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DIY Valentine's Day Dinner Recipes

Kelli Shiroma |
February 5, 2014 | 8:55 a.m. PST

Food Editor

This pasta, complete with green beans and potatoes, contains a medley of flavors (emmadiscovery / Flickr).
This pasta, complete with green beans and potatoes, contains a medley of flavors (emmadiscovery / Flickr).
Instead of worrying about booking a reservation at a crowded restaurant this Valentine’s Day, what about treating your loved one to a romantic dinner for two?

Whether you’re craving steak, pasta or seafood, there are many ways to create a fantastic feast for two. With all the right sides and a game plan for dessert, you can do no wrong (and it’ll be sure to impress that special someone).


For all you basil lovers out there, this rich pasta is filled with savory basil and garlic flavors.



3 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves

¾ C extra virgin olive oil

¼ C pine nuts

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp. sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ C grated Romano


1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

1 ½ lbs. potatoes 

2 lbs. pasta

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Make the pesto: Put the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and stir in the Pecorino. Check the seasonings to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch until they turn bright green and are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beans to a colander and run under cold water to keep them from cooking any further. Set aside.

While the beans are cooking, peel the potatoes. Once you’ve removed the beans from the pot of boiling water, add the potatoes and boil until they are soft and can be broken apart with a wooden spoon, approximately 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the colander. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the potatoes, green beans, and pesto in a large bowl. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl.

Mix together with a wooden spoon. The potatoes should be broken up into chunks in a rustic fashion. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more olive oil.

Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.


Dinner is served once these larger-than-life lobster tails are seasoned generously with garlic and lemon.


1 T lemon juice

½ C olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. paprika

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

2 (10 oz.) rock lobster tails 


Preheat grill for high heat.

Squeeze lemon juice into a small bowl, and slowly whisk in olive oil. Whisk in salt, paprika, white pepper, and garlic powder. Split lobster tails lengthwise with a large knife, and brush flesh side of tail with marinade.

Lightly oil grill grate. Place tails, flesh side down, on preheated grill. Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning once, and basting frequently with marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Lobster is done when opaque and firm to the touch.


Spice things up this Valentine’s Day by making this flavorful dish for your sweetheart.


1 T vegetable oil

¾ lb. thinly sliced fresh pork belly, cut into 2-inch strips

¾ lb. kimchi

1 ½ T soy sauce

¼ tsp. Asian sesame oil

1 scallion, thinly sliced


In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over high heat, turning once, until crisp, 6 minutes. Drain the pork on paper towels and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet. Add the kimchi and stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the pork and toss. Stir in the soy sauce and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with the sesame oil and garnish with the scallion.

Serve with steamed rice.


While yakitori usually includes chicken, this version features mushrooms, scallions and scallops. 


2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 T sake or dry white wine

2 T mirin

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp. molasses

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. minced fresh ginger

12 small-to-medium dry sea scallops, cut in half

8 medium button mushrooms, halved

6 scallions


Combine soy sauce, sake (or wine), mirin, sugar, molasses, Worcestershire, and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced to ¼ cup, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a medium bowl, and cool to room temperature, 15-20 minutes.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the sauce in a small bowl. Add scallops and mushrooms to the remaining sauce; stir well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (but no longer: the scallops will begin to break down if marinated too long).

Preheat grill to medium. Oil the grill rack.

Trim scallion whites and reserve for another use. Separate the scallion greens into individual long greens. Wrap one scallion green around the perimeter of each scallop and thread the scallops onto the skewers, piercing through the sides and thereby keeping the scallions in place. Alternate 4 mushroom halves and 3 scallion-wrapped scallops on each skewer. (Reserve any remaining scallion greens for another use.)

Grill the skewers, basting with some of the reserved sauce, for 3 minutes. Turn, baste, and continue grilling just until the scallops are firm and opaque, about 3 minutes more.

Filet mignon with a great assortment of sides provides a classy dinner for two (naotakem / Flickr).
Filet mignon with a great assortment of sides provides a classy dinner for two (naotakem / Flickr).

This delicious, elegant dinner features a variety of flavors. Serve with sides like baby red potatoes and steamed asparagus.


2 (4-oz.) filet mignon steaks

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salt to taste 

¼ C balsamic vinegar

¼ C dry red wine 


Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over both sides of each steak, and sprinkle with salt to taste.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place steaks in hot pan, and cook for 1 minute on each side, or until browned. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add balsamic vinegar and red wine. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes on each side, basting with sauce when you turn the meat over.

Remove steaks to two warmed plates, spoon one tablespoon of glaze over each, and serve immediately.


This baked version of the famous fried Italian recipe is healthier and simple to make.


1 clove garlic

1 C parsley leaves

½ C seasoned breadcrumbs

Zest of ½ lemon

Salt and pepper

2 boned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry

4 T olive oil

2 lemon wedges


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Chop the garlic together with the parsley and place in a small bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Moisten this mixture with 2 tablespoons of oil.

Lay the boned thighs in a heavy baking pan and coat the top of the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle the chicken with the remaining olive oil and bake for 25 minutes, or until browned. Serve with lemon wedges.

This manicotti recipe calls for lots and lots of cheese (Joelk75 / Flickr).
This manicotti recipe calls for lots and lots of cheese (Joelk75 / Flickr).

This savory pasta dish blends Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese and crabmeat to create a wonderful meal.


4 uncooked manicotti shells

1 T butter

4 tsp. all-purpose flour

1 C fat-free milk

1 T grated Parmesan cheese

1 C lump crabmeat, drained

1/3 C reduced-fat ricotta cheese

¼ C shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

¼ tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning

¼ tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Minced fresh parsley


Cook manicotti according to package directions. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in Parmesan cheese.

