You may recall that in the month of December, I do a series called Tasty Tuesday each Tuesday (imagine that? I do Tasty Tuesdays on a Tuesday...) of the month where I share tried and true recipes that you may want to use for your holidays.
Well...due to all the hoopla of the holidays in Judiland, I didn't share a recipe on the final Tuesday---December 30, 2014. Even though I had it all planned out, it just did not happen. Sorry about that!
Hopefully, you ate well despite this little snafu...
SO, I want to make it up to you...... in hearts!
Now that it's February,I doubt you are planning your 2015 holiday menus (but, if you are....I am very impressed). But, I was thinking-- you may be planning your Valentine's Day Menu. After all, this year, it falls on a Saturday. Which means that you may want to spend the entire day in the kitchen in your cupid outfit cooking a lovely meal to celebrate this holiday.....or not.
Let's go with some recipes that will keep you in the kitchen long enough to enjoy the experience but not so long enough that you are too exhausted to enjoy the meal....
La Vie En Rouge Cocktail
Lately, when I am entertaining a small-ish crowd, I've done away with the "full bar" before dinner and have went with one signature-type cocktail to greet everyone and get them relaxed and ready for the evening. But, you know, sometimes finding just the right cocktail for everyone is a bit of a crap shoot. Although our before-dinner drink of choice is always a martini, not everyone has a taste for straight booze. It's always best to consider that your guests might not be the boozy hounds that you are...
So, I decided to go to the source for some advice when I was having 2 couples for dinner (who I hardly knew....business associates of my husband's and their wives ) right before the holidays. Yep, I asked one of my favorite bartenders. He asked me a few important questions about the guests and the menu and he threw out a few ideas at first and then....as if a light bulb went off in his head....he excitedly decided that the only cocktail that would do was a La Vie En Rouge (translation--"Life in Red"). As intriguing as a classy-named cocktail that includes my favorite color in it's name could be, I wasn't too impressed when he described it to me. But, since he is the expert, I indulged him and told him to shake it up. One sip and I was sold. It was the perfect cocktail for our upcoming evening....
Fast forward to our little dinner party and this cocktail was a major hit. I think our guests went with 2 each....which, I might add-- made them much more enjoyable to be with!
Considering its red color and it's winter-like quality, I decided that it would also be the perfect Valentine's Day cocktail. MAKE IT!
Ingredients: (makes 1 drink)
- 1 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
- 1 1/2 oz. cranberry juice
- 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
- Fresh rosemary needles
- In a cocktail shaker, muddle 10-12 rosemary needles lightly with simple syrup.
- Add remaining ingredients into the cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously.
- Pour into martini glass
- Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
I don't know about you but sometimes my favorite foods are the appetizers. Not only are they fun to eat and lend themselves to the relaxation of an event....they can also hint as to the formalness or the casualness of the evening. Because I like to entertain somewhere in the middle of the two--if I am only serving one appetizer (which I often do when we are hosting on a smaller scale and if there's 3-4 course meal to follow), I always strive to find the perfect balance of fancy and not-so-fancy that compliments my overall menu. Not an easy task. Yes, I make myself crazy over it. That's where my menu diary comes in---knowing what worked and what didn't work in the past helps me to focus when I'm feeling all over the place in my planning. That's what I did when I was coming up with a perfect appetizer when we hosted a before-going-out-to-dinner cocktail hour for a group of out-of-town guests that were visiting during the holidays. After a bit of page turning, I hit upon some notes that I had written in my menu diary about a wonderful, unexpected and so-easy appetizer that we served on Christmas Day. My son the doctor and his friend had made some wine jellies as gifts and in an effort to show off his culinary talents, I decided to put them out on a cheese platter along with all of the other appetizers I was serving. As it turned out--everyone raved over 2 of the jellies--a delightful Chardonnay and an intense Merlot. Smeared on chunks of a super sharp Irish cheddar (I used this one) --it was both elegant and easy! And.....ohmygosh delicious!
In fact, as I was reading my notes, I recalled that I was even scarfing down all of the leftovers the next day.....which left me with one huge problem---since I did eat all the leftover jelly--I needed more if I was going to serve it again! Having never made jelly before in my life, I couldn't imagine embarking on such a challenge especially for such a quick little event. But, I called my son anyhow to get some info on the jellies and he directed me here....the very same recipe he and his friend used. He said they used very inexpensive wines. And, he assured me it was easy. And, he was right. Plus, the bonus was that I got to impress our out--of-towners....."you actually make jelly?" one of the men asked as his eyes perused the dining room and all the holiday decorations!
Dinner is served.....
Pear and Endive Salad
What can I say except every time I serve this, it's a huge hit. So, I don't mess with it.
Giada's Chicken Piccata
Another recipe that I never mess with. It's the perfect go-to dish for special times and ordinary days and everything in between. But, there's nothing ordinary about it. I always make extra sauce to ladle over plain risotto or pasta. You must make this. You really must.
Store Bought Cannoli
An easy, delicious way to sweeten up the end of this perfect meal.
Have you ever heard of Tuaca?
I never did either.
But, now that I have my very own bottle, I am a believer.
Tuaca is the perfect after-dinner drink...slightly chilled, sipped from darling little champagne glasses.
What a perfect way to end a perfect Valentine's Day dinner.....