A Cheap Valentine’s Day Menu
Valentine’s can sure get expensive! Between the flowers, chocolates and a meal out, it can really burn a hole in your wallet. It is a real shame that more people are not cooking at home because a cheap Valentine’s Day menu, one that is just as good as any restaurant (other than the fact that you have to cook it), is really achievable at home. By doing it at home, not only will your wallet be fuller, the loves of your life will appreciate it more. And, as I said already, a delicious meal that is inexpensive and impressive is totally easy to do, even on a weeknight. If you don’t want to tackle it all in one go, no worries. All the dishes in this cheap Valentine’s Day menu, except the main, can and should be made ahead. And the main, beef and red wine risotto, can be made in less then 30 minutes. Plus, there is a bonus recipe with this cheap Valentine’s Day menu if you want to skip the flowers and save even more money. Yep, you read right. Skip the flowers and bake some apple roses instead!
A Cheap Valentine’s Day Menu Starter: Muhamarra – Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
Muhamarra is a perfect start to a romantic dinner. This delicious roasted red pepper dish will bring a little spice to the meal and may, on its own, get everyone around the table to swoon early. It will get the home fires burning! The splurge in this dish is the walnuts, but they won’t set you back that much. The other ingredients provide an immense amount of flavor for very little money. Serve the dish as a spread with hot pita bread, fresh if you can. You can even put muhamarra on greens as part of a salad.
- 1 cloves of garlic
- 3 tbsp of panko bread crumbs
- 4 roasted and peeled red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp chilli flake, chipotle chilli powder, ancho chili or paprika to taste
- 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- salt and pepper
- Turn the food processor on high. Add the garlic through the feeder chute. Chop finely.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor with a a little salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth or to the texture of your liking.
- Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, lemon, chilli powder, etc. Remove the dip to a medium bowl.
- Fold in the pomegranate seeds.
- Serve at room temperature with pita chips, crackers or fresh vegetables.
- Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container. The dip will last a few days.
- The peppers can be homemade or from a jar. To roast the peppers at home, coat the peppers with olive oil. Roast on a baking tray at 400F until soft and the skin is charred, 35-40 minutes. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap while hot. This helps the skin steam and come off. Let cool in the covered bowl. Peel and deseed the peppers. If using jarred peppers, drain the peppers and gently rinse with water to remove the brine.
- The spiciness can be adjusted by using different types of chilli powder or paprika.
- Classically, pomegranate molasses is used instead of pomegranate seeds (although they make for a nice pop of flavor). If you wish to use pomegranate molasses, use 3 tbsp in the recipe. Pomegranate molasses is available at the grocery store or online.
A Cheap Valentine’s Day Menu Main Course: Beef and Red Wine Risotto
Beef and Red Wine Risotto is an very nice dish that has a five star feel with a 3 star budget. The creaminess of the risotto and the uniqueness of the beef and red wine in a risotto makes this dish a sure hit. Let’s face it, Risotto means romance. Arborio rice is cheap and so is beef broth. The wine does not have to be expensive to work in this recipe, and the leftover wine can be served with the dish! You could use beef tenderloin to really guild the lily, or you could use sirloin, which will be just as delicious and won’t break the bank.
- 18 cherry tomatoes
- Olive Oil
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 2 small shallots or 1 medium sweet onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 lb of beef tenderloin or sirloin
- 2 cups of arborio rice
- ¾ cup of red wine - like a pinot noir or chianti
- 4 cups of beef stock
- ½ cup of cream
- ⅓ cup of parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- Toss the cherry tomatoes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes on a baking tray and place the tray under the oven broiler. Broil/roast the tomatoes until softened and getting caramelized.
- Peel the shallots/onion and dice finely.
- Peel and chop the garlic finely
- Trim and cube the beef into medium cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the meat and brown the cubes and cook until just medium. Remove the beef from the pan.
- Add the chopped shallot/onion and garlic. Cook the mixture until they are soft.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add the risotto rice. Cook a few minutes allowing the rice to absorb any liquid in the pan, about 2 minutes.
- Add the wine and stir well. With continuous stirring, allow the wine to simmer and to be fully absorbed by the rice.
- Add beef stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring. Allow the stock to simmer and be absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Keep adding stock until the rice is creamy and al dente.
