Guest post from Lauren Mirecki
Saint Valentine’s Day, or Valentine’s Day was a day set up to honour Christian martyrs around 496 A.D. It became linked to romantic love thanks to the great poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, in the 14th century, when the tradition of “courtly love” flourished (wikipedia).
Now, it is a day that commemorates love – and can often put pressure on couples to outdo one another or buy things that “show off” their love to the other. Not to mention the preparation of Valentine cards and sweets for friends and school mates if you have little ones around. Pressure and stress on a day that is meant to be a commemorative day of love takes the fun right out of it all.
There are ways to relieve the pressures we feel; the need to buy things or the need to go out for a fancy dinner. It’s not about the flowers. It’s not about the gifts. It’s all about the people you love. You can still buy roses and gifts and have a nice dinner, but instead of caving to the pressure, make it something special, right at home.
Skip the gifts for Valentine’s Day and instead spend some meaningful time together as a family. Yes, it’s a great opportunity to go out for a date night, but avoid the higher prices and prix fix menus and have a nice, candlelit family dinner at home – better yet, make it a couples dinner and invite some friends over to share in the menu! Dress the table up with some nice plates, napkins and glasses. Turn the lights down and light some candles – even the kids will enjoy it!
This is a simple and elegant Valentine’s Day dinner menu idea: Beef Bourguignon, fluffy mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, deep chocolate cake and red velvet whoopie pies.
Dinner doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive for Valentine’s Day. You can do elegant and delicious right in your own home! A nice, easy, melt-in-your-mouth main dish is Beef Bourguignon – yes, that’s the same dish that Amy Adams cried a river over in Julie and Julia, but have no fear, it’s not that difficult!
- 2-3 pound roast
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups red wine
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon rosemary (dried or fresh)
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 cup of carrots, 1-inch dice
- 1 cup of potatoes, 1-inch dice
- 1 cup of mushrooms, 1-inch dice
- 2-3 tablespoons of butter
- 4 tablespoons of flour
- 1 loaf of crusty french bread (baguette)
- 1 clove of garlic (raw)
Cover the roast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a large pot or dutch oven on the stove for 2 minutes, then sear the roast for 2-3 minutes per side. Add the stock, wine, garlic, and herbs. Transfer to a casserole dish (or leave it in the dutch oven), cover and cook at 225 degrees for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, add carrots, potatoes and mushrooms to the dish — if you’re serving with mashed potatoes, leave the potatoes out). Cook for for 30-45 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender. Place the pot on the stove, remove the roast from the sauce, and place it on a platter. Cover and let cool for 10 minutes. While the meat is sitting, thicken the sauce. Melt the butter in the microwave and add 2 tablespoons of flour, stirring until smooth. Whisk it into the sauce until smooth. Cook on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken.
Remove the fat from the roast. Shred the beef into large pieces, or cut into slices or chunks.
- 12 potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup sour cream
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- a few TBSP butter
- salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes until fork tender. Mash lightly with a potato masher, then add in the remaining ingredients. Mash with a hand mixer until smooth. Transfer potatoes to a casserole dish. Sprinkle dill over top, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
The Most Amazing Broccoli Ever – Oven Roasted
Not everyone is a fan of broccoli – but even the biggest critic will have to agree – this is the most spectacular broccoli ever!
- Broccoli florets
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Line a baking sheet with foil and place the broccoli florets on it. If you washed them first, make sure they are COMPLETELY dry, you don’t want them to steam, just roast.
Sprinkle olive oil and salt and pepper over the top, then mix. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until some of the tips are browned.
Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper and parmesan – then the best part of all, fresh squeezed lemon juice! It is to DIE for.
Need a terrific way to end a meal like this? Try the Died and Gone to Heaven Chocolate cake!
Or, try the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies on my blog!
Valentine’s Day Decor
Keep things simple for Valentine’s Day decor. Add some pretty red elements with cinnamon hearts, conversation hearts and pink mints in glass jars, vases or glasses.
Tie red ribbons around white candles, or put red ones on-display on a plate.
Cut hearts out of pink and red tissue paper or construction paper and hang near a window for the light to come through.
Create an easy scrapbook paper heart garland.
Cut scrapbook paper into 1 inch widths, different lengths for a layered look (I used 4 in, 6 in and 8 in strips).
Staple the ends of the paper together, alternating one 6 inch strip in the middle, then a 4 inch on each side, then a 6, then an 8.
Staple each set of 3 lengths together at the opposite end (leaving the 6 inch piece in the center sticking up). Fold the staples sets down into a heart shape on each side of the center piece, and secure with hot glue or double-sided tape.
Punch a hole in the middle piece and string it up, then hang them!
Valentine’s Day Cards
Instead of rushing around buying Valentine’s Day cards the day before, think in advance and buy valentines on clearance when they go on sale, or have the kids make their own. A cute, simple way to make your own is to take printed (or white) cupcake liners, cut and layer them with a foil or wrapper heart placed on the top.
For candy, try making some custom wrappers – either using construction paper and making your own, or these free printables, also from The Crafting Chicks.
For family members, make a Valentine’s card or canvas with hand prints. What child doesn’t LOVE to get their hands dirty?
Whatever you decide to do, make Valentine’s Day a meaningful and fun time for everyone by doing it yourself at home. What better way to spend the day of love than with your loved ones! Happy Valentine’s Day!
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