Plan a menu for special meal on Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 12, 2003


This week we welcome home avid reader and participant of Recipe Swap, Jodi Thompson. Jodi has been out of town for a month or so, and I haven't heard a word from her until her return this past week. Jodi got right on with recipe sharing and all of the recipes today came from her. I especially will enjoy the low-fat Valentine menu she has shared with us.

I think the Recipe Swap "soup queen" will enjoy this recipe. She is always eager to try new soup recipes and this one sure sounds like it's worth trying. I am not familiar with purchasing the bouquet garni seasoning. I always make my own bouquet garni using fresh herbs and spices tied in a small pouch, so I will have to try to locate this seasoning.

Crab Chowder

This winning chowder features crabmeat, the prize of all seafood. It's even more enticing with bouquet garni seasoning, which is a mixture of several herbs, along with the addition of a small amount of cream cheese.

1 6-ounce package frozen crabmeat or 1 6-ounce can crabmeat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed

1 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch strips

1 medium red or green sweet pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons margarine or butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

2 tablespoons sliced green onion

1/2 teaspoon bouquet garni seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, cut up

1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme

Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Thaw crabmeat, if frozen. In a medium saucepan cook zucchini and sweet pepper in hot margarine or butter until crisp-tender. Stir in the flour. Add the milk, green onion, bouquet garni seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Add the cream cheese; cook and stir until cream cheese melts. Stir in the crabmeat and snipped thyme; heat through. Garnish each serving with additional fresh thyme, if desired. Yields 4 main-dish servings.

Valentine's Day is always a special day and usually involves eating out or preparing a special dinner at home. This menu of glazed Cornish hen with rice pilaf, sweet carrots and Valentine strawberry shortcake is a low fat menu and can be easily prepared for you and your special dinner date.

Glazed Cornish Hen with Rice Pilaf

1 cup cooked white rice

1/2 cup cooked wild rice

1/2 cup chopped peeled tart apples

1/4 cup white wine or apple juice

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Dash curry powder

1/4 cup peach preserves

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 Cornish game hen, about 20 ounces, split lengthwise

In a bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; set aside. In a saucepan, combine the preserves, mustard, horseradish and tarragon. Cook and stir over medium heat until preserves are melted. Carefully loosen skin around hen breast, thighs and drumsticks. Set aside 1/4 cup glaze; spoon remaining glaze under skin. Place rice mixture in 2 mounds in a 11-by-7-by-2-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray; arrange hen halves skin side up over rice. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until meat juices run clear. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Remove skin. Warm the reserved glaze; brush over hen halves.

Sweet Carrots

Yields 2 servings.

1-1/2 cups baby carrots

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon stick margarine

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced chives

Place carrots in a steamer baskets. Place in a saucepan over 1 inch of water; bring to a boil. Cover and steam for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender. Transfer carrots to a bowl. Add the next four ingredients; toss until margarine is melted and carrots are coated. Sprinkle with chives.

Valentine Strawberry Shortcake

Yields 2 servings.

1/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt

2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon rum or vanilla extract

1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced, divided


2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoons baking soda

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided

5 teaspoon cold stick margarine

1/3 cup 1 percent buttermilk

In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients. In another small bowl, mash 1/2 cup strawberries; stir into yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate.


In a bowl, combine the first four ingredients and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky). On a floured surface, gently knead dough 10 times. Gently pat or roll into a 1/2-inch-thick circle. Cut out 2 hearts with a 3 1/3-inch cutter.

Place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly.

To assemble:

Split shortcakes in half. Place cake bottoms on dessert plates; spread with yogurt mixture. Top with remaining strawberries and shortcake tops.

We have had so many snow days this year, and when we are home I love to bake something. With an abundance of apples available year-round, these apple dumplings can be made in a snap.

Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Apple Dumplings

1 recipe for standard pastry

6 tart apples

6 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup red cinnamon sprinkles

Prepare pastry and roll 1/4-inch thick. Cut into six 6-inch squares. Pare and core apples. Place an apple in the center of each square. Mix 6 tablespoons sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Place 2 tablespoons in the cavity of each apple. Pinch up opposite sides of each square. Moisten edges with water and seal securely. Prick pastry with a fork in several places to allow steam to escape.

Place apples in a greased baking dish. Cook water, sugar, candies, and butter to dissolve. Pour over dumplings. Bake in oven preheated to 425 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Serves 6.

Note: Use extra dough scraps to cut out leaf shapes and attach to each apple dumpling before baking. Moisten surface before attaching to apple.

My friend Amber loves the combination of tuna and avocado together. She recently told me how she puts the two ingredients together for one of her favorite meals. This recipe will not only please her, but will for many of you who enjoy fish during the season of Lent, which is fast approaching.

Avocado Tuna Salad

For the dressing:

1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

1 dash allspice

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

8 ounces canned tuna, drained, flaked

1 can water chestnuts (4 ounces), drained, chopped

1/2 cup mandarin oranges in their own juice, drained

1/2 cup minced celery

1 ripe avocado, sliced thin

In a salad bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. Add the tuna, water chestnuts, oranges and celery. Mix together well. Fan slices of avocado over each plate. Pile the salad over the avocado slices and serve. Garnish with additional fruit if desired. This recipe yields 4 servings. Serving size: 3 ounces.

That will do it for this week. I hope you have a delightful Valentine's Day and get to share it with someone very special. So, until next week, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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