Do you want to make a candlelit dinner for someone special but you don’t cook much? Whether for your partner of forty years or for someone new in your life, a romantic dinner shows you care.
Food is love. Anyone can drive to the store and buy a box of chocolates, but a thoughtful meal? It’s in a special league. I cannot remember any Valentine’s gifts bought for me, but I can still picture every romantic meal. I remember the food, the scenery, and the hope in the air. One boy took me on a mountain picnic. He’d brought a bottle of bubbly, and he wedged it between some rocks in a cold mountain stream to cool. We went for a short hike and when we got back our ice cold bottle had floated away. It makes me happy to remember how we felt, “Oh no!”, and then laughing at the little joke that nature played on us. A picnic in the mountains without wine is still a pretty good day. He and I went on to different worlds but that moment is forever.
You can manage this dinner even if you don’t cook often. The menu: Caramelized chicken and rice pilaf, with tender green beans and baby carrots. For dessert: Chocolate cake with fresh strawberries and strawberry purée.
Go ahead, give it a try. Make your own memories.
Chocolate Cake and Strawberries
I took this to my brother’s dinner party. Quality, bought, moist chocolate cake and full flavoured local strawberries, mixed with puréed berries. – California berries have nothing on our fragrant Vancouver varieties.
Purée 1 pound of strawberries with a stick blender. Pour sauce onto individual serving dish. Arrange slice of cake and additional 1/2 pound of berries on top. (Look for a cake with homestyle ingredients.)
- Make the Dessert. Put in the fridge
- Make the Rice Pilaf. Set aside
- Make the Chicken Thighs. Set aside. (Put in the fridge if more than 1 hour.)
- To serve, warm the Chicken and Rice for 20 minutes in the oven at 375F, until hot but not dried out.
- Cook Green Beans and Carrots when you remove chicken from the oven.
- Plate the rice, chicken, and veggies. Light the candles and enjoy your evening!
- Rice Pilaf
- Caramelized Chicken Thighs
- Tender Green Beans & Baby Carrots
- See Grocery List at the end of the recipes. All ingredients are available at any supermarket.
1. Rice Pilaf – Recipe
Serves 2. Prep time 10 minutes. Cooking time approx. 20 minutes.
Ingredients – Rice Pilaf
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 c Rice
- 1/2 c Onion, chopped small
- 1/2 c Red Pepper, chopped small
- 1/4 tsp Salt
Method – Rice Pilaf
- Pour olive oil into a medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat for 1 minute. Add all other ingredients. Sauté for 3 minutes, gently scraping any rice away from the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in amount of water specified on the rice package and cover. (Water varies according to the type of rice you choose.) Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, approx. 3 minutes. When water starts to bubble, turn heat to medium-low and cover pot. Steam for amount of time specified on the rice package until fragrant.
- Fluff the rice as soon as it is cooked. Cover and set aside.
3. Caramelized Chicken Thighs – Recipe
Recipe by Bon Appetit on Epicurious
Serves 2. Prep Time 10 minutes. Cooking time 27 minutes.
Ingredients – Caramelized Chicken Thighs
- 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds / 1 kg)
- 1 tbsp Cooking Oil (High smoke point above 450F, such as Grape Seed Oil or Avocado Oil)
- Salt & Pepper
Method – Caramelized Chicken Thighs
- Preheat oven to 475°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12″ cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
- Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving.
4. Tender Green Beans & Baby Carrots – Recipe
Serves 2. Prep Time 5 minutes. Cooking time 3 minutes.
Ingredients – Tender Green Beans & Baby Carrots
- 3 oz (90 g) Tender Green Beans (French green beans are best in the winter.)
- 3 oz (90 g) Baby Carrots or Julienned Carrots
- 1/2 c Water
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
Method – Tender Green Beans & Baby Carrots
- Use a steamer if you have one. In medium spot with lid, bring water to full boil. Add beans and carrots to the pot. Cover and cook for 4 minutes until tender crisp and brightly coloured. They will continue to cook a little after you remove them from the heat so don’t overcook.
- Spoon olive oil over and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.
All ingredients are available at the supermarket, and may already be in your pantry.
- 6 Chicken thighs
- 3 oz (90 g) Tender Green Beans (In winter, French green beans are best.)
- 3 oz (90 g) Baby Carrots with tops
- 1 small Onion
- 1 small Red Pepper
- Rice, any type
- Small container Greek Yogurt, plain unsweetened (I use 0% fat but higher fat is okay. Buy a good brand that is mild and creamy, like Liberté.)
- Small quality Chocolate Cake
- 1 pound fresh sweet Strawberries
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Cooking Oil with high smoke point above 450F, such as Grape Seed Oil or Avocado Oil
- 1 nice bottle of Wine!
A healthier You Next Year Principle
Because you care, show it.
If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.