Rock a 3 course valentine's day dinner

How to Rock a Three Course Valentine’s Day Dinner

Valentine’s Day dinner. Ug, am I right? Like I need another special meal to plan in between the cleaning, working, and baby-watching. I suppose I could be like most normal people I know and go out on the town. But it’s not exactly romantic when I have to drag my toddler along, especially considering he’s incapable of sitting down. Does anyone else have that problem? I’m not sure why my husband and I even try to go out anymore. We can’t talk to each other because one of us is always walking around the restaurant following our son. We do occasionally have a baby-sitter, but my parents have been happily married for three hundred years and it’s also my mom’s birthday, so they’re out for this one.

I’m left with two choices. Either I cook, or I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. That actually doesn’t sound so terrible, but my husband does like to acknowledge the holiday even though we don’t do gifts. So, cooking it is. Some of you may think I should have the hubby cook. No. You come eat his cooking sometime and then see how you feel about that. More power to you if you’re in a couple where you both cook. It sounds amazing. Anyway, without further ado, here’s my plan to fix a three course Valentine’s Day dinner without wasting all day in the kitchen.

Plan your Valentine’s Day Dinner Ahead

I would love if I always had everything I needed in my refrigerator, but it’s a rare rare day when that happens. I go through phases where I meal plan a week at a time,  but I can’t keep up with myself during tax season. There could be anything in my fridge right now. Or nothing, which is probably more likely. This means for a three course meal I really need to come up with a plan ahead of time. Then I can grocery shop in advance, not have to run to the store later, and know exactly how much time I need to carve out of my day.

Pick a Cohesive Menu

Do you like Italian? Greek? Want to recreate some meal you and your lover had all those years ago? Pick one and go with it. The last thing you need is to have to come up with some sort of palate cleanser in between the important stuff. I’m going Greek this year because I need to practice a baklava recipe. Yes, I know baklava has a lot of origin stories, but Greece definitely had an influence.  Anyway, that’s not the point. I want to practice this recipe, and my husband loves Greek gyros, so that’s the direction I’m going. Last year we had Italian if I remember correctly, and I also seriously considered French, but we’ll take it one year at a time. I do have a French menu from a fancy dinner party if you want to take a look at that instead.

I do have one caveat for your cohesive menu – the emergency cheese. What? You’ve never had to invest in an emergency cheese? Well, you should get used to the idea. It’s great. I know I’m going to do my best to plan everything and have a fixed schedule. I also know that’s not going to happen, because, life. That’s why I like to buy a good block of cheese when I’m doing my special occasion shopping. For my husband, only Gouda will do, so that’s what I get. Once I get backed up, which I inevitably will, he can munch on that with some apples. It also works as a first course appetizer or a dessert cheese plate if you really get behind. Wah lah! Emergency cheese.

Make Ahead Dessert

Dessert is the last course of the day, but I think it’s a great idea to make it the first course you cook. I’m going to make mine Thursday night after the kid goes to sleep. That way I know it’s done. Here’s a quick list of make-ahead desserts, but I’m sure Pinterest will show you a thousand more ideas if you can’t find one to fit your theme. Some desserts, like cheesecake, actually taste better to me after a day of sitting around, and it will allow you a little more time to do something fancy if you like. Plus, it’s the last course of your Valentine’s Day dinner so if you’re too tired to cook anymore, it doesn’t matter. Even something like creme brulee, which sounds really difficult but isn’t, can mostly be done ahead, then crisped up at the last second.

Easy but Elegant Salad

Anyone can dump a package of salad in a bowl. In fact, if that’s what you want to do, I’m not going to stop you. But, salads can also be really beautiful and elegant without a lot of work. When they’re not the main course, you usually don’t have to worry about getting a lot of protein in there, and that saves you cooking time. I think the last time I did a French salad the most difficult thing I did was toast some walnuts and dump in pre-crumbled goat cheese. Here’s another good list. If you’re following along my Greek menu, I’ll be doing your basic Greek salad by picking up a bunch of ingredients at the grocery store antipasti bar. They let everything swim in oil, so I probably won’t even have a dressing. I’ll throw my antipasti in a bowl with some lettuce and mix. So easy!

