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An Affordable Valentine’s Day Dinner

As Good, But Less Expensive than a Special Restaurant

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When Valentine’s Day appears on the calendar, all thoughts turn to ways we can express our feelings for those we love. Often, that involves going out for a romantic dinner, but when budgets are tight, that’s not always possible. During tough times we need to create at home the same romantic mood we might find in a pricey restaurant. We want the ambiance to feel special and the food to be good. However, we don’t want to put too much effort into the preparations at the risk of killing the mood for romance away from the dinner table.

Setting the Mood

Set the table with a basic white cloth or, if you don’t own one, leave it bare and use pink, red, or white place mats instead.

Tie plain white or pink napkins with a pink ribbon. Slip a small, silk rose under the ribbon.

Create a small centerpiece of pink carnations and baby’s breath.

Surround the flowers with a ring of votive candles.

Play soft, romantic music in the background.

The Menu

Shrimp Cocktail with Cocktail Sauce - Purchase frozen shrimp and prepare four or five of them per person. It’s much less expensive than buying pre-made shrimp cocktail and sauce, plus you’ll have leftover frozen shrimp to use at another meal. Make this the day before.

Asian Style Grilled Skirt Steak - Skirt Steak has become much more popular recently as chefs realize how good the cut is for the cost. This can be grilled outside or indoors using a grill pan.

Stewed String Beans - This dish can be prepared in advance and reheated before serving.

Easy Potato Bake - This is an easy recipe, similar to scalloped potatoes.

Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes - You can’t make these ahead since they need to be served warm, but they’re pretty quick to whip up.

A Bottle of Wine - Stacy Slinkard, About.com’s Guide to Wine, has put together a list of her top 20 value wines for under $10. This is much less expensive than purchasing a bottle in a restaurant.

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