This article contains opinion.

While Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating relationships, trying to make the day special can get overwhelming. 

One of the key parts of the day is the Valentine’s Day meal. In an effort to eliminate a little bit of the day’s stress, here are some ideas for that meal. Whether you’re looking to go out or want something homemade, The Penn has you covered.

Steak and Green Beans:

The key to cooking steak is to remember that less is more. Salt, pepper and garlic are all you need for seasoning. Heat up some olive oil, sear the steak for 3 minutes on each side, finish it off with 10 minutes in the oven and then let it rest. The biggest mistake people make when cooking steak is cutting it right after it finishes cooking, resulting in all the juices and flavors of the meat being lost. Make sure to leave your steak untouched for 5-6 minutes before digging in.

Maybe you don’t feel like eating out but still don’t want to cook. In that case, check out Romeo’s Pizzeria and Mediterranean Kitchen’s special on Valentine’s Day — a heart-shaped, large pizza with two toppings for $13.99.

Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce: 

Anyone can open a can of pre-made sauce and heat it over the stove. What’s more impressive is someone who can make homemade spaghetti sauce, which is surprisingly simple. Simmer diced tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, some chopped garlic, a little sugar and whatever other herbs and spices you want for 20 minutes, and you’re good to go. The secret is to is to stir in 3-4 tablespoons of butter once the sauce is simmering to make it creamy. Finish it off with some fresh basil, noodles and a protein. Voila!

Don’t feel like making pasta but still want to recreate the iconic scene from “Lady and the Tramp”? Make a reservation at Donatello’s Downtown Carmel. It might be a little pricier than usual, but you’re guaranteed to have a traditional, romantic experience that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in town.

Garlic Rosemary Chicken: 

While Indiana doesn’t have an Olive Garden, there’s no reason you can’t copy one of its best non-pasta dishes. Cut the top off a head of garlic, drizzle it in olive oil, wrap it in foil and cook it in the oven for an hour. Use the same pan you cooked your chicken in to sauté your mushrooms and make your sauce (butter, chicken stock, salt, pepper, cooked garlic and a little white wine). Once you’ve reduced your sauce and added the chicken back in, as well as a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, if you’re feeling fancy, add spinach on top of everything for 2 minutes until it wilts without becoming a soppy mess. Add a little lemon juice to top it all off and serve with mashed potatoes.

It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without dessert. If baking isn’t your thing, then Roseanne’s Everyday Gourmet has you covered. Located on the plaza just past Starbucks, Roseanne’s has a variety of pastries all baked fresh in-house every day.

Red Velvet Cookies ‘n Créme Bars: 

Valentine’s Day lends itself to red-themed desserts. However, baking a whole cake for two may not be ideal. Instead, use a box of red velvet cake mix to make a dessert that is a bit more manageable. Follow the instructions on the box to make the batter, but before baking, add a layer of Oreos by placing them in the batter.

While the bars are cooking, melt down some Hershey’s Cookies ‘N Créme candy bars to put on top of the cooked base. Then, put the bars in the fridge to solidify for 20 minutes, and top it off with a drizzle of chocolate for an upgraded take on the red velvet cake.





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