Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Be My Valentine?

Want to impress your sweetheart this Valentine's Day? Well we've got dinner recommendations for you--including a signature cocktail! From appetizer to dessert, this complete menu will save you from the chaos of a crowded restaurant and may even leave you with enough cash to splurge for two dozen roses. Get cozy with your significant other in the comfort of your own home with this dinner for two!

Let's start with the cocktail..

Spicy Strawberry Margarita

Fresh Strawberry Jalapeño Margarita, pink cocktail, tequila cocktail, summer cocktail:

Heat up your love with this spicy margarita! A cocktail with a kick, the strawberry and jalapeno are a perfect pair just like you and your beau!

1½ oz. tequila
1 oz. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
½ oz. agave nectar, or simple syrup
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
3 strawberries, sliced
2 slices jalapeño
coarse sea salt for glasses

Muddle the sliced strawberries, jalapeño and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, orange liqueur, and agave nectar. Add ice and shake for a few seconds to mix everything together and to get the drink cold.

Run a lime wedge along the edge of the glass. Dip into a plate of salt to coat the edge. Add ice and strain the margarita into the glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and jalapeño slice. Enjoy!

Now on to dinner..

Sweetheart Caprese Salad with a Balsamic Reduction

Sweetheart Caprese Salad with a Balsamic Reduction

Ugh, caprese salad is my absolute favorite (especially when the tomatoes are fresh from Grandpa's garden). Cutting the mozzarella into heart shapes adds that romantic touch. We love this idea!

3 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4–inch thick
1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4–inch thick
15-20 leaves fresh basil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
small heart-shaped cookie cutter

To make the balsamic reduction, stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and then simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup. Allow it to cool to room temperature before using.

Using the cookie cutter, cut the tomato and mozzarella slices into hearts. Layer the hearts on the plate, alternating between the two. Garnish with basil leaves. Drizzle the salad with the balsamic reduction before serving.

Farfalle with Beet Pesto

Farfalle with Beet Pesto for Valentine's day step-by-step recipe | vegelicacy.com

How amazing does this beet pesto look? The color is perfect for Valentine's Day. A special touch for that special someone in your life (plus it tastes as good as it looks)!

1 lb/450 g farfalle
2 beets, boiled or roasted
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp pepper

First, fill a large pot with water and place over high heat. Bring water to a boil, add pasta, reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to the package instructions. Drain.

Meanwhile, make a sauce. For the beet pesto you will need:
1 large or 2 small beets, preliminary boiled or roasted.
2 cloves of garlic, peeled (optional)
-/2 cup of walnuts
21/2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of salt and 1/3 tsp of pepper

Place the walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper into a blender jar. Process.
Add the beets. If your blender is not very powerful, cut the beets into smaller parts first. Process until smooth.

Toss the sauce and pasta together.

Garnish this pasta dish with chopped green onions and some parmesan cheese.

And for dessert..
Raspberry Champagne Cupcakes

Champagne & Raspberry Cupcakes by Lauren Kapeluck | TheCakeBlog.com

These are the perfect sweet treats! If you're not a huge fan of chocolate, these fun cupcakes make for a happily ever after ending to a love-filled dinner. We can't wait to try these!

Ingredients for the cake
2 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup champagne, room temperature (Korbel Sweet Rose)
5 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla

Ingredients for the buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons pureed raspberries (strained to remove seeds)
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup champagne (Korbel Sweet Rose)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions for the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed 4 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Gradually add the dry ingredients and the champagne, alternating, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling. Once cupcake are completely cool frost with Raspberry Champagne Buttercream.

Instructions for the buttercream
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Add in raspberry puree and vanilla extract. Mix well. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

Add champagne as necessary to create desired consistency. Place icing in piping bag fitted with large round tip and frost cupcakes. Garnish with a raspberry on top.

This is a dinner you're sure to love! Fall head over heels and devour the details of this Valentine's Day with your sweetheart and this amazing meal!

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