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Perfect Valentine's Day Dinner Might be Right at Home

Dining out is fine, but some say the perfect meal is one that's cooked with love in their own kitchen.

Food seems to be a universal Valentine’s Day gift option for all ages, and Berkley has some excellent dining choices, ranging from O’Mara’s Restaurant and Bagger Dave’s to and Hogger’s BBQ for those who like finger-licking food.

However, several local residents said they wished for a little simpler, more sentimental approach to their ideal Valentine’s Day dinner.

“What I would love for Valentine’s Day is for my boyfriend to make a nice dinner for me,” said Huntington Woods resident Beth Cuppe, 28. “I think that is so romantic. A nice dinner with some wine and maybe some candles. That is the ticket.”

You can do it

It might seem like a daunting task to the culinarily challenged, but it’s not, according to Fresh Chef Detroit’s Chef Kirsten

“It doesn’t have to be the prettiest or fanciest meal,” said Chef Kirsten Buys, whose personal chef business is based in Ferndale. “It’s really the effort and thought that counts.”

Buys recommends that would-be Valentine’s Day chefs visit allrecipes.com, a popular cooking website that offers readers a wide array of recipes, complete with reviews and how-to instruction.

“There’s a lot of good stuff there,” Buys said. “I would suggest some kind of baked chicken dish with a sauce. It’s very easy and something that would be great for a Valentine’s Day dinner.”

For those who love seafood, Buys recommends a simple salmon dish.

“Even if you’re the kind of person who is easily overwhelmed with cooking, you can do it if you find the right recipe,” Buys said. “A lot of recipes are actually much easier to prepare than you would think.”

Simple is best sometimes

Susan Baier, Food Management Professional (FMP), chef and program director of Oakland Community College’s Culinary Studies Institute, agrees the perfect romantic Valentine’s Day dinner can be very simple and delicious.

“Some of the best items on a menu are often the simplest ones to prepare,” Baier said. “I think a simple but elegant pasta dish is perfect for a Valentine's Day dinner.”

Chicken piccata, for example, is very easy and can be served with linguini pasta, a fresh salad, garlic bread, your choice of a vegetable and a bottle of wine, Baier said.

“In many cases, all the ingredients you need you probably have already in your kitchen,” she said. “The only thing you might need to get from the store is fresh parsley and lemon.”

Baier also advises potential Valentine’s Day dinner cooks to look online for recipes and not be afraid to create their own sauce, which is very simple in many cases, she adds.

No romantic meal is complete without wine.

“I would suggest a dry wine, something like a Pinot Grigio, to go with the meal and to put in the sauce,” Baier said. “A sauteed chicken breast over lightly buttered pasta with parsley, with a nice salad, a vegetable of choice and garlic bread made from a baguette — that’s a very simple, very romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. I think that just about anyone can make it.”

Everything is right around the corner

Don't fret if you can't find what you're looking for in the cupboard. Hiller's market in Berkley has everything you need to make the perfect Valentine's Day dinner.

"We've got everything right here," Assistant Store Director Joe Bono said. "We've got everything for a great salad, for a great dinner, for a great dessert. We've even got a great selection of wine."

Hiller's offers special items just for the Valentine's Day holiday. "Our sweetheart steaks are a unique item," Bono said. "They're a steak cut into the shape of a heart. Then, for dessert, you can get our chocolate-covered strawberries. It's a special day for us at Hiller's, too."

Berkley resident Thomas Crutchfield, 41, was at Hiller's picking up the finishing touches for dinner tonight with his valentine.

"It's a tradition for my wife and I," Crutchfield said. "We always eat at home on Valentine's Day. One year I cook, the next year she does. Our kids even help now that they're a little older. It's always a nice dinner. I think it's a special way to celebrate the day. I wouldn't change it."

Home cookin' 

So, if you haven't already made a reservation at your favorite restaurant and if you’re still wondering just how you’re going to spend this evening with that special someone, don’t discount the value of a romantic, home-cooked dinner.

“Having your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend make you dinner means a lot,” Buys said. “It’s easy to just go out, but to take the time to cook something special for that person — that’s really a nice thing for anyone to do on Valentine’s Day.”

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