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Dinner for Boyfriend's Birthday!

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My boyfriend requested that we stay in and have dinner on his 26th birthday this tuesday, so I am going to (try to) make him a wonderful dinner (complete with candles, balloons, great wine/champagne, etc.)
SO far I have decided to make some sort of starter salad or vegetable, filet mignon and mashed potatoes as the main course. I would also like to make an appetizer to put out with champagne while I prepare dinner and either a chocolate cake or red velvet cake for dessert. Any ideas for easy preparation or recipes that will work for this dinner? I want to make it as special as possible (as he opted to stay in for dinner rather than go out) without making it too complicated. Any good recipes for:
1) a starter salad or great vegetable dish
2) easy filet mignon and mashed potatoes (with red wine)
3) good appetizer to put out with champagne while I prepare dinner
4) chocolate or red velvet cake.
The menu will be for two. It is my birthday the next day, so it is okay if there is some left over cake! I would appreciate any tips to make this as special (but less stressful) as possible! Thank you sooooooo much!

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  1. for a starter why not do a shrimp cocktail, for salad a simple wedge of iceberg and blue cheese dressing with crispy bacon. I would do a baked potato ( easier than mashed and do the filet pan seared in butter take up befor done then do a red wine reduction in the searing pan and finish the steaks the last min. before serving. A simple vegging would be steamed asparagus bundles. Have fun and Happy Birthday to both of you.

    1. I like the idea of a baked potato, I would probably make a sour cream dressing to top it and add some bacon and fresh chives. I'm not an iceberg fan, so I'd go with a fresh baby spinach with mushrooms, mandarin oranges and glazed pecans, and a light balsamic dressing. Have a great birthday!.....both of you!

      1. Unless you’re sold on filet mignon, may I suggest ribeye. Much more flavor. A good steak needs no pre-flavoring for me, but if you wish you can use a dry rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne or chili powder.

        Here are a bunch of appetizer ideas, probably too many. To meet your criteria, I’d suggest No. 47. Simple and tasty:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/din...

        I inherited a chocolate cake recipe from my mother that’s so tasty I think frosting only detracts from the flavor (whipped cream, not the prepackaged stuff, is great, though). In looking around the web I found it’s a classic Hershey’s. So good:

        http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recip...

        1. LOVE that he requested that you stay in for dinner...how romantic and you can really shine..nothing like spoiling the boyfriend!
          Are these his fav foods?
          Music is a must...love Paris lounge music..
          Champagne with a shrimp cocktail is a nice starter along with a great Bordeaux for dinner.
          Is he a sauce guy?...you can use that for the mash pot's too..saute mushrooms garlic..or maybe a bernaise..
          Both of you have a wonderful birthday!

          1. for a salad, how about spinach leaves, sundried tomatoes and/or roasted red peppers, figs, blue cheese, olives and a balsamic vinegarette?

            for an app, i almost want to suggest some cheese, but fear that it might infringe upon appetite for the rest of the meal. maybe some tomatoes, basil and mozzarella balls skewered. or, perhaps some crostini with an eggplant tapenade or caponata. there's also a thread on here that listed a great moroccan carrot puree that would be good served with bread or crackers http://yumminessnsues.blogspot.com/20...

            for a chocolate cake, try the Double Layer Cake on Epicurious.
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            1. For an even easier, elegant and outstanding salad, toss baby spinach and arugula together (equal proportions), toss the greens well with your preferred excellent-quality oil (like walnut or a good EVOO), throw in some crumbled blue cheese - we are partial to maytag blue - and a good handful of tasted pecans or walnuts, whatever your preference, then drizzle on a good vinegar and toss well. Fig-infused vinegar is especially good here. If you want to really gild the lily throw in some dried cranberries or raisins or currants, but IMO the fruit is overkill. Plate up and you have an elegant delicious salad which requires practically zero effort, and it goes particularly well with a good steak.

              1. for the appetiser with champage how about little salmon and pesto wheels? Buy puff pastry, pesto ( or hand make) and one piece of fresh salmon (or tinned organic variety can work).
                Roll out pastry, cover in thin layer of pesto. Flake cooked salmon over and roll into a tight tube. Cut into rounds and bake on greaseproof paper. they look lovely and taste great

                1. Thank you for all of the responses! All of these sound great, I don't know how I will choose...Keep them coming!

                  1. I like the shrimp cocktail starter OR mini shrimp Louies. Arrange shrimp on butter lettuce leaves, surround with hardboiled egg slices (this is do ahead stuff), last minute dress with already made Louie dressing.
                    I agree with other poster, use a rib eye or NY strip steak. The filet needs sauce, a personal opinion, I don't think the rib eye or the NY does. If he like bleu cheese, you could melt a bit on either last minute.
                    I could serve a salad and forget the veg. Do your favorite with oil and vinegar dressing.
                    I would do twice baked potatoes. These, too, can be done in advance. Then just shred Cheddar cheese on them and reheat slowly.
                    Dessert isn't my thing, but I've been thinking about making ice cream sandwiches. Not too romantic, but they always sound good.