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Collegiette Proof Cooking: Valentine’s Edition

Valentine’s Day: despite all its romance and Notebook-esque gestures, may not be everyone’s favorite holiday. It often brings out jealousy and bitterness in all of us single people. But whether or not you are in a relationship or just want to spend the day with friends you care about, a nice dinner is a great way to get together and celebrate the day. For centuries, certain foods have been known, to put it politely, to get people “in the mood”. Aphrodisiacs as they’re called, range from avocados to watermelon to cilantro. If you do have a valentine, consider staying in and cooking a nice dinner that includes some aphrodisiac foods. Athens offers many a nice date locale but cooking together can incite romance and bring you and your partner together. Home cooking is also much cheaper than going out and often tastes better. Here are some very simple recipes for aphrodisiac filled foods that are guaranteed to provide you with a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Even if you’re not looking for aphrodisiac powers, these recipes are delicious and simple all the time and for any occasion.
 
First things first…..
 

Stuffed Mushrooms

Legend says that mushrooms have for centuries been believed to be an aphrodisiac. True or not, this recipe is incredibly simple to make and also delicious!
 
What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (I prefer pecorino)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (if you don’t have a garlic press go ahead and buy jarred minced garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, chopped (also known as Italian parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 28 large white mushrooms, stemmed.
  • Salt & Pepper

To make…..

  •  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Stir breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and pepper (to taste) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl.
  • Drizzle a large baking sheet with a tablespoon of olive oil
  • Spoon the filling into the mushrooms-cavity side UP and drizzle remaining olive oil over them
  • Bake for about 25 minutes-until mushrooms are tender and filling is golden on top

 

Prosciutto wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus is also thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Though I used prosciutto (Italian style ham) in the recipe, bacon works too and is also believed to have aphrodisiac powers. And this recipe could not be more simple to make
 
What you will need:

  • 1 package of prosciutto, sliced (available in the deli section of any grocery store)
  • 1 8 oz package of neufchatel or cream cheese (neufchatel has less fat than cream cheese)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed a bit

 
To Make….

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit
  • Spread prosciutto slices with neufchatel or cream cheese. Wrap the slices around 3 or 4 spears of asparagus. Arrange the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, until asparagus is tender.

 
Easy right?!
 
Main course…
 

Pasta with Arugula and Tomato

Arugula, also known as rocket in some cultures, is supposedly a potent aphrodisiac. Combined with the garlic and chile pepper flakes, it’s full of date-night worthy ingredients.
 
What you will need:

  • 1 lb of pasta (I used angel hair but any shape works)
  • 1 package of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 TSP of red pepper flakes
  • 1 4 or 5 oz. bag of arugula
  • 1/2 cup of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • salt

 
To Make…..

  • Pour olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook about a minute. Add chopped tomatoes, cook about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  • While you’re cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta
  • When there’s about 6 minutes left for the pasta to cook, add the arugula.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain pasta/arugula
  • Turn skillet back to medium-high heat, toss in pasta/arugula. Stir together for about a minute, adding a little bit of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and the grated cheese and serve.

 
For extra romantic ingredients, consider adding shellfish to this dish. Clams, oysters and lobsters are especially known for being lust inducing.
 
Last but not least…..
 

Chocolate Pomegranate Cupcakes with  Vanilla Frosting

We all know about the romantic effect of chocolate and strawberries, but for something different try pomegranate. It’s been known to have the same effect.
 
What you will need….

  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of cocoa
  • 1.5 TSP of baking powder
  • 1.5 TSP of baking soda
  • 1 TSP of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 cup of pomegranate seeds (seeds by themselves are expensive but worth it. getting seeds out of whole pomegranates is no easy task)

To make….

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with baking cups
  • Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk and oil and stir until combined. Stir in boiling water (don’t worry the batter is supposed to be thin). Fold in pomegranate seeds.
  • Fill baking cups about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. A knife or toothpick should come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely.

Tip: cake often tastes better and is more moist the day after making it, so if you want to eat cupcakes on Valentine’s day, consider making them the day before
 
Vanilla Frosting
 
What you will need….

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter-room temperature (it will be easier to mix that way)
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 TSP of vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt

 
To Make…..

  • Beat together all ingredients in a bowl until frosting is fluffy.

Could not be easier! Just thank Martha Stewart!
 

Easy Microwave Chocolate Fondue

Always a good option if you don’t really feel like cooking. Fruit dipped in chocolate is a guaranteed winner.
 
What you will need…..

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter

 
To Make….

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the sugar, heavy cream, chocolate, and butter together and microwave for 2 minutes. Take out of microwave and give it a quick whisk. Serve with fresh cut fruit.

 

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