Nothing says “be mine” quite like a home-cooked dinner. If you plan to rekindle the flame with a romantic dinner this Valentine’s Day, look no further than the ever bubbly Sunny Anderson, host of Food Network’s ‘Cooking For Real,’ who shares her favorite recipes for a steamy yet affordable dinner with ESSENCE.com. “I think Valentine’s Day is about showing the one you love a little extra effort,” she says. Check out Sunny’s easy as pie suggestions for creating the perfect V-Day dinner. RICOTTA RAVIOLI WITH SPINACH PESTO 2 cups fresh ricotta 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped, divided 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg1 lemon, zested and juiced Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 (12-ounce) package Wonton wrappers 1 egg white, lightly beaten 4 cups spinach, loosely packed 1 clove garlic 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup olive oil Special equipment: Food processor In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/4 cup hazelnuts, nutmeg, lemon zest, and salt and pepper, to taste. Lay several Wonton wrappers on a work surface. Scoop a generous tablespoon of the ricotta filling into the center of each wrapper, and brush the outside edges with the beaten egg white. Lay another Wonton wrapper on top of each, and press firmly with fingertips to press out air and seal the ravioli. Transfer the ravioli to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining Wonton wrappers and filling, making 18 to 20 ravioli total. Cover the baking sheet with a damp paper towel and transfer to the refrigerator to set up, about 30 minutes.To make the spinach pesto: In a food processor, combine the remaining 3/4 cup hazelnuts, lemon juice, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, and puree until smooth. Fill a large pot with water, salt liberally, and bring to a boil. Cook the ravioli in three batches, until they are cooked and float to the top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Strain and transfer to serving bowls with a dollop of spinach pesto. Yield: 4 servings Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes Ease of preparation: easy SUNNY’S SERVING SUGGESTION: “Make a nice mound in the center with three or four of the ravioli and add a nice little dollop of the pesto around the edges or over the top. I say if you’re making it for a guy there should be no negative space on the plate, just fill it up. If you’re making it for a girl, give her a little space on the plate. Making a meal for someone is such an amazing thing to do for someone.” WINTER SANGRIA 2 cups no-pulp orange juice 3 to 6 ounces orange liqueur 2 tablespoons honey 1 cinnamon stick 2 blood oranges or clementines, supremed 1 Granny Smith apple (or other tart apple), cored and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes 1 Anjou (red) pear, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes 2 liters sweet sparkling red wine, chilled (recommended: Rosa Regale) 1 liter lemon lime soda, chilled In a large pitcher or punch bowl, whisk together the orange juice, orange liqueur and honey. Add the cinnamon stick, blood oranges, apple and pears, and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature to macerate, at least 1 hour, until ready to serve. Add the wine and soda, stir gently to combine, and serve immediately over ice. Yield: 8 servings (about 3 liters) Prep Time: 10 minutes Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour Ease of preparation: easy. SUNNY’S SERVING SUGGESTION: “Make a nice little pitcher of it, leave in the fridge and pour it out to a cosmo glass. It has lots of color, there’s lots of fruit in there for you to take a look at. And it’s red so it works really well for the occasion.” Catch Sunny Anderson on her show “Cooking For Real” on the Food Network.
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