Personal Gifts of Love on Valentine's Day

Written by: Chef Huda | 2/8/2011, 9:09 a.m.

Every year people fall victim to the same tired Valentine's Day routine--buying the same flowers, candies and gifts for their special someone. This year, let's shake things up. This is your personal guide to spice up V-day by creating memorable moments that will make even Cupid jealous.

This year's Valentine's Day is all about personalized gifts of love. The secret to making an unforgettable day is the thoughtfulness and effort that is placed into all the details. Valentine's Day is the perfect time to up the ante and let that special someone know you are happy that they are in your life. If you decide to follow these few simple tips you will have secured your space in the Valentine's Day Hall of Fame.

Tip #1
When sending flowers don't send roses, try lilies, orchids, or hydrangeas. This small change will make the gift personal and will show you have put thought into your selection.

Tip #2

Do not go crazy looking for the perfect card to express your feelings. Instead of buying a card write your own. Personalized love notes are great for speaking your true feelings to the one that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. You can write one or as many as you like. Leave them around the house as special reminders to your special someone.

Tip #3
Depending on you and your loved one's location and schedule, a spontaneous romantic lunch or visit is a great break from the busy repetitiveness of the daily 9 to 5.

Tip #4

Personal Delivery Service: delivering the midday flowers, candies or small gifts in person is a wonderful idea. Remember, it is the little things that make Valentine's Day like no other holiday, so use it to your advantage.

Now let's recap. Flowers, candies, small gifts and romantic love notes are taken care of. It is now time to focus on planning the day's crowning moment...dinner.

Tip #5
Try an alternative to dinner reservations. Stay inside and create a pretty and delicious meal that will make your loved one want to skip dessert...maybe!

When making dinner for a special occasion it is all about making something easy, pretty and delicious. The idea is to make it look like you were preparing all day without breaking a sweat. This way you have time to plan all of the extra surprises of the day. Now I know the idea of cooking causes some people stress, but with these simple pretty and delicious recipes and the "Personal Gifts of Love Tips" your place in the Valentine's Day Hall of Fame will be secured.

Chef Huda's Spicy Shrimp Cocktail for Two

Spicy Shrimp Cocktail
1/2 cup Water
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 lb large shrimp-peeled and deveined
(For suggest plating you will want to leave the tails on)
1 small pinch of cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup cocktail sauce
1/4 cup fresh parsley-rough chopped
Clarified Citrus butter (see recipe below)

Let's get Started.
Wait...Please, Wash your Hands.
Okay, now we are ready to start!

Mix the water, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder and parsley into medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat and cover. Steam shrimp 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Remove the shrimp from pan. Set aside for plating.

Clarified Citrus Butter
1 1/2 sticks-unsalted butter
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cut butter into small cubes. Add butter to saucepan. Once the butter melts, remove it from the heat and let set for 5 minutes. After the butter sets, remove the white foam from the top of the butter with a spoon. Discard the white foam. Add in the lemon and lime juice and stir.

Suggested Plating: layer the cocktail sauce into a martini glass. Next, pour a thin layer of the clarified citrus butter over cocktail sauce. Then, evenly hang the spicy shrimp around the edge of the martini glass.


CHEF HUDA'S Pan Seared Blackened Salmon Served with Savory Grits and Sauteed Apples & Pears

Pan seared Blackened Salmon
8 oz. Salmon Filets- 2 Pack
2 Tbsp Blackening Seasoning
1/2 Tbsp of Oil

Sauteed Apples & Pears
2 Apples- Medium Sliced or Large Diced
2 Pears- Medium Sliced or Large Diced
2 Tbsp of Butter
2 Tbsp of Light Brown Sugar
1 Tsp of Nutmeg
1 Tbsp of Lemon juice
Cracked Black Pepper (optional)

Savory Grits
1 Cup of Grits - Quick Grits
1/2 Cup of Fresh Parsley-rough chopped
2 Cups Water
3 Tbsp of Butter
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tsp of Garlic Powder
*Salt and Pepper-to Taste

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Let's Get Started.
Wait...Please, Wash your Hands.
Okay, now we are ready to start!

Let's start with the Pan Seared Blackened Salmon. Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat glaze the pan with Oil. Season the salmon filets on both sides with the Cajun Seasoning. Gently pat the seasoning onto the salmon filets. Place the salmon skin side down into pan. Let the filets cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Remove the filets, put into a dish, and place into the oven. Depending on size, the salmon will take about 10-15 minutes to finish.

While your Pan Seared Blackened Salmon is in the oven, let's get started on the Sauteed Apples & Pears.

Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Melt the Butter. Once the Butter is melted add the Apples & Pears, Brown Sugar, Nutmeg and Lemon juice. Stir and cover. Let this cook for 5-7 minutes, until the juices thicken. Once the Apples & Pears cook down but still a little firm, remove from heat and set aside. Finish with some cracked Black Pepper.

Now is a good time to check on the Salmon. Once the Salmon is done let it rest 2-3 minutes. The Blackened Salmon looks great and the Sauteed Apples & Pears smell incredible.

Now let's make our Easy and Delicious Savory Grits.

Place the Water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the Water comes to a boil slowly whisk in the Grits and remove from heat. The Grits will start to thicken. Once it starts to thicken add in Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper, Butter, Cream and fresh Parsley. Taste and add more Butter, Salt or Pepper, if needed. Now that everything is finished. Let's start plating.

~Chef Huda's Note: For this dish I recommend stacked plating in this order - Start by spooning the Savory Grits onto the middle of the plate. Spoon a generous portion of Sauteed Apples & Pears over the Savory Grits. Gently place the Pan Seared Blackened Salmon onto the center of the Sauteed Apples & Pears ....So Delicious !!