I'm sorry to say this and please don't think less of me, but it's just an honest person's honest opinion. So many people say that Valentine's Day has become a Hallmark Holiday. Yes, Okay, We get it. Well, I'm sure you'll be surprised, but I COMPLETELY DISAGREE! And your view on Valentine's Day is 100% your own, just please, please, please, hear me out. (And the dessert ideas are towards the bottom in hopes you will hear me out).
First, I tend to think that the people who say Hallmark Holiday about Valentine's Day are doing it wrong. It's not about cards or presents or spending bunches of money- it's about showing the person you love just how much you love them. News Flash: "RELATIONS DON'T COUNT". Do something special that leaves a lasting memory. Note, I didn't say expensive. If you want to go expensive, by all means go expensive, but you don't need to do expensive to leave a beautiful memory and have a fantastic evening.
Second, Tell me, when was the last time you did something to show the person you love how much you love them? When was the last time they did something to show you how much they love you? Actions speak louder than words and I don't see anything so wrong with a day that reminds us of this. That's how I think Valentine's Day should be viewed- as a giant post-it note of a reminder. Reminding us to show the people we love that we love them. In my mind there aren't enough of these days.
Balloons: Balloons are always fun, blow up a bunch and fill your special person's car or closet or even the shower with them. Balloons are cheap but fun. You can even take this idea just a little romantic, and put a cute rolled up message inside just a single balloon and strategically place this single balloon somewhere. Make sure the note is obvious in size or might be missed.
Treasure Hunt: Something that I don't see or hear a lot of anymore. It's hard to put together a good treasure hunt at any time, but especially on Valentine's Day, and what the heck do you do for a prize right. Well, first of all, one has to know that a treasure hunt is really all about the suspense. Check out this how to.
Roses: Rose petals are never overrated, NEVER. And these are easy, no one needs to know where you bought them from. Even Wal-Mart has roses. If not roses then use another flower. Break apart the rose heads and sprinkle the petals all over. Anywhere. Everywhere.
Notes: Love notes, so much of our lives is electronic now that I sometimes think we've all forgotten the good old days of paper and pens. Notes can be so much fun, mysterious, alluring. Get a small pieces of paper, or a couple of them, write something sweet, leave it somewhere. "I love you", or if you're doing a couple of them "I love you because....." and write the reasons on separate pieces of paper left strategically placed (coffee pot, refrigerator, steering wheel, purse or wallet, bathroom mirror, closet door, briefcase, etc.......).
Picnic & An Old Movie: This is probably one of my favorites. Pushing back the couches, a Big Blanket spread out on the floor, picnic basket (very important) filled with berries, delicious goodies-wine-or champagne. Put an old black and white movie on the television and there's a fabulous night.
Valentine's Day Ideas A Little More Extravagant
Planetarium: Planetariums are a little different and a little out of the norm I know, but they are something different in a good way. Something about looking at stars and contemplating the vastness of the universe brings people together. I suppose I would go so far as to say this about most museums in general, but a planetarium is something really special and is a generally quiet place. I can't speak for all planetariums, but I think some of them do special things on Valentine's Day. You may wish to call and find out if you need a reservation.
Dinner Cruise: Being here in Chicago we are fortunate to have this as an option. If you've never heard of the Odyssey Cruises you may find it a good fit for your evening out. There are similar cruises in most large metropolitan cities that are waterfront.
Hotel Room & Room Service: A little Pretty Woman-ish I know, but still a classic move, just make sure to check that the hotel actually has good food- you can find the room service menu for most hotel's online and tripadvisor is usually pretty helpful.
Tourist For A Day: It absolutely astounds me sometimes, my own box of a world that is. Sometimes I forget that we live in a beautiful area with so many wonderful things to experience. Walking down the river front, through the parks or forest preserves, exploring a restaurant I would never think to try, going to museums. Do you know how many tours there are here in Chicago? There's even a food tour, so many other metropolitan areas have this also, all you must do is google.
Okay- Now down to the desserts, I know how you've been waiting and waiting for these. lol.
Zabaglione [pronounced ZA~BY~OWN] With Berries And Chantilly Cream: A completely delicious classic. Yes, the berries are the healthiest part of this dessert, but remember we're not going for healthy-ISH not health-crazed. Zabaglione is basically a custard, mostly eggs. Don't you dare start imagining scrambled eggs, it's nothing like that, It's smooth, rich, creamy, and delicious with fresh berries. Chantilly Cream is a fancy way to say whipped cream that didn't come out of a can. Make sure a large mixing bowl is in the fridge chilling out for this. Check out this Zabaglione Recipe from Food Network, it's pretty good, but I don't agree with portioning the cream into individual custard cups to cool when doing this assembly. Personally, I would allow it to cool in a bowl with plastic wrap pushed down on top of the Zabaglione to prevent any skin from forming. Wash the Berries and allow them to dry while waiting for the zabaglione to cool in the fridge. Do not whip the cream until the last possible minute. When cooled grab some goblets (big fancy glasses) put some berries in the bottom of the glasses, topped with some of the zabaglione- just enough to have the mixture draping over the berries- we don't watch a huge puddle going on after all. Repeat this a couple of times. When you feel that's enough put the fancy glasses in the fridge. Now start on the Chantilly Cream - take your large mixing bowl out of the fridge and pour in heavy whipping cream- add some sprinkles of powdered sugar and a tad of vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer whip that cream like crazy, the higher the speed the better. Whip it until stiff peaks form. Add a spoonful or two on top of the berry and zabaglione layers. Save the rest for some fun later.
Angelfood Cake: Angelfood cake is one of the lesser waist-line hating cakes out there and are super easy to make, but also super easy to F*#% Up. So here's the basics, clean pan, I Mean Clean - no grease, no oil of any kind. Do not over mix. The point of an angel food cake is light and fluffy, the more you mix the more you're cutting down the possible volume and this also effects the baking process, as in making the cake sticky and wet and dense instead of light and fluffy. Try this Angel Food Cake Recipe from the food network. It's one of the best. Top Your angel food cake with just about anything you think you would like, from berries to ice cream, to chocolate sauce, to honey, pretty much anything goes with angel food cake. Angel Food Cake is also one of the best gluten free desserts. Try this G-Free Angel Food Cake Recipe from king arthur flour.
Fruit Tarts: I don't know why, but fruit tarts get this reputation for being super difficult. They are one of the easiest desserts out there. Can you bake cut out cookies? Can you make pudding? Then you can make a fruit tart. Heck you can even make it sound all fancy and call it a tarte de fruite [pronounced: TART~DUH~FWEE], say it fast and it sounds impressive, lol. Check out this Fruit Tart Recipe from joy of baking. One thing I feel necessary to mention is that I don't agree with the use of Apricot Glaze. Apricot Glaze is a coating applied at the very end meant to preserve the fruit, and if I'm making these a day ahead I will hold off on assembly until the last hours rather than using apricot glaze. The super sweetness of it is just too much for me. To add a bit of a fresh taste to the cream in the center I usually add some citrus zest, either lemon or orange.