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Monday, 09 February 2009

What better time than Valentine's Day to tell your woman how much you love her?  Should you wine and dine her?  Absolutely! 

Nothing shows a woman that you care more than carefully planning a great evening. However, if you really want to impress her and secure your place forever in her heart, you will astonish her if you prepare a meal for her instead of taking her out to dinner.  It's really a very simple thing.  And let's face it, a money saver as well.  We'll lead you through the process, from what kind of wine to buy to a scrumptious homemade dessert.  But Shh, don't let on that you had a little help from your friends!

OK, let's begin.  You have no idea what to do!  You're no Julia Child in the kitchen... In fact, you aren't exactly a wine connoisseur either...  But hey, you want to pull off the "greatest dinner ever."  And that's exactly what we are going to help you do!   Do you need to tell your woman you are doing this?  No, but it would be a good idea to let her know you are making

Valentine's Day plans. That way, she will be expecting something, and won't make reservations somewhere herself.  (We tend to do that!) 

Here's the menu we have planned to wow her, and the steps you will need to follow to pull off this "evening to remember":

Chilled Pinot Noir

Porterhouse Steaks with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

Healthy French-Fried Potato Wedges

Mixed Greens Salad

Easy Lemon Ice Cream Pie

Coffee/Tea

• Devise a plan. You'll first have to know when you plan to serve your feast, so you aren't heading to the supermarket 10 minutes before she's starving to death.  If you have young kids, you may wish to have them in bed before you sit down to an intimate dinner for just the two of you for a change, so plan for the meal after they are in bed.  If this isn't a possibility, then buy enough for everyone.  If you don't have this concern, let her know you are going to need free reign in the kitchen, and it will be off-limits to her for a while.  She'll love it.

• Set the table ahead of time. Don't be afraid to get creative.  You can eat at the dining room table, the kitchen table, or set up a small table like a card table somewhere else in the house- maybe in front of the fireplace. 

• Use the fancy dinnerware.  Use cloth napkins.  If you don't have cloth napkins, allow yourself time to go to the dollar store to pick these up when you go to the supermarket.  Nothing says "special" like the little things!If you have good crystal, serving utensils, etc., plan on using these, too.  If you have none of the above, just make sure everything matches!  But go for the cloth napkins.   Don't forget the candles, too.  More important...don't forget to light them!

• Check to see what you have at home before you buy anything.  No need to buy a bottle of Worcestershire sauce if there's already one in the refrigerator.  It's not like it gets a heavy workout.  Use Our Shopping list.  All of the ingredients and directions are at your fingertips with our handy Valentine's Day Shopping list!

• Make sure you allow enough time to hit all the areas in the supermarket without rushing. Plan on heading to the store a couple of hours before you intend to eat.  This allows a little breathing room, and time for the wine to come to the right temperature.  Nowadays, we can do "one stop shopping" almost anywhere. 

It's easy to pick up the makings for a delicious meal, wine, and flowers all in the same place. Here's what you will need:

1. Get yourself a good bottle of Pinot Noir wine. How good?  Well, it doesn't have to cost $50, but pass on the $6.99 bottle.  If you plan on having a glass ahead of dinner and one with dinner, you may want to grab 2 bottles.

2. Using the list you've prepared based on what you need and what you already have, navigate the supermarket, hitting the floral section last.  You should call in the flower order ahead of time - 3 or 4 days.  While most floral departments have gorgeous flowers available all the time, we are talking Valentine's Day here after all.  They don't have to be roses!  But make them very pretty.

• Now you simply head home, and get things going.  Make the dessert first.  It's simple to make, but does need time to chill.

• Make your salad.  We recommend using a bin/bag of mixed, pre-washed lettuce.  Easy, and you can then add cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. based on how much time you have and personal preferences.  Don't forget to have both of your favorite salad dressings on hand, too.  Stick the prepared salad in the refrigerator, and don't add the dressing until you're ready to serve.  Nothing worse than soggy salad!

• Set up the coffee pot.  Hit the brew switch when clearing the table from the main course.  If she likes tea, set up for this now also.

• Prepare the potatoes.  These are also easy to prepare, but need about 35 minutes to bake.  If you only have one oven like most of us, these can sit after they've baked while you change the oven to broil and put the steaks in.

• Stick the wine in the refrigerator.  Good red wine tastes best just slightly chilled, maybe for 20-30 minutes before serving. 

• While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the sauce for the steaks.  Set aside and broil/grill the steaks.

• Once the steaks are done to your satisfaction, remove them from oven, switch the control back to about 300 degrees, and stick the potatoes back in for a few.  Good steaks should sit a minute or two before cut, and this allows enough time for the potatoes to heat up again.

• Pour the wine, place the steak/sauce on serving plates, and add the potato wedges.  Serve the salad on the side.

• Don't forget the flowers!  Make sure they are in a vase in the center of the table.  A little soft jazz would be nice, too.

Now you should be able to pull off a perfect Valentine's Day dinner, even if you've never cooked a thing in your life.  Enjoy the evening, and enjoy all the attention, too!  Bon appetit!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day menus, recipes and shopping list can be found at: http://www.dinnerplanner.com/valentines_dinner.htm

Melissa Good is co-owner of Meal Planning Made Easy a web-based dinnerplanning service. For a low fee, subscribers receive 3 full months worth of menus, recipes, color-coded shopping lists, dinner reviews, and more. Never have to think up new dinner ideas again!

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:47 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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