Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

I really do feel that if you try to stick to any sensible diet plan on 2/14, you will be thwarted by your co-workers, your girlfriends, your sweetheart and the world at large. The television box has made it very clear: Today you MUST eat delicious things in heart shaped boxes! Don't be one of those lame lady lovers who pitches a fit over the well-meaning box of truffles offered her because CLEARLY your significant other is trying to ruin your life/diet with chocolate... Take it as a compliment that he likes how you look enough to not even assume you're ON a diet! Politely eat a couple with him (who doesn't like to share something that comes in a heart-shaped box?!) and then take them to work tomorrow to share!

Me, I love Valentine's Day. I plan it as a deliberate cheat day and make sure to make my husband's favorite things. Also, I like to bring in food for the people I work with, since I always think it's a drag to have to work when you should be half naked somewhere covered in rose petals (or similar, whatever does it for you). That being said, I'm not a proponent of the commericialism that goes with V-day. I don't think it should be at all about expensive gifts or going out to eat. Write a personal love letter and make these delicious steaks instead!

Valentine's Day Office Cake
This is so easy! No baking and everyone is always impressed with the presentation!

1 store bought angel-food cake (though if you have a good recipe for angel food cake, go ahead and make your own!)
1 large tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 tsp. almond extract
red food coloring
1 16 oz. can cherry pie filling
1 16 oz. can strawberry pie filling
cinnamon hearts

First, using just one or two drops of red coloring, dye your whipped topping pink and add the almond extract.
Take your cake and cut it evenly into thirds, like a three-layer cake would be. Spread 1/3 cup of EACH filling (or more, to taste) on the first layer and then top generously with pink topping -- you want it to gently ooze out the sides when you press the second layer down on top. Repeat for layer #2 and then top with final layer. Now, make sure the cake is on it's serving tray (your cake carrying dish or what have you). Take remaining filling and pour into the center hole, filling to the top (don't let it overflow!). Cover with remaining whipped topping and thoroughly ice the top layer. Decorate with cinnamon hearts and serve.

Now for dinner with your darling...

Bacon Wrapped Filets

I finally have figured out how to make a decent steak -- considering that we don't have a full-sized grill. There was a time in my life that every piece of meat I slapped down in front of my husband was likely to "moo" at him.

4 medium filet mignons (I try to make four, since this is one dinner that you really want to enjoy twice, as leftovers. But if you're on a budget or just don't want to make this much meat, don't worry. You can simply buy two steaks. Everything else except the bacon will remain the same)
1 C. drinkable red wine (I like a Cabernet Sauvignon called "Dynamite"; I believe it's a California wine, but I'm not sure. My friend Megs is the wine expert)
1 T. Good Seasons garlic/herb flavor (these are the packets you buy near the salad dressings, if you're into making your own salad dressing)
1 T. freshly ground pepper

Trim the fillets of excess fat and on the sides of each, carve a little pocket into the interior of the steak. Then, pop into a plastic bag with a good seal on it. Add wine, seasonings and pepper. Marinade up to 8 hours, though even a good hour long soak will turn the steaks a pretty red color and add lots of flavor!
When you're ready to start cooking, first take the steaks out and let them get to room temp. You never want to toss a cold hunk of meat onto a hot pan. It won't cook evenly and you'll get a lot more smoke. Next, heat a sauce pan to screaming hot. This is important. Also, preheat your oven to 450. Make sure the pan you use is oven-safe! You're going to sear your steaks and then pop them in the oven in the same pan.

4 slices bacon
5 oz. blue cheese
3 oz. drained jarred mushrooms (I like the chopped portobellos)
1 t. Good Seasons

First gently brown the bacon. Don't cook it through, just barely get it started. Drain and let cool. Next, combine cheese with mushrooms and seasonings. Divide this mixture evenly and stuff into those little steak pockets you made. Wrap the bacon around each fillet (make sure sure sear the bacon's seam in the pan as soon as you place each steak onto the heat -- this will guarantee you that your bacon won't fall off in the middle of baking). Heat 1 -- 2 T. of oil in the hot Hot HOT pan and let it get good and hot. Drop your steaks in and prepare yourself for the smoke. Let them cook up a good "crust," searing for about 3 minutes. Flip your steaks and then, making sure there is NO EXCESS OIL in your pan (!!! house fires suck, ya'll), place the whole pan in your heated oven for about 10 minutes.
Finally, take the steaks out and place on a plate, then top each with a small pat of butter. Tent and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

These are really ridiculously good, especially if your man likes a good steak. Hey, even if you're single, invite another single buddy over and treat them to a nice meal! They'll appreciate not being alone on V-Day, too. And you'll avoid the stupid crowds at restaurants, etc. tonight.

Be sure to buy a decent cut of meat. Ask your butcher if you're not sure. This is another excellent reason to get on good terms with the people who work at your grocery store. My butcher will even reserve special cuts of meat for me behind the counter if I tell him in advance I'll be cooking something special.

Otherwise, have a lovely Valentine's Day. Listen to your favorite music and open a bottle of wine while you cook.

No comments: