Billions of dollars are spent on Valentine's day each year. We spend it on flowers, candy, jewelry, and fancy restaurants. Most families this year, however,do not have a lot of extra in the budget for these things. The sentimentality of Valentine's day is special to many people but it is also worrisome. Take the worry out and have a special "at home" Valentines. You will save money not only on a restaurant but on a babysitter.
Pick your favorite restaurant meal or dish and fix it at home. Whether it's a good steak, chicken, seafood, or pork dinner, it can be made at home. You can even add your twist to the dish. Make up a special rub for the steaks, sauté mushrooms or onions. Add your own "secret ingredient" to whatever dish you make. You could even invite another family over to enjoy dinner with you. Have them bring the dessert and maybe a "copycat" version of their own favorite restaurant dish. Lots of restaurant's recipes can be found at CopyKat recipes or Top Secret recipes. The restaurant may even have recipes on their website.
A favorite starter dish is Chicken and Gnocchi soup like the Olive Garden serves. It is simple and delicious.
2 boxes of gnocchi (or make homemade with instant potatoes)
1 jar of favorite Alfredo sauce
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen thawed and drained spinach
1 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Cook the gnocchi according to directions. Put to the side. Add all other ingredients in a large sauce pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the gnocchi and simmer for another 5 minutes. Top with more Parmesan cheese if desired.
Before you serve the meal, set up a special kids room. Put on a movie or set up a game system in the room for them. Put blankets on the floor so they can eat picnic style. If the adult dishes are not suitable for kids, grab a pizza or something kid friendly. Let them have their own party.
After dinner, clear the living room floor and put on romantic music for a while and enjoy each other. Later, put on some fast music and invite the kids to dance as well. You will have so much fun and a very memorable evening. This may become a favorite night for each year.