Two Sisters Cook: A Valentine’s Day Dinner: Two Sisters Cook

Published 3:00 pm Friday, February 2, 2018

The rush of the holidays is fading. February 14, Valentine’s Day, is fast approaching. It’s one of biggest dining out days of the year. If you check for a reservation and discover your favorite restaurant is already booked, try one of our easy recipes and create a romantic dinner for two, complete with a delicious Valentine dessert.

Linda: I have a recipe that would be an impressive Valentine’s dinner, Creamy Chicken Alfredo Casserole. It looks delicious and is easy to make. It could be made a day ahead and baked that evening when you get home from work. Serve with salad and crusty French bread to complete the meal.

Lucy: I came across a new dessert recipe that I think would be perfect for Valentine’s Day, Strawberry Cream Cake. It’s red and white and would be festive to serve. The recipe says to freeze it, so could be made a few days in advance.

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Linda: Strawberries covered in chocolate are my favorite Valentine’s Day treat. They look elegant but are very easy to make. You could make the evening before, or once casserole is in the oven. Be sure to buy the strawberries fresh, with a bit of the green still on. Wash them ahead of time and dry with a soft cloth.  They must be completely dry before you dip them.

Lucy: In Florida, this is the time of year for strawberries. So it seems perfect to use them for dessert. They’re plentiful in the grocery right now.

Linda: And if you’re really short on time, pick up a red velvet cake at the grocery story bakery.  Decorate it with some fresh strawberries placed around the base of the cake.

Lucy: Use a lacy tablecloth, red napkins and white plates to create a color scheme. Red or white roses along with candles would be a lovely addition,

Linda: And don’t forget the music. Be sure to have the right music selected in advance to create a dreamy mood. Some old Johnny Mathis might be good. Or maybe Paul McCartney’s album, “Kisses On The Bottom”, referring to putting kisses at the bottom of a letter.

Check the recipes below and plan a scrumptious dinner. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Casserole

1 (6oz) pkg. fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup pesto sauce
1 15 oz jar Alfredo sauce
¼ cup chicken broth
12 oz uncooked penne pasta (cook according to pkg. directions)
2 ½ cups chopped rotisserie chicken
¼ tsp paprika
4 oz pre-shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tbs chopped parsley

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Toss together spinach and pesto in medium bowl

2. Stir together Alfredo sauce and chicken broth in another bowl. Spread one-third of Alfredo mixture (about ½ cup) into a lightly greased 11 x 7 baking dish. Top with half the spinach mixture

3. Stir together cooked pasta, and chicken, and remaining Alfredo mixture; spoon half of chicken mixture over spinach mixture. Repeat layers once with the remaining spinach mixture and chicken mixture.

4. Bake in pre-heated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven, and bake until hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Top with parsley and paprika.

(If made ahead and refrigerated, increase cooking time for about 5 to 10 minutes)

Serves 4

Strawberry Cream Cake

4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (slightly mash 2 of the cups) 
1 tbs sugar
3-4 tbs water
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
3 cups heavy whipping cream
8-10 full graham crackers, roughly crushed
Prepare at least one day in advance of serving

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups sliced/mashed strawberries, cornstarch, lemon juice, water, and sugar. Cook while stirring until sauce has formed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

2. In a large mixing bowl add the heavy cream and lemon zest, Whip to form stiff peaks. Can also be whipped in food processor with stirring blade.

3. Line the inside of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Extend the plastic wrap over edges, for easier removal.

4. To assemble, spread an even thin layer of the whipped cream on the bottom. Next add a layer of crushed graham crackers, a layer of sliced strawberries, and a layer of strawberry sauce. Repeat the process until the pan is full. Cover the cake using the extended plastic wrap and freeze.

5. Use the extended plastic wrap to remove the cake from the pan and place on a platter. Let thaw for about one hour. Slice and serve cold. Garnish top with a few cut strawberries.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Purchase a box of fresh strawberries that contains several large strawberries

Purchase large bag of chocolate chips (can use semi sweet, milk, or white chips)

Wash strawberries and dry thoroughly.

Use parchment paper or waxed paper to cover cookie sheet.

Follow directions on bag of chips to melt chocolate. Grasp strawberry by top and dip into chocolate, Set on cookie sheet. Repeat until all strawberries have been coated.

Place in refrigerator to cool. When chocolate is set, place on devorative palet and serve. Can be made one day ahead, but strawberries can become “juicy” so shouldn’t be made any earlier. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.