Musings From MommyLand

Because sometimes there is more to Mommy…

Recipe: Valentine’s Day Dinner

on February 15, 2012

First of all, Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!!  I hope that you all had a wonderful day spent with loved ones.  So obviously this post is a little late for people who were looking for a great meal idea for yesterday, but here it is nonetheless for next year or anytime you are looking for a special or romantic dinner.  Last night we had goat cheese/spinach/sun-dried tomato stuffed chicken breasts with a Gruyère risotto and “grilled” asparagus.  I added a nice salad to open the dinner and bam! romantic dinner (or as romantic as it gets with a three-year old and a one-year old joining you).  Just a quick note, this meal plan is not for the faint of heart.  While there is nothing really difficult here, it is time-consuming and does require a great deal of attention (*cough, *cough, * risotto).  But, let me say, it is well worth it in the end.

The finished product

Ingredients of Stuffed Chicken:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 large handfuls of baby spinach roughly chopped
  • 2-3 spoonfuls of sun-dried tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil

The chicken is actually a pretty easy thing to put together.

  1.  In a bowl combine the goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.  Just use a fork to incorporate it all together.  I added the spinach a little at a time until it seemed just right.  (side note:  this is the second time I have made this chicken and the first time I used just regular sun-dried tomatoes and it was great, but this time I used a mix of roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes and it was equally delicious.  I would say use whatever sounds good or is readily available at your grocery store.

    I found this at Target

  2. Set the goat cheese mix aside and then using a sharp knife, cut the chicken breasts almost in half.  Leave them connected a little on one side.
  3. Put some of the goat cheese mixture inside of each chicken.  Not too much so that it spills out.  Use a toothpick through the top and bottom halves of the chicken to secure.
  4. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper
  5. In a pan, heat olive oil and then place chicken in pan to sear both sides.  Do this in batches our you won’t get the brown on the outside you are looking for.  After the chicken is seared, place them in a baking dish and into a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 mins or until a thermometer reads 167 degrees when inserted into the chicken

    Seared and ready to go into the oven

  6. The risotto takes about 45  mins. to cook so you can wait about 10-15 mins into the risotto cooking before you put the chicken in the oven so it is ready at the same time.
  7. When it is finished, cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes and then serve.

Ingredients for Gruyère Risotto:

  • 3-4 Tbsp. of butter
  • 1-2 cups of Arborio or risotto Rice (this is important.  You can’t use regular rice for this)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 6-8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups of some kind of white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
  • 1-2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • *optional:  some of the sun-dried tomatoes or their oil leftover from the chicken to tie in flavors

    Risotto Rice

The Risotto is the most difficult part of this meal because it requires your undivided attention for 45 minutes straight.  Make sure your prep is done ahead of time, make sure the kids are occupied with a movie or something, and if the doorbell rings…don’t answer it!  I know it sounds scary but it really isn’t. I wish I had more pictures of this part, but sadly, photography wasn’t on my mind while I was frantically stirring.  You will just have to look at the finished product.  Sorry.
  1. Heat your chicken broth in a separate pan on the stove.  This is important! It needs to be hot when you add it to the risotto rice.  I say I would error on the side of having too much broth because if you run out before the risotto is done, you could ruin it A.) by burning it with no liquid while you try to heat up more or B.) by having it too crunchy if there is not enough liquid for the rice to absorb.  Once the broth is heated, just leave it at a low simmer on the burner.
  2. In a large pan (I like non-stick) melt 3 tbsp. of butter.  To the butter add the sun-dried tomatoes or their oil if you like.  Add the arborio rice to this and stir around to toast the rice a bit.  give it about 2-3 minutes but make sure you are stirring and watching so it doesn’t burn.
  3. When it has a little golden color too it, add the wine stir constantly while it is being absorbed.  Add some salt and pepper at this point.  Just watch how much salt you add because the cheese has a salty quality to it too.
  4. Once the wine has been absorbed add the broth one ladle at a time stirring almost constantly until it is absorbed before adding the next ladle.  This is why it is so time-consuming but, it has to be done this way.
  5. The only way you are going to be able to tell if it is done is by tasting it to see if the rice is too crunchy still.  It should be pretty soft with only a hint of bite left to it.  I wish I could tell you exactly how much broth you would use, but it all depends on how it absorbs and how you like your rice.
  6. Once it has absorbed the last of the stock and is the right consistency for you, remove the pan from the heat and then add the Gruyère cheese.  How much you add depends on how much you like cheese.  I would add it a little at a time until it suits your taste.  (I add quite a bit)
  7. After the cheese is incorporated, add 1-2 more tbsp. of butter and then you are ready to serve.

Ingredients for Asparagus:

  • 1 bunch of fresh Asparagus (can use frozen if fresh isn’t looking so good that day)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • dried minced garlic
  • dried minced onion
Ah the asparagus.  The most no fuss part of the meal.  I call it “grilled” because I don’t really know what else to call it, but it is really done in the oven.
  1. Cut off a fairly large piece of foil and place it on a baking sheet that can go in the oven.
  2. Wash and trim the ends off the asparagus and then place in the center of the foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the Asparagus.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and dried onion to taste.
  4. Toss the asparagus around lightly to make sure all of it is coated with oil and spices.
  5. Fold up the foil to make a packet with the seam on top.
  6. Cook at 350 degrees for 10-20 minutes depending on how crunchy you like your asparagus.  I put mine in the oven a little more than halfway through the risotto cooking process.

Ingredients for Pan Sauce:

  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • juices from chicken after it is done cooking in oven
  • spoonful of finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes or their oil
  • 1-2 pinches of grated Gruyère cheese
  • juice from half of a lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of butter

The pan sauce is really optional.  I like to do one because it helps tie the flavors together and adds a little moistness to the chicken if you happen to overcook it (as I tend to do because I am sort of a freak about under-cooked meat).

  1. In a pan, combine 2-3 cups of chicken stock, wine, juice left in the pan after the chicken has cooked, and either the sun-dried tomatoes or their oil.  Cook this on high for about 10 minutes until it has reduced down and thickened up a bit.
  2. Add in a pinch or two of grated Gruyère cheese.  Not too much or it won’t be saucy.
  3. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and add the butter and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Let sit just a minute or two while you plate your meal and then pour a bit over your chicken.

Delicious!

This meal was my Valentine’s day gift to my husband and I know that he really enjoyed it.  And even better, both of my kids enjoyed it too.  I hope that when you love it as much as we did.  ENJOY!

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