I hunted down some recipes for Valentine’s Day. Apologies if the versions I suggested don’t work for any unique dietary restrictions you might have. I found 3 recipes for breakfast, lunch, supper, and dessert, and I made sure that the varied in difficulty, so that no matter your skill level, you should be able to make something you are proud of.
Easy: Oatmeal - I recommend adding finely cubed apple, almond slivers, dried cranberries, a little vanilla extract, and a dash of maple syrup or brown sugar.
Medium: Pancakes - I recommend adding a spoon of cinnamon and a pinch or two of nutmeg and swapping out the sugar with real maple syrup. Adding some finely cubed green apple or thin banana slices and chocolate chips is another great option.
Advanced: Eggs Benedict - This one is really tricky to do properly. I have found that the vinegar in the poaching water isn’t necessary, and don’t be worried if your water is boiling. If you boil it, just make sure you take the pot off the element before you put the eggs in. Before you put the eggs in, get the water spinning pretty fast. If you use a chop stick to spin the water, you can keep spinning it softly after putting the egg in, and the eggs will better keep it's shape. Be really careful not to pop the eggs. A spaghetti scooper is the best tool for scooping the poached eggs out of the water, but make sure not to pop them. This recipe technically uses cheater hollandaise sauce because the double boiler method of making the sauce is very tricky to do just right. A trick for keeping the sauce at a good temperature longer is to put it into an insulated tumbler/thermos.
Easy: Mac & Cheese – I like to add paprika and white pepper to this one, along with a bit of mustard powder and some garlic powder. The roasted red pepper and garlic blend from Costco is great for this.
Medium: Creamy Potato Soup – Once again, I like to add paprika, white pepper, a little bit of mustard powder, and some garlic powder. Bacon makes a huge difference, even just adding one piece to the whole pot completely tranfsforms the flavour.
Advanced: Vietnamese Vermicelli Bowl – They have a great BBQ pork at Youngs that can be added to this recipe. Grilled chicken is another great option, and if you have the time, making some spring rolls takes it to the next level. I love to add lots of peanuts to mine. Oyster sauce is also a good addition. Here’s the recipe for spring rolls https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/245343/authentic-vietnamese-spring-rolls-nem-ran-hay-cha-gio/
Here’s the recipe for the vermicelli bowl. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/223529/vermicelli-noodle-bowl/
Easy: Chicken Parmesan with Alfredo - This one’s actually pretty simple, I don’t have any tweaks or suggestions.
Here’s the link for the chicken parm, https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/223042/chicken-parmesan/
Here’s the link for the alfredo, https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/22831/alfredo-sauce/
Medium: Home Made Pizza – This is a great one to make with someone. I like to add a little bit of liquid smoke to the sauce along with some Italian seasoning and some roasted red pepper and garlic. Don’t worry too much about getting fancy with the cheese, pizza mozzarella is all that is really needed. I like to bake the crust separately before putting the toppings on to make sure it cooks evenly and so I don’t get a soggy crust. Cooking on a pizza stone or directly on the rack works the best in my experience, but be careful not to drop the pizza. As a tip, Piazza De Nardi has some of the best tasting pepperoni for pizza inWinnipeg.
Advanced: New York Steak w/ Peppercorn Sauce & Snow Crab Legs and Twice Baked Potato –
Don’t worry too much if you aren’t able to find a New York Strip steak, but Tenderloin Meats, Miller Meats, and most other butcher shops should have them available. The crab legs on the other hand can be a bit of trouble to track down at a reasonable price. Sometimes Sobeys has them in the freezer section that are pre-split which is very convenient. The potatoes take the longest to cook, so you’ll want to start them first. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/24332/ultimate-twice-baked-potatoes/
To cook the crab legs, steaming them for about 14 minutes seems to work very well. Using the tines of a fork to lever the shell open is an easy way to get the meat out without having to get special tools. Be careful not to stab yourself.
For cooking the steak, you’re on your own, people get way too fired up about different methods off cooking. All I’m going to say is that I like to put some salt on my steak, rest it for a while, rinse it off, and then dry it very thoroughly with paper towel. I like to brown it using butter in a pan, and then I let it finish in the oven. For the peppercorn sauce, here’s a good, simple recipe. I like to add garlic powder to this one. https://www.recipetineats.com/peppercorn-sauce/
Easy: No Bake Cheesecake – My baba used to make cheese cake like this. She used to add a little bit of pineapple to the cream cheese if she was using strawberry pie filling. My favorite was always the blueberry pie filling though. Make sure you do a really good job compressing the crust, if it’s not compressed enough it can fall apart.
Medium: Red Velvet Cupcakes – These ones are pretty straightforward to make. I use a Ziplock freezer bag with the corner cut off to pipe the frosting on, although it’s not necessarily the prettiest way of doing it. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/212429/red-velvet-cupcakes/
Advanced: White Chocolate Raspberry Trifle – This is a recipe that one of my Aunt’s makes from time to time that is absolutely delicious, but it’s also a bit of work and can end up turning out poorly if the raspberries are too wet. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/raspberry-white-chocolate-and-almond-trifle-233432
If you are going to use premade ladyfinger cookies, this recipe isn’t too tough to pull off. Here’s a recipe for the cookies though if you want to make them yourself. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/10434/ladyfingers/
If you are going to roast the almonds yourself, be careful not to overcook them, it can happen very easily. 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 minutes spread on a cookie sheet.
I hope these recipes helped you. I tried to pick ones that would be appropriate for all different levels of cook so that even if you aren’t the most experienced chef, you’ll still be able to make your loved one smile. And don’t worry if you don’t have someone to share them with… after all, that means you don’t have to share with anyone! :D