I wanted to design a three-course Valentines Day menu for under $30 including wine, something fun and sweet but attainable on a lower price range than going out. I’m the type of person where quality time reigns supreme, so if you’re like me and think a romantic night at home is as good as it gets (or your partner feels that way!), check out this easy and affordable menu.
You’ll start with sharing a meat and cheese board and opening a bottle of wine. Next, serve up pan fried butterflied jumbo shrimp with a souped-up mushroom aglio e olio (cut the mushrooms if you’re a mushroom hater ha, but absolutely follow the other steps). Dessert is inspired by the adorable french toast churro bites that Vera from Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts posted back in January, just as a dessert rather than breakfast! I also am adding a Bailey’s chocolate dipping sauce I think you’ll love (definitely not breakfast!).
You’ll note that I allot a small amount for the bottle of wine. We’re lucky in Canada that we can get a nice bottle for ten to fifteen dollars. You can definitely up your overall budget if you want to (or lower it if you don’t enjoy a glass of wine), but I’ve included some suggestions at the bottom of this post in the ten to fifteen dollar range.
Meat and Cheese Board
Serves two for $8
Salami D’Amore (or similar), 8 slices- $1.04
Cheese smalls (check baskets in the deli)- $7
For your meat and cheese board, I recommend shopping for everything else first and then using the remainder of your budget to pick out a few favorite items to enjoy. These are little bites that are being consumed in small amounts, so don’t be afraid to ask for 8 slices of salami or a small hunk of cheese.
Shrimp and Mushroom Spaghetti
$6.15 for two, or $3.08 per person
Six jumbo shrimp (defrosted)- $3.70
~225grams of mushrooms, sliced- $1.77
1/2 an onion- $0.40
Pantry staples- pepper, chili flakes, garlic, parmesan, lemon pepper
Step number one is to put a pot on to boil to cook your spaghetti in. For your sauce, start by really finely chopping garlic and onions- if you’re in a hurry or not confident in your dicing skills, feel free to pull out a fine grater or microplane and use that. Pop them in a skillet with a healthy amount of olive oil, chili flakes and a dash of pepper. Turn the heat on low-medium as we’re going to small dice our mushrooms (just set them aside after) and butterfly your shrimp, and we don’t want to have to touch a pan with seafood-y hands.
If you’re like me and using frozen shrimp, either pull them out a few hours in advance or put the frozen shrimp into a bowl in the sink and continuously run cool water into the bowl to defrost them. If you have purchased zipperbacks, just remove the shell and legs (discard them). Next, using a sharp paring knife and a cutting board, run the tip of your knife up the outside curve of your shrimp where it has already been cleaned- you essentially want it to be a deeper groove. When you cook the shrimp, it will flare open more which makes it look dramatic and gives more surface area to any seasoning you put on. I liberally seasoned mine with lemon pepper and left them on a plate until my pasta was ready.
Hopefully your onions and garlic are softened enough to add in your mushrooms and get them cooking down as well. When your pasta is placed in the pot you have ~8 minutes, so I’d turn on the burner under your pan for the shrimp and get it hot- I had mine on medium. Once your pasta has been cooking for about 5 minutes, put your shrimp in the pan with some oil. Also, take a ladleful of your pasta water and put it in your sauce pan- turn it up to high heat and reduce it out. When your shrimp are pink and white and opaque, put them on a fresh plate until you’re ready to plate dinner.
When your pasta is cooked, spoon or tong it into your sauce pan and mix it around with a liberal dusting of parmesan (the cheese helps your mushrooms, onions and garlic stick to the pasta). Take a serving and place it on a plate along with half the shrimp for each of you! Dinner is ready.
“Churro” French Toast Bites (Original Recipe) and Bailey’s Chocolate Dipping Sauce
$3.39 for Two, or $1.70 per person
3 slices plain white bread- $0.18
1 egg- $0.23
2-4 ounces of milk- $0.06-0.12 (depending on if you use Bailey’s for your dipping sauce)
1/4 cup of chocolate chips- $1.00
Pantry Staples- white sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, butter
Optional: Baileys Irish Cream (2 ounces to melt your chocolate in, add on $1.92)
The premise of making your french toast bites is exactly the same as any other french toast, it’s the preparation of your bread that is different. If you’re a smartypants you’ll have or will purchase a small heart cookie cutter. If you’re not (like me), you’ll be using a paring knife. If you’re using a paring knife, let me help you with the secret on this- press, don’t saw. Start with the bottom V of the heart, then do the little v of the top and carefully press the curves at the top with your knife to connect the two and make a heart. Voila, a heart shaped hunk of bread. Cut out about three per slice of bread and set them aside for a few hours to let them dry out.
When it’s time to make your dessert, start by putting a small sauce pan on the stove with low heat and a small amount of butter. While the butter is melting, put in a plate a healthy dusting of cinnamon and sugar mixed together and set aside. Next, in a shallow bowl, you’ll need to whisk together an egg, approximately 2 ounces of milk and a splash of vanilla.
Once your butter is melted, add about 2 ounces of Bailey’s Irish Cream and your 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Keep this on low and stir it with a spatula periodically as it melts and combines.
Get a frying pan going on medium heat with a bit of butter. Once it’s hot, dunk your hearts into the egg and milk mixture and place them in the pan. Flip your hearts when they’re brown, just like any other french toast, and when they’re cooked through deposit them onto your cinnamon sugar plate and toss them a couple of times before putting them on a serving platter.
Your last step is to carefully pour your chocolate dipping sauce into a small bowl and place it into the middle of your serving platter. Curl up on the couch and enjoy dessert together!
So there you have it! The food cost is $17.58, so any of the wine suggestions below will keep you right around $30.
Sawmill Creek Sauvignon Blanc- 10.99 Santa Carolina Cab Sauvignon $10.49
Emiliana Adobe Rose Syrah- $12.99 Henkell Trocken Sekt- $14.49
Shop the Post
JCP Home Collection JCPenney HomeTM Porcelain Whiteware Set of 4 Round Salad Plates • JCPenney •
Waterford Lismore Diamond Small Ring Bowl • Waterford •
Mikasa Cheers Party Stemless Wine Glasses, Set of 4 – A Macy’s Exclusive • Mikasa •
Wood Cheese & Charcuterie Board • Bey-Berk •
Thirstystone Marble Rectangular Cheese Board • Thirstystone •
Thirstystone Marble Cheese Board with Wood Accent • Thirstystone •
Anthropologie Agate Cheese Board • Anthropologie •
Villeroy & Boch Dinnerware, Urban Nature Oval Serving Platter, 16 1/2″ x 10″ • Villeroy & Boch •
RED VANILLA Red Vanilla Serving Platter •
What are your plans for Valentines? I’d love to hear!