, basil and oregano and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.  Add desired amount of pasta to the pan and toss with the sauce to coat and cook until just heated through.  Garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley.

Serves 4–6

Italian Whipped Cream with Berries

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Tuaca Italian liqueur
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries

In a mixer with a wire whisk attachment, combine the cream, powdered sugar and Tuaca. Whip on low for 30 seconds to incorporate, then on high for 3 – 4 minutes until stiff peaks form.  Be careful not to over-whip.  Serve in a martini glass surrounded by strawberries.

Serves 4–6

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