I had a reader ask me in response to Monday’s post for some suggestions for stay-home-and-cook fancy meals, so I thought it might be fun to scout out a few options and then share them with you guys.
I did a little poking around Pinterest (I may not be good at it, but–newsflash–it’s really useful! Who knew!) and this is what I came up with:
Okay, truth be told, I didn’t need Pinterest for this (except to nab that gorgeous picture) because Shaun and I experienced the realdeal Greek version on our trip to Santorini last summer. This is one of those dishes that is so tender and flavorful that it’s universally appealing. Unless you’re a vegetarian. In which case, you have my sincerest condolences.
And truth be told (again), this dish isn’t really so very fancy or hard to make (although, you’ll want to start early since it needs to cook a while; in fact, if you want to cook ahead and only cook sides on the evening of, it tastes even better on the second day). But it’s still a little more involved and exotic than your average Tuesday night dinner (because who wants to make Turkey meatloaf–again–for Valentine’s Day?).
There are pretty much a bazillion different versions of this floating around the internets, so feel free to browse the ingredients and see which one sounds the most up your alley, but I would definitely go with one that has reviews rather than setting yourself up for the now ubiquitous #pinterestfail.
I made one I found when we were feeling a bit nostalgic after we got home from Greece, and it was delish, but I didn’t save it (told you I’m bad at Pinterest), so, apologies for being no help in the specific recipe department.
Wildfire Crusted Filets
To make up for my lack of specific direction above, let me point you to two very detailed recipes for crusted filet–namely this one with a parmesan crust and this one with a kicky horseradish crust (my husband’s fave).
We’re kind of enamored with these steaks that are knock-offs of the filet medallions that a Chicago-area restaurant called Wildfire serves (that link goes to my Chi-town blog recap, not the restaurant website). They’re our go-to special dinner choice, even though I’m not even a red meat kinda girl. (not that you would know it from my suggestions so far).
But–truth be told (man, I like that phrase today)–we love the buttery, crispy gorgeousness you put on top as much as the steaks, so we usually cut the meat in half horizontally, so that it’s only an inch thick or so (total money saver, too, since these bad boys are pricey). I realize this is practically sacrilege to a true steak-lover (believe me, the “&%$#??!” look I got from the bright-eyed, eager meat manager at Super 1 that one time he offered to custom cut my steaks, and I asked for thin ones, was enough to assure me that we.are.weird. As if I didn’t already know #sixkids #duh).
I’m pretty sure if you’re a thick (aka not-weird-like-us) steak lover, though, these would still turn out juuuuuuust fine.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
And now, meandering back into the world I live in pretty much every day, let’s talk chicken.
Pretty much the antithesis of fancy, right?
Unless you stuff it. This is one of the few times when being full of it is a good thing.
But…full of what?
Um…whatever you can dream up pretty much. This is the internet at its finest, folks. I am sharing a compilation that someone else came up with to share yet more people’s ideas. It’s called meta-sharing, y’all. And it’s awesome.
I’m already planning on giving several of these versions a go, but not on Valentine’s Day.
Because this year, we’re going French and making…
Seriously, Abbie, you’re making breakfast for dinner on V-day? Tres lame, no?
That’s an actual picture of an actual crepe that I actually ate in an actual Parisian creperie. And it was actually as amazing as it looks. (Side note: there’s warm, gooey, fresh apple filling inside *drool*).
Call us optimistic fools, but we’re going to attempt to make authentic French crepes–both of the savory and the dessert variety–for Valentine’s.
And if you’re wondering why the big bad bolding of the word “authentic,” it’s because my experiences with crepes before Paris had heretofore been limited to sad, rubbery, limp, imitations of the real thing.
I didn’t think I liked crepes. And then Paris happened, and I discovered that I didn’t like crepes at all.
I adored them. Like… you-want-my-firstborn-okay-here-he-is-now-give-me-the-plate obsessed.
(There is probably more than one reason why I still have an, ahem, healthy chunk of baby-weight change to lose, but I’m going with that trip to Paris and crepes as being way up there at the top of the list).
I sincerely doubt our beginner attempts will even reach the same stratosphere as the ones we ate at that tiny creperie in Montmartre.
But I’m still looking forward to giving it the old college try. I haven’t landed on the perfect recipe yet, but if they actually turn out decent, I’ll be sure to share.
