Steps For A Simple French Dinner And Special Valentine Cards

My husband loves to cook.  But when it is up to me, I try to keep things simple and enjoy my guests.  I like to do things ahead as much as possible.   Why not invite a few friends over for a winter gathering?  Or, this could be an intimate dinner for two.

1.  Set the table in advance.  

  • Store bought flowers are added to my existing succulent pots. 
  • I love my new oversized gray table runner and the price!  
  • The linen napkins are from a Schumacher remnant sale (you can look on Ebay for fabric).  Fran from Etsy did a nice job making napkins for $3.50 each.  
  • The charcoal glasses are on sale right now (in store only) at World Market.

2.  Shop and prepare menu items in advance.

Disclaimer...this isn't hard but the darn onions take a loooong time to brown.  So making it ahead is your best bet!
Do ahead:
Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead (without toasts or cheese) if refrigerated, or up to 6 months ahead if frozen. Toasts can be made (without cheese) and kept sealed at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Your guests will appreciate the aroma when they enter your home and you can have a cocktail with them while it finishes cooking.
I make this often for just us (good leftovers for the week).
Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley on the platter.

  • Store Bought Lemon Sorbet with a Spritz of Meyer Lemon (and lemon slice garnish) 
  • Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lacey Almond Cookies
To be honest...after the holidays, I'm trying to cut back calories and so baking is not in the cards since I have zero self control.  But you want your guests to have a little something sweet and this works nicely (not to mention--how easy?).  The fresh lemon juice squeeze is an old trick of my mom's.
Do ahead:  Scoop the sorbet into small cups and store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Thoughtful Valentine's Day Card Idea...

My cousin, Billy told me about the Pixinote telephone app.
It's fun, easy and inexpensive.  I've been sending Valentine's Day cards with personalized messages, like to my mother-in-law in Florida...
It comes the good old-fashioned way...in the mail (postage is included)! 

Happy Valentine's Day to YOU!

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  1. Wonderful idea for a menu. My neighbor, a native of Normandy, gave me his recipe for onion soup. It's so hearty, it's a meal in itself.

    1. Yes! We had it for dinner with a salad last night.

  2. Such pretty flowers and the whole table is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your Etsy seamstress! If you only knew how many leftover fabrics I have......

  3. Oh, those floral arrangements! Did you make them? I love the mix of succulents and pink flowers! I pinned this to my Flowers board.

  4. A really great menu, that is delicious but so much of this can be made in advance or does not require last minute preparation meaning that one can actually enjoy the evening and time with friends. Just my kind of meal.

  5. Your table, napkins, flowers are exquisite! And the menu looks divine. I have yet to make any plans for Valentine's Day so now you've got my wheels turning.

  6. The dinner looks delicious and perfect for Valentine's Day. Love your tablesetting! Happy Saturday!

  7. Those succulents have been on the blog without the flowers. I try to reuse everything, Claudia!

  8. I LOVE that chicken recipe one of my standbys. I am making it tonight actuallty!! Your table decor is to DIE FOR! Unbelievably fabulous! The prettiest valentine table I have seen bar none! I love the simple dessert idea (you know me I don't do dessert) and the valentine app...what a great idea! You are the bomb!!

    1. Thanks, Cindy...coming from the hostess with the mostess...that is GREAT praise!

  9. You have such a beautiful talent for everything you do Mary Ann. I am a big fan of yours and have enjoyed every post you have created.

    Cousin Julie

  10. This is absolutely gorgeous, Mary Ann! You are so incredibly talented at making it look both lovely and effortless, which we all know is no easy feat!

  11. You always set-up exquisite table and deliciously perfect menu Mary ann! Love that tip on the napkins and the card, thanks and Happy Valentines day in advance!

  12. Roasting a chicken is my kind of cooking bliss since I prefer not standing over a stove and stirring a complicated sauce! Thanks for all the tips!😀

  13. That onion soup sure got my tastebuds going! I'm sure it was delicious! And how lucky are you that Howard likes to cook. In my next life I'm going to make sure my other half can cook! Beautiful post Mary Ann, your table is gorgeous and I love your napkins.

  14. Love black and pink. Over 40 years ago my late MIL redid her bedroom in these colors. Loved it then and so glad to be reminded of this lovely combo. One of my friends uses her crock pot to cook the onions. Haven't tried it yet, but I really must. And, as a gadget girl, I do own the onion goggles. Not too sexy a look...my husband can't stop laughing! But does he cook? No! You are so lucky to have man who cooks!!!!!!

  15. YUM!!!! This looks so darn good and so beautiful, love the unexpected color combination!

  16. You always have such pretty, elegant, and do-able ideas. I love Ina's roasted chicken recipe and look forward to making that French onion soup, yum!


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