Going out for a romantic dinner with your hubby on Valentine’s Day just sounds so… romantic, doesn’t it? Turns out, it’s usually more work than it’s worth and not very romantic at all! Personally, my idea of a good time does not include being seated at a crappy table, in a crowded restaurant, with a cranky waitress, and a limited, expensive menu! To make matters even worse, you’re in public place so you can’t really get too “romantic” without disturbing the table next to you. No thanks, I’ll pass!
“There are so many advantages to dining in on that special night,” says Chef Blakely Trettenero, who writes about her culinary adventures on her fabulous blog, Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com). “It’s more comfortable, less expensive and super exclusive, because you can have whatever you want – from the cocktails to the entrée to dessert. And what better way to show you care than to cook a fantastic meal for – or with – that someone special?”
If the idea of making a romantic dinner for you and your hubby on a weeknight (Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year) is making you uneasy, no worries! Chef Trettenero says there are plenty of delicious and easy recipes to tantalize your lover’s taste buds without the need for slaving over the stove for hours and making a hoard of dirty dishes. Nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen only to spend a few minutes eating. Besides, you might want to save your energy for later, anyway… ;-)
Here are a couple of Chef Blakely Trettenero’s recipes that you will love and will be perfect for dining at home this Valentine’s Day!
Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Artichokes & Capers
1. 2 pounds chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)
4. drizzle of olive oil
5. 1 medium onion, diced small
6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
7. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
8. 1 teaspoon brown sugar
9. 1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
10. 1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
11. 2 teaspoons drained capers
12. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, then preheat a heavy-bottomed pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat
2. Use paper towel to soak up any extra moisture on the chicken. This prevents the chicken from getting golden brown when you sear it. Season both sides with salt and pepper and put the chicken in the preheated oil, skin side down
3. Cook the chicken until golden brown on one side, then flip to cook on the other side. You’re not trying to cook the chicken through, only brown it!
4. Once the chicken is brown on both sides, take it out of the pan and put it on a plate and set it aside
5. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain most of it, leaving only about a teaspoon or so in the bottom
6. Add the diced onions with a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan and cook for a few minutes until opaque
7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute
8. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan, scraping the bottom to get up any bits at the bottom. Add the brown sugar to the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine, and let it cook until slightly reduced, about 7-8 minutes
9. Add the can of tomatoes into the pan and turn off the heat. Use a knife to roughly cut up the tomatoes in the pan and then add the drained artichokes and capers. Give it a stir to mix everything together
10. Add the chicken thighs back into the pan, nestling them into the tomato mixture. Add the rosemary sprigs to the top and put the pan into the preheated oven uncovered
11. Let it cook for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through
12. Serve with a simple side and you have a gourmet dinner ready in no time.
1. 2 cups pitted cherries, cut in half
2. 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
3. 3 eggs
4. 3/4 granulated sugar
5. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
7. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8. 1 cup whole milk
9. 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11. Powdered sugar (optional)
1. The hardest part of this recipe is removing the pits from the cherries. I don’t have a cherry pitter, so I just get the pits out the old-fashioned way. I cut the cherries in half, twist the two halves to expose the pit, and take my knife and cut it out
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
3. In a 9-inch buttered and floured pie pan, add the fresh cherry halves and slivered almonds
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, salt, flour, milk, almond extract and vanilla extract until completely smooth. Pour the batter over the cherries and almonds and put in the oven
5. Let the clafoutis cook for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.
6. Take the clafoutis out of the oven and let it cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
About Blakely Trettenero
Blakely Trettenero, host of the Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com) and Hungry for Travels (www.hungryfortravels.com) websites, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Florida. She is a world traveler, having visited more than 30 countries, and is becoming a frequent guest on TV.