Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so love is in the air. But if you’re like me and you’re single, it’s not always the easiest day to get through. Especially in this world of social media where literally everyone seems to be in a happy healthy relationship with some of the finest people you’ve ever seen. (Yaaaassss ‘careful curation’!!! Lol.)

The great thing about love is the fact that there are so many different types—romantic love, love of food, the love you have for your friends and friends. This Valentine’s Day I wanted to focus on friendship and the love I have for the strong women in my life. So, I put together an imitate Galentine’s Day dinner with PRE Brands for a few of my gal pals.

Photo credit: Allie Appel

When I started planning this dinner, I knew I wanted it to have an intimate feel. I wanted all of my guests to feel both surrounded by love and safe to let their guards down. So, I set out to create a really non-traditional Galentine’s Day setup.

Before all of my guests arrived, I was treated to a private cooking lesson with Chef Sarah from PRE Brands. It was her job to teach me to cook the perfect steak and keep me from burning their gorgeous kitchen down in the process.

I will be the first to admit I’m a “cook to eat” kind of girl. I don’t really enjoy the act of cooking…just the eating. I truly admire those people who use cooking to relax and even more the ones who pour themselves into every meal they prepare so their dinner guests always feel a small measure of their love. So, during my lesson with Chef Sarah, I really wanted to focus on finding the joy in cooking.

The first step in that process was taking the “anxiety” out of cooking. You know, all those questions you have—“Will it taste good?”, “Is this done?”, “Who has time for this nonsense anyways? I’m starving!”—that make you throw in the towel and order takeout. (O, just me?)

Chef Sarah helped me tackle each of my questions one at a time.

Will it taste good? Well, the work here was all but done. All PRE Brands is 100% grass fed premium meat with no hormones or antibiotics. I really appreciated this because my 2017 “resolution” was to make healthier choices when it comes to eating meat. I can confidently say I will never be a vegan or vegetarian ever, but I recognized that there was probably a healthier way to go about consuming meat. Using high quality organic beef is a step in the right direction and PRE had me covered.

Bonus: Pre Brands’ products are Whole30 approved and certified Paleo and Keto!

Since the majority of the flavor profile comes from the meat itself, we simply seasoned with large grain salt—massaging it in to insure it was soaked into the cut—and a little grapeseed oil for extra fat and crispiness.

Next, Chef Sarah taught me how to tell if a steak is done.

The first way is to simply set a timer. The perfect medium rare steak (I’m judging you if you prefer yours at a higher temperature) only needs to be cooked 3 to 4 minutes on each side. The second way is to feel the “bounce” of the steak. When you press your tongs against the cooked steak, it should have the same amount of “bounce”, or give, as the meaty part of your palm closest to your thumb.

And because the perfect steak only take 8 minutes to prepare, you absolutely have time for this delicious “nonsense”! (Just make sure you give it time to rest and allow the juices to redistribute before you cut into it.)

We topped the steak off with an amazing chimichurri sauce and olive oil and Chef Sarah finished out the menu with grilled balsamic carrots with almond cheese and kale mashed potatoes. It was all so delicious! I’m drooling a little just thinking about it!

The dinner conversation was not at all what I had expected. Also immediately we delved into the topics of love, friendship, race, political and social activism, and the differences in the Black experience across the African Diaspora. It was such a much needed and cathartic conversation.

We laughed. We cried. We bonded.

All in all, it was an AMAZING night and I’m so grateful to these amazing women for making it a special experience and to PRE Brands for not only serving up this delicious food and life lessons, but also for providing a safe space for us to come together as women and celebrate each other.

If you’re looking to try out both PRE Brands meats and your hand at cooking, you can find out which of your local retailers carries their cuts on their website. You can also have it delivered right to your front door when you order from the website. Use the code BLAKEVONDeatsPRE for a special discount! ($15 off $100 or more. Valid through 3/31)

Lastly, if you’re in the Chicago area, PRE will be doing in-store tastings at select Jewel Osco’s throughout the month of February if you’d like to try before you buy. The full schedule is posted on the PRE Brand’s Facebook page. Pop in and say hi! Tell them I sent you!