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Valentine's Dinner A Deux for (Cooking) Virgins

Instead of paying $250 to sit in an overcrowded, dimly lit restaurant and eat burnt steak and dry chocolate cake, why not make something for your sweetheart this year? If you've got a phobia of cooking, don't worry: we've got the ingredients for a meal of love a deux that's easy on you, but looks impressive. The Foolproof Roast Chicken with Potatoes d'Amour is your main course and side dish in one: as the chicken roasts, the fat drips down onto the vegetables creating crispy, ooey-gooey good potatoes, onions, and roast garlic cloves - don't worry about garlic breath, since you're both eating it, you'll be fine! Simple Steamed Asparagus makes a bright accompaniment, and as we all know, asparagus is an aphrodisiac. For dessert, Chocolate Grand Marnier Fondue is simple and sexy, and oh, so, so good. Have your date bring a bottle of wine.

Learn more... after the jump! Click the post title to read the rest.

Shopping list:
1 4-5lb. whole chicken
1 lb small new potatoes
1 large yellow onion
2 heads garlic
2 lemons
1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Spices: 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, paprika, onion powder
12 ounces dark, semi-sweet chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (if you don't want a huge bottle, go to a liquor store for a "nip" size)
Dippers for fondue: Strawberries, cut up pound cake and brownies, marshmallows, apples, bananas

The Day Of - 2 Hours Before Meal:
Prep Main Course: Preheat oven to 375. Spray a roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Thinly slice potatoes and onion and spread in an even layer on bottom of roasting pan. Toss in 1 head's worth of peeled garlic cloves (many stores sell pre-peeled ones in the produce department) and toss vegetables with 1 tsp olive oil. Place a roasting rack atop vegetables.

Fondue: Cut up any dippers for fondue, arrange on a serving platter, and set in refrigerator. Finely chop chocolate and add to a large glass bowl along with cream and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Refrigerate.

Chicken: Rinse chicken, then pat dry with paper towels. Combine salt, pepper, spices, and 3 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl and mix well, then pour over chicken and massage into and under skin. Halve both lemons and remaining head of garlic, then stuff into chicken. Tie chicken legs together and place breast side-up on roasting rack. Insert a meat thermometer into thickest part of thigh, making sure it doesn't touch bone. Roast until thermometer hits 175, about 1.5 hours. Remove chicken to cutting board & cover with foil. Stir vegetables and pop pan back in oven for 5-10 minutes to caramelize them. Once veggies are out of oven, carve chicken and serve together.

Veggies: While chicken is resting, steam asparagus in microwave for 2.5 minutes using a Zioploc Zip 'N Steam Bag, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

After dinner:
Fondue: In a small saucepan (like this one), heat about 2 cups of water until just simmering. Place glass bowl with chocolate & cream mixture on top, reduce heat to medium-low on stove, and start stirring. Once chocolate is melted, add Grand Marnier and stir. Pour fondue into a serving bowl and get dippers out of fridge. Enjoy!

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