I like a night on the town as much as the next girl but sometimes a Valentine’s Day filled with crowded restaurants and overpriced menus feels like more of a hassle than it’s worth. When we don’t feel like dealing with all the hoopla, my husband and I splurge on quality ingredients and have a special, low-key date at home.
For half the price, you can easily make a steakhouse caliber meal that’s perfect for an intimate dinner with your beloved, an impressive surprise for your date or a swanky treat for your girlfriends.
Grilled Peppered Steak with Port Wine Sauce
Beef Tenderloin or New York Strip steaks*
1/2 C + port wine
1/2 C beef broth
1/4 C half & half
1/4 C onion, minced
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
* I used elk tenderloin, which I know most people don’t have just hanging around. But if you happen to have wild game available, venison and elk steaks are tasty, organic and free!
For the sauce, add diced onions and butter to a medium sauce pan. Cook until onions begin to soften and dust with flour, stirring out all flour lumps. Add port wine and whisk smooth. Cook for 5-10 minutes, allowing wine to reduce. Stir in beef broth and mustard and continue to reduce. Season with salt & pepper. Add half and half and whisk well. Turn heat down to low and continue reducing until your steak and potatoes are done.
Drizzle steaks very lightly with olive oil and salt both sides. Liberally pepper all sides of each steak so that you will achieve a peppery crust. Turn on your grill to high heat – between 400 and 500 degrees. Put steaks directly on the heat and cook for approx. 3-4 minutes on each side for a steak between 1-1 1/2 inch thick. This will vary depending on the thickness of your steak. Cook until medium rare or when the steak just begins to firm up if you push on it.
Confession: This recipe came about because I grabbed red salad potatoes at the store with plans of making Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I’ve used red potatoes before in mashed potatoes but the variety I grabbed was designed for salads and turned gummy when I mashed them. In attempt to salvage them, I added a few ingredients that my mom uses during the holidays and baked them. Side dish saved…however, go with baking or Yukon potatoes and you’ll have better results with consistency 🙂
Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs baking potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 Tbsp butter
splash half & half
1/4 C low fat sour cream
1/2 C cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
Preheat the over to 400. Fill a large pot with water. Salt water and add potato chunks. Bring to a boil and cook over med-high heat until potatoes are soft, about 25-30 min. Drain water from potatoes using a colander and put them back into the pot. Cut butter in to chunks and use a hand mixer to beat potatoes until creamy, slowly adding half and half until you achieve the right texture. Potatoes should be creamy and fluffy but not runny. Beat in garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sour cream.
Transfer potatoes to a baking dish and top with cheese. Sprinkle paprika and more salt and pepper over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and slight crisped.
Pair with: a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or a peppy Shiraz for wine or a robust porter or stout such as Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter or Founder’s Breakfast Stout for beer
Check back later this week for more Valentine’s Day ideas!