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Valentine’s Day dinner for two

POSTED: February 13, 2017 12:29 p.m.

Do you have dinner plans for Valentine’s Day next week? Perhaps you are planning on celebrating with your true love this weekend? Instead of dealing with a crowded, noisy restaurant, why not stay home and cook an amazing dinner for your significant other?

If cooking stresses you out, I have the perfect menu for you. You can do much of the prep for this dinner ahead of time and assembling the final elements is a snap. The best part? This meal is delicious and turns out perfect each and every time.

Early in the day, prep your salmon by getting it in a casserole dish and top with butter and fresh dill, salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate until you are ready to cook. Before baking, squeeze a lemon over salmon and top with a few slices of lemon.

Dill butter-baked salmon fillets
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 wild caught salmon fillets
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper
Juice from one lemon
4 slices lemon

Drizzle a casserole dish with olive oil. Add salmon fillets. Top each with two tablespoons butter and sprinkle with the dill, salt and pepper.

Right before baking, squeeze lemon over salmon and top each with lemon slices. Bake salmon in preheated 350-degree oven until salmon is done, 12 to 15 minutes. Place salmon on plate and pour some of the juices on top. Garnish with extra dill.

Unless you are using a rice cooker, cooking rice can sometimes be tricky. Not with this oven method. This is a great way to elevate simple ingredients and make them special. To get a jump start on the pilaf, saute the onions and rice ahead of time — when ready to bake, simply heat the chicken broth and then add it to the already cooked onions and toasted rice and pop it in the oven.

During the last 10 minutes or so of the rice cooking, you can pop the salmon into the oven. All will be done at the same time.

• • •

Perfect rice pilaf
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup onion, minced
1 cup Basmati rice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 green onion, minced

Heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes. Add basmati rice, stirring to combine. Cook another few minutes until onion is soft and rice is beginning to toast a bit. Heat the chicken stock, salt and pepper until boiling. When ready to cook, pour hot stock over rice in an oven proof dish. Cover tightly and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in thawed peas and green onion. Fluff with a fork before serving.

• • •

This salad is simple, yet delicious. Who doesn’t like bacon on a salad?

To gild the lilly, toast some rustic bread cubes in the bacon fat for the most decadent croutons ever. You can cook the bacon and the croutons early in the day and also mix up the simple salad dressing. When ready to serve, putting together the salad takes only two minutes.

French bistro salad
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups spring mix
3 slices thick bacon, cut into matchstick pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
2 slices rustic bread, cut into small cubes

In a small jar, combine Dijon, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Add bacon pieces to a cold skillet and turn heat to medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is cooked and crispy.

Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. In rendered bacon fat, add bread cubes and cook until cubes are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove to paper towel with cooked bacon. If assembling later, place bacon in one plastic baggie and the croutons in another.

To assemble salad, place spring mix in a bowl along with cherry tomatoes. Pour dressing over and toss well. Divide salad into two salad plates and top with bacon and croutons.

For dessert, why not make it easy on yourself and pick up something from your favorite bakery. Happy Valentine’s Day!


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