Valentine’s Day is celebrated with tokens of flowers, chocolates and of course dinner dates as far as I can remember. This is why people often brace themselves for Valentine’s traffic not just on the road but also at restaurants and other date-night establishments. But as I discovered this year, you need not go out of the house to make your Valentine’s Date special and romantic. Here are some do-it-yourself date ideas for a romantic evening right at home.
Set the Tone. There are three main components of a good dining experience; food, ambiance, and service. Oftentimes the first thing you’ll notice is the ambiance in the restaurant. As such, creating a romantic ambiance for your Valentine’s Date at home is important. Think dimmed lights or candle lit settings with soft music playing in the background. You may also want to check your curtains and other elements of your home décor to make sure that they fit the romantic mood that you’re aiming for.
Plan your Meal. Fine dining is often reserved for the most special occasions. Rightly so because fine dining can be quite expensive. However, for me the value of a dining experience lies more on one’s enjoyment rather than its’ cost. As such, I would rather prepare the favourite dishes of my husband and kids rather than follow a set menu from a fine dining restaurant. For our home date this Valentine’s Day, I opted to prepare my husband’s favourite vegetable dish Chopsuey Guisado.
Chopsuey Guisado Recipe:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup chicken
- 1 cup shrimps
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch – – dissolved in 1 cup water
- 3-4 tablespoons Ajinomoto Sarsaya Oyster Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup cauliflower
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1 medium carrots
- 1 small bell pepper
- 1 medium white onion
- 3-4 pieces mushroom
- 5 pieces young corn
- Heat oil over medium heat in a wok or big skillet. Saute garlic until softened.
- Add the chicken slices and cook. Stir until all sides are done.
- Add the shrimps and stir until all side are done
- Pour the cornstarch mixture into the wok and add the Ajinomoto Sarsaya Oyster Sauce.
- Add the ground pepper and bring to a boil.
- Add broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Cover the pan with a lid for around 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the mushroom and young corn and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp and the sauce has thickened.
- Season with salt if still needed. Serve hot.
My cooking skills aren’t exactly exceptional which is why I rely on tried and tested recipes and special seasonings to make my dishes more special and flavorful. In the case of my Chopsuey Guisado Recipe, I used the Sarsaya Oyster Sauce. I also find canned soups and frozen veggies quite handy in shortening prep time for dishes. But if I really want a shortcut, I just prepare one special dish and order the rest from our favourite resto.
Make Room for Entertainment. Your Valentine’s Date will not be complete without some fun and entertainment. Start by creating a Valentine’s playlist that can also serve as your house music for the entire dinner. You can use the same playlist if you feel like slow dancing in the living room after dinner like the song Beautiful In My Eyes which is my husband’s theme song for me. As for your planned entertainment, think of activities that your partner would enjoy on a Valentine’s Date. It could be binge watching, sipping wine in the patio, a game of football, etc. Anything that your partner will enjoy doing on your date.
My husband and I stayed at home for Valentine’s Day this year, but our celebration is made more special because WE made it special. My simple Chopsuey Guisado Recipe became an elegant dish with a bit of creativity in plating and garnish. We were also able to celebrate with the kids in a cozy and intimate setting away from the crowds and the Valentine rush.