5 Killer Ideas for Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home
Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year. That leaves plenty of time for prepping and cooking a killer dinner at home. Lots of people go out, but it’s the perfect time to do up an exceptional Valentine’s Day dinner at home.
It’s probably better to treat yourself to a night out some time after the big Valentine’s Day rush. You’ll have a more relaxing and enjoyable evening when the restaurants are less crowded.
That being said, we all want Valentine’s Day to be really special. This is when we want to dust off our most impressive cooking skills and make something extraordinary. Below are my five best ideas for making an at-home date night really memorable.
Something on a Half Shell
Serving seafood on the shell that it lived in makes the eating experience seem so special in my opinion.
Oysters are touted as an aphrodisiac by some, making them a more likely choice than not for Valentine’s Day dinner. I’ve gotten some pretty fantastic raw oysters from Whole Foods Market before. They are a little challenging to shuck, so I’d advise studying up on how to do it. It’s probably also worth getting yourself an oyster knife if you don’t have something that can work. And if you’re anything like me, a pair of steel mesh gloves might also come in handy. (I joke, sorta.)
If you’re not so keen on the idea of raw seafood at home, one of my favorite ways to enjoy seafood on the half shell is to make mussels. Mussels on the Half Shell with Ravigote Sauce is one recipe that is actually both Rob- and Cooper-approved, surprisingly enough. Despite the raw onions in the special sauce, Cooper slurped up 3 of these delicious morsels one night at dinner time.
Clams Casino is another popular recipe for seafood on the half shell. In this recipe, succulent clams are cooked with a variety of flavor-enhancing veggies and seasonings.
Since seafood cooks up so quickly, it won’t cost you a lot of time to make something special on a half shell for Valentine’s Day dinner at home
Roll Your Own Sushi
Rolling your own sushi is a great way to spend time together and eat something special for Valentine’s Day dinner at home.
If you’re concerned about the safety of raw fish and don’t want to take a chance, there are some options. Some of my favorite rolls are actually made with cooked ingredients:
- Shrimp Tempura Roll—made with fried shrimp
- Cured Salmon can stand in for fresh in rolls that contain lots of other flavors, like the Philly Roll or Spicy Salmon Roll
- California Rolls are made with cooked crabmeat
So even if it freaks you out to think about working with raw fish at home, there are several options and sushi recipes with cooked ingredients to get you past it.
Making sushi is an art, and it requires a little bit of knowledge to do it well. Check out this step by step tutorial from PBS on making sushi at home. It’s typically helpful to have some traditional sushi-making tools, but I did find one tutorial for rolling sushi without a mat.
I really like the idea of making sushi for an at-home date night, because all the time you spend in the kitchen is time spent with your date. That’s what I call bonding time!
In the Williams Family, we like any good reason to fire up the smoker. I know it’s the middle of February and it’s cold outside, but the good thing about using a smoker is that it doesn’t have to be constantly tended.
One of our favorite pieces of protein to throw over the coals is Baby Back Ribs. It’s such a special treat, and they turn out restaurant-quality on the smoker. Plus, they generally take less time to smoke than bigger cuts of meat like pork shoulder or brisket.
If you choose to smoke up some ribs or something else delicious, you’ll have plenty of time to pick out some superb sides to spend your time making. How about a homemade loaf of Jalapeño Cheddar Bread? (My favorite!)
Small Plate Date Night
I’m in love with the idea of doing regular tapas and/or small plate date nights at home. I’ve been doing a ton of research on different small plates to make for two. I’ve even started developing some of my own.
Tapas are traditionally of Spanish nature, and really delicious. But it’s really the small plate concept that is catching on lately (especially with me). There’s something awesome about being able to try more than one thing on the menu without becoming completely over-stuffed with food.
I typically pick one or two dishes that require a moderate amount of attention to prepare, and then fill in with a few mindless, but tasty, treats. For example, I might pick beef medallions and a tasty potato croquette as my attention-grabbers, and then pick up some marinated olives, two or three varieties of cheese, and some crudite with hummus to fill in the gaps. A toasted and sliced baguette with seasoned dipping oil is also super easy and pleasing to the senses.
If you want some more ideas for small plates, check out my recent article, 101 Small Plate Ideas to Make at Home. I’ve organized them by level of involvement, so it’s easy to create a special menu that won’t be overwhelming to prepare.
Make Your House a Steakhouse
Every week when we do our grocery shopping, I usually spot at least 2 succulent looking cuts of steak in the meat case that I would just love to try. Filets and ribeyes are usually the steaks that make my mouth water.
Usually, they are also the most spendy cuts of meat. When I see those prices in the meat case at the store, I understand why a steak dinner on the town is always such an extravagant expenditure.
Depending on where you live, it might be too cold to think about going out and tending steaks on a grill. But if you make something like Blue-Cheese-Stuffed Filets, you can cook in the comfort and warmth of your own kitchen. I just drooled a little bit saying Blue-Cheese-Stuffed Filets. Wow.
If you’re cooking Valentine’s Day dinner at home this year, I’d love to hear what you’re planning to serve. And if you end up going out the the big date this year, pick another weekend to treat your honey to something really special at home.
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