Whether you are in a relationship or single, have kids or don’t, you can make a fun dish for Valentine’s Day this year. Here are some awesome recipes to try:
Breakfast: Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Prep: 15 m
Cook: 15 m
Ready In: 30 m
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk, or as needed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1/4 cup melted butter
Prepare the cream cheese glaze by beating the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Thin with 1 tablespoon milk or as needed to achieve a pourable consistency. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, white sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together in a bowl until evenly blended; set aside. Beat the eggs in a separate mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in 1/4 cup milk with the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, vinegar, and food coloring. Stir in the flour mixture until moistened. Drizzle in the melted butter, and stir until the butter has incorporated and small lumps of flour remain.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Drizzle with the cream cheese glaze to serve.
Appetizer: Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Blue Cheese
Prep: 20 m
Cook: 40 m
Ready In: 1 h
1 pound sliced bacon, cut in half
1 pound pitted dates
4 ounces blue cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Slice dates in half, and open them up. Pinch off pieces of blue cheese, and place them into the center of the dates. Close the halves of the dates, and wrap a half-slice of bacon around the outside. Secure each one with a toothpick. Arrange in a baking dish or on a baking sheet with sides to catch any grease.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bacon is crisp. Turn dates over after the first 20 minutes for even cooking.
Main dish: Filet Mignon with Rich Balsamic Glaze
Prep: 5 m
Cook: 15 m
Ready In: 20 m
2 (4 ounce) filet mignon steaks
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over both sides of each steak, and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place steaks in hot pan, and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until browned. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add balsamic vinegar and red wine. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes on each side, basting with sauce when you turn the meat over.
Remove steaks to two warmed plates, spoon one tablespoon of glaze over each, and serve immediately.
Dessert: How to Make the Best Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Your chocolate-covered strawberries will only taste as good as the ingredients you use, so get the best you can.
Bigger berries don’t always taste better, especially if they’re not in season. Go ahead and taste one before you buy. Choose berries with no soft spots, and fringed with fresh green leaves. Bonus points if they come with a stem attached. Stems make an attractive presentation and they’re handy for dipping—just trim them to a uniform length. No stems? No problem—we’ll deal with that later.
Same goes for the chocolate. Whether you use dark, milk, or white chocolate, choose something you’ve tasted and liked. Better quality chocolate contains more cocoa butter, and will be smoother and glossier when it melts.
To keep berries fresh, plan on dipping them within two days of buying them.
1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves intact
8 ounces chocolate chips or bar (chopped into small pieces)
Optional: 8 ounces white chocolate for drizzling
Optional: Sprinkles, coarse sugar, or finely chopped nuts for decorating
Parchment or waxed paper
Heatproof silicone spatula (wood can retain water)
Skewer or toothpick (optional)
1) Rinse berries under cold water and dry thoroughly, even the leaves. Important: You’ll want to make sure not the slightest drop of water comes into contact later with your melted chocolate, otherwise it will go from silky smooth to thick and grainy in an instant. Set the washed and dried berries on a perfectly dry towel and let them come to room temperature while you prep the baking sheet and the chocolate.
2) Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Use a large enough pan to allow an inch or two of space between the strawberries.
If you plan on coating dipped strawberries with finely chopped nuts, sprinkles, coconut flakes, crushed candy, etc., prep them now and put them in bowls.
3) Melt the chocolate. This video shows you two easy ways to melt chocolate—in a bowl set over hot water, or in the microwave. The key is to go low and slow for a smoother melt. And I can’t say this enough: Do not let any water come into contact with the chocolate. Some people add shortening to the chocolate to make it smoother, but this isn’t necessary if you’re using a good quality, high cocoa fat chocolate.
4) Dip the strawberries. The chocolate should be warm, not hot. Working one at a time, pick up a strawberry by the stem, or insert a skewer or toothpick into the top, or just pick up by the leaves. Dip into the chocolate, bottom first, to about ¾ of the way up. Gently rotate the strawberry as you pull it out of the chocolate, so the excess drips back into the bowl and the last drip rolls onto the strawberry.
Optional: Dip the strawberry into the nuts, sprinkles, etc. that you’ve prepped. Instead of rolling, use a small spoon to scoop the ingredients over the wet chocolate.
Place the strawberry onto the lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the strawberries are dipped.
It’s a good thing chocolate-covered strawberries are so easy to make, because you can’t store them for long. One or two days in an airtight container in a cool spot is about the limit. Don’t store them in the fridge, though—they tend to “sweat.”
An easy way to dress up chocolate-dipped strawberries is by drizzling them with white chocolate. To do this, let the dark chocolate cool and harden around the strawberries while you melt the white chocolate. You could set the baking sheet in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Melt the white chocolate using the stovetop or microwave method, and let it cool slightly before spooning it into a pastry bag fitted with a small writing tip. You can also use a resalable plastic bag–just snip a tiny bit off one corner after filling the bag. Squeeze a fine thread of melted chocolate over the strawberries.
Let the white chocolate cool and firm up before serving the decorated strawberries.
Cocktails: His-n-Hers Cocktails
Prep: 5 m
2 fluid ounces vanilla vodka
1 fluid ounce hazelnut liqueur
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 fluid ounce raspberry vodka
1 fluid ounce creme de cacao
1 teaspoon chocolate syrup
1 fluid ounce half-and-half cream
2 maraschino cherries
Prepare his cocktail by pouring the vanilla vodka and hazelnut liqueur into a rocks glass over ice. Pour the contents of the glass into a cocktail shaker, then pour back into the rocks glass to mix.
Prepare her cocktail by pouring the raspberry vodka and creme de cacao into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into a martini glass rimmed with chocolate syrup, pour in the half-and-half, and garnish with maraschino cherries.
Kiss to mix flavors.