February 12, 2009

A Valentine's Dinner for Friends

That swanky Valentine's Day dinner may not be on your plate this year, but that doesn't mean that your friends have to miss out on all the fun,too. Show them how much you care for them by serving up a homemade dinner, Italian bistro style. They’ll appreciate the opportunity for a romantic dinner for two minus the expensive price tag, and you’re sure to savor the time in the kitchen with the chef (the phrase kiss the cook may just take on a whole new meaning).

Set the Stage for a Romantic Evening
  • Place a few small tables around your living or dining room, setting them for two. Arrange a few votive candles in the middle of each table and type up menu cards for each place setting.
  • Decorate your home’s entrance with a few strands of twinkle lights. Then, borrow a chalkboard from your child’s play area (or purchase a poster board) to create your “restaurant’s” sign. Write your restaurant’s name, “Happy Valentine’s Day” and "Tonight’s Special: Chicken Parmesan."
  • Before your guests arrive, make a playlist of soft background music. Try “Romantic Italian Songs” by Sergio Franchi or keep things more upbeat with a selection of Michael Buble, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

The Menu

Keep it simple and savory:
  • For the first course, serve Caesar Salad. If you’re feeling rather adventurous, try making your own Caesar dressing with this recipe from Bon App├ętit magazine.
  • Finish up with these cute and tasty pastries from Black Hound New York, available from Saks.com.