If there’s one meal at which family drama is on full display, it’s Thanksgiving. Expectations and emotions run high, and there are a lot of moving parts to cause friction. Even Anthony Bourdain, who is seemingly immune to the criticism of others, feels the pressure to pull off the most anticipated meal of the year. If you’re hosting (and taking seriously) The Big Meal this year, you’ll need to read this before tackling anything related to it. There’s a lot you’re just plain doing wrong.
Below, a list of exactly what you’re doing wrong, according to Anthony Bourdain:
1. You start cooking on Thanksgiving Day.
Preparing your whole meal in one day— even two—is a recipe for system failure. Order your fancy farmer-raised turkey now. Or, if you are going to buy a more plebian bird from a regular market, get your hands on it no later than the Monday before Thanksgiving.
2. You’re not planning well enough.
Plan for three days—that’s right, three days—of full-on Thanksgiving prep. Make a list of everything that needs to get done and follow it. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, you should be organizing your supplies and tools, making sure you have enough roasting pans, mixing bowls, and storage containers ,and banging out advance vegetable prep.
3. You’re not giving yourself enough time to thaw everything out.
Do not wait until Thanksgiving to lay out your non-perishables and frozen items. The vast majority of holiday turkeys are sold frozen, and it takes about six hours per pound to defrost in the refrigerator. No amount of prayer, salting, or hastily applied hairdryers can speed up this process if you’ve waited until Wednesday to thaw a 12-pound bird. Your microwave isn’t big enough. You can jolly it along a bit with a cold water bath, which thaws the meat at approximately 30 minutes per pound, but do not float your turkey in your bathtub.
4. You’re not saving the stock when it’s all over. It’s liquid gold for cold weather.
Stock is the underrated superhero of the Thanksgiving meal, the product that comes out of nowhere to save almost everything except your pie. You should make stock out of your Thanksgiving turkey carcass—but the use of a good, dark, gelatinous-when-refrigerated stock that you have on hand before the meal is what’s going to upgrade your stuffing and gravy. Buy about five to seven pounds of turkey wings and necks as the base for a deeply-roasted stock, or invest in a couple of quarts of the best-quality turkey stock you can find a few days (or weeks) before the holidays. Use the stock made from your Thanksgiving birds for winter soups and stews.
5. You only make one turkey? That’s cute.
Prepare a stunt turkey and a business turkey. To impress guests, roast and artfully arrange a small turkey, using any and all manner of garnishes and props, including (but not limited to): chop frills, rainbow pinwheels of skewered citrus fruit slices, maraschino cherries, curly kale, lit sparklers, and crisp, new $100 bills and/or gold leaf. While guests admire your artistry (and drink your Burgundy), carve the larger, roasted business turkey in the kitchen. The stunt turkey should be edible, of course. Use it to supplement the meal as needed, or lean on it entirely for care packages and day-after leftovers.
6. You’re throwing away the fat.
Do not discard the copious amounts of grease your bird has generously provided you with; use it to boost flavor. Butter is good, but turkey fat is better for delivering quintessential flavor. Save the grease that runs off the roasted birds and use it for the gravy and as a moistening agent for your stuffing.
7. Don’t try anything crazy. This is not the time for wild experimentation.
Stick with tradition on Thanksgiving. You have 364 days of the year to experiment with the cuisines of the world, your dehydrator, and your sous vide machine. Give the people what they want on Thanksgiving: the likes of buttery mashed potatoes, savory stuffing with mushrooms or chestnuts or oysters, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry relish, bacon-enhanced Brussels sprouts, creamed onions, pumpkin or apple pie with real whipped cream, and above all, a straight-ahead bronzed turkey, roasted in the oven.
8. You’re giving it all away at the end of the meal.
A good turkey sandwich, enhanced with a layer of stuffing and gravy, eaten in peace after your guests have gone, is the whole point of hosting Thanksgiving in the first place. By all means, send your friends and family home with care packages—but first, make sure you’ve tucked away enough additional stuff for yourself.
Traditional Halloween treats include all oour obvious favorites: Snickers, Reese’s, Twix, Skittles, and the (yummy) list goes on and on. But this year you should stray from tradition and pick up some not-so-typical treats for the youngsters in your building. Trust us, they’ll get plenty of the tooth-rotting goodness, but they’ll welcome the alternative Halloween treats we gathered here. Many of these items can be purchased in bulk for an affordable price at your local dollar store:
Our 24-hour Fitness Center is a great perk of apartment living, adding to your quality of life in more than one way. But your gym etiquette (or lack thereof) could make the wrong impression, turning off neighbors, potential friends and even management. Here are some tips so you make a good impression in your apartment community’s fitness center.
