Valentine’s Day is coming up quickly, and I can’t help but think that maybe there are some well-intending guys out there who would love to be able to pull together a romantic meal for their lovely lady. I am here to (hopefully) help.
For Christmas this year, one of the ideas my husband had for a gift for me was to make a nice, romantic dinner. That gift idea was short lived, since he quickly abandoned that plan because he didn’t feel like he knew how to accomplish that task. When he told me about it later, I was so bummed that he felt that way! That’s where this post comes in. I have gathered a menu that is high on flavor and style, but not overly complicated to prepare. I've gathered the shopping list, and broken down the prep and cooking schedule so that you can have everything ready at the same time with as little stress, anxiety, and dirty dishes as possible. Perfect for a delicious evening with your Valentine. No reservations required.
On the menu:
Pan-Seared Rib-eye Steaks
Steamed King Crab Legs
4 King crab legs (Can be found at the seafood counter of most major grocery stores. Ask the man or lady behind the counter for help.)
Fresh dill (In the produce department, usually in little clear plastic containers near the other herbs.)
2 Ribeye steaks
½-3/4 pound fresh asparagus (1 bundle is plenty)
1 pound fresh strawberries
Two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars (Ghirardelli is my favorite. Can be found on the baking aisle or the candy aisle.)
Olive oil (Regular/Classic, not extra-virgin)
Good quality bakery rolls or French bread
Bouquet of flowers
Bottle of wine or sparkling grape juice
Latest issue of your date's favorite magazine
Planning and preparations that can be done the day before:
- Set the table: Don’t forget the steak knives! This is a good time to haul out the fabric napkins that rarely get used (if you have some).
- Buy flowers and place them in a vase of fresh water on the table.
- Make a playlist of music for dinner time.
- Buy your lady the new issue of her favorite magazine and place it on the table so she has something to enjoy while you’re cooking. This will not only entertain her, but will hopefully allow you to complete your master cooking plan in peace without distractions. Believe me, there's nothing that'll fluster you in the kitchen more than a hovering hungry person.
- Place the crab legs into the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
Preparation the can be done a few hours before:
- Make the Chocolate-covered Strawberries (recipe below).
- Prep the asparagus (Steps 1-3 of asparagus recipe below).
- Unwrap a half stick of butter and place on a small plate on the dinner table so it is nice and spreadable at dinner time.
- Place steak sauce, salt, pepper, and rolls on the table.
Make the Chocolate Covered Strawberries-
- Wash the berries and lay them out to dry on paper towel.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter on half power for 45 seconds, stir, then microwave on half power for 45 more seconds. Continue heating and stirring until chocolate has melted and is smooth.
- Gently dip each strawberry in the melted chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to drizzle off. Arrange on wax paper to cool. Continue with remaining strawberries.
- If desired, sprinkle the dipped strawberries with sprinkles, or drizzle with melted white chocolate for decoration.
- Let dipped strawberries set at room temperature for an hour or two until firm.
- Serve and enjoy.
Prepare the Ribeye-
Steaks are best when they’re allowed to come to room temperature before cooking, and then to rest again for several minutes after cooking to allow the juices to re-absorb.
- About 30-45 minutes prior to cooking the steaks (1 hour before dinner time), set them out on a plate on the counter to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat on the stove. (40 minutes before dinner time)
- Rub the steaks with olive oil (not extra-virgin, just classic olive oil) or canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
- (30 minutes before dinner time) Lay the steaks in the preheated skillet. Do not move the steaks around. Leave them alone for 2 minutes and then turn them over. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes.
- Carefully move the skillet to the preheated oven for 2-3 minutes (for medium-rare), 5 minutes (for medium), or until cooked to desired doneness.
- Remove from skillet and place on a plate covered with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
(Tip: Slicing the steak into thin strips and arranging them nicely on the dinner plate before serving adds a nice touch, and it makes it easier for your date to enjoy her steak in a ladylike manner.)
Prepare the Asparagus-
- Trim the thick, stump-like ends from the asparagus.
- Arrange the trimmed asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Shake the pan gently to allow the olive oil to evenly coat the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared ahead of time up to this point.)
- (15 minutes before dinner time) Place the asparagus in the 400 degree oven and let roast for 12 minutes. (Put the asparagus in the oven at the same time as the steaks.) To check for doneness: Prick the thickest end of a few asparagus stalks with a sharp knife. The asparagus should feel tender. Return to oven for a few more minutes if they still feel firm.
- Remove to a serving plate.
Prepare the Crab Legs-
- The night before: Place the frozen crab legs in the refrigerator to thaw.
- (10 minutes before dinner time- While steaks are resting and asparagus is still roasting...) Wrap 1-2 crab legs along with a sprig of fresh dill in damp paper towel, then wrap with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining crab legs.
- Place one bundle of wrapped crab legs in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining bundles of wrapped crab legs.
- Carefully unwrap the crab legs and arrange on a serving plate.
- Melt 1 stick of butter in microwave safe bowl covered with paper towel on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring as needed. Divide melted butter into two small bowls or ramekins for serving with the crab legs.
Finishing Touches and Serve Dinner-
- Turn on the music, light the candles, and pour the beverages.
- Slice the steaks into thin strips and arrange in a fan-shape on each dinner plate.
- Bring the platter of asparagus and the crab legs to the table.
- Place a small dish of melted butter at each plate.
- Double-check for any missing condiments, silverware, tongs for serving asparagus, etc…
- Say a prayer, toast, and get ready to earn some major brownie points for your mad cooking skills.
- After dinner, bring a platter of chocolate-covered strawberries to the table and serve with chilled sparkling white wine such as Prosecco or Champagne, or some freshly brewed coffee if desired.