In a small bowl, combine the crab, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, lemon-pepper, pepper and garlic powder. Drain manicotti; stuff with crab mixture. Spread ¼ C sauce in an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with stuffed manicotti. Pour remaining sauce over top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Just before serving, sprinkle with parsley. 


Feeling zesty? This dish encompasses lots of Mexican-style flavors … plus, anything served in a ramekin looks extra cute/elegant.


¼ lb. lean ground beef

¼ tsp. chili powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

¾ C biscuit/baking mix

3 T cold water

1 medium tomato, sliced

¼ C chopped green pepper

2 T sour cream

2 T mayonnaise

2 T shredded Cheddar cheese

1 T chopped onion


In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chili powder, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine biscuit mix and water to form a soft dough. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of two 10-oz. ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray. Fill with meat mixture; top with tomato and green pepper. Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese and onion; spread evenly over the tops.

Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Once topped with a savory sauce, these beef fillets will be irresistible (avlxyz / Flickr).
Once topped with a savory sauce, these beef fillets will be irresistible (avlxyz / Flickr).

These tender beef fillets are complete when they’re topped with a flavorful, rich sauce. 


2 (6-8 oz.) beef fillets

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 T canola oil

1 T butter

1 small yellow onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 small red onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 bunch green onions, chopped

6 shallots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ C cognac (could substitute with ¼ C red wine or beef broth)

¼ C beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste


Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Brown fillets in hot oil in an ovenproof or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes on each side. Remove fillets, reserving drippings in skillet.

Melt butter in drippings over medium-high heat. Add yellow and red onion rings, and sauté 5 minutes.

Add green onions, shallots, and garlic, and sauté 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in cognac and broth; cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until liquid evaporates (about 5 minutes). Place fillets on top of onion mixture in skillet. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of meat registers 135 degrees F (medium rare).

Remove fillets from skillet, reserving onion mixture in skillet; cover fillets loosely, and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes.

Cook onion mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fillets.


A medley of broccoli, cheese, tomatoes, Dijon mustard, and more cheese … what could be better tasting?


1 lb. plum tomatoes

6 C broccoli florets

2 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T butter

3 T all-purpose flour

4 C milk, warm

2 1/3 C grated aged Asiago

2 ½ C grated sharp Cheddar

2 T Dijon mustard

1 ½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. fresh black pepper

2 T chopped fresh thyme

1 lb. penne, cooked and drained


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Toss the tomatoes and broccoli with the oil and roast separately on parchment-lined baking pans for 30 minutes.

Whisk the butter and flour in a medium-size pot over medium-high heat until foamy. Add the milk. Whisk until thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the cheeses, mustard, salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir in the pasta and broccoli and transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with the tomatoes and bake about 30 minutes.


This creamy, savory casserole dish is slightly reminiscent of chicken pot pie, but includes fresh lobsters, a bit of brandy and egg noodles.


2 (1 ½ lb.) fresh lobsters

3 T salt

½ tsp. salt

3 T butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 T tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

¼ C brandy

½ C heavy cream

1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

½ lb. egg noodles, cooked and drained 

1 T fresh lemon juice

6 sprig thyme


Cook the lobsters: Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water and 3 tablespoons of the salt to a boil and plunge the lobsters, headfirst, into the water with long-handled tongs. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 4 minutes. Drain the lobsters and place in the prepared ice bath to cool. Crack the shells and remove the tail and claw meat. Reserve the shells. Cut the tail meat into ½-inch thick medallions and the claw meat into large pieces and set aside.

Prepare the casserole: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat four 1-cup-capacity baking dishes or one 9-inch round baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside. Melt the remaining butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft. Add the reserved shells, tomato paste, and garlic and cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes. Move the pan away from the heat and add the brandy. Return to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking continuously. Reduce heat to medium low, add 1 ½ cups water and simmer until thickened slightly — about 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and stir in the cream, remaining salt, and pepper. Add the egg noodles, lobster meat, and lemon juice and toss to coat. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared baking dishes, cover with foil, and bake until the lobster is cooked through and the noodles are hot — about 20 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve immediately.

Rib-eye steaks are known for being tender and juicy (tr.robinson / Flickr).
Rib-eye steaks are known for being tender and juicy (tr.robinson / Flickr).

Rib-eye steaks are known for their juicy flavors … and it’s heaven on earth after they’re grilled and topped with the perfect marinade.



½ C balsamic vinegar

6 T olive oil

1/3 C chopped onion

1 T chopped fresh thyme

1 ½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. black pepper

4 (12-oz.) boneless rib-eye steaks


Whisk vinegar and olive oil together in a large nonreactive baking dish. Add onion, thyme, salt and pepper.

Marinate steaks in the marinade and refrigerate for 1 hour; turn occasionally.

Grill should be heated to medium-high. Shake onion bits from the steaks and grill until medium-rare (about five minutes) or longer if desired. Serve steaks, thinly sliced, after resting (tented with aluminum foil on a cutting board) for 10 minutes.


Yield: Serves 4

Carnivores of all ages will be delighted with this savory, succulent meal.


1 tsp. whole cloves

3 dried bay leaves

½ tsp. whole black peppercorns

1 tsp. dried sage, crumbled

2 tsp. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

1 lb. pork tenderloin

1 T olive oil


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Finely grind the cloves, bay leaves, and whole peppercorns using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and toss with the sage, sugar and salt. Pat the spice mixture evenly onto all sides of the tenderloin.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloin and sear on all sides (about 5 minutes).

Transfer to the oven, and roast until the tenderloin's internal temperature reads 140 degrees F (about 20 minutes).

Transfer the meat to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

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