Valentine's Day Dinner at Home: Our How-To Guide
Cupid’s favorite day is just around the corner, and we’re here to help make this year’s Valentine’s Day one that’s sure to impress. With the gifts taken care of, thanks to last week’s gift guide, we’re giving you all of the goods on how to whip up a restaurant-worthy experience from the comfort of your own home. While we love a good meal out, we’ve never been fans of the Valentine’s Day dinner scene. Restaurants serve up over-priced, cheesy prix-fixe menus and with social distancing guidelines still in effect, there’s no better way to woo your loved one than with a thoughtful and romantic evening in. There’s no greater expression of love than taking the time and effort to cook for someone, and we’re making it easy with these delicious yet easy-to-master recipes and cocktails. So cue up the Netflix or your favorite Spotify playlist, dim the lights, and treat your Valentine to a night they’ll never forget.
The Legendary Engagement Chicken:
In 2004 Glamour posted a story that has since become infamous among its readers: The Engagement Chicken. The legend told of a time back in 1982 when an assistant was given a recipe for an unforgettably delicious roast chicken. The assistant cooked the recipe for her boyfriend, who proposed within the month. The assistant then passed the recipe to three more of her colleagues who also received engagement rings after whipping up the legendary bird. Though the story has no doubt become exaggerated and there were likely major outliers that led to the engagements, the recipe was published in 2004 and the story of the “Engagement Chicken” lived on. If this recipe is good enough to get a ring, just imagine how impressive it will be on Valentine’s Day. Even better, it’s inexpensive and easy to master.
Recipe (posted from Glamour Magazine):
- 1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons—including 1 sliced for garnish
- 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley)
- Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack and pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.
- Prick 2 whole lemons three times each in three different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that's fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)
- Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast- side up. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh, and return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Continue roasting if necessary. Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.
- Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken. Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.
A hearty and comforting meal that’s perfect for a cozy night in, this rich pasta dish is an easy to make meal that will allow you to bring the romance of an Italian bistro straight to your home. For extra points, throw on an accompanying Spotify playlist or make it a dinner and a themed movie night (might we recommend Lady and the Tramp for super romantic vibes). Though the recipe takes hours to fully develop the flavors, the actual cooking time is short, giving you time to relax with your Valentine while the rich flavors of the bolognese sauce fill your kitchen.
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 lb. ground beef (or ground beef substitute for a meatless option.)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 c. chicken or beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 c. milk (whole)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley for garnish
- 1 pack of dried spaghetti
- In a large pan or dutch oven heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in beef and garlic, breaking up meat with back of a spoon. Cook until no longer pink and slightly browned.
- Add wine, and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook until wine is mostly reduced. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, and bay leaf, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Discard bay leaf, then gradually stir in milk. Cover with a lid slightly ajar and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with pasta. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Pan-Seared Salmon and Roasted Potatoes:
For a lighter option, opt for a delicious and quick seared salmon. The secret is a super hot pan to get the skin restaurant-quality crispy. Pair it with dry white wine and crunchy potatoes for a perfectly balanced dinner option. Super quick and easy to make, this is sure to also become one of your favorite weeknight staples.
- 2 salmon fillets with skin on (6-oz portions are ideal for cooking)
- 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh Lemon
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Pat the salmon filets with a paper towel to remove moisture (this is an important step for the perfect crispy skin) and season with salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a cast iron, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until the oil hot and shimmering.
- Cook the salmon, skin side up for about 3 minutes. Do not touch or move the fish filets as they cook, this is key for the perfect texture and crust.
- Flip the fillets and reduce the heat to low to medium heat. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes more then transfer to the oven for 3-4 more minutes until cooked through. Top with lemon wedges for garnish.
Roasted Potato Recipe:
- 1.5 points of baby potatoes
- 3 large cloves of garlic, cracked with skin removed
- 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Cut potatoes in half and combine with garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper
- Roast potatoes until cooked through. We like our potatoes extra crispy, so we usually roast them for about 35 minutes, but for softer, more tender potatoes roast for about 20 minutes.
Vanilla Fig Old Fashioned
Our love for old-fashioneds cannot be exaggerated. For us, there’s nothing better than the time-honored mixture of sugar, bitters, whiskey, and orange. It’s a drink that not only makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Man Men, but it’s a fail-safe classic that screams sophistication and tastes like heaven. For a romantic take on this classic, we’re pairing fresh figs and warm vanilla to infuse the bourbon and give a new, yet respectful twist on our favorite cocktail staple.
To infuse the bourbon simply steep about a cup of dried figs (cut into pieces) and two split vanilla beans in a sealed container with a fifth of your favorite bourbon for about two weeks.
- 1/2 fresh fig
- 1 orange wedge
- 3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 oz of your fig infused bourbon
- 1/2 fresh fig and small wedge of fresh orange for garnish
Add the fresh fig and the orange wedge to the bottom of your glass and muddle. Once the fruit is broken up, add the balsamic vinegar and the fig infused bourbon. Top with ice and stir well before straining into a chilled rocks glass. Add additional ice and garnish.
Cranberry & Sage Sparkling White Sangria
If your Valentine isn’t up for hard liquor, opt for a refreshing seasonal sangria. Get more cuddle time by making a big batch ahead of the dinner, so you don’t have to worry about shaking up cocktails throughout the night. With red colors from the cranberries, it’s a perfect fit for the holiday, while a dash of sage takes the flavors up to celebrity chef status. It’s not only easy to make, but it’s sure to impress.
- 2 apples (we love Granny Smith for their tart flavor), chopped into about half-inch pieces
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries
- 1 bottle of white wine, opt for a Savignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, rather than a Chardonnay.
- ½ cup of white grape juice
- 4 cup of granulate
- 1 can of club soda
- 3 large sage leaves
Combine all of the ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl and mix until the sugar is fully dissolved. Chill until cold. Serve over ice.
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