What I'm Doing for Valentine's Day
I feel like as a romance author, Valentine’s Day should sort of be my thing. It’s not. I want it to be. Every January, I think, “Maybe I’ll do something completely Instagram-worthy for Valentine’s Day this year!”
But then all of a sudden it’s February 14th, and Mr. Layne and I look at each other, like, “Order pizza, open champagne, and watch Star Trek reruns? Done.”
This year will be similar in that we’re staying in. We don’t go out to dinner all that often anyway, being more of a “sit at the bar and order an appetizer and glass of wine” type of couple. And when we do, it’s always on a Tuesday at 4pm when the restaurant’s mostly deserted. Going out on Friday or Saturday night for a “full dinner” at 8pm is pretty much my nightmare.
Thus, Valentine’s Day at a restaurant, when it’s more crowded than usual, and they always have those limited preset Valentine’s Day dinner when I just want an order of the calamari or burrata appetizer is really not my jam.
But, while we’re staying in this year like we do every year, we do actually have … plans!
Not only that, but for the first time I think … ever? We’re doing gifts.
AHAHAHAH, kidding. We already did gifts. Yeah, that’s right. I’m writing this blog posts on Sunday, February 10th, but we’ve already exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts, because, well … we wanted to. Nothing extravagent, we just spontaneously got each other little things that the other person loves!
Our gifts to each other
What he got me:
I have always been a huge fan of baths ever since high school (I can’t even tell you how many romance novels I’ve read in a bubble bath!), and I’m forever out of bath bubbles.. Normally I am all about the “treat yo’self’” mindset, but for some reason, bath bubbles are the one thing that I feel strangely guilty buying for myself. So … I don’t. I rely solely on Christmas and birthday (April) gifts to keep me in bath supplies, and I can rarely make “my stash” last longer than a month.
My mother-in-law got me a set of these bath bombs for Christmas, and I loved them. And try as I might to make them last, they were gone by February. Without me saying a word about it, Mr. Layne noticed that I was out and replenished my supply in honor of Cupid’s day!
If you’re looking for something for yourself, your lady friend, or a galentine’ suggestion, I highly recommend these! The scents are super strong, but they smell like what they’re supposed to smell like, and thus aren’t too sugary or weirdly perfumey. They also turn the water whatever color the bomb is, which I found alarming at first, but now I love.
What I got him
Of the two of us, Mr. Layne is the one with the sweet tooth. He watches what he eats, so he’ll never suggest ordering dessert at a restaurant, but if there’s a dessert on the table, he will gladly be the one who has ‘the last bite.” Same goes for ice-cream in the house, or the rare time either of us bakes. I’ll have maybe have a small scoop of the ice cream, and be over it for another six months, or have one or two cookies and be good until next Christmas. He, um, “doesn’t let it go to waste.”
His favorite sweet though? See’s Candy. We’re from the Seattle area, where there are Sees Candy shops everywhere. Whenever we’d find ourselves in a mall or pass a See’s store, we’d almost always treat ourselves. One or two for me, fifty for him ;-)
Since moving to New York City, our See’s fix has not been met. They’re not as common on the east coast, or at least not around here. And in the past, whenever I’ve tried to order them online, they’re out of stock of his favorite kinds. This time, I planned ahead! Not only did I get him a can of Toffee-ettes and the dark chocolate Almond Royale, but I got a custom box of his all time favorites: Dark California Brittle and dark chocolate almonds.
But the best part was seeing that See’s had limited Valentine’s Day boxes. I cannot tell you how tickled I was to be able to hand him a bright red heart-shaped box that is the universal symbol for Valentine’s Day :-)
If you’ve got a chocolate lover in your life, or are one yourself, and you haven’t tried See’s, you’re missing out, especially if you’re a dark chocolate fan. Their recipe for the dark chocolate is spot-on; not too sweet, and not too bitter. Perfection. (They’re not Mr. Layne’s favorite, so I didn’t get him any, but I have to mention their famous Scotchmallows, which are dark chocolate, caramel, and a little marshmallow fluff. Even as a non-sweets person, I think they’re fantastic).
Our Valentine’s Day Menu
It’s still a work in progress, but here’s what we’ll be eating for Valentine’s Day:
Beverage - Champagne
Our absolute favorite champagne, introduced to us by our friend Andrew. It’s real champagne (ie, not prosecco, or sparkling wine from California), so it’s pricey, but it’s not crazy expensive like Dom Perignon. It’s our go-to bubbly when we have something to celebrate.
First Course - Antipasto platter
Burrata’s one of our go-to appetizers. A creamier, gooeier take on mozarella, it used to be only found in certain restaurnts, but we’ve been trhilled to see it show up in regular grocery stores. We keep it pretty simple, topped just with a bit of flavorful olive oil and sea salt, paired with a baguette. However, since it’s a holiday, I’m toying with the idea of one of these amazing recipes.
Grilled, marinated artichoke hearts
We love all things artichokes. They add a bit of flavorful freshness alongside rich cheese dishes (see above). They’re kind of a pain to do yourself though, so we usually buy them already prepared. A lot of fancier stores will have a fresh marinated artichoke hearts in their refrigerated prepared section (we get the grilled marinated artichokes from Fresh Direct). Other times you’ll find them in those “olive bars” in the middle of the grocery store. But the ones in a jar in the canned food aisle are pretty delicious too!
Mr. Layne is Italian. Prosciutto is a mainstay in our house for holidays and, well, Tuesdays. Tip: prosciutto is one of those things where you get what you pay for. Yes, there are some cheap versions. And yes, the next price up (most commonly Prosciutto de Parma) is a huge step up in price. But it’s worth it. I’d rather have one piece of “the good stuff,” than an entire package of the cheap stuff.
A nice steak is one of our go-to for fancy occasions. And yes, I said steak, singular. We always buy just one steak and split it between the two of us. As you can see from the nature of this menu and my above ode to See’s chocolate, we don’t treat any food as off-limits. We eat bread, love cheese, and indulge in red meat. But we do prioritize portion control. We eat small amounts of pretty much everything, so that we can have our favorite foods while still fitting into our favorite jeans ☺️ We don’t tend to gus up our meat very often, just basic seasoning and perfectly cooked. But if you’re looking to do something special, we love Steak au Poivre.
Macaroni & Cheese
Homemade macaroni and cheese is one of our go-to special occasion dishes, so it’ll probably be making an appearence at the Valentine’s Day table. We use this recipe, although typically skip the lobster, since the cheese is decadent and delicious all on its own. But we’ve also been flirting with the idea of a cheesy potato dish. I almost hate to say this, but … I’m a little tired of macaroni and cheese. Tell no one. That, or it’s just that I’ve been obsessed with these potatoes ever since I saw them on Pinterest.
We almost always roast some sort of vegetable for dinner. Roasted broccoli’s our favorite, brussels sprouts another favorite. Other times it’ll be green beans or asparagus. The preparation’s the same for all of them. Tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, laid out on a foil-lined baking sheet, and into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes (skinny green beans) all the way up to 40-45 minutes (broccoli & brussels sprouts), or until the vegetable is toasty brown. PS: if the mac and cheese or potato is going to hog the oven, we may switch this plan to a mixed greens salad with a basic oil, red-wine vinegar, and salt dressing.
See’s Candy 😬
Wishing you all a lovely Valentine’s Day whether you’re braving the restaurant scene with your sweetheart, indulging in a bubble bath and relishing your solitude, or hanging out with your galentines!