A Valentine's meal for 2 - at home!

It's Valentine's Day, you can't get a babysitter because everyone you'd ask already has plans so you're stuck at home. But you still want to do something a little bit special to mark the day, so what do you do? Simple - you have a Valentine's meal for 2 at home!

Solving problems

It's always a pain when you try to have a romantic meal at home, I know - the kids never want to settle, they don't give you the time to organise a meal or they want so much attention while you're eating that it's not possible to enjoy any time together.

With little ones it really can be a struggle, I used to wait until the boys were in bed to have our meals. I'd put them to bed and then spring into action, all the time keeping my fingers crossed that they would stay asleep.

True love doesn't happen right away; it's an ever-growing process. It develops after you've gone through many ups and downs, when you've suffered together, cried together, laughed together.

Ricardo Montalbano

These days I have to come up with ways to entertain my boys while Hubby and I have a meal. For older children it's easier - you can convince them to watch a movie. Find out what movie they most want to watch and let them, you could even sweeten the deal by offering popcorn or sweets for them to eat while watching the movie.

Another problem is having everything ready so you can just go into the kitchen and start cooking when you're ready. I tend to prepare as much as possible beforehand and store it in the fridge, then I pull it out once I'm ready to start cooking.

The meal

What to cook when you're at home can be a difficult decision, you want something that doesn't take long to cook but that is tasty enough to be a little special. That's why I always choose steak - not only is it the Hubby's favourite but it's easy to cook.

Couple the steak with mash and corn and you've got a tasty (and somewhat healthy!) meal that is quick and easy to cook. I love cooking steak, it's all about judging for yourself how you like your steak and because I've done it so many times I'm pretty good at cooking the perfect medium-rare steak.

I use a griddle pan to cook my steak which makes nice looking lines on the outside of the meat. I love my steak to have a nice crispy outside but be soft and succulent on the inside and my griddle pan helps me achieve that.

The timings on this meal are key, I tend to start cooking my potatoes first. I peal and chop them and put them in a pan of boiling water, after a few minutes I heat up my griddle pan* for the steak and pop the steak onto a hot pan, then I put my corn into a pan of boiling water. This way it's all finished cooking at the same time (usually).

When serving I leave my potatoes (now mashed*) in the pan until I have everything else on the plate. Cold mash is awful so the longer it can be kept warm the better! And don't forget a good knob of butter for your corn.

You can download a recipe card for the meal at the bottom of this post.

The dessert

Dessert is a little easier, I mean you could settle for a bowl of ice-cream and leave it at that. However if you wanted to do something a little more special creme brûlée is perfect - it's easy to make and you can prepare it the day before you need it.

You can download my recipe for creme brûlée (makes 6 ramekins*) below but here are a few of my tips for making it.

Have all your utensils and bowls to hand. Don't make the mistake I did when I first made creme brûlée and pour the egg mixture into the pan with the boiling hot cream - your eggs will cook far too fast and you'll have scrambled eggs surrounded by cream rather than the custard mixture you're after!

Adding vanilla to your creme brûlée is essential and finding the right vanilla is totally a personal choice - I've found that vanilla paste (Morrisons do a brilliant one) works well. With 1 tsp/tbsp of paste it flavours the custard but you also have lots of little black dots within the custard (vanilla beans) which helps it look good. I've used paste and vanilla pods, I prefer paste. The pods don't seem to flavour the custard as much as the paste and you don't get as many beans in the custard either. But like I said, it's a personal choice.

I don't know if you can see the vanilla beans in there but there's plenty.

My last tip is when you're using your fine sieve don't try to push the last of the mixture through the sieve with a spoon like I did. The point of the sieve is to remove any air bubbles and if you push through the sieve you're just pushing the bubbles through. It doesn't make a lot of difference to the custard itself apart from making it look better when it's cooked.

The creme brûlée custard waiting to go into the oven.

Another thing you could do to make the creme brûlée even more special is to have a cinnamon apple base. I did this at Christmas when I had the family over for Christmas lunch and it went down very well. The cinnamon apple goes well with the vanilla flavour of the creme brûlée and if your apple chunks are big enough there's some texture in there too! And again, it's easy to make.

To caramelise the sugar on top of your creme brûlée it's best to use a chef's blow torch* - scary to use the first time but you soon get used to it. And actually I get the Hubby to do it for me!

Apple cinnamon base of the creme brûlée.

Finished creme brûlée with a shortbread biscuit (one I made at Christmas)

I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Enjoy your Valentine's Day

Now I know when you have children it's difficult to enjoy any time alone at home, but you can try right?

Make a meal, enjoy a dessert, and spend a little time together. And even if you do get interrupted at least you're spending a little time with each other on Valentine's Day.

Feel free to download the recipe cards by entering your email address below:

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Do you have a favourite Valentine's meal?

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Cuddle Fairy