Valentine’s Day is a holiday that tends to cause us stress, whether or not we’re in a relationship! What many of us fail to remember is that it’s a day to be celebrated with the people you love most, whether it’s with friends and family, or your significant other. Food Network The Kitchen host and cookbook author, Katie Lee joined me recently for an interview to discuss how we can throw the perfect Valentine’s Day party for singles, the secret to a romantic homemade meal, and how you can ease your worries and stress level and have the best Valentine’s Day yet.
Candace Rose: What’s the secret to throwing the perfect Valentine’s Day party for singles?
Katie Lee: “I think that Valentine’s Day causes a lot of stress for a lot of people. People have this unnecessary pressure that it needs to be the perfect romantic night, when really it’s about having fun and being relaxed whether you have a special someone or if you’re spending it with your friends, family, your single friends. It’s all about having a good time, and this is the night to have a plan. You don’t want to wing it on Valentine’s Day. I think that you devise a menu that’s indulgent but easy to execute, and I like to make lists for my lists. My grocery list I divided the list by produce, meat, dairy, by miscellaneous, by alcohol – everything that I need to get. Then I head out to the grocery store so I can do quick efficient shopping. I also like to take advantage of deals. Look for what’s on sale or on special.
I like to give a little/get a little, so I’ve partnered with Chase Freedom. They’re offering 5% cash back on all grocery store purchases until March 31st and also that’s good for movie theaters and Starbucks stores, so those are good for gifts as well.
Then I come home, and for the hors d’oeuvres and the desserts I like to do assembly only and that’s kind of a general rule with me when I’m entertaining. If it’s a dinner party, a cocktail party, whatever, it’s good to have some assembly only. A great Valentine’s Day hors d’oeuvres is to take a baguette, slice it up and toast it, spread it with some fresh ricotta cheese, thinly sliced strawberries, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, and you get this great salty sweet. It’s a homemade treat that you just assemble and it takes a few minutes, that’s all.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice for couples looking to set the mood for a romantic homemade dinner on Valentine’s Day?
Katie Lee: “For your dinner on Valentine’s Day – I always set the table the night before so it’s one less thing to think about when I’m cooking. Everyone looks better in candlelight – so a lot of candles, I like to do some short, some tall and always unscented because you don’t want the scent of the candle to cover up all that good food that you just made.
When it comes to centerpieces it’s really nice to do an edible centerpiece, so that you can use it later on. I’ll buy a bunch of pomegranates and put them in a bowl. You can get some edible glitter from a craft store and put that on top, and then a couple of days later you can use those pomegranates in a smoothie or on your yogurt.”
Candace Rose: What’s the secret to choosing the perfect menu and when should we start planning for the big day?
Katie Lee: “It’s never too early to plan. I’m a planner when it comes to cooking. Like I said, I like to make my lists, I like to set the table the night before, so having an idea about what you’re going to do. If you’re single I think that takes the pressure off. It makes you feel like you’re not going to be alone on Valentine’s Day to have a plan with your friends. If you want to have a singles party, have a wine tasting party. Tell everybody to bring their favorite wine, you provide the hors d’oeuvres and everybody can sample different wines and you never know, cupids arrow might strike.”
Candace Rose: What’s a great gift for that special someone on Valentine’s Day?
Katie Lee: “Looking on social media is a great way to think of gifts for your special someone. Look at their Instagram and Twitter and see if they’ve been posting about anything lately that they’re really into. This is also great if you’ve just started dating somebody to get more of an idea about what they’re into.
You can also look for a gift-ivity, so a gift that’s an activity that you can do together – wine tasting class, a sporting event, movie theater tickets. Any of those things are really fun because it’s an activity, it’s not just a gift, it’s something you can do together.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Katie Lee: “One of my favorite things to cook for Valentine’s Day is steak. I think that that’s an indulgent meal that really is easy to create – also, it’s easy cleanup…only one pan. I’ll take a steak and season it with just salt and pepper and sear it on both sides. Then you want to take it out of the pan and tent it with some foil. In that same pan add a minced shallot and about a cup of red wine, bring it to a quick boil, let it reduce for about a minute, add about a tablespoon of butter and you’re going to have this nice rich glossy sauce to go over your steak.”
Candace Rose: Thank you for the great tips, Katie! Where can we go for more information?
Katie Lee: “You can go to Chase.com/Freedom for all the information on cash back offer.”