valentines-Day-Dinner.jpgWhen I was younger, I used to always head out on Valentine’s Day for a nice dinner. What was the biggest problem with those Valentine’s Day dinners? They were expensive, the restaurants were so busy we could barely hear each other talk, and everyone around us, from the wait staff to the people in other booths, seemed so tense. Unless you go to an extremely quiet piano bar or something similar, Valentine’s Day dinner always felt like we were trying to force romance on a day when it should come easily.

That’s why I decided to host Valentine’s Day dinner at home. At first it was just my husband and myself, then it grew to a group of people who wanted a night out but didn’t want to spend tons of money for an “OKAY” meal in a restaurant. It works for us, and it’s a fun way to spend the evening without all the extra pressure of leaving the house.

Maybe your perfect Valentine’s Day is just you and your special someone. Perhaps instead you’d like to include a group of friends in your Valentine’s Day plans. Whichever you choose, here are some recipes you can use to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner at home.

Start with an appie:

Caramelized Onion and Sour Cream Spread

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I’m not into fancy appies. I like dips and pita bread, so I like to put together something new each Valentines’ Day. I tried this dip a few years ago and it was a huge hit. If you can’t find olive bread, try pita chips. Photo and recipe from food.com.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

13 cup olive oil 

1 large onion thinly sliced

1 large red bel paper, thinly sliced

12 fennel bulb, cored,thinly sliced

2 teaspoons herbes de provence

1 teaspoon sugar

8 cloves garlic finely chopped

13 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon drained capers

18 slices olive bread

 

Directions

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and next 4 ingredients.

Cover; cook until vegetables release their juices, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

Uncover; sauté until juices evaporate, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic; cook until vegetables are very tender and just beginning to brown, about 12 minutes longer.

Cool completely.

Puree vegetable mixture and sour cream in processor until almost smooth.

Season generously with salt and pepper.

Transfer to bowl.

Sprinkle with capers.

Preheat broiler.

Arrange bread slices on baking sheet.

Brush both sides of bread slices with 1/3 cup oil.

Toast about 2 minutes per side. Cool. Serve with spread.

 
 

If you like seafood:

Lobster Colorado lobster-colorado.jpg

Making lobster might appear a bit daunting at first, but if you choose a recipe that doesn’t require you to boil your own lobster (something I don’t think I could handle) it’s actually quite easy. Just ask at your local grocery store or deli for a prepared lobster tail and you’re halfway to making this amazing steak and lobster dish. Photo and recipe from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients:

4 (8 ounce) beef tenderloin filets

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 slices bacon

1/2 cup butter, divided

1 teaspoon OLD BAY® Seasoning

8 ounces lobster tail, cleaned and

chopped

 

Directions

Set oven to Broil at 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).

Sprinkle tenderloins all over with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Wrap each filet with bacon, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a broiling pan, and broil to desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes per side for medium rare.

While tenderloins are cooking, melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay® seasoning. Stir in chopped lobster meat, and cook until done. Spoon lobster meat over cooked tenderloins, and return them to the broiler until the lobster meat begins to brown.

While the lobster is in the oven, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cook until it browns, turning the color of a hazelnut. To serve, spoon the browned butter over the steaks, and sprinkle with the remaining Old Bay® seasoning.

If you’d rather have chicken:

Bruschetta Chicken Bakebruschetta-chicken-bake.jpg

If seafood isn’t your thing, dressed up chicken will be an amazing main course on Valentine’s Day. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t liked Bruschetta Chicken when we’ve served it. Photo and recipe from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken  breast halves – cubed

1 teaspoon salt

1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 (6 ounce) box chicken-flavored dry

bread stuffing mix

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Toss the cubed chicken with the salt in a large bowl. Place the chicken in a layer into the bottom of the baking dish. Stir together tomatoes, water, garlic, and stuffing mix in a large bowl; set aside to soften. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken, then sprinkle with the Italian seasoning. Spread the softened stuffing mixture on top.

ake uncovered until the chicken cubes have turned white and are no longer pink in the center, about 30 minutes.

Don’t forget about dessert:

Chocolate Covered Strawberrieschocolate-covered-strawberries.jpg

Chocolate covered strawberries are a must at any Valentine’s Day dinner. These are really easy to make, and if you’d like to add a drizzle of white chocolate after they’ve set, they’ll be even better. Photo and recipe from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients:

16 ounces Ghirardelli chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves
 

Directions

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.

Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.

Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpick into styrofoam for the chocolate to cool.

I can’t wait for Valentine’s Day dinner this year! If you have any special Valentine’s Day recipes, be sure to share in the comments. Here are some of my favourite small kitchen appliances I put to use every special holiday:

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Melted chocolate made easy, thanks to a double broiler
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Hot red is the best colour for Valentine’s Day, so spice up your casserole dish.
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You’ll feel like a professional chef with a ceramic fry pan