Family Valentine’s Dinner with a French Flair

Valentines table shot

Who says Valentine’s Day is just for couples, make this day a special time of love, fun and food for the whole family! I believe in decorating your table affordably; lots of DIY’s and repurposing! Look around your house, you’ll be surprised what you can come up with. For my table cloth I used a lavender blanket that I had buried in my linen closet! My cute vases were simply tomato sauce cans that I covered in fabric, I filled the vases with oasis and bought inexpensive flowers from the grocery store. I love these lighted balls called Fairy Berries, I used the larger ones called Mama Berries in my candy filled votive holders, so no worries about candles.

On my table I rolled out craft paper for runners; the little ones can color, stamp, play tic tac toe, and spell out their secret messages using numerical value, I wrote on their placecards. Being a lover of all things French, I just happened to have an Eiffel Tower which I felt compelled to spray paint gold and glitter (my two obsessions are spray paint and glitter). I clipped on what I call “conversation starters”, this is great family fun for the kids that are a little older, you’ll all learn a lot, even about the parents!

I included a French themed menu, actually quite easy and the recipes are below. Introduce your children to all kinds of foods earlier, I always did and my teenagers and very adventurous eaters. Happy Valentine’s Day ~ Carol

Valentines effeil tower


Valentines effeil tower

Valentines all food

Anthropologie- Eiffel Tower Plates
Teavana edible rose for dessert-To Life (rose tea)
Hobby Lobby-Stamps, craft paper runner, mini easels- (I painted with craft paint)
Michaels-washi tape, small pink doilies – Mama Fairy Berries (lighted)
Joanne Fabrics-rose fabric

Watermelon and Feta Heart Salad
4 slices watermelon
4 slices feta cheese (from a block of feta, about ¼ inch thick)
2 Tbls. finely diced red onion
2 Tbls. finely diced kalamata olives
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbls. lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Mint leaf garnish

Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out a large heart out of the watermelon, place on plate, using a slightly smaller heart cut out feta and place on top of the watermelon. Surround the hearts with little circles of onions and olives, alternating. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over salad.

Individual Beef Bourguignon Pot Pies
3 Tbls. olive oil
8 oz. bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes

4 carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves; minced

3 cups good dry red wine 2 cups beef stock
1 tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 Tbls. butter at room temperature, divided
7 Tbls. flour
1 pound small whole onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
2 Tbls. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 package puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Saute carrots and the onions in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, add enough flour to make a roux (about 4 Tbls.). Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Add the whole small onions. Saute the mushrooms in butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, remove bay leaf and add parsley. Season to taste.

ASSEMBLE THE POT PIES: Ladle stew into ovenproof bowls, place puff pastry round on top. Gently stretch and press pastry edges over lip of bowl. Make egg wash by whisking egg with 1 Tbls. water, brush on pastry tops. Add pastry cookie cutter heart shapes on top of pastry rounds and brush those with egg wash. Place bowls on foil lined baking sheet for easy clean up and easy of handling.

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS: Bake at 400 until crusts are golden and filling is bubbly.
–To bake right away, bake for 25-35 minutes.
–To bake if refrigerated, bake 40-50 minutes.
–To bake if frozen, bake 1 to 1-1/4 hours.
If crust browns before filling is bubbly, place a loose piece of foil across the top to prevent over browning. Let pies rest 15-20 minutes before serving to allow filling to cool and thicken.

MAKE AHEAD TIPS: Cook the stew, let it cool to room temperature, pour into baking bowls, cover and refrigerate or freeze. Cut pastry sheets into rounds and cookie-cutter shapes, stack between layers of plastic wrap; cover and refrigerate. OR, go ahead and top each cooled bowl of stew with the top crust ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. (Don’t brush with egg wash until right before baking.)

Chocolate Flourless Cake
½ cup water
1 cup sugar
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 sticks butter, room temp.
5 eggs, room temp.

Combine water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Chop chocolate (or break up) and slowly whisk in the chocolate to combine after each incorporation. Add butter by chuck, whisking after each incorporation. Whisk eggs together and add slowly. Pour into a 9-inch non-stick cake pan or line the pan with parchment or foil and butter lightly. Bake at 325 about 45-50 minutes. Refrigerate until solid invert on to cake plate, let sit out about 30 minutes before serving, cut into hearts if desired using heart shaped cookie cutters, place on wire rack and pour ganache over, use small spatula to distribute. Freezes great! Serves about 8-10.

Makes: 2 1/2 cups
8 oz. bittersweet, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbls. unsalted butter, at room temperature
Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.
Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let stand until chocolate has softened, about 5 minutes.
Add butter and stir until smooth. Pour over chocolate hearts, top with mini dried rose.
Val Chocolate


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