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Now that I'm married, Valentine's day has become one of my favorite days of the year. Not because of the cards, the chocolates, the flowers or even the extravagant gifts often associated with this holiday, but, because of the quality time my husband and I set aside for each other on this particular day.
Hubby and I love cooking together and Valentine's day is often a day that we celebrate by getting in the kitchen together and making a new dish that we've never made before! If you've never stepped into the kitchen to cook with your spouse, let me tell you, you're missing out. We love to crack open a bottle of wine, put on some of our favorite tunes and get cookin'. Yes, I said cookin'... If your husband doesn't know the way around the kitchen you can always just give him the job of 'Official Wine-Refiller & recipe reader."
This year we decided to do make something that would be spin on a traditional comfort food that everyone knows and loves but, basically, we just wanted to make it a little more fancy and a little more romantic: Italian Meatloaf!
Before we could get started on our fancy shmancy dinner, we had to head to Smart & Final first, because that's our favorite place to stock up on a few of our much-used italian staples. Plus, they carry warehouse-sized products but you don't have to pay any club fees... perfect for someone (like me!) who cooks every day.
First off, you've got your parmesan cheese. I use a lot of parmesan in my cooking, and I like to make sure my fridge is always stocked. Luckily, the La Romanella parmesan comes in a couple of different sizes, so you can decide just how much you need. It's a sad, sad day when I glance into my fridge and there is no parmesan to be found.
We also grabbed some La Romanella basil pesto. This looked awesome and would make an excellent addition to our meatloaf!
Some cheese raviolis to serve on the side... And a couple of other things that would make this dinner complete.
Luckily, I already had some La Romanella Italian Sausage at home, and even though it was in the casing, I knew I could make it work! The La Romanella brand is one of my favorites for my italian cooking because the price is right and the flavors are spot-on! Great quality for a great price! How great is that?
The first thing we did for our dinner was to get our sauce cooking. Hubby took care of the sauce for me, since he makes the best italian sauces in the world... Traditional meatloaf has ketchup covering the top, so, ours was going to have a nice, sweet italian tomato sauce instead. Then, I started on the meatloaf mixture...
Italian sausage, ground beef, parmesan, pesto, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley and a little basil and italian seasoning.
I had hubby mix it all together...
Now, for the actual meatloaf you can either do a standard loaf, you can make a couple of mini-loaves, or you can shape it into a big ol' heart. And, since we're celebrating love day, I think a heart would only be appropriate, don't you think?
Now's the part where you can make a joke, like I did...
I love you, Meatheart!
After cooking for 15 minutes it's time to add your sauce!
For our side, we decided to make a garlic basil mixture to toss with our La Romanella raviolis. I love having a big bag of these in my freezer, so that when I need an easy side I can just grab them, toss in my olive oil, basil, and garlic and -- poof! -- side dish is done. Oh, but don't forget the parmesan! And the fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt... of course!
Outta the oven and lookin' pretty.
Well, hello my cheesy little friends...
And there you have it folks... a lovely, romantic dinner for two! And guess what? We made it together! Not only did we have fun and get some of that much-needed one-on-one time, we also created something delicious together! Plus, the best part is that at the end of it all you get to sit down, across from the one you love and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Smart & Final is going to be running a contest! From
- 3 La Romanella Mild Italian Sausages, casings removed
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 1/4 cup La Romanella shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup italian breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon La Romanella basil pesto
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 3 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 7 ounces petite diced tomatoes
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 4 ounces tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon fennel
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the sauce, add olive oil to a small saucepan, along with garlic and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onion is beginning to soften. Add in diced tomato, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar, basil, italian seasoning, fennel and crushed red pepper. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place olive oil in a small skillet, along with chopped onions and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, add ground beef, sausage, parmesan, breadcrumbs, pesto, egg, parsley, basil, italian seasoning and onion/garlic mixture. Mix well to incorporate all ingredients. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and shape into your desired shape (loaf, mini-loaves, heart, etc.)
Bake for 15 minutes. Then, pour sauce over the top, spread evenly, and bake additional 45 minutes, or until internal temperature is 160 degrees and meat is cooked through.
Easy Garlic Basil Ravioli
- 1 pound La Romanella Medium Cheese Ravioli
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup La Romanella shredded parmesan
- Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt
Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain.
In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Toss pasta with oil mixture, basil and parmesan. Season with cracked black pepper and sea salt and serve.