DIY fancy and frugal Valentine’s dinner for under $25 (including wine!)
Pre-child, my husband and I would use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to make ourselves a gluttonous and fancy dinner. We’d have filet mignon, king crab legs dipped in melted garlic butter and for dessert, some yummy, gooey chocolately goodness from the bakery. All this topped off with a fancy bottle of champagne (and then we’d end up the rest of the night curled up on the couch, slowly dozing off as our rich dinner digested and lulled us to sleep…not exactly romantic but still worth it!)
Well, now that we have an 8 month-old-son and I am currently on maternity leave, our champagne wishes and crab leg dreams are all but dashed this year. But I didn’t want to give up on the dream of a delicious and romantic Valentine’s Day dinner without dipping into Grayson’s college fund.
I began scouring the internet and managed to put together a wonderful, easy three course Valentine’s Day dinner, complete with an entire bottle of wine for under $25. See, proof!!
I know….I couldn’t believe it either. Plus I have to say it’s pretty healthy as well (minus the wine…it’s healthy if you have ONE glass of wine a day but a whole bottle…unfortunately that doesn’t make it four times as healthy by drinking it all in one day….darn!)
Here is the menu I have prepared and already test drived last night for February 14th. I was so happy that nothing was burned or hurt in the making of this dinner:
Valentine’s Day 2012 fancy and frugal menu
French onion soup
Roasted stuffed chicken breast with goat cheese and basil
Chocolate covered strawberries
Using all the ingredients I purchased, here’s how to make it all:
First course: french onion soup
1 box of low-sodium beef broth
1 cup caramelized onion (click on link to see how to do this…can be done the day before)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Thick-sliced french bread (for topping)
Swiss cheese (for topping…it’s cheaper than gruyere but tastes almost the same)
Heat broiler. Bring low-sodium beef broth and caramelized onions to a simmer over medium heat; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Top thick-sliced country bread with swiss cheese and season with pepper; broil until toasted. Serve soup with cheese toasts.
Second course: roasted stuffed chicken breast with goat cheese and basil
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 small package of goat cheese
4 large basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
3/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1.Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Wash each chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel. Place in a pyrex or ceramic baking dish.
3. With your fingers, loosen the skin from the meat on each breast, leaving one side attached.
4. Slice the goat cheese into rounds and place half of it under the skin on each breast. Place two basil leaves under the skin of each breast.
5. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over each breast and evenly sprinkle breasts with salt and pepper.
6. Bake chicken breasts for 40 to 45 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with rice.
Third course: chocolate dipped strawberries
One pint of strawberries
One bar of semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1. Wash and pat dry strawberries making sure they are completely dry
2. Break up chocolate into smaller pieces and place in a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute on power 5 and then stir. Repeat until chocolate is almost melted with a few small pieces. Take out and stir till chocolate is smooth
3. Grab strawberry by the stem and twirl in chocolate in a circular motion.
4. Place onto a baking sheet covered with either parchment or wax paper.
5. Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes before serving
Voila….a romantic yummy meal that won’t break the bank. Oh, but I’m guessing you’re still wondering how I can fit in a bottle of wine with this meal for under $25. Well, we bottle our own wine so it only costs us $3 to make a wonderful bottle of shiraz…I simply went down to the basement and grabbed a bottle.
Now you’re thinking “but I don’t make my own wine!” Well, I’m sure you know someone who does, so before Feb.14th, call this friend up and see if they’re willing to sell you one of their bottles at cost and there you go…an entire three-course meal complete with a bottle of wine for under $25. Bon Appetit!
Coupon tip of the week: Pass the coupon karma around…next time you’re shopping at the grocery store and you have your coupon binder with you, keep your eyes peeled for people with items in their cart that you have coupons for and offer some to them. Same goes for great deals you are aware of…I was the grocery store last week and this woman was buying 3 boxes of granola bars and didn’t even notice that only some of them had coupons for free juice! I pointed this out to her and she was so happy I did and switched the boxes to the ones with free juice coupons! I promise these good deeds won’t go unnoticed and the next day, you’ll suddenly find more coupons that normal while hunting…don’t you just love karma!