Similar to last year, my husband and I elected to spend our Valentine’s evening at home, rather than venture out to all the too “people-y” restaurants. Particularly since Valentine’s Day fell on a Friday this year, I just knew that every place would be busy, loud, and crowded. At home, we can customize the menu to our liking, have some fun couple time preparing the meal together, and enjoy a romantic dinner for two in the peace and quiet of our own home. Perfect.
Prep Ahead of Time
Cooking our own romantic dinner at home is something we enjoy doing together, but the secret to success of this kind of date night is that you have to do a little planning. My husband and I decided on the menu early in the week. On Thursday, he worked the evening shift, so he went to Whole Foods in the morning and bought everything we needed (and dropped by my work to surprise me with coffee and lunch, which was kind of like a Valentine’s Day bonus ❤️).
Then, while he was at work that evening, I made the Crème Brûlée, and stored it in the fridge, so that when it was dessert time, all we had to do was caramelize the sugar on top.
I also got the table set up ahead of time to minimize the work we would need to do on Valentine’s Day, when we wanted to be relaxing and enjoying instead.
Last year, I did a red theme for Valentine’s Day, so this year I went with a pink and gray color scheme.
I started with this chalkboard, that I made several years ago from an outdated picture frame. I painted and and distressed the dated oak frame with white paint, and then simply painted right over the glass with chalkboard paint. Over the years, I have gotten a lot of use out of this easy and cheap project.
I added my love bird salt & pepper shakers that I am so fond of, and a little wood block with a quote that I got from the Target Dollar Spot.
Next, I gathered up several candles that I had. I like the variety of sizes and heights in this arrangement. These happen to be candles leftover from our wedding, so that made them even more special.
I placed them on a “silver” tray from the Dollar Tree, and tossed in some heart-shaped candies to add color and interest.
Definitely use cloth napkins for a fancier, restaurant feel to your special dinner, and get creative with folding them! There are so many tutorials online that show you how to do it. Most of them are so easy, but really add something elegant to your table decor. Last year I folded them in a little pocket that held the silverware, and this year I made this lovely rose.
I used white plates with a silver charger underneath (Dollar Tree again!), and the small, pink depression glass plates that I got on our recent antique shopping trip to the Amana Colonies. I love the silver, pink and white all together.
At the last minute, I added these menu cards that I typed and printed on card stock. I used an edge punch for the scalloped corners. Last year we had our menu displayed on a little tabletop easel, and I really liked how it helped me remember the evening more clearly later when looking back at the photos. After our dinner was over this time, I tucked one of these menus in the Valentine’s Day card my husband gave me, so I can have it as a keepsake.
A simple menu card is such an easy addition to your date night dinner at home, but it really adds a restaurant-like touch.
Use Flowers as the Finishing Touch
I got most of the table elements all set up on Thursday night, and then added the finishing touch, provided by my hubby Friday morning. Just like last year, he surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of 2 dozen long stemmed roses in a stunning crystal vase, plus hot coffee, ready and waiting for me when I finished showering on Valentine’s morning. This year he got me PINK roses, which were the perfect complement to my Valentine’s tablescape. Well done, hubby, well done…. ❤️🌷💕
Cooking Together is Part of the Fun
By the time we got home from work Friday after a long work week, we were all set to pop the cork on a bottle of wine, relax, and enjoy our evening.
Of course, I labeled the cork, and dropped it into our wine cork memory box to save.
After pouring the wine, we turned on some music and started preparing the meal together. I’m telling you, this is truly one of my favorite things to do with my husband. It turns date night dinner into more of an event, than just a meal. This kind of cooking is so much different than those crazy, busy nights when you’re rushing home and trying to slap together a meal to get people fed before a game, or meeting, or appointment.
Date night dinner prep is more relaxed. There’s no time frame, no rush. You can chat, sip, chop, listen to music… and just enjoy creating the meal together. Sometimes we experiment and try something new that we haven’t cooked before, and sometimes we keep it simple like we did on this night.
I was in charge of the side dishes.
Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Parmesan Sauce…
Upon looking at this picture, you might be wondering, “Hmmmm, I thought she said the recipe was called Brussels Sprouts with CREAMY Parmesan Sauce?” Yes, yes, friends, I did. For the sake of total transparency, I will admit that these Brussels turned out a little more crispy than creamy. They were still good, just not what I had in mind. It may be possible that I was enjoying the music (and the wine) a little too much. and left them on the stove longer than intended. There’s a lesson here, though. Your meal does not have to be “perfect” to be perfect. Our Brussels were overcooked, and it was still the perfect, romantic evening. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes….
Smoked Chilean Sea Bass with Lemon Butter Sauce
Mark was in charge of the main entree. If you haven’t had Chilean Sea Bass, you’re missing out. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but worth it. We first had it at Splash downtown, where one plate cost almost twice this much. You can make it home and it’s equally delicious and much more economical. Mark prepares it either on a cedar plank on the grill, or on his smoker. Sooooo good.
Time for Dinner
Dim the lights, light your candles, pour another glass of wine, and serve up your romantic dinner for two. The fact that you cooked it together is at least 75% of the fun. Now you’re ready to sit down in the quiet and comfort of your own home for a truly special meal.
I had pre-prepped our dessert the night before, so all we had to do was caramelize the sugar on top of the Crème Brûlées, but as it turned out, we were too relaxed and too full to eat them on this night. 🤣
The good news is that they kept just fine in the fridge, and we actually enjoyed them (or half of them anyway) on Saturday night, and finished them up on Sunday night! It was almost like date night all weekend long.
Crème Brulee for Two
- Two 6-ounce ramekins or other small, shallow baking dishes.
- A kitchen butane torch.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar plus more for topping
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Bring cream to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan.
- Remove cream from heat, add vanilla, and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale yellow and thick, whisking until smooth.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.
- Place the ramekins in the bottom of a baking pan with sides. Fill each ramekin with half of the custard mixture.
- Pour the boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the side of the ramekin, being careful not to splash any water into the mixture.
- Bake approximately 25 minutes or until set, but still slightly jiggly in the center.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to cool completely.
- Once the custards are cold, sprinkle the top evenly with sugar.
- Using a blow torch or kitchen torch, carefully brown the top to caramelize the sugar, forming a crunchy topping. Cool slightly before serving.
That’s it, friends. Making dinner together for date night at home is a great way to create memories with your special someone. What are some of your fun date night ideas? I would love to hear them!
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