Workout clothes should be worn, not flip-flops or bathing suits. You never know who you’ll meet in your gym—a potential employer, a future date, or simply a new friend. It’s always beneficial to make a good impression, even when working out. Ripped or dirty clothes tell something about you, as does wearing something too revealing, provocative or downright offensive.
Leave Work Behind
You’ll want to be friendly at the gym, but the less you talk about work at the gym, the better. Most people go to the gym with one of two things in mind: getting a good workout, or decompressing from a stressful day. You certainly don’t want to be the one to wreck someone’s fitness regime or their chance at a little peace of mind.
Be Mindful of Conversation
If someone approaches you and starts a conversation, you may certainly oblige them. But if you’re short on time, do be honest and let them know. Tell them you’d love to talk more, and suggest another time. A nice, short friendly conversation is appropriate: just be sure to follow up.
The same goes if you don’t want to connect with a neighbor in the gym. Good etiquette includes being courteous and respectful. Perhaps you should bring your earplugs and iPod. It’s an easy signal that you want to work out without talking.
Great Gym Etiquette Guidelines
Follow these basic gym rules to avoid irritating anyone:
return free weights where they belong
don’t hog the cardio machines
(typically most machines have a 30 minute limit unless the room is empty)
turn off lights, fans and TVs when not in use
wipe off equipment after use
Besides boosting your health, the Fitness Center is a good place to meet your neighbors . . . so you’ll want to ensure you’re on your best behavior as you’re trying to get in your “best” shape. When you work on your manners and leave a good impression at the gym, it could pay off in more ways than just your physique.
Though it sounds crazy, your dishwasher is capable of washing so much more than just your dishes. Learn how this cleaning powerhouse can sanitize, clean, protect and extend the life of things other than dishes!
Like our title says, you can put the sneakers in the dishwasher. (Just don’t combine them with your dishes). Shoes get a lot of wear and get dirty very quickly. If you have little kids running around who like to get their feet dirty, this is a tip you’ll definitely want to use.
Before putting a pair of shoes in the dishwasher to be cleaned, give them a once-over to look for any extremely dirty spots that may need scraped or scrubbed off before going in the wash. Make sure the open part of the shoe is over the rungs of your bottom dishwasher rack and that the bottom part of the shoe is facing up. After that, run the dishwasher with your normal dishwasher detergent. Remember to turn off the “heat dry” option or you might end up with a shrunken pair of shoes. Remove them from the dishwasher once the cycle is finished. Let your clean shoes dry overnight.
FUN FACT: You can also clean your flip flops on the top shelf of the dishwasher.
Think about it – your keys go wherever you go and can get touched by a lot of hands. Your keys are probably covered in germs.
It’s not recommended to put key fobs in the dishwasher, but simple metal keys can be put in your silverware holder for a wash cycle. They’ll come out shiny and sanitized.
Dogs love their toys. They love them so much that they’ll claw and drool all over them. Needless to say, they need a little extra cleaning from time to time.
Most of your dog’s supplies can be run through the dishwasher. Skip the detergent and just use a little vinegar instead. Soaps often contain chemicals that are harmful to pets, but vinegar works as a disinfectant. Their dishes, plastic toys, collars and leashes (not made of leather), can all be cleaned in the dishwasher without the “heat dry” setting.
These brushes pick up a lot of gunk after each use. Then, they get used again each day without a thought. A quick cycle in the dishwasher gets them clean and extends their lifespan.
Makeup brushes can go in the silverware holder to be cleaned and sanitized. Once a month is usually enough for this thorough cleaning. Ensure that the brushes are completely dry after you clean them.
Garden Tools and Hand Tools
It’s pretty obvious that your garden tools can pick up some dirt after each use. Other metal and hand tools with plastic handles can also be cleaned in the dishwasher.
After the dishwasher cleans off the grit and grime, do not use the “heat dry” option and remove the tools immediately to dry by hand. Drying by hand lowers the chance of rust forming on the tools.
Plastic Children’s Toys
It’s no wonder that your child’s toys might need a quick wash to get rid of all the germs they pick up: those toys get around.