Spend your time on the Main Dish

You have to make a main dish, right? The emergency cheese just can’t replace your main course, no matter how much you want it to. If you’re going to get crazy, this is the place to do it, although I wouldn’t necessarily advise it. Does your theme have a slow cooker meal you could try? That’d save some time. You might not have to cook anything by the time Valentine’s Day dinner starts! I will be making gyro meat and tzatziki sauce. Is this complicated? Yes. I’m not going to pretend it’s not. But, I can do it in phases, like sauce in the morning, meat mixing afternoon, cooking it while I mix the salad. If I could ever find a good tzatziki, I would buy it and save myself the trouble, so please feel free to make recommendations. I do like cooking the meat though.

Whether you’re spending a lot of time on the main dish at night or in the morning, I would still aim for something really tasty. This actually is a special occasion. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t go through all the trouble. As for a side dish, that’s totally up to you. I’m going to buy pitas to serve our meal as a sandwich, but other dishes might necessitate something more. Pasta’s fine on it’s own. A piece of chicken or steak might require a vegetable or something though. In that case I’d suggest steaming a vegetable, or maybe throwing a baked potato in the oven when the cheese comes out. Those are both super easy options that won’t distract you from the other stuff. Alright, readers. Go out and put together a fabulous three course Valentine’s Day dinner!

A 3-course Valentine's Day dinner doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen. #valentinesday #valentinesdinner #3coursedinner #themedinner #romanticdinner
diy interchangeable

DIY Interchangeable Holiday Charger Plates

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I’ve been working on an idea for interchangeable holiday charger plates. My mom used to do a lot of tole painting when I was younger. That’s painting on wood, if you aren’t familiar. She doesn’t anymore, but a good portion of her holiday decorations are homemade. She has one that stays out all year. It’s a bear that hangs on the wall, and he changes his clothes for the holidays and different seasons. That’s my inspiration. A plate that changes clothes. This is not necessarily related, but my neighbor does this with pallets. Where does she put them?! I honestly don’t know, but luckily charger plates are much easier to store.

How to Make Interchangeable Holiday Charger Plates

What You Need

Interchangeable holiday charger plates

Charger Plates (As many as you want for your table, or just one for decor)
Fabric Quarters
Stapler
Scissors
A pen or marker
Clear Velcro dots
Fabric glue

For my charger plates, I went gold, but obviously you can pick whatever you want.  As for the fabric, you can order giant bundles on Amazon, but I just went to JoAnn when they had a sale and found ones that seemed in season.

What to Do

I would love to tell you this is quick and you’ll be done in ten minutes, but you probably won’t unless you’re only doing one interchangeable holiday charger plate. It’s not difficult, but I had to do this while my son ran around with my fabric on his head. Plus I had to take pictures for you lovely folks.  Then I had a call with a client.You see? I really am always in a frenzy. Anyway…

Step 1

Choose some shapes for each holiday. I did four: a pumpkin for Halloween, a leaf for Thanksgiving, a tree for Christmas, and a heart for Valentine’s Day. You can find some images on your computer or pick up die-cuts or something. I free-handed them though, because, you know, time. To make sure they’re all similar sizes, draw them on the cardboard in the center of the fat quarters.

Step 2

Cut out your cardboard shapes. Your fabric is going to come in little squares, and if you unfold it you should be able to see if your drawings will fit on the squares or not (All my pictures are below so you can see what I mean). If they do, you can cut off a strip and fold it up into fours. If they don’t, you’ll want to cut the fabric into four different squares and staple them together. Then you’re going to staple your shape onto the fabric and cut around it. It will give you four shapes at once. It’s really easy, I swear, but if you’re uncomfortable with that, just use the cardboard as a stencil and trace the image onto the fabric. Then you can cut them individually. Do this for each shape. You do need them all done before you go to the Velcro.

