We often go out to dinner with my in-laws sometime during the week. We were going to do so Thursday night, but then thought better of the idea. Not having reservations, having a party of five, needing a restaurant that was easily accessible – and the fact it was Valentine’s Day – all added up to the decision to make dinner at home.
It seemed like a good idea to fire up the grill since our back deck is now clear again after the snowstorm we had last week. Chicken breasts (I like to buy the thin cut) marinated all day in Italian dressing (low sodium for my father-in-law) made for a nice, easy main course, but what for sides? As a bit of a traditionalist, when I think to put together a meal it usually involves a starch and a vegetable. Yesterday was no exception, but since it was Valentine’s Day I wanted to find something interesting.
After searching aimlessly for awhile I went to SimplyRecipes.com, and found a great recipe for Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes. This worked for a couple of reasons – we all like sweet potatoes and I knew Kath had bought some earlier in the week. Sweet Potatoes are great on their own, but when you add butter, brown sugar, vanilla and a tiny bit of bourbon they become amazing.
For a vegetable I hunted for something I could make ahead of time so I didn’t need to be working on it as I was making the potatoes and grilling the chicken. We eat lots of salads (with arugula as the ‘go-to’ green), but that seemed boring. Somehow – and I can’t remember exactly how – I found a recipe for an Orange and Fennel Salad. This was visually interesting, although must admit that I am aesthetically bothered that the recipe calls for blood oranges yet the picture on her blog sure looks a navel orange to me. I followed the recipe faithfully and did buy blood oranges and the result was nice. Think I probably underdid the ‘drizzle’ of olive oil when preparing this, as it wasn’t quite as juicy as expected. That said the combination of fennel, orange and red onion had a nice subtle flavor that complemented the stronger mashed sweets.
Maybe not a traditional Valentine’s Day dinner, but what is better than making a meal for the people you love? Awwww….