- Add the cream and mix well. Add parmesan cheese. Mix well . Simmer 2 minutes.
- Add the beef and any juices back to the pan. Heat the beef through.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with tomatoes and extra parmesan cheese.
- Serve hot.
- For a vegetarian option, replace the beef stock and beef with vegetable stock and tofu or cubes of portobello mushrooms. Replace the cream with an appropriate vegetarian replacement.
A Cheap Valentine’s Day Menu Desserts: Lemon Possets and Brigadero Truffles
Something lemony is always a nice way to end a meal. Something bright and tangy will help folks pucker up! Plus, cream and lemon juice won’t break the bank. To spur passion, a second dessert is a must and it must be chocolate! For the cost of a can of sweetened condensed milk and some cocoa powder, you can have rich chocolatey goodness that will make anyone swoon. These brigadero truffles will be welcome when it comes time to pop little morsels into the mouth of your significant other(s).
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- ½ cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp of lemon zest
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a medium sauce pan, whisk the cream, sugar, vanilla and zest together. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear rapidly at the edge of the cream mixture. Remove from the heat.
- Whisk the cream for one minute. Slowly drizzle the lemon juice into the cream mixture while whisking.
- Ladle the mixture into six serving dishes. Let the possets cool on the counter then cool completely and set in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or over night.
- If you like it less lemony, reduce the amount of juice by ¼ cup or increase the sugar.
- Serve with almond cookies, lady fingers and/or fresh berries.
- The posset will not firmly set, so it should not be unfolded from the serving containers.
- 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 shots of strong espresso
- powdered sugar or cocoa powder for dusting
- Place all the ingredients in a small pan except the dusting ingredients.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a simmer whisking.
- Whisk the mixture until it pulls away from the sides of the pot about 10-12 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool until it can be handled.
- With wet or buttered hands, roll the mixture into one inch balls.
- Toss in powdered sugar or cocoa.
- These truffles can be flavored in many ways. One way is simply by omitting the cocoa. It can be replaced with nuts, fruit piece, etc. The truffles can be rolled in sprinkles, coconut or nuts, too.
A Cheap Valentine’s Day Menu Flower Replacement: Baked Apple Roses
Flowers are expensive. A few apples and some frozen puff pastry are not. Plus, you won’t have to watch the baked apple roses wilt away to something you have to throw out! Perhaps more importantly, it is an opportunity to serve some dulce de leche – a food, for all practical purposes, that is as powerful as chocolate! Oh, the roses only look complicated. They are actually very easy to make.
- 1 9x15 sheet of purchased all butter puff pastry
- 3 medium green apples
- 1 can of dulce de leche
- 3 tbsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp of ground clove
- powdered sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
- Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
- Core the apples
- Cut the apples in half. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the apples into half moon shaped slices. Make the slices 1/16 -⅛ inch thick. The thinner the better. Place the slices in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Steam the apple slices in the microwave on high 45-60 seconds until the apple slices are flimsy and bendable. Set the slices aside and let them cool completely.
- On a clean surface, unroll the puff pastry sheet. Using a pastry cutter, cut the sheet into strips 1¼ to 1½ inch wide along the short side of the sheet. Cut 12 strips.
- In a small bowl, mix the sugar and spices together.
- Lay out 1 strip of puff pastry so the strip is in a vertical position. Using a knife, spread the dulce de leche down the full length of the puff pastry strip.
- Place slices of apple vertical so that the skin side faces the left side of the strip and overlaps the left edge just a little bit and the skinless apple edge is about in the middle of the puff pastry strip.
- Sprinkle the apples with a little spiced sugar.
- Fold the right side of the puff pastry edge over the apple slices. Sprinkle the exposed side of the puff pastry with more spiced sugar.
- Starting from the top or bottom, carefully roll the strip up into a roll creating the rose. Place the rose apple side up in the prepared muffin tin. Repeat until all the roses are made.
- Bake the roses at 400F for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is puffed and the roses are golden brown and caramelised.
- Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve.
- Red, green, or yellow apples can be used for Apple roses. Caramel can be used instead of dulce de leche. The spices can be changed to suit tastes.
Here is another Valentine’s Day Menu to consider if needed.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Keep Eating! Keep Innovating!
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