Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner In!

It was so relaxing last night to spend the night in for Valentine's Day - cook a nice dinner and enjoy a good movie in with my valentine! We've been eating out a lot lately so we agreed that something lighter would be a good idea - I set off to think about my bf's favorite ingredients and how to incorporate those into the meal. Bananas, good cheese, dark chocolate, scallions, asian flavors ... and this is what I came up with!

Caprese Salad
Very simple, fresh Italian salad made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil and a little olive oil, salt and pepper
Crunchy Shrimp with a Ginger Orange Sauce over couscous and roasted asparagus
Panko breaded pan fried shrimp with flavors of ginger, cilantro, citrus and cumin, served with Israeli pearl couscous (with toasted almonds and scallions), and roasted asparagus with just a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin.
Almost Vegan Chocolate Banana Pie
I attempted a new recipe, which always makes me a little nervous, but I had a little faith in this one and it turned out just like it was supposed to! I knew it was a success when a special someone went for a 2nd slice!

This recipe was 'almost' vegan because I didn't have the energy to figure out how to make a vegan pie crust. The filling followed the vegan guidelines though I think! The secret to this somewhat healthy pie was an entire container of silken tofu - yes, tofu.

Recipe follows ....

1 box of silken tofu (about 12 oz)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup of dark chocolate
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 TB or cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp of soy milk or water
3 TB of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of toasted coconut
1 pie crust

1. Make your pie crust - however you may do that, be it a box, pre-made in the freezer section, or homemade from ingredients in your very own kitchen. My advice for those making their own is to roll it out, fold in half, which makes it easier to transport from the counter to the pie plate.
The 2nd piece of advice is to poke some fork holes in the bottom so that when it bakes the bottom doesn't puff up too much. Bake until barely browned since this is a no-bake pie filling.
2. In a blender add the tofu and blend until its very creamy. Silken tofu is sometimes used for smoothies, so it's really liquidy already. Add the bananas and blend again until the two are mixed together.
3. Boil some water in a small pot and find a heat-proof bowl that will sit nicely over it. Chop up your dark chocolate (or you could use dark chocolate chips), put in the bowl and place the bowl over the boiling water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts completely together. Add in the sugar and vanilla to the melted chocolate, mixing together well.

4. Add the chocolate mixture to the blender too and blend once again. Mix the cornstarch in a small bowl with the soy milk or water first and then add that to the blender too, as well as the maple syrup.

5. In a nonstick skillet over med-high heat, toast your coconut. Be careful to watch the coconut closely so you don't burn it - it will brown quickly.
6. Before pouring the chocolate banana mixture into the baked pie crust, sprinkle the bottom with some of the toasted coconut. Then pour in the chocolate mixture and sprinkle the rest of the toasted coconut onto the top! Put the pie into the fridge and let it cool in there for a long time - at least a few hours because it needs to set. This was actually a good dessert to make the night before so then it could set in the fridge all day/night.

I cut out some hearts from the extra pie crust I had and put those in the middle for a festive touch! This pie definitely isn't super sweet if that's what you're looking for - probably because I used all pretty dark chocolate. If you were looking for it to be sweeter you could probably use some milk chocolate in place of all dark. I also topped the pie off with a little whip cream - since it was just the two of us I was a little lazy and didn't buy whipping cream to make my own, but if you're making this for a party at home it's worth making the fresh whip cream for a special touch.


  1. To make vegan pie crust, you just use shortening or coconut oil instead of butter.

    I'll be making my usual butter-laden crust for this, though! :)

  2. i want the shrimp and couscous recipe! :)

  3. I'll have to get that up there too Andrea - it's not super quick, but it's yummy! Did you ever try making the spinach chicken parm?

    And thanks Allison - but yes, using a plain old pie crust recipe was nice and easy.