Cook the perfect meal for your Valentine

By Kelsey Schachter

cooking MCT
Courtesy of MCT

♥ The Daily Collegian’s Guide
to Valentine’s Day 2011 ♥

I took a brief step into the real world by cooking a grown up Valentine’s Day dinner using some of the items from the traditional top 10 most romantic foods. Singles out there- please do not freak out and swear off my blog because you feel discriminated against on Valentine’s Day. While this is a great date night meal, it’s also perfect to share with a few of your friends, like I did. So, in the spirit of making this a group-friendly meal the recipes are made to serve 4, which happens to be a number easily divided by 2 for those celebrating Valentine’s Day as a couple.

Dinner is served:

Chicken Cutlets with Avocado

-1 ripe Hass avocado
-1 wedge fresh lemon
-4 veal cutlets
-Salt and pepper
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
-1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
-1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
-3 to 4 tablespoons cream, 3 turns of the pan
-1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
-2 tablespoons chopped or snipped chives, to garnish

Directions: Cut avocado in half all around and down to the pit. Twist the avocado to separate the halves. Hit the pit with your knife to pop it out. Scoop the avocado out of each half of skin with a large spoon. Slice the avocado and squeeze a little lemon juice on it to slow the browning. Reserve the avocado.
Season the veal cutlets with salt and pepper. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the veal and cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove the veal. Add vermouth or wine to the pan and deglaze it, lifting up any color or veal bits. Add cream and stir it in. Turn off the heat and let cream bubble 1 minute. Arrange the avocado on the scallops of veal. Strap the meat and avocado with sauce and garnish with a generous sprinkle of chopped thyme or chives.

Nutty Roni-n-Rice

-1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
-1 tablespoon butter
-1/4 to 1/3 cup broken thin spaghetti or vermicelli pasta
-2 ounces (1/4 cup) slivered almonds
-1 cup enriched white rice
-2 cups chicken stock
-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
-1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions: Preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and butter. When butter melts, toast broken pasta and nuts for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly golden. Add rice and stock, raise heat and bring liquid to a boil. Stir rice, cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook rice 18 minutes, until tender. Add cilantro and fluff with fork.

*Recipes adapted from Rachael Ray (disclaimer I know her voice is about as pleasant as an 8am exam, but lets be real- the girl gets dinner on the table quick!)

And now onto the main event…DESSERT! Quick side note on chocolate: dark chocolate is the one and only for me, my chocolate soul mate. But in an effort not to offend the rest of the world I tolerate milk chocolate, but I simply will not stand for white chocolate. Now that we have that settled here’s dessert:

Chili Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

-6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
-3 tablespoons heavy cream
-1 tablespoon butter
-1/8 teaspoon ground pure chili powder, such as ancho
-10 large strawberries with long stems

Directions: In a heat-proof mixing bowl, add the chocolate, cream, and butter. Place over a smaller pot of simmering water. Be sure the water does not touch the bottom of the top bowl. Stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in the chili powder and mix until fully incorporated. Hold each strawberry by the long stem and dip into the chocolate allowing the excess to drizzle back into the pan. Place chocolate covered strawberries on a parchment or waxed paper lined sheet tray. Once chocolate is cool, chill until fully set, about 30 minutes.
(Recipe by Claire Robinson- 5 Ingredient Fix)

I am a big fan of treating yourself on special occasions like Valentine’s Day. However there is nothing that could potentially ruin future Valentine’s Day more than stepping on the scale post Valentine’s Day and having the number resemble you plus an added baby Cupid. No one wants a day of romance to result in 7lb causality, so I have a few recommendations for burning off the extra calories.

The Rec Center offers so many great classes, so great in fact they are usually packed. When I work out I need my own space, so it’s worth it to me to wake up ungodly early and stake out my territory at the gym. Some of the early morning classes include…
-Cardio Kickboxing from 7am-8am on Mondays
-Total Body Strength from 7am-8am on Wednesday
*For the days I want to work out just me and Ludacris (on the ipod, not the real thing sadly) I have my self-dubbed “Soccer Mom” workout or for those of you not thrilled by the idea of minivans and children the “Housewife”. It is 90 minutes of cardio, 60 of which is spent on the elliptical, preferably while watching Food Network. Then, for the last 30, set the treadmill to a 9.5 incline and 4.2 mph and walk briskly. And when you’re done you can expect to have burned roughly 900 calories!

For those of you that are prepared to fight Black Friday-style for a number pass for classes after 5pm some great options are…
-Spinning from 5pm-6pm on Tuesdays
-Cardio Funk from 5pm-6pm on Wednesdays
-Hip Hop Dance from 7pm-8pm on Thursdays

Ok, so with the perfect game plan in place for Valentine’s Day, with whomever you are celebrating, and plenty of workout options, there should be no excuses not to enjoy your Valentine’s Day this year and still fit in your skinny jeans afterwards.

Kelsey Schachter can be reached at [email protected]