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A romantic meal for your main squeeze

Jane Kirby of Real Simple magazine offers some ideas for a last-minute menu that is sure to please your valentine.
/ Source: msnbc.com

If you still haven’t even thought about that romantic meal you promised your sweetheart, your time is running out. But fear not, you can still create an elegant Valentine’s Day dinner in a hurry. On NBC’s “Today” show, Jane Kirby of Real Simple magazine says “Fake it Don’t Make it” and she offers some ideas for a last-minute menu sure to please your valentine. Check out the recipes below.

‘FAKE IT’ VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER

SALMON EN CROÛTE

Hands-on time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 to 35 minutes

Makes 4 servings

1/2 package puff pastry, defrosted (1 sheet)

1 5-ounce package washed baby spinach

2 salmon fillets, skinless (1 inch thick, 1 1/2 inches wide)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons mushroom or olive tapenade or pesto

1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a sheet of puff pastry to 1/8 inch thick. Place half the spinach leaves lengthwise down the center of the pastry. Season the fish fillets with salt and place them on top of the spinach. Spread the tapenade over the fish and top with the remaining spinach. Wrap the fish in the pastry, folding in the sides to seal completely. Place on baking sheet and brush with the egg. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

If you made it from scratch: 4 hours


HONEY-GINGERED CARROTS

Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

Makes 4 servings

1 10-ounce bag shredded carrots

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the carrots, olive oil, honey, ginger, salt, and several grinds of black pepper on a microwave safe plate. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high power in the microwave 2 to 3 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

If you made it from scratch: 1 hour


CARAMEL-CHOCOLATE CREAM PUFFS

Hands-on time: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Makes 4 servings

16 cream puffs (such as Belgian Mini Cream Puffs) from a 13.2-ounce box of frozen cream puffs

1 12.25-ounce jar caramel sauce

1 16-ounce jar hot fudge or dark-chocolate sauce

Defrost the cream puffs according to the label directions. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring 3/4 of the caramel sauce to a boil. Boil for 1 minute or until the sauce thickens into a chewy glaze. Holding a cream puff with tongs or speared on a fork, dip one side of the puff into the caramel, then place on a dessert plate. Repeat with the remaining puffs, arranging 4 on each plate. A few minutes before serving, warm the hot fudge sauce over low heat. Spoon it around the plated cream puffs. For a Valentine’s Day touch, drop 3 small dollops of the remaining unboiled caramel sauce into the hot fudge sauce on each plate. With a toothpick, draw a line through the drops to form hearts.

If you made it from scratch: 4 hours


Recipes provided by Real Simple magazine. Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. For more ideas from Real Simple you can visit their Web site at: www.realsimple.com.