Giant Valentine CookieHello!
We’re all aware that Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark, but that doesn’t deter us Americans from pulling out all the stops – or stop restaurants from charging ridiculous prices on this day of love. Why spend $100/person to go out when you can make an even better (and cheaper!) meal for your friends or special someone?

I’ve used the recipes below on various Valentine’s Days and they’ve all been hits! I’m not entirely sure what I’m making for V-day this year, but I’ll definitely blog about it on February 15th. Whether you’re spending the day with friends, family or your special someone these recipes are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Enjoy!

Lauren Hillman

Mustard-Crusted Rack of Lamb
Serves 2

When I was thinking about what to use as the ‘main course’ for this Valentine’s menu, all I could think of were decadent foods. I was talking to my best friend Jamie and we decided that lobster risotto would be the perfect Valentine’s main course – decadent and rich. But, risotto is pretty hard to make and I didn’t want to burden you with that recipe. Instead, here is an unbelievable lamb recipe (definitely rich) that I make often. It’s fancy, but super easy and perfect for a special occasion.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Season one rack of lamb (8 chops; you can buy them anywhere but I get mine cheap at Costco) with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat 1 tb. vegetable oil in a pan and brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Remove the lamb from the skillet and (in this order) 2 tb. dijon mustard, 2 tsp. chopped garlic on all sides.

Combine 1/4 c. breadcrumbs and 1 tb. parm cheese in a bowl and press onto the lamb.

Roast the lamb in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 145-150 degrees (for medium rare).

Let the meat rest for 5 minutes, slice the chops and serve!

Provencal Tomatoes
From Ina Garten

These tomatoes were a wonderful addition to my menu two years ago. One serving is two stuffed tomatoes.

Ingredients:
4 ripe tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3-inches in diameter – I used vine-ripened)
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (3 slices, crusts removed, made in your food processor)
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1.5 scallions)
1/8 cup minced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the cores from the tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Cut them in half crosswise and, with your fingers, remove the seeds and juice. Place the tomato halves in a baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the tomato halves generously with salt and pepper. With your hands, fill the cavities and cover the tops of the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture. Bake the tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until they’re tender. Sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 30 seconds more. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Giant Valentine Cookie

I first made this cookie in 2003 and was such a hit. Its cute wrapped in red plastic wrap with a bow around it – the perfect Valentine’s treat!

Preheat oven at 375 degrees; grease a heart-shaped pan. If you don’t have one, any sheet pan will do.

Combine 1 cup + 1 tbs. flour, ½ tsp. baking soda and ½ tsp. salt in a bowl. Beat 1 stick of butter, ½ cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup sugar until creamy.

Beat in 1 egg. Gradually add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.

Bake for 20-30 minutes. Let cool in pan.

Microwave 1 cup chocolate chips at 70% for 1 minute, then at 10 second intervals until they are melted and smooth. Spread over cookie in the shape of a heart. Decorate with sprinkles or M&M’s to your liking.

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