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Planning for Valentine’s Day

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I know many people make reservations and go out to celebrate Valentine’s Day. To me, the crowded restaurants, rushed service and the push to turn over the table make for a less than pleasant experience. We prefer to stay home and have far better food at a fraction of the cost. From celebrations past, some ideas to have an in house dinner with minimal fuss (unless you want to cook, like I do).

My personal favorite. Chocolate and wine.

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Last year we shared a Biale Zinfandel and dark chocolate with chili. This was after a fairly simple dinner. Salad with a fruit based vinaigrette. You can pick all of the ingredients up at Roots or Harris Teeter or Wegmans, including a good cheese, and baby beets. Or, whatever you like. Romantic looking, isn’t it? This was local cheese and butter lettuce from Mock’s. We bought the cheese and the lettuce at the Silver Spring farmer’s market, but you can get something just as nice in the stores mentioned above.

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Dinner could be simple, or more complicated. I usually pan sear some sort of steak or lamb. This year I will be doing rack of lamb, picked up at Boarman’s, but you could just get a couple of petit filets and get them done fairly quickly. Here is the plate from our anniversary of lamb shops and potatoes. Fast, not that hard, and so good. Seared in a hot pan, then transferred in the pan to the oven to finish.

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Or, pick up a few crab cakes at Boarman’s. And, a few stuffing mushrooms. This recipe is easy to do as well.

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Take the stems out of the mushrooms. Spread a little Dijon mustard in them. Use two large mushrooms per crab cake. Drizzle with a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed. Sprinkle Old Bay on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, until brown.

You can serve these with small potatoes like the ones above in the anniversary dinner picture. Boil them in salted water for 15 minutes, or nuke them (I still occasionally nuke potatoes even though they don’t come out as nice as boiling and finishing in a pan or the oven).

We almost always stay home for major events and anniversaries, and indulge in fancier foods and really nice wines. There are lots of places around here to also pick up good already made foods. Really good sushi, maybe. Or, shrimp steamed to your specifications.

We like putting music on, maybe satellite radio or a CD. Light a few candles. Share a split of sparkling wine, or open an old red wine. Break out the good napkins and just do nothing but cook, relax and enjoy an evening with food, wine and music we chose.

Think about getting something to serve at home, even if it is something already prepared. But, you can make it simple. It is really nice to put together that salad, pop the crab cakes in the oven, and then savor that chocolate with a glass of wine.


About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

4 responses »

  1. Totally on the same page. My girlfriend and I made it a tradition to make a nice meal at home rather than dealing with restaurants. Cheers.

  2. The only thing missing is a good loaf of bread with a crackly crust.

    One of my good friends was born on December 31st. When we got old enough to want to go out for dinners, we quickly realized that holidays are just not good times to go out. Mediocre food pushed on us too quickly, rushed service, etc. Your idea is far superior. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef, a home roasted chicken, some baked potatoes or oven roasted veggies cooked while the chicken rests, so may ideas that will be much tastier than what you’ll get at a restaurant. Go to a good wine store and get a good recommendation if you don’t have something at home. A night to remember (in a good way)

  3. Love staying home on the commercial and busy holidays. So much more relaxing and the food is so much better.

  4. Thank you for extolling the benefits of staying in and cooking meals and enjoying them with your loved ones(s). Holiday or not, it truly is much better than anything that can be experienced elsewhere.


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