a spicy valentine’s day menu and recipes

My profound apologies for dropping off the blog planet for so long. But, I have the greatest excuse ever – I have cancer. Yep, the BIG C dog. I had surgery in April and I’m DONE with 6 months of chemo and doing GREAT. So, maybe TMI, but I’m all about playing the cancer card when it works to my benefit .

If you want to read about my Great Cancer Smackdown, you can visit my other blog, Chemo and Vino: Breakfast of Champions.

 I should warn you that my cancer blog is completely uncensored and not meant to be as “professional” as my wine blog, so just know that I’ll continue this site in a responsible and entertaining tone. All bets are off on the other one.

Now, on to more entertaining stuff like food and booze. Enjoy!

Spice up your Valentine!

Valentine’s Day is coming up and with the economy sputtering, it’s the perfect time to spoil your beloved with a home-cooked meal. Here my pal Chef Jill Houk from Centered Chef and I give you a perfect Valentine’s Day meal with romantic wine pairings. The best part is that the food and wine are good for your heart in two ways. This meal will induce romance and keep you and your honey heart-healthy. Our meal is a spicy, tasty dinner for two that will give you enough energy for a long night of lovin, without bogging you down in extra calories. The ingredients were picked based on their aphrodisiac properties. Namely, we have:


Coffee-a stimulant that works both the body and mind, getting the drinker ready for extended physical activity.


Cilantro and Coriander-Arabian aphrodisiac thought to cure infertility.


Garlic-thought to be perfect for romance because it’s “bite” causes arousement. Also heart healthy in that it reduces cholesterol.


Ginger-this root is not only phallic, but it also stimulates circulation.


Nutmeg-an ancient Chinese aphrodisiac because it can cause hallucinations if you eat a large quantity.


Champagne-need we say more?


The Booze:


I think sparkling wines are simply essential for Valentine’s Day. The bubbles are festive, tickle the nose, and provide great acidity to lift spicy and savory flavors from the protein. If you’re not a bubbly fan, it might be fun to start with a South American cocktail to conjure up tropical climates. The two wines suggested for the shrimp are lightly sweet with very fruity and floral aromatics. The fruity wine can both quiet a bit of the heat in the dish and also echo some of the citrus in the dish. I love a juicy and fruity red or rose with the chicken and salsa. Bright berry tones should really pop with the earthy black beans and balance a bit of the heat as well. As for the dessert, be sure to taste the granita and the wine as you prepare it. Make sure the wine is still a bit sweeter than your dessert for the best match. The citrus in the granita will really sing with the Moscato and show off the mint as long as the sugar is well balanced. If you’re in danger of over-imbibing from earlier courses, a nice cup of coffee with a touch of vanilla liqueur should perk you right up.


Aperitif: Prosecco or Caipirinha

1st Course: Prosecco (Italy) or Torrontes (Argentina)

Mionetto il Prosecco NV, Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes 2007

2nd course: Sparkling Brut Rose (US or France) or lighter style, fruity Zinfandel (US)

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose Champagne NV, Peachy Canyon Incredible Red 2006

3rd course: Moscato d’Asti (Italy) or coffee with Licor 43 (a Spanish citrus and vanilla flavored liqueur)

Vietti Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta 2007


Grilled Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs with Chimichurri Glazecenteredcheflogo1




For Skewers:

6 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ cup large pineapple chunks, preferably fresh

½ large red pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

½ small red onion, cut into 1″ pieces

6 wooden skewers, soaked at least a half hour in water


For Chimichurri Glaze:

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ jalapeno pepper, minced

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Serves: 2




1.       Pre heat grill to medium-high, or heat a grill pan over medium high heat.


2.       Onto each skewer, thread a shrimp, a chunk of pineapple, a piece of pepper and a piece of onion.


3.       Prepare the Chimichurri glaze by combining all of the ingredients and blending until smooth.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.


4.       Brush both sides of each skewer with glaze and grill 3-4 minutes per side until shrimp is bright pink. Enjoy immediately!


Nutrition Information per serving: 19 calories; 1g fat; trace protein; 3g carbohydrate; trace fiber


Jamaican Jerked Chicken with Corn and Black Bean Salsa




For Jerk Marinade:

pinch ground allspice

pinch ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground espresso coffee

pinch ground nutmeg

½ jalapeno pepper, chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

½ bunch cilantro, stemmed

1 clove crushed garlic

½ teaspoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon canola oil, canola

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 ½ tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon brown sugar, packed


For Chicken:

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)


For Black Bean & Corn Salsa:

¼ cup frozen corn niblets, defrosted

2 Tablespoons red onion, minced

3 Tablespoons red peppers, minced

3 Tablespoons green peppers, minced

3 Tablespoons tomatoes, minced

3 teaspoons minced cilantro

2 teaspoons lime juice

½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed




1.       In a sauté pan, toast the spices: allspice, clove, espresso coffee and nutmeg until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


2.       Prepare the jerk marinade by combining all of the ingredients and blending until smooth.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.


3.       Marinate the chicken for 6-8 hours.  Remove chicken from marinade and grill 9-10 minutes per side over a medium grill or in a grill pan.


4.       Mix the ingredients for the corn salsa together. Adjust the seasonings.


5.       Place a grilled chicken breast on two plates and top each chicken breast with half the salsa. If desired, serve over a bed of lettuce.


Serves: 2


Nutrition Information per serving: 300 calories, 5g fat, 44g protein, 19g carbohydrates, 4g fiber.


Lemon Mint Granita




1/2 cup lemon juice


1 1/2 cups water


1/2 cup sugar


1 tablespoon grated orange zest


1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest


1 1/2 tablespoons mint leaf, thinly sliced




Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.

Strain into a metal baking dish, wrap with plastic and place in freezer.

After two hours, scrape with the tines of a fork. Re-wrap and return to freezer.

Repeat after two hours.

When completely frozen, serve by scraping half the mixture into a martini glass. Garnish with fresh berries.

Serves: 2


Nutrition Information per serving: 215 calories, trace fat, trace protein, 57g carbohydrate, 1g fiber



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5 responses to “a spicy valentine’s day menu and recipes

  1. Welcome back Winediva! Looking forward to your appearance on WGN, I’ll try to call in this time!

  2. Donna Metcalf

    I knew you were going to be on Steve’s show but somehow missed it. Then on our way out of town around 6 there you were. I shrieked with glee. So good to hear you again and also the good health news! What was the fish you were talking about?

  3. thanks Donna! The Australian fish is barramundi. Very tasty!

  4. Donna Metcalf

    We will have to look for that next time we are in Chicago or St. Louis. I don’t think I can find it here in the boonies of central Illinois. Hope you had a great Valentines day!

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