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We like our cakes red (velvet, that is!)
For cheese, we love blue (but we really don’t discriminate…)
We’re really bad at poetry
But this meal will make you swoon (we promise!)

Okay, so that poem was really cheesy. Guess what? So is this meal. But these dishes are the good kind of cheesy – the kind filled with flavorful blue cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, some Swiss and, for dessert, even cream cheese! Get ready to make your sweetheart swoon with this week’s blue cheese soufflé, beef tenderloin with a dark beer reduction (topped with more blue cheese!), Melissa d’Arabian’s 5-minute individual potato gratins and a warm red velvet bread pudding.

Blue Cheese Soufflé The Crossing
This soufflé is a signature dish at The Crossing in St. Louis, where we like to celebrate special occasions. It’s a running joke in the Blended Kitchen family that people need to watch out when the soufflé hits the table – if you get between Lindsey and that blue cheese soufflé, you’ll absolutely lose your hand.

WARNING: This dish is so good you’ll want to take it everywhere – don’t. It doesn’t travel well and needs to be served immediately after baking. Cindy took this to a party one time after baking it, and the soufflé was a huge flop. When asked who brought the dish, Cindy blamed it on someone else. We’re not kidding.

This soufflé is the perfect way to begin your Valentine’s Day meal. It’s rich, creamy and full of flavor. (And although soufflé is a scary word, this one is super easy!) The only problem you might have is saving room for the rest of your dinner. To make the dish more festive, Cindy found heart-shaped crackers to serve the dip with. Eat your heart out.

These ingredients make for one cheesy Valentine’s Day soufflé!

And the heart crackers – so festive!

Start by chopping the onion and combining it with the blue cheese in a food processor. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Measure out one cup of grated cheddar cheese and add it to the blue cheese mixture.

Add the milk and egg to the mix.

Add one cup of mayonnaise to the soufflé mixture. Mayo makes everything creamier!

Process the mixture together until smooth. It should look something like the photo above.

Pour the soufflé into your prepared baking dish.

Place soufflé into a larger casserole dish and pour hot water into the roasting pan. The water should come about halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

After 45 minutes in a 300° oven, your soufflé should come out a beautiful golden brown. Be careful removing the dish from the oven – if the hot water splashes onto your oven mitt, it will soak through and burn you. We know from (painful) experience.

You can serve it like us we did, on cute little heart-shaped crackers, or you can serve it like The Crossing does, on freshly-made crostini.

Here’s the recipe:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup finely crumbled blue cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup diced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 300°. Add the onions and blue cheese together in a food processor and turn it on for about 10 – 15 seconds. Add all other ingredients to food processor and mix until runny, but still thick. Transfer to an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Make sure the soufflé is not more than an inch deep. If you don’t have a large enough baking dish, use two smaller dishes. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan; place in the oven, then pour hot water into the roasting pan. The water should come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until set on top and lightly browned. Serve hot with crusty bread or crackers.

Seared Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Dark Beer Reduction and Blue Cheese Weight Watchers | 2012
Initially, we were scared to step away from our traditional beef tenderloin – grilled perfectly with garlic salt (Mmmm…) – and to add a sauce? Unheard of! But we like steak and we like beer, so we decided to try it. The verdict: we will definitely be making this beef tenderloin again! The steak was so decadent and delicious, we couldn’t even tell that it was diet lifestyle change friendly.

The beer sauce is phenomenal. After Lindsey polished off her steak, she spooned some of the leftover sauce straight from the pan into her mouth. To make our sauce, we used Nevada Pale Ale, but you can use any dark beer you like. (Ahem, no Bud Light, Corona, or Michelob Ultra, please!) The sauce really reduced a lot – it cooked in about 20 minutes on medium heat and turned syrupy and thick very quickly. Make sure to stir the sauce frequently and keep an eye on it.

If kids are joining you on Valentine’s Day, you can leave the sauce off the steak. Nugget preferred his without, but the grown-ups loved it.

It’s scary to think of putting a sauce on a beautiful cut of meat, but the dark beer reduction just enhances the richness of the steak.

After rubbing steak seasoning on both sides of the steak, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Brown steaks on both sides. This will take about 2 minutes per side. Once steaks are browned, remove from the skillet and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 4-5 minutes.

While the steaks are in the oven (or before, as you can see we did here!) Pour the beer into a medium-sized bowl.

Add brown sugar to the beer and mix.

Pour beer and brown sugar mixture into the skillet where the steaks browned, and cook until mixture is slightly syrupy. It will reduce down to about 1/4 cup. If you’d like, when the steaks are finished cooking in the oven, take the juices from the pan and pour them in with the beer sauce. It will “beef up” the flavor. (So punny funny!)

Here’s our reduced sauce. Nice and thick and rich and delicious. Someone get me a spoon!

Top the steaks with blue cheese crumbles. We made our own crumbles from this block of cheese.

