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Top 5 Valentine’s Day Dinner Recipes

salmon stk.
salmon stk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The typical date night out with flowers and chocolates can get old for Valentine’s Day, even if it’s with someone new this year. You and your sweetie can change this by some simple DIY dinner ideas.  Making dinner doesn’t have to result in a $100 grocery trip run, or a difficult preparation. Spend quality time in the kitchen with someone that you really care about this Valentine’s Day. Nothing beats getting creative together. Whether you like simple or unique recipes, the list below has something that will suit your taste buds.

Lemon Garlic Salmon


1 Salmon fillet

5-6 cloves of garlic, minced or diced

1 lemon

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub olive oil and garlic onto the salmon filet and make sure it’s distributed evenly. Add salt and pepper to the extent of your liking, and drizzle fresh lemon juice onto salmon. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until salmon flakes apart easily and is a dark pink.

Spicy Mini Meatball Grilled Cheese


1 pound ground beef


1/3 cup romano cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Bread of choice, buttered

4 ounces fontina cheese

2 ounces provolone cheese

Meatballs: Combine all ingredients (except olive oil, butter, and diced tomatoes) in a large bowl. Mix until just combined, but do not over mix! Form meatballs about an inch in diameter and cook in olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Cook until they are browned on all sides. (Don’t worry about them being cooked through yet.) Reduce the heat to medium low and add the diced tomatoes and butter. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

To make grilled cheese, heat skillet or griddle over medium heat and add one cheese on the bottom piece of bread, meatballs in between, and the second cheese on top. Cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden and toasty.

Homemade Pesto Pasta


1 pound spaghetti or other favorite noodle

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup pine nuts

4 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper

2 tomatoes, cut into large slices

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.

While pasta is cooking, combine garlic cloves and pine nuts in a food processor or blender and pulse until chopped. Add basil and olive oil and pulse just until a paste forms. Add cheeses, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

Toss the hot pasta with the pesto in a large bowl and add reserved cooking water ¼ cup at a time or until saucy. Top with fresh tomato slices, season with more salt and pepper and garnish with more Parmesan cheese.

 Indian Butter Chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 onion, diced

3 teaspoons garam masala (found in spice aisle)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 cup tomato sauce

1 bay leaf

2 cups cream

1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and pepper

½ cup frozen peas, defrosted

½ lime

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large, high-sided skillet or 6-quart pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garam masala, ground ginger and chili powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes. Add cream, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, season chicken with kosher salt and pepper. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until chicken is lightly browned on all sides. Transfer chicken to tomato cream sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add peas and remaining butter to sauce and cook until peas are warmed through and butter is melted. Garnish with lime and cilantro leaves and serve plain or with rice.

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

4 cups water

2 cups quinoa

juice of two limes

4 cups black beans, rinsed and drained

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, diced

chopped cilantro, for garnish

Bring the water to a boil in a covered pan. Add the quinoa, stir, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer, covered, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let quinoa stand for a few minutes, then add the lime juice and mix together. Let it cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cooled quinoa with the black beans, tomato, and avocado. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro, and also add salsa if desired.

Collegian Entertainment Reporter Rae Ehly can be reached at 

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