Why and What You Should Definitely Cook at Home on Valentine’s Day

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A dozen roses, assorted chocolates, a human-sized stuffed bear, exchanging cheesy poetic cards, and candlelight fine dining: the stereotypical Valentine’s Day date. Except I can’t, for the life of me, understand why you'd ever wanna.

 Ya know, I bet it’s actually really difficult to carry a giant stuffed critter, chocolates, and flowers to your significant other's door. And good luck writing a poem that rhymes. But the hardest part of all? Figuring out where to eat. Which in my humble, unbiased opinion, is the most important detail of a date night. 

If you’re planning to go somewhere you’ve never been; you’re taking a chance. If you go somewhere that you typically go, it doesn’t feel like a special occasion. 

Wherever you go, there will be a wait. And if the restaurant actually does take reservations, it will most likely be loud, crowded, and subpar on the service front. Which isn’t the end of the world, but eating-in on Valentine's Day makes for an all-around much better date. 

You save money, especially on the booze. Cooking doubles as a way to provide both dinner for you and your date AND a relaxing/fun activity to do together. Prepping acts as a buffer if you’re just getting to know someone. Silence can be filled with chopping or stirring, and conversation is stimulated by what you’re working on or food in general. And at the end of the night, you and your special somebody can pat each other on the back for what you made together.

Below are our recommendations for delicious dishes to make with your date, no matter your skill level, budget, or choco-tolerance. 

Dishes for Beginners

Okay, okay. So you don’t normally choose to spend time in the kitchen. That’s no problem! A well-written recipe goes a long way. These easy, yet utterly impressive, mains use smart combinations of bold flavors and vibrant ingredients to ensure that the magic is there before you even begin cooking. 

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Rachael Burrow

 This ribeye is ready in minutes and requires minimal ingredients. And the only special equipment that you need to prepare it is a grill-pan. 

This is a one-step recipe, that requires one pan... it couldn't be simpler, or mor delicious. Pasta dishes are easy to make into an elegant meal with the addition of a simple grean salad and toasted bread.

If you can do pancakes, then you can definitely make crab cakes. This recipe also includes an addictive homemade sauce that's a breeze to whisk up. 

Filet mignon is the gold standard for classic, classy beef dinners. And this recipe calls for brandy… which means it goes well with brandy, right? Works for me. Break out the brandy!


Budget-Friendly Dishes

Hey, the tab on any type of date, going out or staying in, can add up fast. So if you're tring to keep V-Day low-key, but still want it to feel special, here are a few recipes that can help. 

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

Chicken dishes offer easy elegance when they incorporate bold flavors and have a ballin’ presentation. Piccata is a classic. 

This 20-minute pork chop recipe is inexpensive to execute, but feels a little fancy with special touches like herbed goat cheese butter.

This simple dish does not disappoint. It’s savory, satisfying, colorful, and takes just under an hour to prepare. 

Keep it real with spaghetti and real-deal tomato sauce, made from fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper, and basil. The fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese will be the most expensive item, but it’s well worth the splurge.

Related: See how to make Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread Hearts

How to Make Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread Hearts


Indulgent Desserts

If there’s ever an occasion for going overboard in terms of dessert, it’s Valentine’s Day. Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for...

Photo: Tara Donne; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

You have to consider this iconic, romantic dessert. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like a chocolate-covered strawberry and making them takes minimal effort… placing the emphasis where I prefer it, on eating them.

Need I say more than the name itself? The best part is that you get to finish the extra champagne while enjoying the truffles.

This is for the those who are looking for a chocolate, chocolate, on chocolate recipe. It makes 6 individual cakes, so make sure you have ramekins if you choose this dessert. 

Chocolate bark is easy to make and this version looks gorgeous when finished. White chocolate, cranberries, and pistachios make a festive-looking treat. 

So, you’re more into fruit-sweets than chocolate? Try making these min cobblers that are packed with berries and topped with a sweetened crust.