Plastic kids toys of all kinds can be placed in the dishwasher for an easy sanitation. If you have a bunch of small plastic toys (legos, small game pieces, blocks, etc.), they can be put in a mesh bag so they don’t get lost and fall through the racks.
Important: Turn off the “heat dry” option to avoid any melted toys.
As you can see, your dishwasher works to clean more than just your dishes. Save a few minutes and use it to clean and sanitize other items around your house, you’ll be glad you did!
The beautiful weather in the summer makes you want to be outside all day and all night, but your enjoyment of the outdoors can easily be ruined by the appearance of mosquitoes. These bloodsucking flying pests seek out human hosts to feed on, but you have a few options to help keep your cookouts and pool days bug-free.
The easiest way to get rid of mosquitoes is to eliminate the places they can breed. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in and around standing water, the bugs need only a small pool or puddle (around 6 inches in diameter and ½ inch deep at a minimum). Look for and drain any flower pots, decorative buckets or dishes, and even tarps that might cover your grill or yard items; if the tarp is loose, water can pool in the folds.
If there are troublesome spots that seem to fill with water no matter what you do, look for “mosquito dunks,” or “mosquito bits.” These come in a small ring or handful of pellets that you drop right into the water, and they kill off the mosquito larva. They contain a biologic pesticide, mostly a bacteria that feeds on the larva, and are safe for children, pets and other wildlife.
If you are already in the midst of an infestation, there are a couple of ways to keep the bugs at bay.
Using essential oils, or burning a candle loaded with essential oils, is a time-tested method to keep insects away. Look for citronella or lemon eucalyptus oils, available as an oil, a spray or in candle form.
However, there might be an easier solution that could help keep flying bugs from pestering you. An electric fan could be the key to keeping your cookout bug-free. Mosquitoes and flies are not the strongest flyers, so a simple oscillating fan can help push them away from people and food. Additionally, mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we exhale, as well as other scents released when we sweat. A fan might help disperse these fumes, so you will be less of a target for the biting insects.
If all else fails, it’s time to reach for the bug spray, which can give you a few hours respite from the bloodsuckers. Look for sprays that contain DEET or picaridin, two formulations that are reported as highly effective scientific studies and customer reviews. Picaridin is recommended especially if you find that a spray with DEET irritates your skin. Look for products that contain 15 to 30 percent DEET or 20 percent picaridin. Follow the safety instructions on any bug spray you buy and apply.
Congrats on your new home! Now you just have to figure out how you’re going to pack and move everything without breaking the bank, your fragile lamp, or your back. Good thing we put together this list of 10 easy moving and packing tips that will make your move dead simple.
How do we know these tips will make your move dead simple?
We asked expert movers, packers, and professional organizers to share their best tips.
So sit back, grab a snack, and dive in!
1. Get rid of everything.
Okay, maybe not everything, but the more unused and unnecessary items you eliminate from your home, the less stuff you’ll have to pack up, haul across town, unload, and organize.
Be ruthless with your stuff. That coat you think is cute but haven’t worn in four months? Donate it.
The very first coffee maker you ever bought that flavors your morning brew with little pieces of rust? Trash it.
Doing a massive preliminary purge will have the single biggest impact on the efficiency and ease of your entire packing process.
2. Sort things by category.
Instead of spending a day cleaning out your entire bedroom, spend an afternoon sorting through every article of clothing you own.
Scour every coat closet, dirty clothes hamper, and laundry room until you’ve got all your clothes in one place. Then sort.
Do the same thing for books, shoes, important papers, and the like.
3. Schedule a free donation pickup.
Save yourself a trip to your local Goodwill and schedule a free MakeSpace pickup. In addition to picking up and storing practically anything (including furniture), we’ll also pick up your donation and drop it off to Goodwill — at no extra charge.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to donate to a different charity, use donationtown.org to schedule a free pickup at your home.
All you have to do is put your giveaway items in boxes and leave them on your doorstep.
The good men and women of Donation Town will then pick up your stuff and deliver it to a local charity of your choice.
4. Set aside stuff to sell.
You probably have a few items you no longer want, but would love to get a little money for. If that’s the case, set these items aside and determine where you can sell them.
If it’s furniture, Craigslist or AptDeco might be your best bet. If it’s brand name clothing, you could try Poshmark or a local consignment store.
For specialty items like a gently used Coach purse or your collection of 90’s Beanie Babies, get on eBay.
