A Valentine’s Day Lesson from Donatella

Let me introduce myself.  I’m Meredith- Donatella’s right hand woman and I have a secret.  Even though I work for a top chef, I can’t cook. (That’s me on the right..)

meredith donatella morimotoBefore approving directions on her products, Donatella has me follow them. No, not because she values my palate but because she says if I can make it, anyone can.  I am truly her perfect customer because although I LOVE food, I can’t prepare it.  Donatella’s products allow me to pretend that I can. Until she teaches me how to prepare her award winning meatballs, Donatella’s products let me fake it ‘til I make it.

valentines day tips donatella arpaia blog Last week, we were traveling back from HSN and Valentine’s Day was around the corner. Donatella asked me what I had planned for my fiancé, and I had no idea! We had a strategy session, and with her help, I planned the perfect Valentine’s Day. From the meal to the makeup, here’s what I learned from the woman who best knows how to entertain:

valentines day ideas from donatella arpaia Skip the Restaurant : I know it’s shocking, but Donatella suggests skipping the restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Forgo the crowds, travel time and expense and create the perfect Valentine’s Day at home.
Presentation is Key : Here’s the secret: disposable napkins and placemats used as runners. It’s so easy, looks expensive, and there’s little to no cleanup. It’s as simple as tearing a paper towel off a roll.

donatella arpaia biscotti Personalize the Evening :  Take the time to do something special.  At Donatella’s wedding, guests received bags of homemade biscotti.  I’m took a page out of her book and made biscotti from scratch with Donatella’s biscotti mix (from her Chocolate Escape)– wrapping it in pretty cellophane and ribbon, and adding a handwritten note.
Put Together a Menu: Nothing says, “I love you” like a “home cooked” meal and luckily, Donatella did all the work for me! I almost took full credit for it…

donatella arpaia garlic knots recipeAppetizers : Garlic knots and breadsticks made with Donatella’s pizza mix and pesto sauce for dipping. Her meatballs would have been a great appetizer too, but I had them for dinner instead!

spaghetti meatballs and ramekin Dinner: meatballs with marinara sauce for me and spaghetti and meatballs with arrabbiata sauce for him.  For portion control and a touch of glam, I served them in Donatella’s ramekins.

donatellas bling cupcakes Dessert Part I: Donatella’s bling cupcakes! I adore these cupcakes because they are delicious, all natural, incredibly moist and not too sweet.  They were almost too pretty to eat. I did say almost…

donatella arpaia chocolate fondue recipe Dessert Part II: I LOVE dessert, so why not have another round? Chocolate fondue was perfect for Valentine’s Day- it’s sexy, romantic, and delicious. Like Donatella, my fiance and I love coconut, so we dipped the strawberries into shredded coconut and added chopped pistachios and almonds for crunch.

Donatella arpaia make up musthaves Makeup: One little secret about Donatella is that she isn’t ALWAYS glamorous. Shocking I know, but like me, she often forgoes makeup completely. Having said that, she knows when to glam it up, and she knows that a little goes a long way. Here are her makeup must-haves:

donatella arpaia valentines day What to Wear: I borrowed this Cinderella dress that Donatella wore at Manhattan Magazine’s Chef’s Night Out. As always, Donatella suggests a little color and a touch of sparkle!

And for those of you with a few more skills in the kitchen than me, Donatella suggests her delicious chocolate soufflé dish. It’s so delicious, in fact, that it has been featured in Dessert Buzz! Get the recipe here.

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