Introduction: Valentine's Dinner for the Whole Family
Growing up, my dad would cook us all sorts of theme-based dinners -- from green slime sauce over rice for Halloween, to building a tropical oasis in the dead of winter, to the now-traditional heart-shaped Valentine's Day meatloaf. I've added my own flair to the meal this year with roasted garlic mash potatoes, sauteed spinach, roasted garlic cheddar biscuits, and strawberry shortcake to finish it off. Enjoy!
Step 1: Heart Shaped Meatloaf
Use you favorite meatloaf recipe. I throw mine together every time not following a recipe. Here's how I make mine:
You need about a pound of ground beef, one egg, half a large onion, minced garlic, bread crumbs (I used cracker crumbs this time), BBQ sauce (many recipes call for ketchup, but I love the flavor that BBQ sauce gives to the meatloaf so much more), and assorted spices (this time I used salt, pepper, basil, paprika, and a little rubbed sage).
Mix everything together. Use your hands! It's a great time to let your kids lend a hand. Just make sure everyone washes their hands when handling raw meat.
In a baking dish (I'm using a Pyrex), shape the meat into a heart. I spread a bit more BBQ sauce on top. Throw it into an oven, set to 350 degrees, and cook for about an hour.
For an extra special touch, remove the cooked meatloaf from the pan onto a platter, and use a green onion as an arrow shot through the heart.
Step 2: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
I wanted to kick these mash potatoes up just a bit, so I thought I'd add some roasted garlic to the mix.
Here's how I roast the garlic: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Easily-Roast-Garlic/
I roasted the garlic the night before, so it was already made.
I made this dinner for just two people, so you may need more potatoes than I used. I washed, peeled, and chunked up 5 russet potatoes. Throw the potatoes into a pot and fill it with enough water to just cover them. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they're fork tender.
When tender, drain off the water, add butter, milk, sour cream, and garlic, and start mashing it all together until they're nice and fluffy. Don't add too much milk in the beginning. You don't want to make the potatoes too runny. If the mashed potatoes are too thick, you can add more milk to thin them out until you have the desired consistency.
Step 3: Sauteed Spinach
You can use whatever veggie you'd like with this meal. We like spinach so I thought I'd saute it up.
I grabbed a bag of baby spinach at the store. Heat up a pan and add about a tablespoon of olive oil and some minced garlic (the amount depends on how garlicky you want the meal). Add in the spinach and stir around until done to desired consistency. I like mine a little less cooked then what you get in most restaurants.
Step 4: Roasted Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
I had some left over roast garlic I had made for the mashed potatoes, so I had to use in something else. I hate to see garlic go unused. So I figured what better way than to mix in with some cheddar into some biscuit dough.
Use any biscuit recipe you like. I was a bit pressed for time and kitchen space, so I opted to cheat and use Bisquick. Once the dough is mixed, squeeze in some roasted garlic and throw in a large hand full of shredded cheddar. Mix it all up very well. Drop the dough onto baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. Serve with a little butter.
Step 5: Fun Drink
For Christmas, my sister had given me some fun ice cube trays . I don't use ice often at home, so I haven't had a chance to use them until now. One of the trays is for heart-shaped ice. You can find these at Ikea, I think, or online. Fill it with any kind of red colored drink. I used cranberry raspberry juice. Use them with apple juice or ginger ale or any other drink!
Step 6: Strawberry Shortcake
I love strawberries, and we've been lucky lately with some good ones in the store. So I thought I'd use them with dessert. And what better way than in strawberry shortcake?
Once again, pressed for time and kitchen space, I just used Bisquick. The recipe says just to drop the dough onto a cookie sheet. I have a heart-shaped cookie cutter that I spooned the dough into and then pressed it around to fill in the heart shape. I was able to make four shortcakes. For a special touch, I added pink and heart-shaped sprinkles on top. Bake until golden brown.
While the shortcake bakes, slice up the strawberries, mix with a little sugar in a bowl, and place it in the fridge until dessert time.
Some recipes I've seen say to use half a cup of sugar to four cups of sliced strawberries. It sounded like a bit too much sugar, so I used less. The sugar helps the strawberries release their natural juices.
When ready to eat, take one of the shortcakes and cover with strawberries and either some form of whipped topping or ice cream. I used vanilla frozen yogurt. If you want, put another shortcake and more strawberries on top.
Step 7: Eat Up!
Enjoy the meal! You've worked all afternoon on it, you deserve it. Hopefully you can get the rest of the family to do the dishes afterwards.
Happy Valentine's Day!
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