Once you have everything sorted, set a date on your calendar to visit the nearest Buffalo Exchange or craft descriptions of the items you plan to sell online.
5. Research professional moving companies.
Research is never fun. Yelp and Google will overwhelm you with the sheer volume of choices for moving companies to hire, but don’t give in to the pressure and pick the first four-star rating you see.
A moving company can often make or break your entire moving experience, so it’s important to get it right. The more effort you put into finding a reputable company with excellent customer service ahead of time, the less hassle you’ll have on moving day.
Make sure to read the company’s list of services, fine print, and refund or damage policies, too. For example, some companies don’t lift items that aren’t in boxes (so your stuffed-to-the-brim duffel bags won’t make the cut), while others ask for full payment several weeks early.
Find out the specifics so there are no unwelcome surprises come moving day.
6. Pick the right moving day.
Hire your movers at least a month out so you can plan accordingly. If you have a flexible schedule, play around with potential moving dates and try to find the cheapest time of month to make an appointment.
Moving companies are busiest on weekends, so if you can skip the Saturday chaos and schedule your move for a Tuesday, you might get a significant discount.
7. Map out the best way to get to your new home.
Whether you’re moving to NYC, across the country, across state lines, or just to a neighboring town, you’re going to need an efficient travel route so you don’t waste your move-in day sitting in gridlock traffic or pulling over three different times to type an address into your GPS.
Figure out the easiest, most efficient way to get where you’re going. Look up potential highway construction schedules ahead of time. And take traffic, detours, and necessary stops into account when you’re making your plan.
8. Create a master moving to-do list
When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.
Write them down somewhere. Put them in the Notes app on your phone, in the to-do list app Wunderlist that professional organizer Anna Bauer recommends, or go old-school with a giant yellow legal pad.
No detail is too insignificant. You just remembered the name of the little bookstore in town that will accept your used novels? Write it down.
Not sure which novels to donate? Here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of.
You stuck that extra screw from the broken drawer next to the sink? Take note.
You have to return your cable box to your provider at least one day before you leave? Jot it down.
9. Put moving tasks on your calendar.
Take your organization a step further and spend an evening mapping out everything you have to do. Get an oversized calendar and mark the empty white boxes with important daily tasks to prepare for your move.
Tuesday: Call moving company.
Wednesday: Sort through toiletries.
Thursday: Buy new sheets.
An added bonus to using the calendar method is that breaking up your tasks by day makes them seem more manageable. Also, don’t forget to add “celebrate with wine” somewhere in there to give you something to look forward to.
10. Get moving boxes from your local liquor store.
Pay a visit to your local liquor store (that’s where you can buy the aforementioned wine) to see if they recycle their used boxes. If so, ask if you can grab a handful so you’re saving a little paper in your moving journey.
Just make sure the boxes are very gently worn and that you only use them to hold lightweight items like linens and towels. You don’t want to deal with ripped boxes and broken valuables on the big day.
May 5th is Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates a military victory that took place during the Franco-Mexican War in which the outnumbered Mexican troops halted France’s army. Festivities in U.S. communities with high Mexican-American populations tend to be bigger than those in Mexico (Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in its native country) and are often full of parades and historic reenactments of the battle. In fact, the prevalence of Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. just goes to show how much of an influence Mexican culture has had on its neighboring country. If you’re observing the holiday, here are four ways to honor it:
1. Color your home
Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo with colors galore, including, of course, red, green and white. Bring the joy of the holiday to your home by sporting bright and saturated tones. While the colors of the Mexican flag are a good place to start, yellow, pink, orange and blue are also up for grabs.
One way to bring the brilliant hues into your home and also enjoy spring, is to decorate with fresh Cinco de Mayo flowers. Any brightly colored bouquet will make a beautiful addition to the festivities.
2. Prepare an authentic meal
The conflict that took place on Cinco de Mayo in 1862 is also known as the Battle of Puebla, named after the town where the event occurred. Many celebrations of Mexico’s victory include dishes native to the area, such as mole poblano. After all, according to Business Insider, Puebla is the foodie capital of Mexico, so whipping up traditional cuisine is both a tasty and appropriate way enjoy the day.
Chicken tinga, chalupas and molotes are all other iconic foods to try on Cinco de Mayo. Do some research into ingredients that are native to Puebla to plan your menu.
