So…Valentine’s Day is coming up….Special days often mean special meals. What will you be making for dinner that day?
I like making special recipes for me and my sweetie. Adding a little extra panache to dinner to make it memorable. What I don’t like is chasing down special ingredients all the time. Or worse, getting stuck the day I am cooking, missing an essential ingredient that I can’t grab on the way home from the office.
So, I thought today I would share a couple of my favorite Dinner for 2 Menus. These recipes may take just a little extra time, but it is worth it. And all of the ingredients should be available at your local market.
Serving Tip: Want to be able to linger over dinner, but keep your food from getting chilled? Warm your plates & serving dishes. Place oven-safe dishes in a 150 to 200 F oven for 5 minutes, remember to use a oven mitt to remove them and to avoid placing the hot dishes in any standing water. I started doing this for every meal, and it has kept my family from doing the “gobble-and-go”. We linger and chat just a bit longer because our food has stayed warm.
Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops with Cranberry Almond Rice
2 1-inch pork chops, trimmed
2 tablespoon butter, divided
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
8 ounces fresh spinach, cleaned
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, or to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles, or cheese of choice grated
3 tablespoons, bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup whole grain or wild rice blend
1-1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
In a small sauce pan, add vegetable broth, rice, butter, and stir to combine. Place over medium high heat. Once the broth comes to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Let simmer until rice is cooked, 30-45 minutes, depending on the rice you use. Note: Check directions on rice packaging for accurate cooking times.
In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Once butter begins to foam, add onions and garlic, and cook 4 to 5 minutes until onions soften. Add spinach and saute until spinach wilts and releases its water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the water cooks off. Add bacon and cheese, and stir to combine. Set aside and allow to cool while prepping pork chops.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut a deep pocket into the trimmed pork chops. Note: It may be easier to butterfly the pork chop, but it will make it harder to pan sear once it is stuffed. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Fill pocket with 1/2 of the spinach mixture, or as much as it will hold. If desired, use a toothpick or butcher’s twine to hold closed.
Add the cranberries and almonds to rice, and stir to combine.
In oven-safe saute pan, heat remaining olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Sear pork chops 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place saute pan in preheated oven 7 to 10 minutes, until pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145 F. Remove from oven, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes.
Roasted Salmon with Sweet Potato & Broccoli
1 large sweet potato, cleaned
1 teaspoon oil
2 salmon fillets or steaks
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dill
Dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1 medium head of broccoli
2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated, optional
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon brown sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
Preheat over to 400 F. Rub oil over potato skin. Place on a nonstick baking sheet, and cook in preheated oven 40 to 60 minutes until soft.
In a small bowl, add softened butter, garlic, dill, and cayenne. Mix together until combined. About 1/2 way through the potato baking, check salmon for any pin bones and remove. Note: When cooking salmon, judge the cooking time by the thickest part of the fillet or steak. You will bake the salmon12 to 14 minutes for each inch of thickness, baking at 400 F (8-10 minutes for broiling). The internal temperature of salmon, at its thickest point should be 140 F.
Using a sauce pan, and steam basket with cover, heat 2 cups of water to boiling.
Spread 1/2 of the butter mixture on each fillet or steak. Place fish on hot baking sheet alongside potato.
Trim broccoli and cut into florets. Place in steamer basket and steam for 7 to 10 minutes, to desired softness.
When potato is soft and fish is cooked through, remove from oven. Allow fish to rest. Cut potato in half, length-wise. Top each half with butter, 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste.
Remove broccoli from steamer. Toss with butter and grated Parmesan cheese.