How to spend under $20 on a perfect romantic Valentines dinner? Funny thing about holidays like Valentines day it is a holiday created by retailers to sell their products and we accept it as a social norm to treat it as the day we celebrate the ones we love. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is wonderful to set aside a day to celebrate those we love. I just think it is silly that we buy into this strange list of rules that says we must do it on this day and we must do it in a particular way. Buying your significant other a gift, or telling them that you love them with a card shouldn’t be limited to one holiday in the year. My husband and I have never celebrated Valentines day and as I am reading more about how much people spend every year I must say we will probably continue not celebrating it. Retailers and restaurants push for higher sales on this day through almost guilt like advertisements. And restaurants, well don’t expect that to be the highlight of your night if you don’t like waiting. The average restaurant sees its dinner rush swell to over double and will leave you and your significant other waiting a long time to even just sit down. Again I will say there is nothing wrong if you want to choose to celebrate Valentines day, I think it is just also important to not get so caught up in the marketing that you feel you have to spend a lot of money. Instead of an expensive dinner try cooking up a private romantic dinner at home. If you have kids arrange with either a family member to watch them or if you have friends with kids arrange to watch their kids for one evening in exchange for them to watch yours. This will give you both the opportunity to have a quiet moment alone. For my husband and myself we choose a day last week to celebrate, we just found out that we are going to be having a little girl so our day was a celebration of our love and what that love created. For under $20 we had an incredible dinner that we would have had to pay at least $50 dollars for at a restaurant. Just remember saying I love you doesn’t have to be through spending a lot of money, it is those quiet unexpected moments that speak the loudest. Offer to be the one that cleans up the kitchen while your spouse sits down with a glass of wine. Or secretly arranging for a kid free evening just with the two of you. And don’t forget the other 364 days of the year.
Grilled Arctic Char with Fingerling Potatoes and Green Beans
2-6 oz. fillets of Fresh Arctic Char
1 lb Fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb fresh green beans
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
A delicious meal like this is actually very easy to prepare and while a cheap meal at home can be a very expensive meal when if you are going out to eat. For years I was always afraid to prepare much fish because I really didn’t feel like I knew how to cook it. When I discovered how incredibly easy it was I felt rather silly for not trying it before. For this evening I chose to prepare a fillet of Arctic Char on the grill. The first step is to make sure that you start up your coals at least an hour ahead of time. When it comes time to put the fish on the grill you don’t want the heat to be too intense because this will over cook the outer layer of your fish and under cook the inside. You should be able to hover your hand over the grill without too much heat.
While the coals are heating this is a good time to start preparing your potatoes and green beans. The potatoes will take about 20 minutes compared to the 5-8 minutes of the fish and the 5 minutes for the green beans so make sure that you get them cooking before the rest. Just wash the potatoes and place in a steamer basket over boiling water for 20 minutes. Your potatoes are done with you can easily poke a fork through it. Toss potatoes in a bowl with the butter and salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and then drop in the green beans, cook for about 4 minutes. Once they turn bright green drain them and serve. Your beans should be soft but still slightly crisp. Be careful to not over cook green beans.
I find the easiest way to prepare fish on the grill is with a Charcoal Companion this eliminates the problem of the fish sticking to the grill and makes it a lot easier to turn. I have used my charcoal companion to cook a wide variety of foods from vegetables to chicken, it has really come in handy. Place the fish into the basket and crush fresh salt and pepper over the fish. It is best to not place the fish over the coals when it is too cold from the fridge so allow to sit in room temperature for a few minutes. Once the coals are warm place the fish onto the grill and cover. Allow to cook for about 4 minutes. Then flip onto the skin side and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. This meal cost me a total of $14.82 and we loved being able to create our own ambiance for just the two of us. To add a glass of wine to the mix would take you still under $20 dollars. Although for this celebration we opted for a glass of sparkling apple juice because I am pregnant. Still a perfect evening.