What about you guys? If you’re the cook-at-home types, do you have a go-to “fancy” meal for special occasions?
What about crepes? Ever had any that produced a chorus of angels singing?
I always make an Italian meal for Valentine’s. Nothing fancy, but this year it will be Spaghetti and Meatballs, garlic bread and salad and something chocolate for dessert!
Hurray for crêpes! We make it every sunday night…and truth be told, savory crêpes are called galettes and dessert variety are called crêpes. The first are made with buckwheat and the second with wheat. Try savory with smoked salmon, dill and lemon, and heavy cream or the classic “complète” with ham, eggs and grated cheese. Try the dessert one with just lemon juice and granulated sugar, or the “Mont Blanc” with chestnut spread and Chantilly! Enjoy!
Oh man, Sophie, want to come over and make some for us? It’s just a short 7 hour plane flight away, right? : ) I will give your suggestions a shot!
Ok, just time to pack for 8 people (yes, 6 children here too)! Are you really ready for this invasion ??? :))
My hubby LOVES lamb, so when I want to make a fancy at home dinner I usually make lamb in a balsamic reduction with risotto. The lamb recipe is super easy and the whole thing comes together in 30 minutes. It’s a winner! Looking forward to getting ideas from everyone else though, you can never have enough go to recipes.
Look at you go! That sounds super-fancy and fun (although, I don’t like lamb; I know, sad).
Thanks Abbie! Here’s one you might like and it’s super beyond easy. A couple nights ago I forgot about dinner until about 4pm. I had some salmon fillets in the freezer and needed a new marinade to flavor them because I was bored of our same old. I used about a 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 2 TBS of soy sauce and a couple cloves of garlic chopped up. Put it all into a ziplock when I preheated the oven (400 degrees) by the time the oven was preheated I just threw it all onto a backing sheet lined with foil. Voila, add rice and veggie and dinner is served. I honestly felt like I phoned it in, but hubby raved about the dinner!
This sounds amazing! Do you have a link to a recipe that you use? TIA!!!
Hi Heidi, sure! Here’s the link for the lamb….https://allrecipes.com/recipe/lamb-chops-with-balsamic-reduction/
The risotto I just do from memory but I’m sure you can find a good recipe if you look around. Honestly, the secret is just to be patient and keep stirring. Oh and don’t be stingy with the wine. Enjoy!
Thank you, Jennifer! Yum. My soon to be 17 year old daughter (sniff, sniff) just requested lamb chops for her birthday dinner. I never make lamb because my husband doesn’t like it-but I’m thinking I’ll make these for she and I, and something else for the rest of my guys! And I never attempt risotto-but love it when I go out. Maybe I’ll give it a shot!
Happy to help Heidi! I think it’s super sweet that you’re making something special for your daughter! I imagine you could probably make the same sauce for your husband and just use beef for his protein, that way you don’t have to make another dinner for him. I hope you all enjoy dinner and that it’s special for you daughter!
Ok, here’s a basic recipe for risotto and you can change it up a ton of different ways. I’ll give you some ideas after the recipe.
For risotto you need arrborio rice, no other rice has the correct starchiness. Use a mix of EVOO and butter or marg and brown some shallots or onions in the bottom of a sauce pan. When the shallots or onions are mostly browned add in your rice and gently brown the rice a bit (maybe 5 mins tops) before adding in your liquid. Then start with your wine (because you want the alcohol to cook off) and add a half a cup at a time, stirring slowly until it’s all absorbed. You want the dish to be boiling gently as you’re stirring. After the wine is all absorbed, you’ll add in your chicken stock, again a half cup at a time until it’s absorbed, still stirring the whole time. You’ll be able to see when the rice is cooked and the sauce is becoming good and thick (I think it’s 4-5 cups of liquid total). At this point you can add in some parm cheese or any other flavoring you want. Ex. mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, seafood Make sure to taste and season but it’s super easy and yummy. Hope this helps! Enjoy.
We like to make salmon over bok choy for a special dish. My husband is a great cook. Although, we plan to pick up take out to celebrate this year and I’m a-ok with that!
I am trying to think if I’ve ever had bok choy. I THINK I have?? That’s awesome that your hubby’s a good cook. Shaun tries and can follow a recipe really well, but he hasn’t had much experience striking out on his own. Oh, and takeout? Sounds great! 🙂