Livin' La Vida Lucia

Three Course Meal for Two on One Special Day

Romantic Recipes for a Relaxing Valentine’s Day

By Lucia Rossi

Valentine’s Day is upon us once again! It’s the day of love, filled with flowers, chocolates, and cards. It’s also when restaurants are completely packed and prices are bumped up.

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Don’t worry. Your romantic day with your valentine doesn’t have to revolve around all the consumerism. You can make your own little cozy café in your own home!

Make this holiday about each other and try cooking together. That way, not all the stress is on one person, and you can enjoy the experience of all the fun preparation. If you would rather go it alone, a sweet three course meal makes for a lovely surprise.

A complimenting setting and mood should accompany the meal. Pick a comfortable spot to set up like in your kitchen, dining room, or even outside. Set up some candles, slow music, fancy china and silverware, and sprinkle some rose petals around as well as a vase arrangement centerpiece. You should also take the opportunity to dress up, so you look ready for a loving and maybe sexy experience. Take this dinner as time to cut yourselves off from everyone else, physically and electronically. So no phones or television or other guests. Remember, this is your special time for each other so focus.

After some research, I’ve come up with special options that will work best for those who cook on a beginner level and don’t want to spend too many hours in the kitchen. I’ve picked out different options for appetizers entrees with side dishes, desserts, and of course cocktails.

If you plan on heating things up in the bedroom, I would suggest getting desserts and cocktails after so that way you’re not so tired and ready for action.

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Appetizers or finger foods are a smooth way to really connect to each other and interact with your food. You can start out with a simple fruit salad. Create your own rose bowl by lining thin slices of strawberries and cucumbers in a swirl, or share a bowl of your favorite red fruits like cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. You can pair any fruit salad with easy to make dip. Mix one 8 oz. package of cream cheese with one 7 oz. jar of marshmallow crème.

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You can also take a classic Caesar salad and turn it into a modern finger food by wrapping small portions into spring rolls. All you have to do is roll a bit of the salad in rice paper or spring roll wrappers, and dip it in the dressing.

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If you love carbs, cheese, and garlic then Crack Bread is for you. Seriously, it’s called Crack bread because that’s how addicting it is. It’s a pull-apart bread recipe and makes for a delicious appetizer. All you do is take a loaf of sourdough bread, and cut it into diamonds but not all the way through. You just want big slits in it. Then you’re going to drop in a teaspoon of garlic butter and mozzarella cheese between the cracks. The garlic butter should consist of 3.5 oz. unsalted butter, 2 minced garlic cloves, ¾ tsp of salt, and tbsp of fresh chopped parsley. Wrap the bread in aluminum foil, and bake it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. You can throw on some heart shaped pepperoni slices if desired.

Picking an entrée is all about the meat, be sure to consider what your valentine likes and what your budget allows. Do you both like shrimp, scallops, lamb chops, salmon, steak, filet mignon or chicken? You have so many options, and you can make it fancy while the recipes are really simple.

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For shrimp scampi, dry the shrimp with paper towel and season them with salt and pepper. Then add 2 tbsp of butter to a skillet, and cook the shrimp for about a minute. After this, add 2 tsp of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Then, flip them over and cook for another two minutes. You can then remove the shrimp and pour in ¼ cup of dry vermouth with 1 tbsp of lemon juice and ¼ tsp of lemon zest and 2 tsp of freshly chopped parsley. Then pour the sauce over the shrimp and you’re done!

seared scallops with parsley

The same sauce can also be applied to seared scallops, except 2 tbsp of finely diced shallots can be added. You should dry the scallops before placing them on the frying pan. Then melt 1 tbsp of unsalted butter with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in the pan. Fry the scallops on one side for about 2-4 minutes each. Then, add salt and pepper for taste, and a good squeeze of lemon on top. Keep in mind that scallops are just as much an aphrodisiac as oysters!

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Cooking lamb chops may not be as intimidating as you think. Preheat a hot grill and set your oven to 400 degrees. Rub the chops in extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, lemon, salt and pepper. Grill them on each side for about 4 minutes each, and then bake them in the oven for about 5 minutes.

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The same idea can be applied to filet mignon as well. Set your oven to broil, and rub down your steaks with olive oil. Sprinkle on some salt, pepper and onion powder. If you would like to get adventurous, wrap one slice of bacon around each steak secure with a toothpick. Everything’s better with bacon. Broil them on one side for 5-7 minutes, then add about 2 tbsp minced shallots. After, flip them over and broil for another 5-7 minutes.

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Salmon can be just as simple. Mix 1 tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tbsp dried basil, and ½ tsp of salt together and rub it all over the fillets. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a skillet and cook the salmon on it for about 5 minutes on each side. Then serve it with a lemon wedge for a garnish. You can spice up the recipe by adding an interesting flavored sauce, glaze, dressing, or seasoning like teriyaki or balsamic.

