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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Valentine’s Day is here, so we’ll all be heading  to our favorite restaurants for fancy dinners under ambient lighting, right? Not this guy.

I have a laundry list of reasons not to give in to the traditional (read: modern consumerist) way we do Valentine’s Day dinner.

For starters, I don’t feel very intimate when I’m  surrounded by 50 other people trying to feel intimate. Further, dining out is expensive! I’m a college student, after all. Even worse, this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday, which is Hipster Sunday, and everything with any local charm in Gainesville is closed.

Most importantly, my bedroom is miles from the nearest ritzy restaurant, and I like to keep my eye on the prize.

Plus, I won’t deny it — I forgot to make reservations.

Am I worried? No. Why? Because whipping up a fabulous, easy and affordable Valentine’s Day feast is as easy as Man’s Food (FOS 2001).

There are a few basic things to remember about courting a woman (or man) through food, regardless of what you choose to make.

Looks matter

We eat with our eyes as much as our mouths. Probably more. As such, pick colorful ingredients. Purple cabbage, red tomatoes, orange peppers and colorful salad greens are all great visual complements to anything you cook, even if you use them just as a garnish.

Texture is important, too. Hulking slabs of meat are boring, so keep your dishes open-faced and let things stack up or stick out. Shapes like stars or spirals are a plus.

One word: plating

Think of plating like explosions and boobs in an action movie: No matter how bad the plot and acting are, gratuitous explosions (and breasts) will make everything more tolerable. The same  holds true with food. Google search  pictures of food similar to what you’re cooking, and organize your plate accordingly.

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Keep things hot

Another trick is to heat plates in the oven. For one, your food will stay toasty longer. More importantly, danger is the world’s oldest aphrodisiac. Nothing turns on a woman like danger, and nothing screams danger quite like a 400-degree plate next to your hands.

Drink something sweet

A final trick is to drink your dessert. Fruit lovers, try Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic, something akin to raspberry champagne. For the chocoholics out there, try a Godiva chocolate liqueur. Ask around at your favorite liquor store, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many ways you can imbibe your final course.

Here's a simple suggestion of a main course to get you started. It's easy to make, you can do most of the work ahead of time and it looks and tastes great.

What you'll need:

8 ounces ricotta cheese.

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

Italian spices

1 tablespoon vinegar (balsamic is best)

½ lemon (or 2 teaspoons lemon juice)

salt/pepper

Butterfly the chicken breast completely in half. If you ask nicely, they might do it for you at the grocery store. You want two flat, slab-like pieces of meat. Pound the breasts out with the bottom of a glass or a meat tenderizer until they flatten out. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the breasts and then add 1 teaspoon of Italian spice and a pinch of salt and pepper to each. Spread 3 ounces of ricotta cheese over each breast. Sprinkle two cloves of finely chopped garlic and half the onion (also finely diced) over the two.

Roll up the chicken as tightly as you can and set it with the open part down to keep it shut. Pop that in the fridge.

Dice the tomatoes and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining garlic and onion, vinegar, another teaspoon of Italian herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix it. Fridge it.

Put your two most beautiful, hot, sexy, cute ceramic plates in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure they are ceramic, and make sure you heat them up slowly as the oven preheats.

Once the oven is hot, dribble some oil in the middle of the plates and set each chicken roll on its plate. Spoon half the tomato mixture over each and bake for 35 minutes. Spoon half of the remaining ricotta on each roll and bake for 10 more minutes.

Add your favorite veggie sides - remember to mix up those colors to increase visual stimulation - and serve with pasta.

If you didn't fail miserably at making this, you are now irresistible to your partner. Have fun.

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