So you want to have a memorable Valentine's Day but you've been pinching so many pennies that Abe Lincoln slaps you every time you open your wallet? Never fear, you can still have a memorable evening.
First, I have to say after a visit to Walmart yesterday, they have some pretty decent looking roses in some nice arrangements. Now depending on your significant other you could spring for the dozen roses, the rose bouquet or the single solitary rose. Personally I think a dozen roses is a little cliche and less meaningful than a single rose but if your SO thinks anything less is cheap, stick with what you know.
Next, music. You can kill two birds with one stone on this one. Now back in the age of dinosaurs a surefire way to show someone how much you love them was to make a mix tape featuring either your SO's favorite songs, songs that marked significant moments in your relationship or songs that made you think about that person. These days I guess you could burn a cd to give to the person after you listen to it through dinner or set up an IPod/MP3 playlist.
Now, what to do for dinner? My favorite has always been Fish Papillote. It's light, healthy, tastes great and involves festive paper hearts! Here is a great recipe I came across recently for Mahi Mahi en Papillote. The prep is a bit more involved than the usual papillote I've done but it looks to be worth it. For something a bit more simple there's this recipe which involves fish, lemon, white wine and asparagus.
Now that dinner's out of the way what's for dessert? Fondue seems to be making a comeback but can be messy and expensive (good melty cheese can start at $4 a wedge and sorry but Velveeta just doesn't cut it). Instead I suggest an old reliable favorite, chocolate covered strawberries. No, this doesn't mean spending a fortune at a bakery or ordering from the florist or Edible Arrangements. Chocolate covered strawberries can be made the night before or earlier in the day and chilled until it's time to serve. Head to the fondue section of your local grocery store (you know the place where all the fancy cheeses are kept?) and pick up a bag or container of chocolate discs. Pick up the biggest strawberries you can find and some wax paper.
Once home, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or if you don't have one boil some water in a pot and put the chocolate in a metal bowl (make sure it's large enough that it won't flip over or sink into the water). In the meantime rinse the strawberries and pat dry and place some wax paper on a cookie tray. Once the chocolate has melted completely dip the strawberries and place them on the wax paper to cool, then place the tray in the fridge until it's time to serve. Champagne and strawberries are a match made in heaven but if you can't afford real champagne, my personal favorite substitution is Korbel Brut. Do not, I repeat, NOT buy Arbor Mist Raspberry Sparkling Wine! It's disgustingly sweet and too flat to be considered sparkling. A surefire way to ruin your night!
And there we have it. A nice romantic and elegant dinner for two at an affordable price. Now it all depends on the love of your life but one bit of advice that seems to pertain to many people out there: However little amount you spend, however much you save to achieve the magical night, DON'T EVER TELL THEM! Not that this should be a subject that would come up but boasting about the fact you were both smart and frugal could come across to your SO as being cheap. Of course if being economical turns the other person on, well boast away.
In any event, wishing you an enjoyable Valentine's Day. Chow for now!