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When it comes to chicken, you can spatchcook it. Spatchcock is basically flattening the chicken. First, use kitchen shears to cut alongside the backbone to remove it. Then, turn the two sides over and press down as hard as you can on the breast to flatten it. You can season how it how you like, or with a tbsp. of olive oil with 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp curry powder, and ½ tsp of paprika. Then smear it all over the chicken, and lay it down in a knock-kneed position. Have your oven preheated at 450 degrees and cook for about 35-40 minutes. When done, let it sit for at least 10 minutes so it can absorb all the delicious juices.

Your side dishes shouldn’t require too much effort either. If you love pasta, spaghetti can get messy so maybe go for penne or rigatoni instead. Instead of the messy tomato sauce, try a carbonara recipe so there’s a better chance of keeping your nice clothes clean.

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If that ends up being too much effort, perhaps easy roasted vegetables is a good choice for you. Use whatever vegetables you like, such as Yukon potatoes, red peppers, onions, asparagus, brussel sprouts, squash etc. Then cut them up in cubes, wedges, or slices. Mix them up with olive oil, some minced garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange them on a non-stick baking tray and place them in the oven at 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, the flip them, and bake for another 20 minutes or so.

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If you love sweet potatoes or just potatoes in general, hasselback style is the way to go for a romantic evening. Hasselback is the Swedish style of cooking potatoes. It’s all about the way it is cut. You cut the potato at about 1/8 inch intervals and at about two thirds of the way down. Mix together 1 tbsp of unsalted butter, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp of freshly chopped thyme, 1 finely grated garlic clove, and of course some salt and pepper. Rub this mix all over the potatoes gently getting in between the slices. Then roast the potatoes in a 425 degree preheated oven for about an hour in aluminum foil. In the middle of their baking time, carefully run a fork across the slices to fan them out. Feel free to add cheese, sour cream, yogurt, chives, scallions, or whatever you like.

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If you want a protein filled side that’s quick and healthy, try making some herbed quinoa. Add 2 ¾ cup of low sodium chicken stock to a medium saucepan and add ¼ cup of lemon juice and 1 ½ cups of quinoa. When it boils, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed which should take about 15 minutes. For your dressing, mix together /4 cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley, 1 tbsp of thyme, 2 tsp of lemon zest, and a dash of salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the quinoa and toss it until everything is covered.

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Now for the most anticipated part of the meal, dessert. This is especially fun on Valentine’s Day because everything can be chocolate and heart shaped. Sure you can do some typical cupcakes and cookies but let’s get a little more saucy. Chocolate fondue is perfect for this holiday, it’s delicious and the symbol of romance. All you have to do is melt 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, 2 tbsp of butter, one 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 tbsp of water and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Cook and stir this in a saucepan until it’s thick and there are no streaks. This should take about 5 minutes. You can then dip so many things in it like, cake cubes, cherries, orange slices, melon balls, pineapple chunks, strawberries, peach chunks, kiwi slices, pretzels and marshmallows.

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If you love chocolate cake but don’t want to go through the hassle of baking or buying a cake get out the most romantic mugs you can find. Mug cakes are ridiculously easy to make and are super quick. All you do is mix 1 egg, ¼ cup of powdered sugar, and 1 or 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in the mug and microwave it for about 55-90 seconds. Then top it with a scoop of ice cream, sprinkles, or fudge. Voila!

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I’m a total sucker for truffles, it’s my kryptonite. That and lava cake anyway. Get a large bowl and beat one 8 oz. package of cream cheese. Then, gradually add 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar until it is completely mixed in. Melt 3 cups of semisweet chocolate chips slowly in the microwave or in a saucepan and pour it in. Then, add 1 ½ tsp of vanilla and stir it well. Let it cool in the fridge for an hour and roll them into one inch truffle balls. Cover them in whatever you like, such as cocoa powder, walnuts, coconut flakes, powdered sugar, or sprinkles. You can even add liqueur or another flavor to instead of vanilla like coffee or almond.

This is a day to celebrate so we can’t forget the cocktails. I found recipes for 8 pink to red toned drinks that are perfect for the occasion.

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail

-2 ounces Pomegranate liqueur

-Brut Champagne or sparkling wine

-Lemon peel for garnish

Grapefruit Mimosas

-8 ruby red grapefruit juice

-1 bottle of Prosecco, chilled

Hibiscus Sparkling Wine

-1 Jar Hibiscus flowers in syrup

-Sparkling wine

Blood Orange Rosemary Screwdriver

-4 oz. vodka

-12 oz. blood orange juice

-Sprig of Rosemary for a garnish

Negroni

-1 oz. gin

-1 oz. sweet vermouth

-Orange twist for a garnish

Grapefruit-Elderflower Sparkler

-1 ½ oz. grapefruit juice

-1 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

-Rose Brut Champagne or sparkling wine

-Grapefruit twist for a garnish

Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

-1 oz. vodka

-4 ½ oz. cranberry juice

-Dash of Rose’s lime

-Dash of orange juice

Tinto de Verano

-Red wine

-Lemon lime soda

-Can be made less sweet with sparkling water

-Lemon wedge for garnish

Have fun cooking for your sweetheart on this lovely holiday!

 

 

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