We started out the meal with goblets of champagne with strawberries, and while everything was cooking we snacked on crusty sourdough bread dipped in olive oil and herbs:
I served a simple salad of baby spinach, strawberries and goat cheese, sprinkled with salt and pepper and dressed with store-bought strawberry balsamic vinaigrette (and FYI, this salad may sound simple, but it was sooooo delicious. Joe proclaimed that it is his new favorite salad, and I plan to serve it at our son's first birthday party in May):
I also made roasted asparagus that I slathered with olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder and cooked in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. The other side dish was caramelized onion mashed potatoes. I prepared the onions just like I do for my French onion soup, then added them to mashed potatoes along with cream cheese, a touch of heavy cream, and a bit of butter. All that sweet onion flavor really came through in the potatoes, and the cream cheese made them so rich and creamy. They were so good!
For the main event, we had chicken breasts with champagne cream sauce (the recipe is below), which were very, very good. The flavor of the champagne really came through, and the shallots and mushrooms were such a nice addition to the sauce. Letting the chicken poach for a bit in the sauce made it so tender and juicy. Sorry the picture is so out of focus, but I was ready to start our romantic dinner for two!
Chicken Breasts in Champagne Cream Sauce
Source: adapted from Cooks.com
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 shallot, chopped
Half a package of fresh sliced button mushrooms
2/3 cup champagne
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts to the pan and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Remove chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.
2. Add the shallots and mushrooms to the skillet and cook until shallots are translucent. Pour in champagne and cook over medium high heat until it is reduced by about half. Add the cream and salt and cook until the sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in the butter. Add chicken back to the pan and cover so chicken can finish cooking in the sauce. Arrange chicken on plates and top with the sauce.