An Easy Romantic Valentine’s Dinner 1

Want to impress your Valentine? Try a French entrée and a red velvet dessert! With these easy, impressive recipes, there’s no excuse not to create a loving, homemade meal. A romantic glass of Cabernet is the perfect accompaniment to this simple version of the French classic Beef Bourguignon, which features lean beef, carrots, potatoes and green beans in a zesty red wine sauce, all baked in one pot without any difficult culinary prep work. For a sweet treat for your sweetie, there’s an easy red velvet brownie, which starts with a mix and is topped with a fabulous homemade strawberry cream cheese frosting. They are sure to melt your Valentine’s heart!

One-Pot Beef Bourguignon

This recipe is nearly as easy as a pot roast but much more impressive! One of the most difficult things for novice cooks to do is actually shop for ingredients, and this recipe solves that problem. The ingredients are “tweaked,” so that it is super-simple and easy to remember, using lots of “ones”- one cup, one can, one teaspoon, one pound. A can of beef stock, a cup of red wine and a cup of all the veggies. The other thing which non-cooks hate is a ton of “prep” work. This recipe eliminates most of that, with the exception of dusting the beef in flour, so that you have an easy, one-pot entrée ready in an hour!

Ingredients:

1 pound beef stew meat, cut in 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1 teaspoon salt & pepper

1 cup red wine (your preference of Cabernet, Merlot or Shiraz)

1 can beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup baby carrots

1 cup green beans

1 cup sliced onions

1 cup sliced potatoes

½ cup mushrooms (fresh or canned)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Dust beef with flour, then sprinkle with seasoning, salt and pepper. Place beef in a 9”x13” baking dish coated with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, stir together red wine, stock, tomato paste and garlic; set aside. Place vegetables on top of beef in pan; gently stir to combine. Pour wine sauce over beef mixture. Bake at 375°F for 45-60 minutes, until liquid is bubbling and veggies tender. Serve with mashed potatoes, stewed tomatoes or egg noodles, as desired.

Yield: 3-4 servings. Per serving: Calories: 325; Fat 10g; 
Carbs: 12g; Protein 28g. Cost Per Serving: $3.69.

Red Velvet Brownies with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Jazz up a simple pre-packaged cake mix with this elegant, impressive strawberry cream cheese frosting. The slightly tart cream cheese perfectly contrasts the sweetness of the brownie, making it a perfect dessert for a perfect Valentine night!

Ingredients:

1 box (16.5 ounces) Red Velvet Cake Mix

¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

¾ cup canola oil

2 eggs

Frosting Ingredients:

2/3 cup fresh strawberries

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed 
(room temperature)

1 stick butter, cubed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cake mix in a large bowl; stir in condensed milk, oil and eggs. (Batter will be stiff). Spray mini-muffin tin (or standard cupcake tin, as desired) with non-stick spray. Fill muffin cavities about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool completely.

For frosting: Place strawberries in a small bowl; process in food processor until almost smooth. Set aside. Place butter in medium bowl; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add cream cheese; beat until well-combined. Reduce speed to low; slowly add powdered sugar. Mix well. Stir in vanilla and 4 tablespoons of strawberries. If a deeper pink color is desired, add red food coloring to desired color. Place frosting in refrigerator until well-chilled. Frost brownies just prior to serving. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 24 mini-brownie servings. Per serving: Calories: 84; Fat 0.8g; Carbs: 9.2g; Protein 0.9g. Cost Per Serving: $.85.

Suzette Zara is a cookbook author, nutritionist, creator of Satan’s Salsa (SatansSalsa.com) and a frequent speaker on low-fat healthy cooking. Suzette@SuzetteZara.com