National Men Make Dinner Day!
According to Punchbowl.com, today is National Men Make Dinner Day! I know that this poses a complication for some of you, especially since retiring the grill, but don’t fret. Some of the most romantic, “awww-inspiring” meals are very simple to whip up.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that National Men Make Dinner Day seems odd to me. Not because women should make dinner all the time, but because it shouldn’t just be a special occasion. If you currently make dinner for your lady once a year, make it once a month. If you make it once a month, make it once a week. If you make it once a week…Call Me!
For those of you who are culinary neophytes, find recipes with a few simple ingredients that you recognize and pay attention to presentation. Light a candle, serve polite portions, throw on a shirt that still has all of its buttons and use cups that don’t say Solo on them. This is your time to shine and so gentlemen, get in the kitchen and give some if you want to get some in return.
Here is a basic 3-course menu that will give you an A for effort and an A+ for taste.
1st Course: Appe-teaser
Since you are going through all of this effort to make dinner for the misses, I guess we can update the traditional Mussels in White Wine recipe for you. So here it is – - Mussels in Beer! You’re Welcome. Mussels are perfect because they have the perception of a lot of effort without actually containing that many steps.
WORD TO THE WISE: Smell Mussels before you purchase or prepare. They should smell like the ocean and not like your gym locker. Soak in cool water for 20-30 minutes before cooking. Scrub under running water with your hands or a brush to remove sand or barnacles. Throw out any Mussels that are open prior to cooking.
Beer...Good! Mussels...Good! Beer Steamed Mussels...GOOOOOD!
Beer Steamed Mussels. Prep Time: 15 minutes.
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Minced Shallots
2 tsp Minced Garlic
2 Tbsp Green Onion, Chopped
1 1/2 lb Mussels
12 oz Amber or Golden Wheat Beer
2 Tbsp Minced Cilantro
2 Tbsp Butter
In a large sauté pan, add the Olive Oil and bring to medium high heat. Add the Shallots, Garlic and Green Onion. Sauté a couple of minutes until softened. Add Mussels and Beer to the pan; reduce the heat to medium and cover. Simmer approximately 5-7 minutes until the Mussels begin to open. Turn the heat off, add Cilantro and Butter. Stir well to coat the Mussels with your Beer Broth. Serve with Pinot Grigio.
2nd Course: Entrée
Let’s be honest, for many of you – - National Men Make Dinner Day could stop after the appetizer and we would all be impressed. But, since you’re in there, why not make a night of it and create a whole meal.
Follow up that app with a melt in your mouth chicken dish and you will seal the deal!
Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken. Prep Time: 40 minutes.
2 All Natural Chicken Breasts
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp Italian Blend Seasoning
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ Cup Baby Spinach, Chopped
2 Tbsp Black Olives, Pitted & Sliced
4 Tbsp Feta Cheese
2 Tbsp Sun Dried Tomatoes, Diced
2 Toothpicks (soaked in water)
1 Cup Chicken Broth
Preheat oven to 350. Butterfly Chicken Breasts lengthwise (cut in half, but not all the way through) and sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning and Lemon Juice. In a bowl, mix Spinach, Olives, Feta and Tomatoes – set stuffing mixture aside. Heat Olive Oil on Medium-High heat in a large sauté pan. Place Butterflied Chicken flat in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes per side.
Remove from heat and place flat in an oven-safe dish. Cover one half of the chicken with one half of the stuffing mixture. Fold the chicken closed and secure with water soaked toothpick. Repeat with second butterflied chicken breast. Pour chicken broth in the dish and place in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes, basting occasionally with pan juices.
Orzo Salad. Prep Time: Varies by Box.
1 Box Orzo
½ Cup Feta Cheese
½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Diced
¼ Cup Black Olives, Diced
¼ Cup Parsley, Chopped
3 Tbsp Greek Salad Dressing
Prepare Orzo by box directions and let cool. Add Feta, Tomatoes, Olives, Parsley and Dressing. Toss until thoroughly mixed. (Add additional Diced vegetables as desired). Pair entree with Sauvignon Blanc.
3rd Course: Dessert
Dessert should be simple, but something you want to linger over and preferably something that you can feed to each other. You can run to the store for strawberries and champagne (Awww, I feel just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, except…). You can Order Her Favorite Dessert in advance and have it delivered to your place ahead of time (Awww, you thought ahead). Finally, you can make a dessert (Awww, he’s a keeper).
Artisanal Cheese & Fruit Plate. Prep Time: 10 minutes
1 tsp Cinnamon (Optional)
4 slices Sharp Cheddar or Smoked Gouda
4 oz. St. Andre French Triple Crème or Brie
2 oz. Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola
4 Dried Figs (mixture of whole and sliced) or Dried Apricots
1 Bunch Red or Purple Grapes
Cut ½ inch slices of Baguette (the long, fancy bread in the bakery section). Butter lightly and sprinkle with Cinnamon (optional). Toast to golden brown and let cool. Arrange bread in an overlapping semi-circle at the back of a large platter or wooden cutting board. Alternate cheese (please fan it out…don’t just throw it on there) and fruit in front of the bread. Serve with Prosecco, Riesling or Gewurztraminer…
There you have it. From zero to hero in just over an hour. Now get to work!