3. Go to a museum
To truly understand the history of Cinco de Mayo, or to better appreciate Mexican culture, consider seeking out a Mexican-American museum or cultural center in your community. See if the locale is holding any festivities or hosting special exhibits. If not, you can still learn a lot from the material already available.
This is also a great celebration option for families with kids, as your little ones will have the opportunity to explore a new culture. Call the museum ahead of time to see if it has programs for kids. You can also create a worksheet before going to the museum for your children to fill out while you’re there.
4. Enjoy local festivities
In addition to observing Mexican culture by visiting a museum, you can experience Mexican-American traditions by checking out festivities where you live. Whether it’s attending a parade or watching a re-enactment of the Battle of Puebla, you’re sure to find something new and exciting if you live in a diverse community.
If your town doesn’t observe Cinco de Mayo with as much flair, you can watch parades on TV or online to enjoy the celebrations.
5. Attend a concert
Discover another part of Mexican culture by attending a concert. Not only will seeing live mariachi give you more insight into Mexican culture, but it also supports the artists and can be a fun time – few things are more energizing than live music.
Spring has sprung and for many residents, de-cluttering is a big part of the Spring Cleaning task. Purging your unwanted or unnecessary items is a great way to cleanse not only your home, but your soul. But what do you do with all of the excess stuff? Consider donating your items to Goodwill. Goodwill isn’t just another Thrift Store; the non-profit has helped hundreds of thousands of people “reach their full potential through education, skills training, and the power of work.” Your donations will contribute to this mission!
Before you donate, however, be sure to inspect your items for stains or tears, make sure they have all their pieces and parts, and that they are in good working order. While Goodwill will occasionally accept items that don’t meet these standards, your items will do the most good if they do.
As long as your items are in good condition, Goodwill will accept most household stuff, but you’ll want to call ahead for a few things. Check out their guidelines below before dropping off your items:
shoes and boots
hats, gloves, mittens and scarves
books, records, compact disks, video tapes and DVDs
games, toys, and sport equipment
dishes, glassware, and kitchen utensils
collectibles, antiques, knickknacks
hand tools and small power tools
linens, curtains, and blankets
stereos, radios, VCRs, DVD players
Call before donating:
flat-panel monitor HDTVs
dressers, tables, chairs, sofas and bed frames
Crossing the threshold into adulthood is signified by many telling things. Paying off a constant bombardment of bills, for instance — and reckoning with forces like quickly decelerating metabolisms and heartburn (after just two slices of pizza, at that).
It’s also marked by a slow-but-sure learning process where habits shift — where you begin to optimize your routines, learn what to invest time and money on, and generally how to live better.
Figuring out all that stuff takes time, though, and it’s much easier to just ask other people who’ve been there, done that. So, from someone who’s been adulting for a few whole years now (and with plenty of advice from much more experienced adults), here are some of the things that are always worth the money.
I’ve never really found the “Think about what you put in your body!” admonishment compelling, since I often think that my body just wants a greasy cheeseburger. Instead, it’s more effective to remind myself that stateside healthcare is extremely costly, and maintaining long-term wellness will mitigate those expenses.
MORE WHOLESOME FOODS
Spend more on meat raised without antibiotics, and use this guide to find seafood that’s raised or caught with minimal chemical use and damage to habitats. When it comes to produce, buying fresh, local, and in season will provide various benefits: Not only is it cost effective, but fruits and veggies are also at peak taste and vitamin content when they’re picked while ripe and consumed quickly, rather than being trundled cross-country on a truck.
Vending machine confections have passed their heyday: 40% of the snacks consumers carry these days are classified as healthy, and better-for-you snacks are readily available on supermarket shelves. If you’re craving something savory, reach for nutritious picks like seaweed snacks or dry-roasted edamame. For sweet treats, indulge in Nature Valley Granola Cups, which strike the perfect balance between creamy and crunchy, decadent (chocolate and nut butter!) and wholesome (whole-grain oats and nuts).
Cooking is a skill that’s worth investing time in, since it’s conducive both to saving money and eating healthier meals. Even if your cooking savvy is questionable, investing in a few good knives — or even just one chef’s knife, which are extremely versatile — will make a significant difference in the kitchen. Here’s a great guide to essential knives. A cast-iron skillet is another must-have; with proper care, the thing will last a lifetime, and it will only set you back about 20 bucks.
