Focus on Family: Valentine’s Day family dinner ideas from The Suburban Epicurean

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Carol Mackey
The Suburban Epicurean

Stromboli Hearts

2 Tbls. finely chopped kalamata olives
2 Tbls. finely diced roasted red pepper
pepperoni (about 10 slices or ¼ lb.) diced
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ tsp. Italian seasonings
8 oz. softened cream cheese
Purchased pie crust

Cut out heart shapes with cookie cutters, place a dollop of mixture in the center, top with another heart and crimp the edges.  Brush with egg wash and bake at 350 degrees 12 minutes or until golden.

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Baskets

For the Croutons:
6 one-inch slices crusty white bread, cut into ¾ inch cubes (heart shaped if desired)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp dried oregano

For the Salad:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsps Dijon mustard
4-5 anchovies or 1 tsp anchovy paste (optional)
squeeze of fresh lemon
dash worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste
2 head romaine, washed and dried and torn into 2-inch pieces
grated parmesan reggiano to taste
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half

For the Croutons:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, toss bread cubes with remaining crouton ingredients.  On a sheet pan, bake until golden brown, tossing occasionally, about 10-12 minutes.
Toss lettuce, croutons, parmesan, tomatoes & dressing serve in parmesan bowl, Serves 6.
Parmesan basket/bowl: take about 1/4 cup grated parmesan and sprinkle into a hot nonstick skillet, once hot and bubbly carefully take a fork and flip, let cook about 20 seconds remove and place over a cup to form the mold, if you have a heart shaped bowl you can try to form the mold over that.

Seafood Lasagna

3/4  lb. of shrimp; raw peeled and deveined
3/4  lb. sea scallops; sliced in half
(or you can use crab)
5 Tbs. butter
5 Tbs flour
6 cups of whole or 2% milk
granulated garlic powder
white pepper
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbs of cognac
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 1/4 cups Gruyere cheese
1 1/4 cups mozzarella
No boil lasagna noodles
2 Tbs toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs Italian flat leaf parsley; chopped

Begin by poaching shrimp and scallops in cold water with a splash of white wine for 5 minutes.  Set aside.
Next, make sauce by melting butter in a saucepan add flour to make a roux.  Add milk and whisk until thicken, slowly add Parmesan cheese.  Finish with a splash of cognac and season with white pepper and nutmeg and garlic powder.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a 9×13 dish layer ingredients as follows:

Cover bottom of pan with sauce
Arrange noodles to cover bottom, overlapping if necessary
Arrange 1/2 of the seafood
Top with 1 cup mozzarella
Top with sauce
Layer with more noodles

Next layer spinach/seafood/1 cup Gruyere
Cover with sauce
Layer more noodles
Top with sauce
Sprinkle a little of the remaining cheeses
Top with toasted pine nuts and parsley.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Discard foil and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Chocolate Flourless Cake

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 sticks butter, room temperature
5 eggs, room temperature

Combine water and sugar and bring to a simmer.  Chop chocolate (or break up) and slowly whisk in the chocolate to combine after each incorporation.  Add butter by chunk, whisking after each incorporation.  Whisk eggs together and add slowly. Pour into a 9-inch non-stick cake pan or line the pan with parchment or foil and butter lightly.  Bake at 325 degrees about 45-50 minutes.  Refrigerate until solid invert on to cake plate, let sit out about 30 minutes before serving, cut into hearts if desired using heart shaped cookie cutters, place on wire rack and pour ganache over, use small spatula to distribute. Freezes great!  Serves about 8-10.

Makes: 2 1/2 cups

8 oz. bittersweet, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature

Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside. Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let stand until chocolate has softened, about 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until smooth. Pour over chocolate hearts, top with mini dried rose.


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