Steak and potatoes: the meal every man wants for Valentine’s Day. (Or every day…)

Here’s the recipe:
2 teaspoons steak rub
4 (4-oz) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed (about 1-inch thick)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (12-oz) bottle dark lager
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.

Rub steak seasoning all over both sides of steaks.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steaks from pan; place on baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 4 to 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.

While steaks bake, combine beer and brown sugar in a medium bowl; add to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 6 minutes (this wasn’t enough for us), or until mixture is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup. Serve steaks with reduced sauce; sprinkle evenly with blue cheese.

5-Minute Individual Potato Gratins Melissa d’Arabian | January 2010
We discovered this recipe when watching the Food Network reality show “Next Food Network Star.” (We’re addicts – don’t judge.) This was one of Melissa d’Arabian’s winning dishes. Bobby Flay, a Next Food Network Star judge, raved about it, saying, “I can’t believe I never thought of doing this!” The dish was so good that Melissa went on to win that season and now has her own show.

When planning our Valentine’s Day menu, we thought back to how successful these individual gratins were at Cindy’s parents’ anniversary party. The gratins were such a hit that Cindy’s mom asked for the recipe and then served them to her friends. Let’s face it – when your own mother is asking you for a recipe, you know it’s good.

The gratins are super easy to make and can even be made a couple of hours ahead.  If you do make it ahead, don’t worry about any discoloring the potatoes get – it will turn out just fine. We love green onions, so we used way more than what the recipe calls for. If you are not a green-onion-fan (we know, it makes your breath stinky – not ideal for Valentine’s Day!), use a small amount or leave them out altogether. We have left them out and people have enjoyed the gratins – they’re just a little bland for us onion-lovers.

Another type of cheese? Hello!

Using a mandolin, thinly slice potatoes.

When we say thinly sliced, we mean it!

Chop the green onions and get ready to assemble the individual gratins.

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and layer the potato slices in the muffin tin, until they are about half of the way full.

Add onions to the potato slices, then top with more potato slices, until they hit the top of the muffin tin.

Load the gratins up with some Swiss cheese.

For onion-lovers, add more green onions to the mix.

Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream into each gratin.

When the gratins look like this, they’re ready to hit the oven.

Cover the gratins in foil and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and brown.

Let potatoes cool for 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow them to firm up enough to remove from the muffin tin and serve. You’ll want to print the recipe for these out before taking them anywhere – people will request it.

Here’s the recipe:
Cooking spray
2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
Green onions, finely chopped (as much or as little as you’d like!)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°.
Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Layer potato slices, cheese and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 1/2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.

Let gratins cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate and serve warm.

Hello, gorgeous!

Red Velvet Bread Pudding Taste and Tell | January 31, 2012
Nothing screams Valentine’s Day like a red, velvety cake. But turning that cake into a luscious bread pudding? That makes our hearts skip a beat. Special occasions (cough cough Valentine’s Day cough) call for special treats – and this bread pudding is the perfect indulgence.

The original recipe wants you to make your own red velvet cake. If you have the time to do that, more power to you! We like to keep things simple and relatively easy, so we just used a mix straight from a box. And it was good!

We suggest baking the red velvet cake ahead of time, since the cake must cool enough for you to cut it up into cubes. Also, there may not seem like enough liquid is in the pudding, but do not add more. It will make the bread pudding runny and inedible.

Start by baking the red velvet cake.

Combine the red velvet cake mix with required ingredients.

Pour the cake mix into a baking pan and follow the cooking instructions on the box.

Once cake has cooled, cut the cake into 1-inch squares.

Lay the cubes out on a baking sheet and stick in 350° oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly dried out.

While the cake is in the oven, make the bread pudding mix. Combine half-and-half, eggs, egg yolk, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl.

Using a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese (it must be softened!) and powdered sugar until smooth.

Stir in the half-and-half mixture.

Pull the red velvet cake cubes out of the oven and place into your desired baking dish.

Pour the cream cheese and half-and-half mixture over the cake cubes, making sure to soak each piece. Don’t worry if the liquid doesn’t completely cover the red velvet cake cubes. Just push the cubes down and make sure they get a little splash of the liquid.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 350°, or until the pudding is set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately (with ice cream!)

Here’s the recipe:
1 box red velvet cake mix, prepared
3 cups half-and-half
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking dish or sheet pan.

Bake red velvet cake according to instructions on box.

Once cool, cut the cake into 1-inch squares. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly dried out.

Make the bread pudding mix: In a medium bowl, mix together the half-and-half, eggs, egg yolk, salt and vanilla. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer in a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in the half-and-half mixture.

Place the red velvet cake cubes in a large baking dish or in individual baking dishes. Pour the pudding mix over the cubes, making sure to soak with the mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pudding is set. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar or with ice cream (or both.)

This makes us fall in love with red velvet all over again.

Next week: we’ll surprise you with a delicious new dish!

Nom. nom. nom.