When Ricky asked me what I wanted to do for Valentine’s Day, I knew exactly what I wanted the evening to look like. He liked my idea and I quickly shot out a few text and extended the invitation to a few couples, inviting them for a relaxed dinner. I was thrilled when I heard back from them and everybody was available! As I began to prepare for the evening, I thought about the marriages that would be represented and what each of them meant to us, as couples and individually. There is so much strength and encouragement that comes from surrounding yourself with people doing what you are doing and doing it well! As we visited, we added up the years we had all been married.
Wow! 123 years of marriage around our table! That’s a lot of years and a lot of experiences! The one thing that stands out among these particular couples is that they are all, as my 6-year-old grand daughter would say, BFF’s. Truly best friends. Forever.
It was such a fun evening, with the perfect mix of good food, music, and laughter! I had a dinner request from one of the guys, Shrimp Creole. I had served that meal years ago, like seriously 25 and he still remembered it! I was happy to oblige and it is EASY! What’s not to love about that? It is from an old tattered Betty Crocker Cookbook for Two that I got as a wedding gift when we got married. Of course I quadrupled it! And dessert… we got an ice cream maker for Christmas and we have LOVED a butter pecan ice cream! Trust me it is a game-changer in the ice cream world! I know, I know, you are supposed to have chocolate for Valentine’s Day. But, oh well… Both recipes are listed below.
I hope you are opening up your home, inviting people to enjoy food and fellowship around your table! It is the best!
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 medium green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 package (7 ounces) frozen cleaned raw shrimp
1 1/2 cups hot cooked rice.
Melt butter in 8-inch skillet; cook and stir onion, celery, green pepper and garlic over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in tomato sauce, water, parsley and seasonings. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in frozen shrimp; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until shrimp are done, about 10 minutes. Serve on rice.
Butter Pecan Ice Cream (This is a game-changer!!!)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup pecans
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add the pecans and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until pecans are toasted and golden, stirring frequently, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain and reserve the pecans, allowing them to chill.
2. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
3. Turn the Cuisinart (that’s the one I have) ice cream maker on; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved pecans and let them mix completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. (This is what I do, it is ready to serve when you need it!)
Makes about 5 cups.