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February 10, 2015

7 Valentine’s Day Dinners That Will Make You Reconsider Going Out to Eat

blog graphicWhether you love it or you hate it, the great Day o’ Love is coming right at us. And whether you’re married, in a relationship, or flying solo, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t treat yourself to a dang good meal at least once a year. You deserve it, you! Now, before you dial up your nearest Applebee’s or Olive Garden for a reservation, you should check out these delicious make-at-home dinners that will have you pining for a date-night in.

On the lineup, I’ve got 7 to-die-for Valentine’s Day dinners, plus a few fabulous desserts, that taste as good as any restaurant. AND you can beat the crowds and have a romantic dinner for two at home (or for you singles out there: a delicious private meal WITHOUT having to tolerate the hoards of sappy couples). It’s a win-win situation. So here are 7 Valentine-worthy meals that will have you happily skipping out on the restaurant.

Entrées:

#1) Cheesecake Factory Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp Copycat

Cheesecake Factory Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp

I’m starting off with a bang (pun totally intended), with this copycat of Cheesecake Factory’s Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp. This is like my #1 favorite item on their menu, and this recipe totalllly tastes like the restaurant-version. Fan-freaking-tastic. Completely romantic & Valentine-sy. Or independent & strong, depending on how you look at it.

#2) Honey Walnut Shrimp

Honey walnut shrimp

With a sweet, sticky sauce, I could eat these little shrimp like candy. Fancy-looking, and yet so very, very simple to make.

#3) Garlicky Pasta with Brown Butter, Bacon, Mushrooms, & Mizithra

Brown Butter Pasta

If you’ve got a hunkering for a delicious pasta dish for Valentine’s, you MUST make this one. The brown butter & mizithra cheese (buy at your regular grocery store) pack so much flavor into this dish. Steam some broccoli and top with a little browned butter and mizithra, and you’ve got a killer side dish too. I die.

#4) Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Holy moly this stuff is good!!! I literally can’t even describe to you the wildness of the party your taste buds are going to have once they get a taste of the sauce! It is so choice. If you’ve got a grill handy, totally go for this one. Serve a baked potato on the side, and you’re good. Additional veggies totally optional.

#5) Gorgonzola Pizza with Caramelized Onions & Roasted Acorn Squash

Gorgonzola & Acorn Squash Pizza

This dish will take a little more time, but if you’re willing to go for it, you will be rewarded GREATLY for it. This is one of our favorite pizzas, and the flavors are so rich and bold that you really can’t help yourself from eating every last slice. The arugula adds a lovely, fresh, peppery taste to this sophisticated pie. And what more could you ask for on Valentine’s Day than fresh and peppery?

#6) Heavenly Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Oh how much I love thee, Chicken Pot Pie! So homey and warm, this pie is rich and buttery and just plain scrumptious. You can use a rotisserie chicken and Puff Pastry to make the cookin’ really slick.

#7) Baked Pasta with Chicken, Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella

pasta

And finally, our #7 is this delightful baked pasta with chicken, tomato, basil & mozzarella. Busting with melty cheese, fresh flavors, and a crunchy topping, this pasta is totally on point. And if you’re looking for a crusty french bread to serve with it, try out this super easy, golden French bread.

bread And now for the best part of the meal… desserts! Here are a few of my favorites that will surely make you and your honey swoon:

Desserts:

Ombre Sugar Sheetcake Cookies

Ombre Sugar Sheet Cake Cookies

Okay, picture these in pink. And then covered in little heart-shaped sprinkles. Hello! How perfect is that? These sugar cookies contain cream cheese… not in the frosting… but in the dough! It makes them soft as clouds and delicious beyond measure. You won’t be able to stop at one.

Chocolate Orange Truffle Cake

Chocolate orange truffle cake

There’s something so magical about the combination of chocolate and orange, isn’t there? And don’t even get me started about this cake. This cake… oh, this cake is ridiculously chocolate-y, and the texture is so… so tooth-sinkable. There’s no other way to describe it. That’s why I call it a “truffle” cake, because the texture really does resemble the richness and smoothness of a truffle. I heart this cake. So much. If you can’t find chocolate oranges this time of year, you can simply use regular chocolate shavings.

Fresh Lime Cake with Raspberries

Fresh lime cake with raspberries

For something bright and zippy, this fresh lime cake is moist and sweet and all the good things in this world that a cake should be. Did I mention it’s pretty dang easy too? I could eat it all up!

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

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