Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about spending a lot of money. Write love letters, buy a small bouquet or treat yourself and your special someone to a romantic dinner at home.
Don't stress trying to replicate dishes you won't have the proper cooking utensils for or won't be able to find rare, imported ingredients.
Make it simple. Make it savvy. Make it sweet.
A three-course meal is all you need – salad, entrée, and dessert. Match that with the right wine pairings and you are a shoe-in with your valentine.
Pro-tip: A hand-written menu added to your table setting will also show the time you've invested in making your night-in perfect.
Three simple courses can be made in under an hour. These selections – salad, pasta and dessert – all have ingredients you may already have or are easily found at any grocery store.
For wine, you may need to stop by a well-stocked spirits store, but it will really add something special to your night to have the right wines for each course.
Shredded brussels sprouts and spring mix with red wine vinaigrette, feta crumbles and grape tomatoes
• Wine pairing: Barton & Guestier Vouvray 2010
- 3 cups fresh brussels sprouts
- 2 cups spring mix
- ¼ cup red wine vinaigrette
- ¼ cup feta crumbles
- ½ cup grape tomatoes
Quickly food process your rinsed, fresh brussels sprouts until they are just barely shredded.
Add to a large bowl with spring mix.
Toss in your vinaigrette, tomatoes and cheese.
Serve on cold plates. (Just place your salad plates in the refrigerator until ready to serve.)
Angel hair pasta with shrimp, fresh basil and tomatoes
• Wine pairing: 2010 Cantine Valpane Rosso Pietro, Barbera del Monferrato
- ½ lb. peeled shrimp
- ½ lb. whole wheat angel hair pasta
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 3 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 sprigs fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry
Follow instructions on back of pasta package to cook your noodles. Rinse, drain and set aside.
Sauté your garlic in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan until garlic becomes slightly clear.
Add your shrimp, splashing a bit now and then with some wine until they just turn pink.
Toss in noodles and turn heat down to low.
Add tomatoes and half of the fresh basil, chopped.
Cook for about five minutes, until tomatoes are slightly softened.
Serve on plates, drizzled with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Chocolat Pot de Crème Framboise
• Wine pairing: Fonseca Bin No. 27 Reserve Fonseca Guimaraens Port
- 1 cup whole milk
- 12 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 soufflé cups or fancy teacups
- 2 tbs. powdered sugar
- 1 cup fresh, rinsed raspberries
Warm the milk on the stove on low.
Add all your other ingredients to a blender or food processor.
When the milk begins to just boil, slowly pour into your other ingredients, pulsing gently.
Blend until smooth.
Pour into your soufflé cups and refrigerate while you create your first two courses.
Serve after dinner with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh raspberries.
Optional: Take raspberries, except for a few for garnishing, and press with a spoon through a small strainer. Scrape the gooey raspberry juice - the coulis - and drizzle onto the tops of your Chocolat Pot de Crème.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on Food Network's "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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