Be Sweet to Your Sweetheart’s Heart
By Jennifer James, ORMC Dietitian
Valentine’s Day and a romantic dinner for two…time to make those reservations!
Your thoughtfulness in making the effort to cook AND making it healthy will earn you at least one gold star. These fast, healthy recipes are made from some foods with purported aphrodisiac qualities. Things may be hotter in the kitchen after the meal! It’s worth a try.
Appetizer: Smoked Oyster Dip with whole grain crackers or raw vegetable sticks
Entrée: Salmon with Pesto and Pine Nuts
Herbed Beef Tenderloin with Creamy Horseradish Sauce
Vegetables: Roasted New Potatoes with Cumin and Coriander
Lemon-Lime Steamed Asparagus
Dessert: Warm Chocolate Souffle with Strawberries (or for an easier dessert,
Beverage: Alcohol: Pinot Noir with the salmon or Cabernet Sauvignon with the beef
Non-Alcohol: Sparkling Punch with equal parts club soda, ginger ale (diet or regular) and white or red grape juice.
Day ahead Make Smoked Oyster Dip and Creamy Horseradish Sauce (if serving beef).
Day of Make Double-Dipped Strawberries or the chocolate soufflés early in the day, keep strawberries refrigerated
Prepare the potatoes first, place in the oven.
Enjoy the appetizer
If serving salmon, prepare and place in oven after removing potatoes (keep warm)
If serving beef tenderloin, prepare on top of stove while potatoes are cooking
Microwave asparagus after salmon is broiled or beef is cooked
Lemon-Lime Steamed Asparagus
1/4 cup water
1 pound fresh asparagus, woody sections of stems removed (1-1/2-2 inches from bottom)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
- Sprinkle the water onto 4 paper towels. Spread out the paper towels and lay the asparagus on top of the dampened towels. Sprinkle with the salt. Roll up the asparagus in the dampened towels. Lay the bundle, seam side down, in the microwave.
- Microwave on high until the asparagus is just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the microwave using tongs and carefully unwrap. Arrange on a serving platter, squeeze juice from lemon and lime over asparagus and serve immediately.
Smoked Oyster Dip
1 8-ounce package low-fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp. regular mayonnaise
2 tsp. onion juice (if unable to find, grate a halved onion into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the juice)
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. sherry (optional)
8 ounces of smoked oysters, packed in water, chopped
Bring cheese to room temperature; mix with mayonnaise, onion juice, paprika and sherry; whip until fluffy. Fold in finely chopped smoked oysters and parsley. Serve with whole grain crackers or raw vegetable sticks.
4 ounces high quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 pound fresh medium to large strawberries, rinsed and patted dry
2 ounces high quality white chocolate, chopped
- Line a large baking sheet with wax paper.
- Melt the dark chocolate in a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and wipe the underside dry with a tea towel. To make dipping easier, scrape the chocolate into a smaller bowl.
- Hold each strawberry by its stem. Dip it into the chocolate about three quarters of the way up the berry. Drag it against the side of the bowl to stop any drips, then transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the chocolate.
- Meanwhile, set the white chocolate in a second bowl and melt over simmering water as before. Set a small zip-top bag in a drinking glass. Open it so the edges reach halfway down the sides of the glass. Scrape the melted white chocolate into the bag. Seal the bag, pressing out any air as you zip it shut.
- Remove the strawberries from the fridge. Snip off a tiny corner of the zip-top bag, squeeze gently, and drizzle the white chocolate over the berries. Set the berries back in the fridge for 5 minutes and serve.
Roasted New Potatoes with Cumin and Coriander
1-1/2 pounds of new potatoes, cleaned and cut in quarters
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
1/8-1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add olive oil, cumin, coriander and garlic. Toss to coat.
- Spread potatoes in a single layer of a baking pan. Roast for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and browned. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Souffles with Strawberries
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts (filberts) or almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
4 egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 cup strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly coat six 1-cup individual souffle dishes or ramekins with cooking spray or coat a 6-cup souffle dish with the spray.
- In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and hot water, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
- In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the canola oil and stir to combine. Add the flour, ground hazelnuts and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the brown sugar, honey and salt. Gradually add the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir into the cocoa mixture. Let cool slightly.
- In a large, thoroughly cleaned bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cocoa mixture to lighten it. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the cocoa mixture, mixing gently only until no white streaks remain.
- Gently scoop the cocoa egg white mixture into the prepared dishes (or dish). Bake until the souffle rises above the rim and is set in the center, 15 to 20 minutes for individual souffles or 40 to 45 minutes for the large souffle. Cool the souffles on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the confectioners' sugar. Garnish with strawberries and serve immediately.
Herbed Beef Tenderloin
1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed
- Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small baking dish. Add steaks to marinade, turning to coat. Cover and marinate steaks at room temperature 1 hour, turning occasionally.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Remove steaks from dish, discard marinade. Place steaks in pan; cook, without disturbing for 2 minutes or until steaks release easily from bottom of pan. Turn steaks over, cook 2 minutes. Turn steaks once again and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until desired doneness. Let stand 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve with Creamy Horseradish Sauce.
Creamy Horseradish Sauce
1 cup low-fat sour cream
2-4 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
Mix the above ingredients and let stand for at least an hour before serving. This can be prepared the day before.
Salmon with Pesto and Pine Nuts
1 pound salmon filets, cut into 4 portions
1 lemon quartered
¼ cup pesto
½ cup pine nuts
- Place the pine nuts in a small, fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water. Transfer the nuts to a small brown paper bag, fold over the bag and microwave on high for 1 to1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bag from the microwave and set aside to cool.
- Cover a baking sheet with foil and place cooking rack on top of the baking sheet. Check fish for bones and lightly coat fish with thin film of olive oil.
- Lightly salt and pepper filets if desired. Squeeze small amount of lemon juice over each fillet.
- Preheat broiler. Place fish under the broiler about 9 inches from the heat source. Broil 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. Midway through broiling, remove fish from broiler and spread 1 Tbsp of pesto on each filet. Return to broiler and finish cooking. Pesto should be browned. Remove and let set a few minutes.
- Squeeze a little more lemon juice over each fillet and top with 1-2 Tbsp. of pine nuts, pressing into the pesto.