No matter who you're with this Valentine's evening, you probably want a meal that is simple yet a treat — something easy to pull together after work, a meal to make you sink into the enjoyment of a quiet evening at home. Here are some suggestions for you: Foolproof instructions for cooking a perfect steak, and a dish of creamy pasta with lemon and hazelnuts. There are some quick, no-cook appetizers, a boozy cup of mocha, and a fizzy pink cocktail. And dessert, of course — the best brownies we know how to make, and a chocolate mousse to dream over. Oh, and real crème brûlée. If that doesn't get you in a Valentine's mood we don't know what will! If there was any night to eat at home, Valentine's would be it. Restaurants are packed, in spite of their overpriced and often boring menus (Valentine's is not a night to trot out your most interesting dishes). Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday this year, too — not the best night for eating out. We ask you: isn't it more romantic and pleasurable to stay in, cozy with a glass of wine at your own table? This goes for all of us — folks with a romantic attachment, old or new, to celebrate, as well as those of us planning some indulgent time alone. Or perhaps you're gathering with a little group of friends? These recipes will give pleasure and satisfaction.
• 1 How To Cook a Steak in the Oven - A foolproof way to cook an absolutely delicious steak in the oven. (Also see this recipe for steak with mushrooms and blue cheese!)
• 2 Spaghetti with Mascarpone, Meyer Lemon, Spinach, and Hazelnuts - A creamy, indulgent recipe for vegetarian pasta — tangy and bright.
• 3 Braised Lamb Shanks & Root Vegetable Puree - A hearty plate of tender lamb and root puree — wonderful for making your house smell great, too.
• 4 Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions - An easy oven risotto that just happens to be vegan. It's impressive and easy — the best combination.
STARTERS & SIDE DISHES
• 5 Prosciutto-Wrapped Arugula - Deliciously simple finger food.
• 6 Stuffed Sweet Piquante Peppers - Simple, piquant, and so quick to whip up after work.
• 7 Winter Wheat Berry Salad with Figs and Red Onion - A hearty yet refreshing winter grain salad that would complement a steak beautifully.
• 8 Fennel, Orange, and Shallot Salad - My favorite winter salad, so refreshing. And indulgent too, if you add a big lump of crabmeat in the center!
GOOD THINGS TO DRINK
• 9 VS Mocha Café - A boozy mocha for starting off the day, or closing dinner.
• 10 Pink Lady - Gin, grenadine, a foamy egg white — a romantic pink drink for one or two.
• 11 Elderflower and Lemon Sparkling Sipper - A light and easy quick wine cocktail.
• 12 How To Make Crème Brûlée at Home: Without a Torch! - A classic pleaser of a dessert, no torch required.
• 13 Spicy Boozy Mousse - A quick blender mousse that turns out so luxurious!
• 14 Katharine Hepburn's Brownies - Keeping it simple — these are just the easiest brownies ever, and probably my favorite brownies ever too.
• 15 Rhubarb Fool - Perhaps the simplest dessert you can make, and so pink and pretty. Also try with pureed raspberries or strawberries.
(Images: See linked recipes for full image credits)