Celebrate February with a special dinner for two. It could be a spouse, loved one, friend, or in my case, a wonderful daughter. What a great time of year to add pizzazz to dinner at home and spend time with someone you care about over this gourmet, yet simple, meal made just for two.
CHICKEN BREASTS MARSALA
2 chicken breast halves, with skin and bones
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can (15-oz.) artichoke hearts
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cream sherry or sweet Marsala
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat chicken pieces dry and rub paprika, salt, and pepper on skin on both sides. Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a heavy skillet and brown chicken, over medium heat, until golden brown (about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes per side). Transfer chicken to a 2-quart shallow baking dish or casserole. Drain and rinse artichokes. Place around chicken. Wash and slice mushrooms if needed. Melt remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir constantly and cook until mushroom liquid is evaporated. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes. Add sherry or Marsala and chicken broth; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer sauce, stirring, 4-5 minutes longer. Pour over chicken. Cover casserole with lid or aluminum foil and bake an additional 40-45 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
BIBB LETTUCE SALAD WITH MANDARIN ORANGES & POPPY SEED DRESSING
3 cups torn Bibb lettuce
1 stalk celery, sliced round, thinly
1 Tablespoon red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 Tablespoon sliced, toasted almonds
1 bottle poppy seed dressing
Place lettuce on two salad plates and arrange remaining ingredients, except dressing, over Bibb lettuce. Drizzle with poppy seed dressing.
PINEAPPLE-GINGER BABY CARROTS
8 oz. baby carrots, scraped
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Cook carrots until fork tender in a small amount of boiling water. Drain. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Heat thoroughly and pour over carrots. Toss to coat.
BUTTERED GREEN BEANS & PECANS
1 can French-style green beans
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat green beans in their own liquid until simmering. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in small skillet over low heat and add pecans, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Add drained green beans and toss 2 minutes with pecans. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot.
AFTER DINNER CAPPUCCINO DESSERT
4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 cups boiling water
4 Tablespoons hazelnut or caramel syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
Chocolate shavings to garnish
Combine coffee granules with boiling water and add syrup and vanilla. Divide between two mugs. Top each mug with a scoop of ice cream, garnish with chocolate shavings, and serve immediately.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 can (16 oz.) sliced peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter
Combine flour, brown sugar, and salt; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Pat into the bottoms of 2 or 3 ramekins or muffin cups suitable for baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Drain peaches and save juice in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar and cornstarch to the juice, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat and stir in peaches. Pour into crust. Combine oats, brown sugar, and flour. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Note: time may vary because of size of ramekins or muffin cups, so watch closely.
FRUIT DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening
2 oz. dried apricots
6 large strawberries
Melt chocolate and shortening in top pan of a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spear fruit with toothpicks and dip into melted chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. Serve.