On a budget this year? No judgment—who isn’t? A great way to save money after Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and various other expenses is staying in for the next big event: Valentine’s Day. But staying in does not have to mean staying casual. There are plenty of ways to do the biggest couple’s day of the year right while not spending extravagantly on a prix fixe dinner. We will give you ideas for an easy (!) five-course menu to make at home. Cooking together and eating over candlelight is also a fun activity that will bring you closer, and is definitely a step above ordering in and watching a movie.
First Course: Bread
The best thing about going out to eat at a restaurant is a piping-hot bread basket arriving at your table. Why not grab your favorite crusty baguette or semolina and heat it up for a few minutes in the oven before slicing it?
Second Course: Appetizers
My personal favorite appetizer includes something sweet to start off the meal, and to balance all the savory foods to come later. This particular appetizer combines a sweet date with a meaty, umami bacon and salty bleu cheese to make an amazing combination. Bonus- the oven temp is the same in this course and the main course, so you can cook both at once!
Serves 2 (with leftovers!)
¼ lb bacon
¼ lb dates
1 oz bleu cheese
Preheat oven to 375F. Slice dates in half. Stuff with blue cheese. Close dates and wrap with a half slice of bacon. Secure with toothpick. Arrange on baking sheet and bake until bacon is crispy. Turn dates over halfway through (around 15-20 minutes.)
Third Course: Salad
You can switch up the second and the third courses, but I prefer to eat a heartier appetizer and follow it up with a light salad. This cleanses the palate before the main dish, and settles you in for what’s to come! This salad includes arugula, pear and a light vinaigrette; not too heavy but allows the flavors of the other courses to blend nicely.
Pear Arugula Salad
3 oz arugula
1 pear of your choice
leftover blue cheese from appetizer (optional)
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
¼ cup olive oil
salt to taste
Combine juices, olive oil and salt to make vinaigrette. Add arugula to bowl. Top with pear and blue cheese and dress.
Fourth Course: Main Dish
My recommendation for the main course is a fish dish—as there are five courses, you may want to eat something lighter in weight so that you are fully able to enjoy all parts of the meal. This recipe for a marinated baked salmon is quick and easy for even the most amateur cook.
Easy Baked Salmon
Mix all ingredients besides salmon together in shallow baking dish to make marinade. Place salmon in and marinate for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Serve with wilted greens.
Fifth Course: Dessert
What is better than getting served a gorgeous-looking dessert at the end of a long meal? Even if you’re not hungry anymore, just taking a bite of something sweet (and preferably chocolate-y) is something to look forward to. This recipe is made in MINUTES (seriously!) and when put in a cute little dish, looks just as good as something you would pay ten dollars for.
Microwave Chocolate Cake
¼ cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp confectioner’s sugar
¼ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Whisk egg, sugar, salt, 2 tbsp cocoa, butter, vegetable oil, and vanilla together. Whisk in milk. Whisk dry ingredients together and combine. Divide batter evenly between two small cups or dishes. Gently tap to eliminate air bubbles. Place cups in microwave one at a time for 45 seconds. Remove and let cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder. Top with vanilla ice cream.
Grab a bottle of wine and enjoy!
All recipes derived from allrecipes.com; photos from Google Images.