Stuff You Spend Your Nights On
Nights! They happens every 24 hours, and it’s in our best interest to spend most of them sleeping. According to The Handbook of Clinical Neurology, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, or trying to do so — all the more reason to invest in things that’ll make our beds more comfortable. Good mattresses will make a difference in your sleep quality, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Try retailers like Casper and Tuft & Needle, which offer 100-day trial periods before you decide whether or not to commit.
Another alternative is buying a mattress topper, which can elevate a sad bed without breaking your bank. The same philosophy applies when buying pillows, comforters, and sheets — quality products will make the difference between the feel of a cheap motel and a snug, serene sleep sanctuary. (A friend of mine even “has a guy” for quality sheets.) Another thing to consider: If you’re sharing a bed with a blanket-hogging partner, picking up an extra flat sheet and comforter might save your relationship.
Tools That’ll Make Your Home More Livable
There’s a reason that apartment maintenance, be it cleanliness or even interior decor, can cause so much strife between roommates and partners. Upkeep of a living space is important, and it’s psychologically beneficial to retreat to a place of comfort and belonging.
A VACUUM THAT WORKS
My roommates and I went through a series of cheap vacuums, which all disintegrated in a matter of weeks and ended up on the curb. We’ve since invested in a $200 vacuum that not only works better, but has already lasted us several years with no loss in efficacy — extra important, since I’m the mother to a furry pet.
A fancy surround-sound system isn’t necessary unless you’re a serious audiophile — but if you find yourself engaging in any type of passive listening (putting on podcasts or music while you perform chores, for instance), decent speakers are worth investing in. If you’re not sure where to start looking, a good portable bluetooth speaker is a breeze to use and will serve all of your basic audio needs.
BATHROOM BELLS ‘N’ WHISTLES
Buy a heavy-duty toilet plunger before you need one. Have you ever lived with a serial toilet-and-drain–clogger? I have, and none of us were ready until it was too late. And while we’re on the topic of lavatorial habits — if you haven’t stocked your bathroom with strong, two-ply toilet paper, you’re not living your best life.
Restaurant reservations are filling up, but it’s not too late to book a table for Valentine’s Day dinner. Here are the restaurants in and around Baltimore that have Valentine’s Day specials–some are offering specials that run before and even after the holiday.
AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar in Columbia will will serve a six-course sparkling wine dinner and chef’s demonstration for $85 per person from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, and a four-course prix-fixe menu Feb. 13 and 14 for $65 per person. (6741 Columbia Gateway Drive; 410-953-0500; aidabistro.com)
Arturo’s Trattoria in Glen Burnie will serve a four-course menu for $80 per person. (1660 Crain Highway South; 410-761-1500; arturostrattoria.com)
B&O American Brasserie at the Hotel Monaco will offer a three-course prix-fixe meal for $70 per person. The menu includes offerings such as lobster carrot bisque, wagyu carpaccio, rice-crusted tuna and chocolate hazelnut cake. (2 N. Charles St.; 443-692-6172; bandorestaurant.com)
Chef’s Expressions will host a Valentine’s Day wine supper at Gramercy Mansion. Tickets are $99.95, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore. (Gramercy Mansion, 1400 Greenspring Valley Road; 410-561-2433; chefsexpressions.com)
Cinnamon Tree Restaurant at the Hunt Valley Inn will offer a three-course, prix-fixe menu with champagne from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The meal is $119 per couple, including tax and gratuity. (245 Shawan Road; 410-785-7000; huntvalleywyndhamgrand.com/dining)
The Corner Pantry in Lake Falls Village will offer a six-course tasting menu for $96 per person. Courses will be shared by the table, and the dinner is BYOB. (6080 Falls Road; 667-308-2331; corner-pantry.com)
at the Mill No. 1 complex in Hampden will offer a four-course dinner for $100. (3000 Falls Road; 443-708-7352; cosimamill1.com)
Donna’s at Cross Keys will offer a three-course menu for $55. Menu choices include crab arancini, Thai duck breast and crispy noodle salad, beef carpaccio, pink peppercorn crusted filet mignon and grilled tuna Nicoise. (5100 Falls Road, 410-532-7611, donnas.com/cross-keys)
