Here we are in the home stretch of what has been a 6-month long holiday season between Halloween and Easter. February brings Valentine’s Day and that makes most of us think of romance and chocolate and date nights. Regardless of the ways you like to celebrate this holiday I imagine food, or at least dessert, comes into your mind at some point. I know from speaking with many of you that these types of occasions (the holidays and date nights, too) can begin to feel somewhat treacherous, especially by this point in the holiday season. You are trying to accomplish and change things with your diet and maybe you’ve really gotten into a groove since Christmas just to have Valentine’s Day show up and tempt you all over again. After all, romance and chocolate and food and date nights are all wonderful things!
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate that doesn’t fall short of what you may be used to, I think we can help! We had a lot of fun with our Holiday Menu a few months ago so we wanted to do a mini version and present you with a date-night-in concept that we think fits the bill. Enjoying good food and drink and even having dessert doesn’t have to be “plan B” just because you’re trying to “be healthy.” The menu we’ve prepared is elegant yet simple and certainly delicious. While sometimes you just need to go out on the town, it can get crowded at restaurants on Valentine’s Day so you might consider a new tradition to show the one you love how much you care. As the great Julia Child once said, “I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.” P.S. I think this applies to our kiddos, too. The dessert parfait on our menu could be a fun surprise Valentine’s Day breakfast for your kids. I think I’ll do that this year.
My husband and I have been married 10 years and I can remember the first Valentine’s Day we celebrated at home enjoying a special meal cooked by me. We ate a bit late because we put the kids in bed first. Well, he did. I was cooking! We lit a little candle or two and I think I spread paper heart shaped doilies out on whatever table cloth I found in the closet. Who knows if the meal was even great. We continue to do this almost every Valentine’s Day and I want to make an effort to do this other times of the year as well. I use these meals as an opportunity to cook something I maybe haven’t before and possibly spend a bit of extra money. Although, you can see from our Dinner For 2 menu that an elegant meal on a special occasion doesn’t necessarily call for expensive or unfamiliar foods.
Speaking of setting the table, I am sure you noticed the lovely table setting in this post and you may remember our gorgeous holiday tablescape from a few months back. These are brought to you (and us!) by Dr. Ben’s wife, Jamie Edwards. If you’ve ever considered your ability or desire to make things special and pretty to be frivolous or unimportant you need to read this post by Jamie. If you have never really been interested in these things you may also need to read it. Not only does she artfully construct beautiful tablescapes, she understands the part of the culture of eating and cooking that isn’t just about nourishing our physical bodies. She writes beautifully, too, and so I asked her to write about this very thing as it’s an important part of the culture of Veritas Kitchen we want to share with you. Sometimes we eat on the fly. We’re busy people. Sometimes we’ll even eat something that isn’t our favorite because we know it’s good for us. This is appropriate but let’s not forget this other viable aspect of the culture of food and eating that is just as important and sometimes just as lost on us.
Lastly, I want to list all the links here together that compose our Dinner For 2 presentation so you can get the full benefit of what we’re offering. I also want to make sure you realize this menu graphic is printable. It’s for you to print and use as part of your own table setting if you so choose. Finally, I’ll lay out a preparation schedule for you to use as a guide if you want to prepare this entire menu and need to know the most efficient way to make sure it’s all warm at serving time.
Here are all the recipe links for you:
Instructions for printing:
If you have a color printer at home, just click on the PDF link to download the graphic to print. Here is the PDF to print your menu. Dinner For 2 If you want to print your menu on sturdier paper you can print directly on card stock or take this file to a print service such as Office Depot, Staples or FedEx Office. You could also adhere your menus onto sheets of craft paper for all sorts of looks!
Preparation Schedule for the Dinner For 2
- Read through all the recipes once from beginning to end before you get started. You will reference them throughout for cook times, measurements, etc.
- Prepare the different components of the dessert (if you’re eating it) the morning of your meal or even the day before and store them in the fridge. (Except for the short cakes. They do not need to be refrigerated.)
- Make sure if your chicken is frozen that you remember to thaw it out the day or morning before your dinner. Keep thawed chicken in the fridge.
- Begin prepping for the meal about 2 hours early if you haven’t done a lot of cooking and are a bit nervous. You can set the table while you’re cooking or beforehand. Whatever works for your household.
- If you’re a few hours out from dinner you can also go ahead and build your dessert parfaits and place them back in the fridge. This way they are ready to just pull out when it’s time. Otherwise, you can build them right before serving. It won’t take long.
- Prep all your vegetables (cauliflower, broccolini, garlic cloves) for the oven and get them ready on their baking sheets. This will get all your washing and chopping out of the way. You can go ahead and put any oil and salt and pepper on them, too. Just set them aside.
- Prepare your chicken for the oven as well and set aside.
- Set your oven to 375 (all the Dinner For 2 dishes cook at 375).
- About 1 hour and 15 minutes or so before you want to serve dinner place your chicken breasts in the oven for round 1 of their cook time.
- While the chicken is in the oven get your butter and wine sauce ingredients out and ready as well as your mashed cauliflower ingredients.
- When the chicken comes out set it aside and put your cauliflower in the oven. It’s OK if it gets kind of cold.
- While your cauliflower is cooking prepare the butter and wine sauce. When it’s done, set it aside.
- When the cauliflower comes out of the oven make your cauli-mash. Keep it warm by keeping it covered. If you need to re-warm it before serving you can do that in the oven quickly.
- Now, top your waiting chicken with the goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, pour over the wine and butter sauce and place the chicken AND the broccolini in the oven together. They will come out at about the same time and then everything will be ready to plate.
Thank you for reading and, whether you cook these dishes or something else and whether it’s Valentine’s Day or another night of the year, do enjoy!