Christine Avanti’s February 2019 Newsletter


There is almost a palatable feeling of love in the air when February begins. Stores begin a bit early with their displays, marketing all the Valentines in mid-January. Have you completed your Valentine’s Day planning or are you stumped on what to do?

There can be a lot of pressure to buy the right gift, plan the right date, pick the perfect card, even say the right thing and these things can come with a high price tag. But as the saying says, “money can’t buy love.”

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t break the bank. Here are some ideas to treat your significant other without spending more than you can afford:

Acts of Service

Does your significant other love it when you pick up extra tasks around the house? This may seem like a small act but will be greatly appreciated and can certainly be romantic. Take the extra step and take over all the chores for Valentine’s week.

Take an Electronic Sabbatical

We are so fortunate to be able to have the technology that we have, however, sometimes it can take over and be a distraction from our loved ones. On Valentine’s Day, take a break from your phone and all electronics and give your significant other your full attention for 24 hours.

Plan an Oscar Movie Marathon

Oscar season is here and most of the movies for best film are out for rent. Pop some popcorn, get a cozy blanket for two and cuddle up on the couch. If you would rather, pick your favorite movies instead and watch those together.

Have a Game Night

Spend the evening at home playing your favorite games together. Board games or video games are both fun to play together. Turn off all other distractions and spend the time together laughing and having fun.

Make Gifts for Each Other

It is especially romantic to get a hand-written card or letter that expresses just how your significant other feels. This is something you can go back to and read over and over again. You can make a picture frame with your favorite picture of the two of you together, write a poem, record a song, make a playlist – the possibilities are endless!

Create a Scavenger Hunt

Hide candy, notes, small gifts (could be dollar store items or inexpensive gifts), or a combination of the three around the house and come up with clues to find them. Give the clues to your significant other and have them hunt for the items on Valentine’s Day.

Go on a Walk or Hike

This is both something that costs nothing, is quality time together, gives an opportunity to talk, and is exercise all at the same time! Being active together is always fun, and you can end your walk or hike with a picnic.

Go on a Picnic

If weather permits, pack a picnic lunch or dinner and eat your meal outdoors. If the weather is too cold to be on the ground for a picnic, find a place where you can eat by a firepit or do an “indoor picnic” right in your living room.

An Inexpensive Night Out

There are places that have low-cost cover fees and can be cost efficient dates. Go see a local comedy show, play games at an arcade, go to a local museum, sing karaoke at a local club, go dancing, see a matinee, or go to a roller rink. All of these are great ideas for a fun night out!

Make Dinner at Home

Instead of spending a large amount of money and making reservations (or trying to get in last minute) at a fancy restaurant for Valentine’s Day, what about trying to make dinner for your significant other? Better yet, making dinner together can be both romantic and fun. You can step it up a notch and get out your best dining set and cloth napkins and tablecloth and dress up in your fanciest attire.

After enjoying a candlelit dinner at home, you can choose some other activities above to do together. Move the coffee table to the side and turn on some music and slow dance.

If you need ideas on what to make for your night in, I have the perfect recipe sure to impress: Filet Mignon with Sautéed Mushrooms, Arugula Salad with Figs & Pomegranates, and Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots & Sea Salt!

Dinner For Your Valentine



  • 1 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 3-oz organic top sirloin steaks
  • cooking spray

Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 8-oz package presliced mushrooms (baby bellas or shitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay (or sub white grape juice)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup dried or fresh figs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked pepper

Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt

  • Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper



  1. Combine first 5 ingredients. Coat both sides of steaks with cooking spray; rub steaks evenly with thyme mixture.
  2. Place steaks on rack of a broiler or roasting pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 450° for 8 minutes on each side, or until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 145°F for medium-rare, 160°F for medium, or 165°F for well-done.
  3. Remove from oven; keep warm.

Sautéed Mushroom Sauce

  1. While steaks are cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add thyme, mushrooms, and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Cook until reduced by half (about 10 minutes).
  4. Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  5. Add cornstarch mixture to mushroom pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  6. Serve ¼ c mushroom sauce with each steak.

Arugula Fig Salad with Pomegranate Arils

  1. Toss arugula and figs in a large bowl. Whisk lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl until emulsified.
  2. Pour dressing over salad and serve. Makes 5 servings.

Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Sea Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, place rack in lower third of oven.
  2. Cut cauliflower lengthwise into ¾ inch thick slices.
  3. Put into a large bowl and spray generously with olive oil.
  4. Add minced shallots, salt and pepper and toss until evenly distributed.
  5. Spread onto a large sheet pan (covered with foil for easy clean up).
  6. Roast turning once, until golden and just tender, about 25 minutes. Serves 4.

I would love to hear about your Valentine’s Day. If you choose to cook at home, share with me on social media how it turned out!

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” – Oscar Wilde


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