This Valentines Day my single girlfriends and I decided to have a girl's night that would include a home cooked dinner (made by me), games and lots and lots of wine. As we were planning it, I felt like such a cliche. But then I realized what we were NOT doing was an "I hate valentines day" sort of function. In fact, all of us loved Valentine's day so it just made sense that, since none of us had dates, we just spent the evening together instead of alone. It ended up being a great idea and I adored the dinner I made for the girls so I decided to immortalize it here.
I didn't intend to make 4 courses but it all began with a request for my Tortellini w/ Spinach and Mushrooms: an easy breezy semi-homemade dinner I created last year that ended up being pretty popular with my followers and my girlfriends as well. Of course I would oblige the request, but then, as I was thinking about how rich this pasta dish is, I decided to make a really yummy salad to go with it. The salad I made was kind of two recipes in one. First, I came across Rachael Ray's Heart-y Salad and I loved the idea of a heart themed salad. But I'm not a big fan of hearts of Palm, so I decided to keep the Romaine Hearts and Artichoke hearts and search for an amazing dressing and...I found one!! In Emeril Lagassi's Romaine Salad is an amazing recipe for a lemon Dijon vinaigrette. This dressing...so good I almost poured it in a cup to drink it.
In the end, I did a mash up of Rachael and Emeril's salads and created my own Simple Salad with "Lots of Heart." It included hearts of romaine (chopped), canned artichoke hearts (drained), halved cherry tomatoes with chives and grated pram for garnish. I actually marinated the artichokes and tomatoes in the dressing and drizzled more over the greens right before serving. I also made the croutons in Emeril's salad recipe and I must say that using Creole seasoning on the bread was genius! Thanks Emeril! So now I had planned out two courses and I realized this was turning out to be a vegetarian dinner. GASP!! Something had to be done about this! :) I decided my first course would be a Quick Shrimp Scampi Appetizerto go along with the Italian theme I had going on. My shrimp scampi is really simple and always a crowd pleaser:
Ingredients: (Serves 4) 4 slices crusty bread 1 lb jumbo shrimp (deveined, peeled, tails on) 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp evoo 2 cloves garlic (minced or grated) 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (couple pinches) 5-6 basil leaves (chiffonade or thinly sliced) Salt to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 450. Brush both sides of bread with evoo and toast in the oven for about 2-3 mins on both sides. Arrange bread on a plate. Then, in a small roasting dish, toss all of the remaining ingredients together and place into the oven for 6-8 mins or until shrimp is pink and tender, the butter has melted and is bubbly. Pour the shrimp and all it's juices over the bread and serve piping hot. (Variation: If you're not a fan of basil, parsley is the herb used in the classic scampi recipe)
So now I had 3 courses but no Valentine's day dinner is complete without dessert. I decided to go the semi homemade route again and use a Tastefully Simple boxed Salted Caramel Creme Brûlée. This box mix was a great option for creme brûlée lovers who want to attempt the dish at home. But I think Tastefully Simple may operate like pampered chef where you can only buy through a distributor/salesperson. So if you can get your hands on this great, but if you can't and want to try to recreate this dinner, I suggest making my Tiramisubecause you can make it in advance, or grab your favorite store bought dessert. The other homemade courses will make up for it. So that's it! 4 amazing courses. Pulled all of it off in about 2.5 hrs and my grocery bill was a mere $45. 4 courses for 4 people for 45 bucks!! Granted, I did have my Kitchen Essentialson hand but you can't beat it! I hope you all enjoyed your Valentine's Day as much as I did and I wish you lots of love this and everyday! Xo