Valentine's Day is one of the year's busiest restaurant days. It may seem romantic to take your Valentine out for a nice dinner, but many people find that once they get in the restaurant, it’s crowded, the servers are in a big hurry to turn over tables, and the menu prices have been inflated because of the holiday. It’s not that way in all restaurants, but it is that way in many.
More and more people are choosing to stay home and cook special recipes on Valentine’s Day. In addition to avoiding the craziness of the restaurants, it’s a lot less expensive. And, cooking together can be a very romantic activity.
Here are seven Valentine’s Day recipes that you and your Valentine can cook together. You can mix and match from each category to create a menu that suits your personal tastes.
Herbed Ricotta with Roasted Peppers (vegetarian) – Here’s a great appetizer to have set out in the kitchen to nibble on while you and your Valentine are cooking together. Red and yellow peppers are roasted, cut into strips, and wrapped around an herbed ricotta. Spread the delicious mixture on crusty bread. This can be made ahead, refrigerated, and brought to room temperature before serving.
Spicy Spinach Crab Cups – Wonton wrappers are used as shells in a mini cupcake pan, then filled with a mixture of crab, spinach, spices and cheese. They bake quickly in 8-12 minutes, but they can also be served at room temperature if your date arrives a little late.
Red Wine Spaghetti with Walnuts and Parsley (vegetarian) – Valentine’s Day falls on a weeknight this year, and if you’re celebrating on the exact day, you might not have a lot of time to cook dinner. This recipe is quick, but special enough for a romantic meal. Three cups of red wine are added to the water for the pasta to cook in. It’s topped with garlic, walnuts, parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. You won’t have to wonder what wine will go with this dish. Just serve the same wine you chose to cook with, and you’ve got a winner.
Marmalade Chicken for Two – Orange marmalade, orange zest, and Dijon mustard flavor chicken tenders for this light and simple main dish. The recipe could easily be doubled if you’re dining with another couple on Valentine’s Day.
Smothered Filet Mignon – Marinated steaks are smothered in caramelized onions and blue cheese. It’s meant to be done on the grill, but if it’s too cold to grill on Valentine’s Day, the steaks could be done in the broiler or on top of the stove in a grill pan.
Irish Crème Brulee – There’s a reason you see crème brulee on the dessert menus in many fine restaurants. It’s a classic, decadent dessert that many people don’t think to make at home. This recipe takes the classic vanilla crème brulee recipe and adds Irish cream liqueur to it. One of the things that makes this a perfect Valentine’s dessert is that it can be made hours ahead. You just need to put the finishing touches on it with a kitchen torch right before serving.
Warm Chocolate and Caramel Cakes – Individual chocolate cakes (made with coffee) are cooked inside ramekins that have caramel sauce spooned in them before pouring in the cake batter. The caramel sauce with bubble up the sides, letting everyone know what gooey delight awaits them at the bottom of the dessert.
Got other ideas for Valentine's Day recipes? Leave us a note in the comments below.