Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day!

So last blog I talked about loving Fat Tuesday since high school, well since high school I haven't really loved Valentine's Day.  Insert your typical wah, wah teenage drama of dumb exs or mean girls...spare me.  Being the pretty independent woman that I am I never loved the idea of a day centered around people in relationships regardless if I was in one or not.  I guess I've always felt that you shouldn't need one day to tell people you love them, if you love them you should tell them every day!

For Chris and I the 14th is our "special day" it marks the day we started dating a zillion years ago (okay maybe not a zillion exactly).  On this February 14th it marks 64 months that we've been together.  My favorite part about the 14th (of each month not just February) is I get to think back to how our relationship has grown over the years.  How it all began one day in Emerson Hall when at the time I was meeting a guy I thought would just be my friend or merely an acquaintance, he turned out to be my best friend and the one I get to spend forever with!  In college our special occasion restaurant was DiPaolo's, now that same place is a possible wedding vendor for us!  Sheesh time does fly!

Usually we go out for Valentine's dinner but this year with our upcoming Chicago trip we thought we'd eat at home, save some $$ and calories for the weekend!  But we still wanted to make it special so we got some steaks and I planned to make a little dessert for after dinner.  I decided on making Nutella Mousse Pies.  I liked that it looked easy and that it could be made for two because we don't need leftover sweets around.  I also decided to try a new recipe for one of our sides, oven-baked risotto.  I've previously blogged about making risotto over the stove but I found this recipe on Kitchen Daily and was intrigued.

Oven-Baked Risotto
(This makes more than four generous helpings as a side)
- 1 c. Arborio (or long grain white) rice
- 1 can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic soup
- 1 1/2 c. water
- 1 c. milk
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c. frozen peas (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (rehydrated and drained)
- 1 Tbsp. parsley (if using fresh use 2 Tbsp.)

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Stir rice, soup, water, milk, cheese and tomatoes in a medium bowl.

- Pour mixture into a shallow baking dish and cover with foil.

- Bake 30 minutes then remove from oven and stir.
- Bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until rice is tender.  (I had to bake it for 15 minutes uncovered given my baking dish wasn't quite shallow enough)
- Let cool for a few minutes, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
- Enjoy!

The baking dish I used ended up being a little small and things got a little messy trying to pull it out of the oven.  Other than that, it was delicious and easy!  You could probably experiment with different frozen veggies to put in it, a mixed medley, corn, green beans, the possibilities!  Although it does take some time (at least 45 minutes) its not much quicker than the stovetop version it just takes less stirring and standing at the stove.  I plan to make Arancini with the leftovers, I've featured how to make Arancini previously in this post.

Nutella Mousse Pies
- 6 or so Ritz crackers
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. Nutella
- 1c. Cool Whip, plus some extra for topping

- Grind crackers in food processor or roll over them with a rolling pin a few times in a plastic bag.

- Combine crushed crackers, sugar and butter. Divide mixture in half and put in bottom of ramekins, set in fridge to chill.

- Whip Nutella and Cool Whip with a hand mixer (I just used a whisk by hand) until well combined.  Divide among ramekins, top with additional Cool Whip and sprinkles or dust with cocoa powder or shaved chocolate.

- Chill then serve.
- Enjoy!

These were easy peasy to make!  I actually whipped them up over my lunch when I was home.  The original recipe I found called for shortbread cookies but I didn't have those on hand nor did I want to buy them so I improvised.  You could also use crushed Oreos or Thin Mints to make it more chocolatey or even some graham crackers would do!  Or you could leave the crust out altogether.  The crackers give it some saltiness rather than being super sweet which was nice.  Chris rated this a "good, you can make again but not right away" rating.

Next stop, Chicago!  Can't wait for a weekend of friends, family and fun!


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