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Valentine's Recipes for a Date Night In

Last week, we were hanging out at my in-laws'. My brother-in-law, Alb, put in a request for the spiciest salsa recipes I could find. I decided to go for it and made three different salsas: a fiery red🌶️, a tangy green, and one using the molcajete. In the photo below, you can see my kitchen partners in crime! 📸Unfortunately, I didn't manage to hit the "ultimate spicy" mark, but everyone seemed to enjoy the salsas nonetheless. Alb's top pick was the green salsa, while my mother-in-law, Carmelita, had a soft spot for the molcajete salsa.

And I've got to give a big shoutout to Alb for coming up with "ValeCooks"! Ever since getting married, anytime I am in the kitchen at my in-laws' place, he'd start filming me and cheering on "ValeCooks" 🎥. It began as a joke, but his encouragement is part of what got us here today.

After this salsa adventure, Tia Lupita jumped to help with the recipe testing, and together, we tackled two new dessert recipes 🍮, even tried making chocolate-covered dried oranges 🍊🍫 without a recipe!

We stayed up cooking until 11 PM, with the entire family—from grandma to my parents-in-law and H’s aunts, uncles, and cousins—popping in and out of the kitchen. Nights like these are my favorite, especially when they involve eating tamales for dinner too 🫔.

With Valentine's Day ❤️ right around the corner, I thought I'd share some ValeCooks-approved recipes perfect for a Valentine's night in (requested by my sister, Ani).

For starters:

Moving on to the main course:

And for dessert:

Recipes Made So Far This Year:

Goal: To try 7 different recipes each week 🗓️, aiming for a total of 365 this year!

 Number of New Recipes Tested as of 2/4: 42

Weeks Achieving 7 or More New Recipes: 5 out of 5

This Week’s Recipe Test Summary

Impress Someone🌟
  1. 3-Ingredient Chocolate & Almond Butter Dates from Eating Well 🍫

    • I made a couple and thought I would save some for my sister, but they were so good, I ate them all before I saw her. 😅

  2. Salsa Roja con Chile de Árbol from Enchilame esta gorda

    • This was my mother-in-law’s favorite salsa

  3. Mousse de Piña y Queso Crema (Pineapple and Cream Cheese Mousse) from Nestle El Mejor Nido🍍

    • I love condensed milk and this one was so easy to make but so sweet and good!

  4. Salsa Verde Receta Mexicana from m.a. kitchen

    • Became Alb’s top pick among the three salsas.

Would Make Again 👍
  1. Taqueria Style Salsa from Mexico in my kitchen 🇲🇽

    • I need to add more chilis next time

  2. Galletas de Nuez sin Harina from MESASANA

    • A simple, sweet treat — and it's gluten-free!

Would Not Make Again 👎

These recipes didn’t live up to expectations or just weren’t to my taste.

Translated Recipes

Pineapple and Cream Cheese Mousse


  • 1 packet (7 grams) of unflavored gelatin

  • 1/2 cup of cold water

  • 1 can (16 ounces) of pineapple slices, drained, reserve 1 slice for garnish

  • 1 can (14 ounces) of NESTLÉ LA LECHERA Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • 1 package (8 ounces) of cream cheese, softened to room temperature

  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice


  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small pot. Heat for 1 minute until the gelatin dissolves.

  2. Place the pineapple, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, lemon juice, and the gelatin mixture into a blender. Cover and blend until the mixture is smooth.

  3. Pour into dessert cups and refrigerate for 1 hour or until completely set. Cut the reserved pineapple slice into 6 to 8 pieces and garnish the mousse with the pineapple.


  • 6 dried árbol chilies (dried red chili peppers)

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 3 medium tomatoes

  • 1 piece of onion

  • 70 ml of olive oil

  • Pinch of salt


  1. The first thing we will do is roast the 3 whole tomatoes in a pan for 10 minutes. We should turn them to roast on all sides and easily remove the skin. After the time, check that the tomatoes are well roasted, then remove them from the heat with tongs and set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, as the tomatoes cool, heat the olive oil in another pan. Let it reach a medium temperature and add the árbol chilies. It's very important to keep moving the chilies to prevent them from burning; they will only need 3 minutes to cook in the oil, otherwise, they will burn and taste bitter.

  3. Once the chilies are cooked, set them aside. While the chilies and oil cool, in a mortar or molcajete, add the garlic and a small piece of onion and start to grind. At this point, add the salt and grind with all your might until the mixture has a paste-like consistency.

  4. Add the chilies and the oil in which they were cooked to the molcajete and start to mash the mixture until the chilies are well ground. Now add the skinless tomatoes one by one until all 3 tomatoes are well integrated with the other ingredients.

  5. Finally, taste the salsa and adjust the salt if necessary.


  • 2.2 lbs of tomatillos (1kg)

  • ½ lb of serrano peppers or other types of green chilies (220g)

  • 1 medium white onion

  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • salt (to taste)


  • Place the tomatillos and chilies in a pot, cover with water, and cook until they are completely tender (about 10 minutes).

  • Remove them from the water and let everything cool down for about 10 minutes. Reserve the cooking water.

  • In a blender, add the peeled garlic, half the cilantro with stems, half the chilies, and a bit of salt. Add a little water and blend for half a minute.

  • Add the remaining half of the cilantro, the onion, the cooked tomatillos, and chilies, and salt to taste.

  • Blend until reaching the desired consistency.

  • Adjust the salt and transfer the salsa to a bowl or a jar before serving.

Flourless Walnut Cookies


  • 3 egg whites

  • 3 cups of walnut pieces and some whole walnuts for decoration

  • 1/2 cup of sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Grind the walnuts in a food processor until fine.

  2. Beat the egg whites on medium speed with a pinch of salt until frothy.

  3. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla, until stiff peaks form as in the photo.

  4. Carefully fold the ground walnuts into the egg whites with folding motions to avoid deflating the mixture.

  5. On a silicone baking mat, form small mounds of the mixture and place a whole walnut on top for decoration.

  6. Bake at 356°F for 10 minutes or until they are crispy and the edges are golden brown.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, or any recipe request you might have.

See you next week. Keep cooking! 👋 

Vale from ValeCooks