Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’m feeling the love.  Our house is decorated with everything red and pink, I’ve picked out the perfect Valentine for my sweethearts (yes, I’m including the dog 😊), and we have a wonderful menu planned.  A lot of people like to go out to eat on Valentine’s Day and there is nothing wrong with that, but we usually opt to stay in and prepare a nice meal together.  It takes away from the rushed atmosphere you often feel at a restaurant on a busy day and allows you to really spend time together and do something fun together.  We both love to cook so it’s the perfect option for us!   

The menu we prepared has a few new items, but everything is easy to make.  We’ll start with a Caprese Salad appetizer and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make the food fit the occasion.  Simply buy fresh mozzarella, 1-2 tomatoes, and basil.  Slice the mozzarella and tomato, then use the cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes.  Line the 3 items on a plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  It’s a light and refreshing appetizer and doesn’t fill you up so you can still enjoy the main course. 

Our main course will consist of Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Bruschetta Chicken, and Parmesan Garlic Hearts (aka Parmesan Garlic Knots).  Neither of us has ever made Brussel Sprouts before but both enjoy them whenever we have them elsewhere, so we thought they would be fun to try.  They will be tender and nicely browned from baking and have a sweet yet tangy taste from the balsamic vinegar and honey. 

The recipe can be found here.

Bruschetta Chicken is a new recipe to us.  Bruschetta is another light and refreshing food that can be used as an appetizer but also works well as a topping on chicken.  We are going to make homemade Bruschetta because it will have great flavor from the fresh ingredients, but you can always purchase store-bought if you prefer.  The reasons we like this recipe are 1) it’s simple yet tastes AMAZING, and 2) you usually have leftover Bruschetta, so you can enjoy it again the next day 😊

The recipe can be found here.

I love bread, so I can’t prepare a special meal without some type of bread option available.  For Valentine’s Day we are going to make Parmesan Garlic Hearts.  We will take a recipe for knotted bread sticks and twist them to look like hearts before baking.  We’ve made these before, just not the “heart” version, and they are delicious.  They have great garlic flavor and are a bit salty and hold up well if you have leftovers. 

The recipe can be found here.

The final course of the night is dessert.  In my opinion dessert should be served first but then I’d fill up on sweets and never eat anything else!  Since I must wait until the end of the meal (for the best part of the meal) I like to have multiple options.  We are going to make Chocolate Covered Strawberries and a Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries are very easy to make and I’m sure I’ve discussed them in previous blogs because you really can make them for any occasion.  Simply change the color of the dipping chocolate and they fit every holiday or celebration.  Start by rinsing and drying a carton of strawberries.  Melt chocolate in the microwave or over the stove, being careful not to burn the chocolate.  Dip each strawberry in the chocolate to coat all sides and lay on a baking sheet so the chocolate can harden.  If you are feeling ambitious you can melt a second color of chocolate and drizzle over the strawberries or coat with sprinkles.  Festival Foods offers a store-bought option around Valentine’s Day, so you can always go that route.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with this dessert!

I’ve make Bundt cakes before but never a Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake.  Because I love desserts I had to do a trial run of this recipe.  I can’t ruin Valentine’s Day desserts, so I needed to make sure it was the perfect option.  The cake was very dense and moist with the perfect amount of tartness from the raspberry filling.  The cake turned out wonderfully, so we will be making it again for our Valentine’s Day menu. 

The recipe can be found here.

If you don’t want to make your own dessert, many store-bought items are available at your local Festival Foods.  As mentioned above you can find Chocolate Covered Strawberries in addition to brownies, Curly Cakes, Mini Sweetheart Cakes, Cream Puffs, assorted chocolates, and more.  Add some of those little Conversation Heart candies or heart-shaped gummy candies and you are set! 

After dinner we think it will be fun to make a themed drink to toast to the end of a great meal, and a wonderful night spent together.  We are going to make Strawberry Martinis.  The coating around the rim of the glass gives the drink a slight hint of chocolate when sipping the strawberry martini.  Be careful, these are delicious, so you can drink a lot of them! 

The recipe can be found here.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day celebration and can use these recipes for your own meal or at the very least, inspiration for other menu items.  Don’t forget to pick up some fresh flowers for a centerpiece and light a few candles! 

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Cooking!

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