Consider Cooking This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about making a normal day seem…well, abnormal—special in a way that other days are not. So try something different this year with your significant other and stay in for a homemade meal together.

The very nature of Valentine’s Day is taking the opportunity to go out of your way to show affection, often in ways that are not realistic throughout the rest of the year. And because the responsibility for showing this affection should sit not in the lap of just one person in your relationship, but rather both of you pitching in equally, what better way to celebrate than by branching out for an extravagant meal made side-by-side?

Below, I’ve broken down three very different ways you can create an enjoyable, yet edible, meal and having fun doing it this Valentine’s Day.

For the lovers on a budget: pizza and beer

My wife and I have made this option somewhat of a tradition in Valentine’s Days past. We shop for, prep and enjoy unique pizzas each year that almost always turn out delicious.

Making a homemade pizza, all the way from the dough (store bought or handmade) to the toppings, can be relaxing and simple yet just different enough to make Valentine’s Day something special.

We’ve tried heart-shaped pizzas and traditional circle pies, thin crust and thick, pepperoni and cheese or even sausage and fried egg. Pizzas offer unlimited possibility and are very near impossible to mess up. There’s also something very satisfying about watching raw dough and a bag full of toppings come together and become your own homemade masterpiece.

And with an hour or so between your meal prep and baking time, you’ll be able to toast the night without slaving over the stove.

A classier affair: thick cut steak and molten chocolate cake

This one takes some forethought, as you’ll need to properly season and marinate your steak the morning of Valentine’s Day. Let it sit in the fridge soaking up your favorite spices until you get home and are ready to cook.

Before you start on the steak, though, pull together everything you need for your chocolate cake. We often prefer the hands-off approach of the crock pot molten chocolate cake. Cake mix, eggs, the filling of your choice—just set it and forget it.

With your steak ready to go, you’ll need to get out your cast-iron skillet. For the best-charred edges, heat your skillet on high and let your marinated steak crisp evenly on each side. Slide it into the oven for a few minutes to cook it through the center, and you’ll have some of the most delicious beef around—cooked to order, without the wait.

And as soon as you’re done, dessert is awaiting. Skip the extra dishes and grab two spoons. There’s no shame in eating straight out of the crock pot. It’s Valentine’s Day after all.

A lighter option for the seafood lover: seared salmon filet and potatoes (and wine!)

Another easy, albeit pricier, option is picking up a fresh piece of fish for you and your date. Despite being four hours from the coast, we have pretty regular access to quality seafood in the Triad so don’t fret over availability.

Like the steak, I would recommend letting your fish marinate in spices or even a glaze while you’re gone during the day. Again, in the skillet, sear both sides evenly and use the oven if you must. We generally eat fish on the rawer side but your potatoes will be baking away anyway, so pop it in alongside to cook to your liking.

And don’t forget to split a bottle of wine throughout. Consider it insurance for an experimental meal.