The Elephant in Mount Vernon will offer a four-course tasting menu with four choices per course for $85, or $115 with wine pairings. (924 N. Charles St.; 443-447-7878; theelephantbaltimore.com)
On Feb. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge will serve a “Valentine’s Prelude” special with three courses for $65. On Feb. 14 the restaurant will serve two prix-fixe menu options — three courses for $75 or four courses for $85. (5745 Furnace Ave.; 410-379-9336; elkridgefurnaceinn.com)
Explorer’s Lounge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel will serve a three-course, prix-fixe menu for $55 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Feb. 14. The restaurant will offer dishes such as shrimp and crab quinoa, chateaubriand steak for two and red velvet cake, as well as a complimentary glass of champagne. (550 Light St.; 410-234-0550; sonesta.com/us/maryland/baltimore/royal-sonesta-harbor-court-baltimore)
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Harbor East will offer a three-course menu starting at $79.95 per person Feb. 10-19. The menu includes a choice of salad, filet mignon, salmon or lobster tail and raspberry white chocolate bread pudding. (720 Aliceanna St.; 410-332-1666; flemingssteakhouse.com/locations/md/baltimore)
The French Kitchen at the Lord Baltimore Hotel will offer a three-course menu for $75 per person. (20 W. Baltimore St.; 410-539-8400; lordbaltimorehotel.com/dining-en.html)
Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy will offer a five-course, prix-fixe dinner for $49, plus a cabaret performance by Steve Ross at 6 p.m. ($20). (300 S. High St.; 410-752-4515; germanospiattini.com)
Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art will serve a three-course “Valentine’s Aphrodisiac” menu for $54 Feb. 10-14. (10 Art Museum Drive; 410-889-3399; gertrudesbaltimore.com)
Gunther & Co. in Canton will offer a four-course tasting menu ($75), with the option to add wine pairings ($25), an oyster course ($10 for four oysters) and/or a shellfish course ($22). (3650 Toone St.; 443-869-6874; eatatgunther.com)
Joe Squared in Station North will offer a seven-course Valentine’s Day dinner for $60, with optional beer and cocktail pairings for $30 extra. The prix-fixe menu, offered from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., includes cider pork belly, winter vegetables, golden tile fish, duck confit with mole sauce and ricotta cheesecake. (33 W. North Ave.; 410-454-0444; joesquared.com)
La Cuchara in Woodberry will offer a four-course dinner for $79, with wine pairings available for an extra $29. The menu includes options such as tuna crudo, foie gras, lamb shoulder and coffee-caramel creme brulee. (3600 Clipper Mill Road; 443-708-3838; lacucharabaltimore.com)
La Folie Wine Bar & Steak Frites in Canton will serve a $45 prix-fixe menu for two, plus complimentary champagne. (2903 O’Donnell St.; 667-212-2122; bistrolafolie.com)
Le Garage in Hampden will serve a four-course menu for $59 per person featuring new dishes and house favorites. (911 W. 36th St.; 410-243-6300; legaragebaltimore.com)
From Feb 10-14, Morton’s the Steakhouse at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel will offer a steak and lobster tail for $56. (300 S. Charles St.; 410-547-8255; mortons.com/baltimore)
The Rowhouse Grill in Federal Hill will offer a three-course menu for $45, or $60 with drink pairings, Feb. 10-14. (1400 Light St.; 443-438-7287; therowhousegrille.com)
Sullivan’s Steakhouse in the Inner Harbor will offer a three-course “Wine, Dine & Be Mine” dinner from Feb. 10-14. The menu, which includes a seafood tasting, filet mignon and chocolate mousse, is $69 before 5 p.m. and $79 per person after 5 p.m. (1 E. Pratt St.; 410-962-5503; sullivanssteakhouse.com/baltimore)
Sweet Caroline’s in Locust Point will serve a three-course meal for $35 per person from Feb. 11-14. (1401 Clement St.; 410-244-1401; sweetcarolineslocustpoint.com)
The Turn House in Columbia will serve a six-course dinner for $95 per person, with selections including scallop crudo, celery root ravioli and New York strip steak. (11130 Willow Bottom Drive; 410-740-2096; theturnhouse.com)
Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Baltimore will offer a three-course tasting menu for $95 per person, with wine pairings for an extra $59. The menu includes Maine lobster bisque, heirloom beets, seared diver scallops, butter-poached prime beef filet, maple pastries and more. (200 International Drive; 410-576-5800; witandwisdombaltimore.com)
Woodberry Kitchen in Woodberry will offer special touches at its tables Feb. 10-14 for guests with reservations, including boxes of chocolates, Linzer heart cookies, prosecco, cocktails for two and a photobooth. (2010 Clipper Park Road; 410-464-8000; woodberrykitchen.com)