Step 3

Now you have a whole bunch of little shapes, right? From here it’s time to figure out where to put the Velcro. Go ahead and put either the hook or loop (the sharp or the soft if you’re not familiar with the term – I had to look it up) of a Velcro dot in the center of one plate. Then put the opposite side onto the center of one of your shapes. Then do one for each holiday. So, for my four choices, that meant starting with one hook dot on the plate, followed by one loop dot on the tree, then one on the pumpkin, one on the heart, and one on the leaf. Yes, you will be using a lot more of one side of Velcro than another.

Step 4

Right now you technically have interchangeable holiday charger plates, but they’re kind of floppy, right? So you’ll need to add a second Velcro dot, which is why it was important for you to do one of each shape instead of all of one shape. To add the second dot to the plate, pick your skinniest shape (the tree in my case) and find the furthest spot from the center where you could put the dot without making it visible. Then put the dot on there. Don’t let the placement stress you out; they’re pretty moveable in the beginning. Now you’ll want to go through and attach each shape to the center part and see where the dot lines up. Some of the shapes will be upside down from others for best placement, FYI.

Step 5

Put Velcro and each and every fabric shape. Then do the other plates by simply putting the opposite Velcro on one shape and then sticking it to the plate. This is the most time consuming part, but after the first two it’s pretty mindless.  Also, unless you are a really careful Velcro remover, you’ll probably want to use a bit of fabric glue to make sure the Velcro stays on the fabric for a long time. It should stay on the plate without anything else, but if you’re worried use some super glue. Then you’re done! Nice, not really that fancy, interchangeable holiday charger plates.

Basically the Same Instructions, only Visual

 

Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Check that the cardboard in your fabric quarters fits on the plate.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Draw yourself some pictures. If you’re me, mess up multiple times.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Cut out your shapes. Let your son color the heart blue if he feels like it.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
If you’re lucky, you can just cut off a sliver and be done. Or you will have to resize them, like in the case of that giant heart and poorly folded red fabric.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Staple everywhere! Staple the corners of your four pieces together. Then staple the cutout.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Cut around the cutout and you get four shapes.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Do the rest of your shapes and get ready to Velcro!
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Loop Velcro in the middle of the plate, hook Velcro in the middle of the shapes. Or vice versa. Your Velcro, your call.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Pick a spot for a second Velcro dot on your skinniest shape.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Now take turn attaching the other shapes to the first dot and see where the second dot will fit best.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Be aware that some of the shapes will seem upside down from the others, but that’s fine. The plate is round. No one will ever know.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Time for the rest of the plates! Grab a shape. Attach the other side of the Velcro to the Velcro already on the fabric, sticky side up.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Turn the fabric over, stick the Velcro to the plate. Repeat with all plates. Now all your shapes should fit on all plates. Use fabric glue on the Velcros if they aren’t attaching well.
Interchangeable holiday charger plates
Wah lah! Interchangeable holiday charger plates.

 

All done! Now Display your Interchangeable Holiday Charger Plates.

You can put them out on the table. Regular plates fit on them just fine. The Velcro isn’t thick enough to make it weird. You can also use just one plate and display it in a plate stand. That’s what I’ve been doing; normally I have a wedding plate displayed, but I’ve been mixing it up for the holidays. If you’ve read my work, you know I prefer simple decorations, and even though this could potentially take a little longer than most of my ideas, I like it because you can use it every year multiple times. Let me know in the comments if these instructions aren’t clear – I wrote Velcro too many times and now everything sounds crazy. Anyway, enjoy your holidays!

Interchangeable holiday charger plates

Interchangeable holiday charger plates

DIY interchangeable charger plates are pretty fast and easy, and you don't have to store eight different sets of plates! #holidays #holidaydecorations #chargerplates #christmasdecorations #thanksgivingdecorations #tablesettings #halloweendecorations #valentinesdaydecorations DIY interchangeable charger plates are pretty fast and easy, and you don't have to store eight different sets of plates! #holidays #holidaydecorations #chargerplates #christmasdecorations #thanksgivingdecorations #tablesettings #halloweendecorations #valentinesdaydecorations

 

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