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Originally published Wednesday, February 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Valentine's recipes that call for a pinch of love

Here are the Valentine's Day dinner recipes recently taught to a group of guys in Maggiano's Little Italy's cooking class in Bellevue: Heart...

Here are the Valentine's Day dinner recipes recently taught to a group of guys in Maggiano's Little Italy's cooking class in Bellevue:

Heart Beet Napoleon with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, Mixed Greens, and Honey Mustard or Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

2 large red beets, washed carefully to remove all dirt

2 medium golden beets, washed carefully to remove all dirt

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

6 ounces goat cheese (log, preferably)

5 ounces mixed greens

3 ounces honey mustard or Dijon mustard vinaigrette

Walnuts, toasted

Preparation

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Preheat oven to 425º F. Wrap each beet individually in foil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast beets for 1 hour and 30 minutes until a knife can be inserted easily. Remove from foil, peel while still hot and refrigerate. This can be done 24 hours in advance.

Once cooled, slice beets in ¼-inch rounds, making sure you have 6 red slices and 6 golden slices. Use a large heart cookie cutter on the red beets and the small heart cookie cutter on the golden. Place ½ ounce of goat cheese on each red heart and top with the golden heart. In a bowl toss greens and dressing and divide into two portions on each plate. Place three napoleons at 2, 6 and 11 o'clock on each plate. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts on top and serve. Serves 2

Roasted Smashed Red Bliss Potatoes

Ingredients

10 small red bliss potatoes, washed

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350º F. In a bowl toss together potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Place potatoes on a sheet tray and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven and let potatoes cool to room temperature.

Take the potato between both palms of your hands and smash them to a thickness of 1/3-inch. Reserve the potatoes in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. This can be done a day in advance. To reheat, place smashed potatoes in a preheated 375º F oven for 10-12 minutes until hot. Place potatoes on serving dish.

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Spinach and Smoked Mozzarella in a Pan Sauce

Ingredients

8 ounces frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)

½ cup smoked mozzarella

Two 6-ounce skin-on boneless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

½ cup white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven 375º F. Mix first two ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve mixture and set aside. With a small knife, cut a small pocket in the chicken breast. Using your finger, spread the pocket open and place half of the stuffing mixture inside, being careful not to rip the chicken. Make sure all the stuffing is inside and not oozing out.

On a medium-high burner, heat olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place skin-side-down in pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Turn chicken over and place on a sheet tray in preheated oven to finish, about 5 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165º F.

While chicken finishes in the oven, return the same sauté pan to medium heat. Add the flour and, stirring continuously, cook until light golden color is achieved — about 1-2 minutes. Add wine and reduce until almost dry. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to simmer. Finish sauce with lemon zest and parsley. Transfer chicken to a serving dish and spoon sauce over and around the chicken. Serves 2.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

6 ounces white chocolate chips

6 long- stemmed strawberries, washed and dried

Preparation

In a double boiler, heat the semisweet and white chocolate in separate bowls until fully melted and smooth. You can also do this in a microwave. Heat chocolate on high in 1-minute increments until melted and smooth.

Dip strawberries in melted chocolate to fully coat all but ¼ inch from the stem. Let the excess chocolate drain off back into the chocolate bowl, and lay strawberry on wax or parchment paper to set. Drizzle white chocolate from a spoon or fork on the chocolate-coated strawberries creating zigzag lines. Let chocolate set completely before serving. Serves 2.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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