Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day with Bold Latin Flavors

Flowers and chocolates are often expected, but a home-cooked meal on Valentine’s Day is sure to impress your sweetheart. An intimate dinner at home saves you the trouble of getting a table reserved on one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants. You’ll have the best seat in the house for your date right at your own dining room table.

Infuse your Valentine’s Day dinner with spices and sweets by serving these three Latin American dishes.

Cuban Steak

Rib Eye with Steak FritesA steak dinner is romantic and luxurious, and this recipe for Cuban steak will have your valentine imagining they are dining in Old Havana. The zesty flavors of this recipe reflect the region’s wide use of citrus in cooking, while the seasoning kicks up the heat to make this dish a delicious and decadent entrée for your evening.



For steak:

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon steak seasoning

1 teaspoon lime juice

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 pound beef rib eye steaks

For steak seasoning:

7/8 tablespoon salt

1/4 tablespoon black pepper

1/4 tablespoon dehydrated onion

1/8 tablespoon dehydrated garlic

1/8 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1/8 tablespoon dried thyme

1/8 tablespoon dried rosemary

1/8 tablespoon dried coriander


  1. Mix all seasoning ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown cumin seeds stirring constantly until all seeds are dark brown and smell toasted, about 1 minute. Immediately pour seeds into a bowl to stop the cooking.
  3. In the same bowl, mix cumin seeds with orange juice, vegetable oil, steak seasoning (approximately 1 tablespoon), lime juice and oregano to make your marinade.
  4. Place steaks in a large, resealable plastic bag, pour marinade over the meat and squeeze out all the air. Seal the bag and turn it over several times to coat the meat with the marinade thoroughly.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Extra refrigeration time will enhance the flavor.
  6. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
  7. Remove steaks from marinade, shaking off any excess. Grill steaks until seared on the outside and still slightly pink at the centers, 6-8 minutes per side. A meat thermometer should read 145⁰F.

Allow steak to rest for a few minutes before serving for you and your sweetheart to enjoy. This entrée can be presented over rice or salad with fresh squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice to taste.

Sweet Salvadorian Plantains

plantainsMake a candied side dish to compliment your steak with sweet Salvadorian plantains. Plantains are commonly made in many Latin American countries including Colombia and Cuba. This recipe from the Pacific Coast country of El Salvador is true to its name and pairs nicely with the hearty, savory Cuban steak for a delightful Valentine’s Day meal or with any tropical-inspired dish throughout the year. If your plantains are larger and you have leftovers, you can refrigerate and reheat them to enjoy as a snack or side later.



1 large, overly-ripe plantain (peeled)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon white sugar (or to taste)


  1. Cut plantain in half and then slice each halve into three strips.
  2. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Gently place plantain strips in the oil once hot.
  3. Drizzle vanilla extract over plantains and season with cinnamon.
  4. Cover and heat until browned—about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove from skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towel.

Sprinkle plantains with sugar, if desired, and serve to your loved one to complete the first course of your Latin-inspired dinner.

Tres Leches

tres lechesIf this home-cooked meal hasn’t impressed your valentine yet, making this recipe for tres leches from scratch will be the pièce de résistance! Tres leches translates to “three milks” and consists of condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. It is a sponge cake topped with liquid, (similar to Britain’s trifle and Italy’s tiramisu) and is common in a variety of Latin cultures, including Mexico and Venezuela. Beyond being a luscious, moist dessert, tres leches makes a great presentation. Plate it with a jam or fruit of your choice, like mango or citrus to continue the tropical theme of this meal.

YIELDS: One 9”x13” cake


For cake:

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

9 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup milk

9 egg whites

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

For frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350° Grease and flour a 9”x13” inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Next, add egg yolks one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture alternately with milk; beat well after each addition.
  5. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until whites form stiff peaks. Gently fold into the cake batter using a rubber spatula.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Allow cake to cool. Meanwhile, stir together 2 cups heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl.
  8. Pour the mixture over the cake until it won’t absorb any more. (You may have leftovers.)
  9. Combine whipping cream and sugar for frosting and spread over soaked cake. Refrigerate cake until serving.

Pour leftover milk mixture onto serving plates and swirl with jam or chocolate if desired. Place cake on top of milk mixture and enjoy. This recipe will be love at first bite!

Accompany your romantic dinner with a Chilean wine or a Mexican Horchata cocktail to complete your delicious meal. We wish you a Valentine’s Day that fills your heart with love and your tummy with the best food and drink from around the world.

Recipes via:

Cuban steak via All Recipes

Steak seasoning via Food.com

Sweet Salvadorian plantains via All Recipes

Tres leches via All Recipes


Image Source:

Terry Robinson via photopin cc

Vegan Feast Catering via photopin cc

Hungry Dudes via photopin cc



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