I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people were planning to make a chicken dish for dinner on Valentine's Day. Boneless and skinless chicken breast is everywhere, reasonably priced (especially at Sprouts in Tucson, where it is also ethically produced) and versatile.
Oven-roasted or sliced and cooked on top of the stove, chicken breast or other parts really lend themselves to an easy but tasty meal. Once you have decided what you are going to serve for dinner, all you have to do is choose a couple of side dishes.
I'm going to recommend this Sweet Potato Souffle because it lends a touch of elegance to a meal, cooked as it is in a round baking dish and delicately flavored. It would go just as well with a whole pork tenderloin (which will serve two people perfectly). Just add a green salad, perhaps with my Prickly Vinaigrette dressing, and you are ready to have dinner. You'll actually still have room for dessert.
SWEET POTATO SOUFFLE
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
1/2 cup milk or substitute
1/3 cup white or brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Put the unpeeled sweet potatoes whole into a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the potatoes until they are done, about 1 hour. Turn off the heat and leave them where they are until they have cooled to room temperature (this can be done in the morning or the night before).
When you are ready to bake the souffle, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
When the potatoes are no longer dangerous to handle, peel them (the skin will slip off). Cut them into small chunks and place them in a mixer bowl. Mix at a low speed until the potatoes begin to form a puree.
Beat in the milk, sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg and cinnamon, until you can no longer see any streaks in the mixture.
Transfer the mixture into a round baking dish or a pie pan that has been treated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake the souffle for 20 minutes, or until it has puffed and then set.
Combine the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the topping over the souffle. Bake 10 minutes longer, remove from the oven and serve hot.
The purpose of twenty minutes in the oven is to be sure that the eggs are cooked, and you can tell that they are when the souffle has puffed and is dry to the touch. It will not rise as high as the classic cheese souffle, but it will be a different side dish that offers a change from mashed potatoes.
This dish will also be very good if you use a barbecue sauce to baste your meat. It would be great with ribs, which echo the red theme of Valentine's Day. And if you go a bit heavier on dinner with barbecued ribs, lighten up dessert to something like great coffee and the sugar cookies that I mentioned the other day, brushed with juicy-looking red jam, and enjoy.