Valentine's Day family dinner

Jan 19, 2010 at 9:20 p.m. ET

Just because Valentine's Day is promoted as a holiday for lovers, couples and intimate relationships, doesn't mean you can't celebrate this heart-warming occasion at home with your family. Make Valentine's Day a special event by making a delicious multi-course meal complete with a pretty flower centerpiece, dinner by candlelight, nice music and, of course, chocolate. Don't worry if you don't have hours to spend on a warm and wonderful holiday feast, this Valentine's Day family menu can be made in 45 minutes or less. You can even make the dishes the day before and simply reheat when your family is ready to eat. Valentine's Day may not be the cozy, intimate event it was before you had kids, but you can certainly include them in celebrating this important day of love.

 Bacon Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Bacon Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

This is one way to get your kids to eat Brussels sprouts. Crispy bacon and the sweet tanginess of balsamic vinegar turns tender steamed sprouts into a family-friendly delicacy.

3/4 pound baby Brussels sprouts
3 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Steam or microwave Brussels sprouts until tender. Slice in half (or quarters if using larger sprouts).

2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until browned and just crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and add Brussels sprouts and bacon back to skillet. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss well to coat sprouts with bacon fat and vinegar.

Rosemary Orzo Salad with Pine Nuts and Dried Cranberries

To save time on Valentine's Day and marry the flavors, make this salad the day before. If you don't have orzo on hand, you can use brown rice or another rice in your pantry.

2 cups cooked orzo, cooled
2 green onions, chopped (whit e and green parts)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well-combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Raspberry Chicken

Raspberries are often featured in the Valentine's Day dessert. For this menu, they add a lovely sweetness to juicy chicken.

2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons raspberry vinaigrette
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Lightly beat eggs in a shallow dish. Place flour, dried Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a second shallow dish.

2. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Pound chicken breasts until they are an even thickness. Place them in the skillet and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

3. Transfer to a baking dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together raspberry vinaigrette, raspberry preserves, orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to a simmer.

5. Stir butter and parsley into raspberry mixture and remove from heat. Serve with chicken breasts.

Vanilla and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Transform that humdrum carton of vanilla ice cream into a gourmet Valentine's Day treat by folding in chunks of premium dark chocolate and honey roasted peanuts.

2 cups vanilla bean ice cream, softened
2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. Place ice cream in a large bowl. Add chocolate and peanuts and fold into ice cream.

2. Keep ice cream in freezer until ready to serve.

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