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It’s Valentine’s Day, and many of us are hoping to be enjoying dinner at our favorite restaurant by candlelight, right? That’s how I used to spend my Valentine’s Day, but since kids and limited diets have entered into our lives, we spend this meal at home.

When we lived in Chicago, eating Valentine’s dinner out was a big deal. We were foodies back then, and still are, so heading to the most romantic restaurant was not only possible but just a part of what you did.

So now what? How do we bring a bit of that romance into our own home and not eat out? I have found these past few years that it is much simpler than you might expect. All it takes is a few candles, a good cast iron skillet, and a few key ingredients. What’s even better about it is you can get dressed up or you can get “comfy”.

My husband and I enjoy being in the kitchen together on nights like these and often find that we’re enjoying our dinner at the kitchen island, where we never get to sit because the seats are continually occupied by our boys. And although we may be at the island, we break out the candles and the china. Oh yes, remember that china that you registered for at your wedding? Those gorgeous dishes that you hardly get to use? Most people would probably admit that they haven’t used them since their first year of marriage. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to break those place settings out of their protective coverings and use them for yourself. There’s no rule that they can only be used when there’s a crowd of 10 or more, so enjoy them for a Valentine’s dinner with your spouse.

So we have the dishes and atmosphere, but what do you actually make for dinner? What you serve is entirely up to you. It could be as simple as cheesy broccoli and roast chicken with potatoes. Or it could be surf and turf with roasted vegetables. You might think that surf and turf just sounds too difficult, but in all sincerity, it is easy and fun! This is our favorite go-to romantic kitchen-eating meal.

If you opt for the surf and turf option, like we do, grab 2 great steaks, a handful of some scallops, and a package of sugar-free bacon. I know, your probably thinking really, sugar-free bacon? Yes. Bacon has sugar in it, so if you can, grab something that is clearly marked without sugar. Most grocery stores are starting to carry one brand that is made without sugar, so look for that one. It is a bit pricier, but you don’t use it that often, so it’s worth the purchase, especially for this meal.

So while I prep the steaks, my husband lovingly wraps the scallops in bacon which get put in the broiler. And what’s the secret to a great steak? Smoked sea salt and a cast iron skillet. Simply sprinkle your steaks with a bit of sea salt and maybe fresh cracked black pepper and let rest on the counter while your skillet gets hot. We sear our steaks on a hot skillet and then put them in the broiler. And a great cast iron skillet is the key here because it can go with the steaks into the oven.

The key to rounding out this protein heavy meal is to have the vegetables roasted BEFORE you start your work in the kitchen. I usually have them made earlier in the day and rewarm them for dinner. And the best part about doing this is that I can feed the boys dinner with roasted vegetables before we tuck them in bed. Then we can enjoy our dinner together without the interruption of the kids. I love this meal because it is one of the more simple meals, but yet is just like the meal that you would savor at that romantic restaurant.

The trick to this meal is to not set off the smoke detector while the kids sleep! And yes, we’re speaking from experience here. Make sure your kitchen is well vented for this meal prep. Having kids waking up scared by the smoke alarm is definitely a romance killer!

So this Valentine’s Day, keep it simple. Grab a steak, roast some veggies, and use your china! Maybe a glass of wine and a bit of chocolate are called for as well. Here are a few of the recipes I have come across for some great chocolate dessert options. Remember, this day is a great opportunity to remind someone that you love them. Enjoy their company and some great food too! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Cake by It’s All About AIP

Paleo + Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust by Paleo Running Momma

Mexican Chocolate Coffee Cake by The Paleo Mom

Triple Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies by Paleo Running Momma