Romantic Valentine's Day recipes

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT)- Want to surprise your special someone with a romantic, affordable meal this Valentine's Day? Don't worry about booking a reservation-we've got you covered.

We're starting off with some recipes from Susan Jalbert of Chow Bella Cooks. She's whipped up a Love Pasta and Crispy Cinnamon Chicken.

Keep checking back for more recipes!

Love Pasta: 

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch of green onions, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon of capers

1 or 2 dashes of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon of sugar

½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

¼ teaspoon of black pepper

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

¼ cup fresh basil

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups of cooked penne pasta

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and red pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the capers, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and black pepper and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the ricotta cheese and thoroughly stir it into the tomato mixture. Once it is combined, add the cooked penne pasta and toss until all of the penne is well coated. Tear the basil with your hands and add it to the mixture, stir and serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Crispy Cinnamon Chicken

1 ½ cups ground multi-grain flakes

½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoons black pepper

½ teaspoons salt

¾ cup light mayonnaise

6 skinless chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon of olive oil or olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 45 F.

Line a baking sheet with non-stick tinfoil.

In a medium bowl, combine multi-grain flakes, cinnamon, rosemary, parsley, black pepper, and salt and set aside.

Coat each piece of chicken with the mayonnaise and dredge the chicken breasts in the cereal mixture.

Arrange the chicken breasts on the prepared baking sheet and spray with olive oil or drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

Slice the chicken breast into 3 or 4 pieces and fan out over a green salad.

Here are submissions from Susan Boyles with the Seasoned Gourmet.

Strawberry heart salad with cocoa vinaigrette

1 pint Strawberries, divided

½ cup Roasted, Salted Pecans

2 cups Arugula Leaves

2 cups Frisee or Endive Lettuce, chopped

3 Scallions, chopped

3-4 ounces Chevre (Goat Cheese), crumbled

For the Dressing:

¼ cup White Wine Vinegar

2 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder

½ cup sliced Strawberries

½ teaspoon Fresh Ground Nutmeg

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

1 tablespoon Honey, or more to taste

½ cup (+/-) Grapeseed Oil

Remove the stems from the berries and rinse and dry them on paper towels. Slice them about ¼ inch thick from top to bottom so that the slices look like hearts. Set these aside, reserving ½ cup of the slices for the dressing.

Prepare your lettuces by rinsing and drying. Slice the lettuces into thin ribbons. Cut the ribbons in half.

To make the dressing, place the vinegar, oil, cocoa powder, nutmeg, honey and ½ cup of the strawberry slices into a blender. Process until smooth and creamy.

Toss the lettuces and scallions with the dressing. Arrange on salad plates, top with a handful of pecans and strawberry slices. Crumble the goat cheese on top and serve.

Serves 4-6

Scallion Saffron Couscous

1 cup Uncooked Couscous

1 ½ cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

3 Scallions, sliced thin on the bias

Pinch Saffron Threads, crushed (or ½ teaspoon Turmeric)

Bring stock, salt, pepper, crushed saffron and scallions to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous, stir, cover with lid, and remove from heat. Let stand 4-5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

(Note: You can substitute some of the poaching liquid from the lobster in lieu of the plain stock)

Serves 4.

Champagne Honey Buerre Blanc

½ cup Vegetable or Chicken Stock

1 cup Champagne

Juice of ½ Lemon

1 teaspoon Honey

1 teaspoon Salt

3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

Add stock, champagne, lemon juice, honey and salt to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced by two thirds. Remove from heat and whisk in butter a piece at a time to emulsify and form a creamy sauce. Taste and add more honey or salt as desired.

Make a puddle of sauce on the plate with the lobster and couscous.

Makes about ½ cup.

Champagne Leeked Poached Lobster Tails

2 cups Leeks, chopped and rinsed well

2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cups Champagne

4 cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock

1 Bay Leaf

1 tablespoon Sea Salt

4 3 oz Lobster Tails, shells intact

Maldon or other Coarse Sea Salt, for finishing.

Chopped Chives, for garnish

Heat the olive oil over medium in a deep sauté pan. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until tender. Add the stock, bay leaf, sea salt and champagne and bring to a simmer (tiny bubbles, but not a full boil). Add the lobster tails, cover loosely with a lid and poach until tails are cooked through and shells are bright red, about 4-5 minutes.

Remove lobster tails from poaching liquid. Using a sharp cook's knife, slice the tails in half lengthwise.

Arrange in a heart shape on top of scallion couscous and make a puddle, or moat, of sauce on the plate around the couscous.

Garnish with chives and a sprinkle of coarse salt.

Serves 4.

Easy Chocolate Berry Parfaits

8 ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature

4 ounces Heavy Whipping Cream, cold

¼ + cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/3 cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla or Chocolate Extract

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

3 cups Assorted Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)

1 cup Cherry Gourmet Sauce

Chocolate shavings or Hershey's kiss for top, if desired

Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the cream cheese, sugar, extract to combine. Add the cream and beat until fluffy and well combined. Stir in the salt. Transfer to a piping bag or large Ziploc bag.

Rinse the berries. If using strawberries, remove the stems and slice them. Mix all the berries together in a bowl.

Select four (4) wine glasses or stemmed dessert glasses. To assemble the parfaits, snip the end of the piping or plastic bag and squeeze some of the cream in each glass. Then continue layering in the following order:

Layer of berries

Layer of chocolate cream

Layer of cherry gourmet sauce

Layer of chocolate cream

Layer of berries

Dollop of chocolate cream

Drizzle of cherry gourmet sauce

Shaving of chocolate or Hershey's kiss (optional)

Serves 4.

The following is a recipe from 19 Hundred's Executive Chef Kirsten Mitchell.

Grilled rack of lamb/ancho chili rub/chorizo/hominy/cilantro gremolata

Recipe serves 4


One rack of lamb

One can of hominy (drained)

One link of chorizo Spanish sausage

One bunch of cilantro

Two lemons (grated)

Two cloves of garlic

1/2 cup of ancho chili rub

Salt and pepper to taste

Rub lamb with ancho chili rub and olive oil, marinate for 20 minutes.

Pre-heat grill to 350.

To make the cilantro gremolata, finely grate your lemon and garlic cloves, mix with well-chopped cilantro and set to side.

Next, cut the chorizo into small squares and sauté till you can smell the aroma.

Grill the rack of lamb for eight minutes on each side (16 minutes total) and set aside for 5 minutes.

Add your hominy to your chorizo and cook until hominy is hot in the center, add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, put a small spoonful of hominy and chorizo in the middle of the plate and cut the rack of lamb individually.

Place two chops on top of hominy, top with gremolata and serve!

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