Not everyone has time or opportunity for the "romantic dinner for two" we hear so much about around Valentine's Day. Many of us have kids who need supper, too.
Why not combine the two and prepare a lovely meal for the entire family?
The Family Table
Most likely, the kids will adore the idea of a Valentine's Day meal. Encourage them to decorate the house with red and pink heart cut-outs, and to strew paper doilies down the center of the table.
Put heart-shaped chocolates in pink or red paper cups and set these on the table - promises of sweets to come.
We selected thick loin lamb chops as the centerpiece for this mid-week feast. These juicy chops are an indulgence worth making - plus they cook under the boiler in minutes. And everyone loves them, from the smallest to the oldest child.
To go with the chops, we suggest a medley of wild and white rice. This is a little different form the usual weekday rice side dish but the extra effort makes it special.
The curried carrots are a nice change, too, from the norm. The carrots' sweetness nicely offsets the mild curry flavor - and both meld deliciously with the lamb.
Finally, we suggest super ice cream sundaes for dessert. While the recipe calls for pink ice cream (strawberry or peppermint stick) or raspberry sorbet, if your family prefers, choose another flavor.
Premium ice creams are a good choice for a celebratory dessert such as this. They are rich and creamy, and come in such appealing flavors, it may be hard to choose the one you like best. If so, why not buy several?
The ice cream is topped with homemade chocolate sauce and homemade raspberry sauce, both easy and both made ahead of time. For the raspberry sauce, don't hesitate to use frozen berries if fresh are scarce or prohibitive. But when you buy them, look for plain frozen raspberries - not those packed in sugar or syrup. You can also make this with strawberries.
A sundae is not a sundae without whipped cream dolloped on top. Sweeten it with a few tablespoons of confectioners' or granulated sugar and, if you like, a dash of vanilla extract.
Instead of cherries on top, we recommend typical Valentine's Day candies, such as heart-shaped sugar candies or chocolate hearts. Have fun with the toppings - red and pink sprinkles, red hots, or whatever else strikes your fancy in the candy or baking aisles.
Don't Forget to Say "I Love You"
Remind your family ahead of time that you are planning this festive meal. This is not the night for grab-and-run suppers.
Let this meal be an oasis in the week, when the family gathers to share good food and laughter. It's also an opportunity for us remember how much we love each other. Happy Valentine's Day!