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DIY: At-Home Dinner For Two

A special dinner out can sometimes be a bit daunting – the crowds, pricy prix fixe and stressed out waitstaff  – can often make for the exact opposite of a cozy, romantic dinner.  It’s easy to create an amazing meal at home that will make your special person feel extra special – and isn’t that the point?

A few tips, no matter what you are cooking…

  • Get Yourself Ready Before You Get Dinner Ready.  Besides the fact that you want to look good in the kitchen, being dressed for dinner means you are ready to serve the meal you’ve prepared as soon as it is ready.
  • Keep It Kiss-Ready.  Avoid foods like garlic, onions, and asparagus so that you’re ready for a little mid-meal makeout anytime.
  • Avoid Food Coma Culprits.  A romantic dinner should end in some romance! It’s not the night for overly rich or carb-heavy meals that will make your honey need an after-dinner nap.
  • Happy Hour in the Kitchen.  Have a bottle of wine open or your favorite cocktails ready while you cook – no reason to wait until dinner to start the fun.

If your loved one has a favorite dish,  that’s obviously what you should make.  If you’d like a little inspiration, we’ve got 2 options below for Valentine’s Day dinners that are yummy, easy, and should start your evening off right.

Flat Iron Steak with Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

For the meat-and-potatoes lover.  Flat Iron steaks are tender and flavorful and make a nice alternative to serving ribeye or filet.  Just add a green salad with a citrusy vinaigrette and you are good to go.

1 flat iron steak (about 1.5-2 lbs – you’ll have leftovers)

2 Russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed

1 T butter

1 T olive oil

2 T grated parmesan

  • Preheat oven to 425
  • On stovetop, fill a saucepan 2/3 way with cold water and add potatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook about 10 min, or until you can easily pierce with a fork.
  • Drain the water and shake potatoes in the pan, so they develop a slightly rough exterior (this will help them get a nice crust.)  Add 1T butter to pan to coat potatoes.
  • In a small roasting pan, add 1T olive oil and put in the oven a few minutes to heat.  Remove, carefully add potatoes, and return to oven for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a pan on the stovetop over high.  (You want the pan to reach about 450 degrees so that you can get a nice sear on the steak, so don’t rush it.)
  • Remove potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan and a pinch of sea salt, return to oven for 10 minutes.
  • Pat steak dry & sprinkle with sea salt & pepper.  Add to hot pan and sear about 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, 6 minutes each side for medium.  Remove from pan and let rest 5 minutes.
  • Slice steak against the grain and serve with potatoes.

Chicken with Red Pepper & Eggplant Sauce and Sautéed Swiss Chard

For the more adventurous eater (or cook!). Top the chicken with some crumbled goat cheese for a creamy balance the kick of the sauce.  If you are feeding someone with a bigger appetite, try serving the chicken over rice cooked in chicken broth with a few squeezes of lemon juice.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even width

1 medium eggplant

2 cups roasted red pepper, jarred

2 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice

1 T fresh thyme

1 t paprika

¼ t cayenne pepper

1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, bottom of stems trimmed, chopped into large ribbons

2 T olive oil

splash of sherry vinegar

 

  • Heat oven to 425.
  • Split eggplant lengthwise and rub with a little olive oil.  Place facedown on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then remove flesh of eggplant & discard skins.
  • Heat a sauté pan on the stovetop over high.  (You will use this for the chicken, and you want the pan extremely hot to get a good sear, so don’t rush it– this will keep the chicken tender and avoid any drying out)
  • Mash eggplant slightly in a saucepan, add saucepan to stovetop over low heat.  Add red peppers and mash again, so mixture is still chunky.  Add olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, paprika, and cayenne and heat to warm, but do not boil.
  • Pat chicken breasts dry and sprinkle with salt & pepper.   Add to the hot sauté pan and cook about 4 minutes each side, then turn heat to low and cover until chicken is cooked all the way through.
  • Heat 2T olive oil in a pan and add chard, tossing until it starts to wilt.  Season with a few pinches of sea salt and remove from heat.  Add the splash of sherry vinegar and toss.
  • Place a chicken breast on each plate and top with red pepper sauce (and goat cheese, if desired) and serve with sautéed chard.

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Posted on: February 3, 2014