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Tasty Tuesday - Appetizer, Entree, Dessert

Are you looking for the perfect dinner to serve your man to continue that Valentine's Day Romance? Well, look no further ladies! I have your appetizer, entree and dessert all lined up!

All you need to add is a salad, your favorite beverage and the romance (maybe some candles and flowers would help).

My hubby and I have spent many romantic events and holidays (read as anniversaries and Valentine's Day) at home. Often times we eat later then usual so we can be alone after the kiddos have gone to bed. It's always worth the wait. It's also fun to turn on your favorite sappy music and dance. We never had dancing at our wedding, so we try to dance on our anniversary. Also, we like to dress nice. Even though we are at home, in our own dining room, we dress-up and make it special. Serving a delicious, out-of-the-ordinary meal is also important. This meal I am sharing with you has all the ingredients needed to have a yummy, romantic evening for two. I hope you give it a try on February 14th!

The Creamy Appetizer:

(photo courtesy of

Artichoke and Spinach Dip w/ Homemade Tortilla Chips
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 cup chopped onions
1 (10-ounce) bag of fresh spinach, stemmed, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cans of artichoke hearts, julienned
Salt and cayenne
10-15 small corn tortillas, cut into fourths
Vegetable oil for frying

1- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Preheat the fryer.
2- Combine 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil and flour, in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly for 5 to 6 minutes for a blond roux. Whisk in the milk and bring the liquid up to a boil. Season the liquid with salt and cayenne. Simmer the liquid for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the liquid is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Set the sauce aside.
3- In a saute pan, heat the remaining vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in handfuls of spinach at a time, until all the spinach is incorporated. Add the garlic and artichoke and saute for 2 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and cayenne. Remove the vegetables from the heat and turn into a mixing bowl. Fold the Bechamel sauce into the vegetables. Turn the mixture into a baking pan. Bake the dip for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
4- Fry the tortilla chips, batches at a time, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the chips are golden and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the chips with the dip.

The Spicy Entree:

Emeril's Shrimp and Pasta with Chilis, Garlic, Lemon and Green Onions
20 to 25 (1 1/4 pounds) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked linguini
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped green onion, tops only
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1- Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with the Essence.
2- Place the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large 14-inch skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan, spreading them evenly in 1 layer. Cook for 2 minutes then turn them to the other side. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine, lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Season the shrimp with the salt and pepper and add the pasta, crushed red pepper flakes and green onions, tossing to coat well. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the parsley, and toss to combine. Serve hot.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

The Decadent Dessert:

Molten Chocolate Cake
4 Tbs. butter, plus more for the ramekins
1 Tbs. flour, plus more for the ramekins
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 Tbs. granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Butter two 6-oz ramekins and dust the inside with flour.
2. Place the butter and chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high in 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg, egg yolk and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and lighter in color, about 1 minute. Add the melted chocolate mixture and flour and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared ramekins. Bake until edges are set and center still jiggles slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 15 seconds. Run a knife around the edge, then invert each cake onto a plate. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve with fresh mint or berries and vanilla ice cream, if desired. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate the batter in the ramekins for up to 1 day before. Before baking, bring to room temperature.

Amy is a 30-something SAHM of a beautiful, precocious preschooler and wife to a hunky graphic designer and semi-pro football player. She is also the chief cook and bottle washer at I Wish I Was in Dixie. Visitors always welcome!

Enjoy shopping for quality baby clothing at

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