My husband and I are always planning our next meal. Breakfast and lunch and dinner, sure, but more importantly, more excitingly, special occasions. His birthday, my birthday, our new anniversary, our old anniversary, and Valentine’s Day—why not? I’ll take any excuse to plan a fun meal. Below are 12 menus to peruse, to pick and choose from, to mix and match. Just don’t forget the candles.
This juicy steak is all about the creamy, peppery Cognac sauce. For two, divide the number of steaks in half—but may I be so bold as to suggest that you keep the sauce quantities as is. You can never have too much.
Steak frites is a classic French combo that’s hard, if not impossible to beat. But you don’t have to fry the fries to get there. In this wily Genius Recipe, all you need are a steamer, oven, and couple drops of oil.
This dilly vinaigrette, which earns its creaminess from a soft-boiled egg, can be made days in advance and tucked away in the fridge. Or, to eliminate something off the to-do list, just swap in a simple greens salad with oil and vinegar.
If the raspberries wherever you are look lackluster, feel free to swap in whatever fresh fruit is calling out to you. The template—glittery raw sugar and brown butter—gets along with just about anything.
Tom Colicchio’s method will lead you toward crusty-edged, tender-bellied scallops every time. The jus only uses ⅓ cup white wine, so pick a bottle you love, and drink the rest while you cook.
It’s hard to overstate how hugely flavorful this sauce is. Think of it like a vegetarian bagna cauda and pair with the prettiest vegetables you can get your paws on.
Seafood dinners were made to be followed by citrusy desserts. Feel free to streamline things by skipping the graham cracker and swapping in something crunchy-sweet and ready-made, like granola or nut brittle.
The creaminess of risotto, but with the nuttiness of farro. (Not to mention powerhouse bonuses like fennel seeds, orange zest, and Parmesan.) Please count me in for seconds.
If radicchio is too bitter for you (or your boo), don’t hesitate to mix or swap in something else, like Belgian endive, frisee, or romaine.
One of many gems from our Cookies Chronicles series, this savory-meets-sweet shortbread comes by way of Carla Lalli Music.
“I made this exactly to the recipe, and it was FANTASTIC,” community member Jane C. reports back. “My husband and I were both blown away by how easy and incredibly delicious this was.”
A no-holds-barred salad—with all the garlic and anchovies—to contrast the creamy-dreamy pasta. Any Caesar would be great, too.
To really gild the lily, drizzle more olive oil on top just before serving, plus a pinch of crunchy salt.
Yes, this mustardy chicken is simple enough to whip up on a weeknight. But its back-and-forth contrast between zingy spice and jammy sweetness is date-night special, too.
While the chicken is in the oven, these mashed potatoes will occupy the stove. Salting at every step and adding the littlest splash of vinegar makes all the difference.
As simple as a side dish gets. And good! Read this over once, then ditch the recipe and let your instincts lead the way.
Coffee to cap off dinner, but make it pudding. The best part: It can—and should—be made in advance. So all you have to worry about on date-night is finding a couple spoons.
The key to crispy-skinned duck is patience. Don’t skip the scoring step (this helps the fat render), then kick back with a drink while it cooks.
Scallions! Parsley! Chives! Tarragon! I love serving this ultra green dressing on a bright green lettuce, like romaine or little gem.
“Apple compote sounds like a bore, I know,” writes cookbook author Alice Medrich. “But these are spectacular—much better than the sum of its parts.”
As a rule, Brand Partnerships Editor Erin Alexander only makes this pasta for people she loves. That’s how you know it’s good.
Some perky, zingy flavors to play off the caramelized onions: raw radishes, leafy escarole, and a very good anchovy vinaigrette.
Dried figs, meet brandy. Brandy, meet dried figs. You two are going to like-like each other.
Our most popular recipe of all time comes together in a slow cooker. Just right for nights when your biggest priority is: Sit back and relax.
Another longtime favorite on the site: a Genius kale salad with squash, almonds, and no shortage of crumbled cheddar.
Picture peanut butter cups, only with a gooey tahini center. The trick to getting the just-right consistency? Water. You’ll see.
So, you want omelets for two, but by the time you finish the second, the first one is cold-ish. Carla Lalli Music’s solution? Make one oversized, ricotta-stuffed omelet, and lop it in half.
If you want to be an overachiever (I know one when I see one!), make the bread to make the toast to go with the omelets. This Genius Recipe from Alexandra Stafford couldn’t be easier.
Serve this on any ice cream—or with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream on top. Or! If you have leftover ricotta from the omelets, use that instead.
These tacos are a project. But do you know who it’s fun to do projects with? Your partner! Split up the tasks, turn on the music, and pop open a couple cold ones.
Pinto beans would make a great stand-in here. Same with kidney beans. You could also mix and match.
Avocado for dinner and dessert because why not? In this recipe, you won’t be able to pinpoint the flavor—you’ll just notice the buttery-creamy silkiness it adds.
You know, in case you were looking for a subtle way of telling your significant other that you’re ready to lock things down. Not my fault if they don’t think it’s funny though.
Don’t bother with a serrated knife. Tear the bread apart by hand while it’s still warm from the oven. The salt-speckled, oil-smudged fingertips are the best part. (Psst: The dough needs to nap in the fridge for at least 8 hours—or up to 2 days if you’re a planner.)
With juicy oranges, sticky dates, and crunchy almonds, this salad is as much appetizer as it is dessert. You can skip the greenery if you’d like, but I’m keeping it right where it is.
Picture this: fleece pajamas, squishy couch, knit blanket, rock-climbing documentary (!). If this isn’t romance, I ask you, what is? You can eat this tofu sandwich with one hand, and hold your partner with the other.
Crispy, crackly, and extremely eager to be dunked in ketchup. Or, better yet, a ketchup meets mustard meets mayo super-combo. And no, these can’t be baked! It’s Valentine’s Day for heaven’s sake.
A Genius chocolate cake (chocolate chunks! halva hunks! tahini swirls!) that comes with its own hot fudge sauce, thanks to a lot of boiling water. Bring your own vanilla ice cream.