the kitchen >> v-day dinner

 The idea behind this kitchen post with Nicole, was an easy valentine's dinner. Quite honestly, at our house, we don't celebrate most holidays, contrived or otherwise, because we have to stick to a budget.  And budgets don't often allow for a romantic dinner out.  V-day also happens to fall on a week night this year, and believe me, after school, dinner for the boys and bedtime, even I don't want think about cooking something fancy.  My leftover energy will be stored up for later in the evening.  You know what I'm sayin'??

Anyhow, back to dinner.  This is easy.  Maybe too easy.  But the sum of it's parts is pretty darn good.  And filling.  It may just be enough fuel to get you ready for the main event after a long ass day. Or get you through a romantic movie without falling asleep.  Whatever you decide, we've got you covered!

tomato tart 
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small package of goat cheese
  • handful of basil leaves
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt tt
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Unfold dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and pinch together any seams that are hole-y. Prick with a fork all over dough (so it doesn't rise) leaving a one inch border around the perimeter. Arrange tomatoes and goat cheese over pastry.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper, if using.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Add basil leaves while still warm.

 sausage and fennel pasta

  • 1 box rigatoni, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fennel frond for garnish
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • salt tt
  • shaved parmesan 

In large, deep pan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, two to three minutes.  Add sausage.  Cook through.  Push meat and onion to the side and add fennel.  Cook until just soft.  Add can of tomato paste and white wine.  Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until excess liquid is cooked away.  Serve over pasta.  Top with fennel frond and parmesan.

*this is a popular idea these days.  I decided to jump on board and give it a try. If you do not like avocado, I would not attempt it.  Its delicious, but maintains a fruity, natural flavor.  Also, this is rich-definitely for sharing.
chocolate + avocado mousse

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk ( your choice )
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch of salt

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Set aside to cool.  Scrape avocado into blender.  Add honey, and milk.  Puree.  Add chocolate, cocoa and salt.  Blend to combine.  Spoon into cups or small bowls and chill for 2-3 hours. Serves 4.



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