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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Romantic Dinner 101: Valentine's Day

  1. Location, location, location! Anyone can make a reservation at the local French restaurant, but we are going to help you create the perfect ambiance in your own home. Find a non-traditional and unexpected spot to enjoy dinner within your house or apartment.  If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, utilize your outdoor space as well. For example, the formal dining room, an intimate nook in the bedroom, the garden, etc.
  2. Use your nicest dishes, flatware, and glassware.  This helps set the "special" feeling of the evening!
  3. Mood music is key.  Put on a classic artist such as Eric Clapton or Sinatra.  Play a record for a special feeling.
  4. Avoid scented candles around your dining area.  Stick with unscented, white candles for a classic look. Make sure however the house does smell pleasant and the temperature is comfortable.  Take out the trash, change the litter box, etc.
  5. For romantic lighting, cluster your pillar candles for the perfect glow. Be sure they are no higher than 12 inches tall.  Scatter votive candles around the room to add ambiance and mood.
  6. Keep your menu fairly simple and prepare as much in advance to save your attention for your special guest.  This also keeps the kitchen relatively neat.  No one wants to spend the evening stuck doing dishes or looking at the mountains of dishes made from the meal.
  7. Make the meal three courses: appetizer, entree and dessert. This makes it feel more special than just a snack.
  8. Make sure you have a pitcher or glasses of ice water flavored with citrus fruits, cucumber, or even basil/mint in addition to wine or cocktails.
  9. Avoid messy and overly rich foods for the meal.  No one feels sexy when they are bloated or if they have greasy fingers from tacos.
  10.  Make sure your timing on the food is just right so everything is served at the correct temperature and time.  Be ready when your guest arrives.
  11. Before your guest arrives, go and dress up in a special outfit.  A nice dress or shirt and tie.  Remember this is a special evening, no PJs or baseball caps.
  12. Make sure to eliminate all distractions including technology, phones, pets, etc.  Send your cats or dogs for an overnight at the kennel or grandma's house.
  13. After your dinner is finished, dance together, watch a romantic movie, or maybe hand dip strawberries together.
  14. Our last tip, our favorite way to start and end a romantic, Valentine's dinner: Chocolate.
      • Chocolate Martini: Take a martini glass and drizzle hard shell ice cream coating on the inside of the glass.  Use both milk and white chocolate varieties to create a pattern. Next, in a shaker combine 3/4 cup half and half or light cream, 1 cup dark chocolate liquor, 1/4 cup vodka, with ice.  Shake to combine.  Strain into prepared glass.  Garnish with a conversation heart.
      • Flourless Fudge Cookies (Courtesy of King Arthur Flour): 
          • 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
          • 1/4 tsp salt
          • 1 tsp espresso powder (optional but divine)
          • 1 cup dutch process (preferred) cocoa powder
          • 3 large egg whites
          • 2 tsp gluten free vanilla extra (most pure vanilla extracts should be gluten free)
        • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease two cookie sheet, or line them with greased parchment paper. Stir together all ingredients until smooth.  Scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again until smooth.  Drop the soft, batter like dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 1/2 inch circles.  Bake the the cookies for 8 minutes.  They should spread, become slightly shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets.  The result is an ultra chewy, rich chocolate cookie with no additional fat or gluten!

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