Valentine's Day dinner doesn't have to be fancy, French or covered in chocolate. In fact, my favorite Valentine's dinner is spent eating takeout and ethnic dishes. This is why the hubby and I will be eating this Asian-inspired menu this lover's day, leaving the fancy French stuff for another day.
When you have a menu this good, you'll find you don't need red velvet desserts or frilly pink sprinkles. Homemade crispy egg rolls, chopped chicken salad, creamy rice pudding and one pot peanut butter chicken will win over the heart of your loved one any day of the year.
Crispy vegetarian egg rolls
Yields about 10
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces chopped mushrooms
1 medium carrot, shredded
1-1/2 green onions, diced
1/2 small head cabbage
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 package (10) egg roll wrappers
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, onions and cabbage. Cook until each vegetable is soft, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with five-spice powder.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Drizzle the soy sauce mixture over the vegetables and cook another minute or so. Remove from the heat.
Place about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mixture into the center of each of the egg roll wrappers. Roll the corner up and over the filling, fold each side in and then roll up the rest of the way. Repeat with the remaining egg rolls.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the egg roll, seam side down, onto the cookie sheet. Brush with egg white.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.
Chopped orange chicken salad
Serves about 6
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1-1/2 cups broccoli slaw
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1/3 cup Asian orange marinade and sauce
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
For the dressing
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix the chicken and orange chicken marinade together in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
In a large salad bowl, stir the lettuce, broccoli slaw, carrot, red onion and cheese together. Stir in the shredded chicken.
To make the dressing, whisk the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, olive oil and cilantro. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Toss the salad with the dressing and garnish with chopped cashews.
One pot peanut butter Thai pasta
Serves about 4
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons butter
11 ounces rice noodles, softened
1 medium white onion, chopped
10 white mushrooms, chopped
1-1/2 cups steamed green beans
Fresh cilantro or basil, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
To make the sauce, whisk the peanut butter, soy sauce, Thai chili sauce and salt together.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Chop the tops off the green beans and add to the mushroom and onion mixture. Add the rice noodles and cook until soft and browned, about 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in chicken and sauce. Add the fresh herbs and pepper.
Creamy rice pudding with cardamom
Serves about 2
1 cup 2 percent milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons short-grain white rice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Bring the milk, heavy cream and rice to a rapid boil. Reduce to low and simmer the mixture on low until thick, about 20 minutes. Mix in the cinnamon and cardamom.
Whisk the egg and brown sugar together. Mix in half of the rice mixture to the egg mixture. Pour back into the pot and cook another 5 minutes, or until combined.