Updated: Feb 8
Valentines Day is coming up and it’s likely to be a little different this year. Between limited seating capacity, tough financial times, and masks hiding each other’s smiling faces going out just isn’t what it used to be. So I thought I’d share a great Valentine's Day or any date-night-at-home meal that fits the Trim Healthy Mama plan* or most low-carb menus. Plus we picked this up at Aldi for under $20.00
My wife REALLY loves Aldi. I genuinely think it’s her favorite store, except maybe for Dollar Tree. She loves to take her time through the store gathering good things for our family. And there’s the bonus aisle. She’s like a raccoon at a tin foil convention when she hits that aisle. I on the other hand am a hunter. I walk into a store and out in less than five minutes with exactly what I went in for. So one of the key items in our $20.00 Aldi Valentines is shopping at Aldi TOGETHER. So I’m going to walk you all through the trip to Aldi and the recipe in this one.
I like to begin with the end in mind, so let’s talk dessert. One of the things that can be high dollar on Valentine’s Day is chocolate-covered strawberries. I’ve seen them sold for $2.00 or more apiece. So the first stop in Aldi is the fresh produce to pick up a quart of strawberries. For the chocolate, the Moser Roth Dark 85% Cocoa counts as “on-plan” for THM. That will give you the ingredients to make a quart of chocolate-covered strawberries! Note: You can’t actually eat the quart of chocolate-covered strawberries in one sitting and stay “on-plan” you still need to eat these in moderation.
The next stop was vegetables. We picked up French-style green beans for the crunch, baby Bella mushrooms because my wife loves mushrooms, on sale by the way, and Italian-style bagged lettuce. Note we usually have onions on hand, so we didn’t pick up red onions on this trip, which cut just a little off the total.
One of my wife’s favorite things is cheese. Specifically, she REALLY likes Brie. So for us, this item falls into more of an appetizer category to kick things off. Note that there are many different fine varieties of cheese at Aldi. So if Brie isn't to your liking they have many different things to choose from.
The last ingredient is the Cattlemen’s ranch bacon-wrapped beef filet. Now I know what the guys are thinking here, that’s not very much meat. I was a little skeptical the first time we did this as well and we bought two of these packs. But after the rest of the spread here a second steak simply wasn’t necessary.
There you have it, all the ingredients for a great valentines dinner for $19.37
Remember the "bonus aisle" I mentioned earlier, AKA. the "Aisle of Shame" because it's always full of interesting gadgets and household accessories no one really NEEDS but seems like could be fun to have. This go around we found the Crofton Cheese Serving Board and Bamboo Cutting Bard set. No better way to present that fancy cheese than on a nice serving board. But it wasn't in the budget, so we had to slowly drag our feet on past the great finds there.
Note: there were a few ingredients we had on hand, salad dressing, red onion, garlic and herb seasoning, and olive oil, parchment paper.
Cheese: To start, we sliced up the brie. While there is a way to perfectly heat brie to make it soft and gooey my wife just likes it sliced up. So I haven’t perfected that technique myself, so here’s an article on warming up brie like a pro. (How To Warm Up Brie Cheese | eHow)
Steak: If you have a conventional oven you’ll want to start this process by preheating your oven to 425. Next, you’ll want to get the steak started. This time of year, it’s a bit cold to be grilling outside so I’m going to share my indoor steak technique. First, you’ll want to put your kitchen skillet on high. I prefer to do this with a cast-iron skillet. However, mine was packed away with the camping gear so our standard skillet had to do. Place it on high heat and give it a couple of minutes to warm up. The skillet must get to temperature before you get to the next step for it to work properly. To test the temperature I flick a little water into it. If it dances then the skillet is ready to go.
Next, you place the steaks down on the skillet and use a spatula to press them firmly into the surface. Then leave them on the skillet for 90 seconds. Flip the steaks and you’ll see a nice dark brown charred surface. This says you’ve gotten a good sear. The goal here is to give the steak that bit of crunch you get from a traditional grill without burning it. Leave the steak on the other side for another 90 seconds then place on a broiler pan. We have a toaster oven style air fryer. For these steaks, I set it to 425 for 15 minutes and my steak comes out a solid medium-rare, and leave it for another ten minutes to get it to just over medium for my wife’s tastes. A conventional oven might need a few more minutes to get the same results. To keep my steak warm while hers cools I just plate mine and set it on top of the toaster oven. While the steaks are cooking you can work on the other courses.
Green Beans: I grew up with a family garden and “snapping beans” was a common chore, so even though the little ends on these green beans are completely edible, that’s “not how my Mom made green beans” so I cut them off.
Next I to sliced the red onion. I usually cut off the stem and root then cut a line down one side from stem to root to remove the “paper wrapping”. Then I cut the onion in half so I can lay it on the counter while I cut it the rest of the way. I make thin slices from stem to root
Next put enough olive oil in the skillet to coat it, add the diced onions, and seasoning. My current favorite is the Mrs. Dash garlic and herb, but salt and pepper will work just fine if that’s what you have. The important part here is to cook the onions and spices together until the onions are soft and translucent. That releases the flavor of the onions and spices into the oil which helps coat the green beans with their flavor. When the onions are cooked add the green beans and turn them gently every couple of minutes until they are soft.
Mushrooms and Onions: Mushrooms and onions make a great garnish for the steak, toppings for salad, or an addition to the green beans. Or maybe all three. For this meal, I just slice the mushrooms long ways to keep their shape. You can take some to top the salad, and time around I cooked some with onions following the same technique for the spices and onions before adding in the mushrooms. You’ll want to turn the mushrooms more frequently and take them off the heat once they get a dark brown.
Salad: The mushrooms and onions act as an additional garnish on the salad to top it off nicely. If you have other vegetables around adding your favorites is no problem. We did stick with salad dressings that are considered on-plan by the Trim Healthy Mama plan.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries: This one can be pretty tricky if you haven’t worked with chocolate before. I like to make Christmas candy so I bought a “chocolate warmer” at some point and just use that. They are pretty inexpensive so it might be a place you spend some of the money you saved by not eating out. But if you don’t have a chocolate warmer, here’s how to make a double boiler to melt the chocolate. 3 Ways to Make a Double Boiler (Bain Marie) - wikiHow
Once you have your heating device you’ll need to break up the chocolate into as small of pieces as you can. Then put them I the melting pot. This is something you’ll want to do early in the process because it does take a while to melt. Also, you’ll want to stir the chocolate regularly to make sure the big chunks are stirred into the liquid chocolate. It helps everything melt down faster.
While the chocolate is melting, core the strawberries. Then when the chocolate is ready you can use a fork to pick up the strawberry and dip it in the chocolate. Once you’ve got the strawberry coated with chocolate you’ll want to set it on parchment paper to cool. This is important because anything else you put it on will end up getting stuck to the chocolate and you could destroy the strawberry trying to unstick it. I learned this the hard way making this blog post because the first go because this plate almost took a hammer and chisel to get the chocolate off of.
Note: I was trying to stick to getting everything from Aldi and sticking to the budget. If you’ve got a little money to splurge here, I prefer the Trim Healthy Mama milk chocolate bar* or Chocolate Chips* for making chocolate covered strawberries or candies in general. The chocolate bar is sweeter, not quite as bitter, melts faster and more consistently.
There you have it, a very fine Valentine's Day steak dinner for two for under $20.00.
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