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Cajun-style Valentine's Day dinner

Sherril lives in Reno, Nevada, and spends her time trying out her various kitchen gadgets, spoiling her cats and knitting, when she isn't writing. You can reach her at nvwriter@charter.net.

Spice up your Valentine's Day

How would you like to spice up your Valentine's Day this year? Serve your lover a romantic Cajun-inspired dinner, and watch the sparks fly on this hot and sexy holiday! Cajun cuisine is known for its kick, but it doesn't have to be too spicy if you prefer to turn down the culinary heat. Even a pinch of Cajun seasoning can turn your Valentine's Day meal into an instant aphrodisiac.

Cajun Spice Shrimp

Spicy Cajun Valentine's Day recipes

Set the table with a few romantic candles and your finest china, pour a nice bottle of wine, and savor every fabulous bite of this Cajun Valentine's Day dinner for two. There's even enough for a day after meal to make you swoon.

Spicy Cajun Shrimp

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course

Serve this tongue tantalizing dish as a substantial appetizer with crusty French bread or with spicy okra muffins for a main course.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined

Directions:
1. In large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter and swirl in olive oil. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery and saute until tender.

2. Add tomatoes, wine, Tabasco, and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add shrimp and simmer until shrimp are pink. Serve hot.

Spicy Cajun Chicken

Serves 4

The creaminess and delectable heat of the dish will weaken your knees and leave you swooning. Add a crisp green salad to cool and cleanse your palate.

Ingredients:
6 ounces linguine pasta, or pasta of your choice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
4 large button mushrooms, sliced
1 green onion, minced
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. When pasta is done, drain and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl, tossing to coat.

3. In large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until no longer pink and the juices run clear when a breast is pierced with a knife, about 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Add peppers, mushrooms and green onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in heavy cream. Season sauce with basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and pepper, and heat through.

5. In a large bowl, toss pasta with sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Cajun Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Serves 6

Rich and custardy bread pudding doused with a sweet Bourbon sauce is a real Cajun treat.

Ingredients:
1 loaf day old French bread, cubed
1 quart milk
4 eggs plus 1 beaten egg yolk, divided
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 small can evaporated milk
3 tablespoons bourbon or more to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch casserole dish.

2. Soak bread in milk until milk is absorbed, stirring to make sure all bread has absorbed milk. Beat 4 eggs and 2 cups sugar until smooth. Add vanilla. Stir pecans into milk mixture and pour over bread mixture, stirring well.

3. Put casserole dish in a larger pan of boiling water (this is called a water bath) and bake bread pudding for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a heavy saucepan or double boiler, combine butter, evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1 beaten egg yolk over medium heat. Cook and stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and cool to barely warm. Stir in bourbon and serve over warm pudding.

More Valentine's Day recipes to heat up your date

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