2 Date Night Dinner Ideas

With a little planning and prep, you can create an intimate and special meal with your spouse.
With a little planning and prep, you can create an intimate and special meal with your spouse. | Source

While our kids were still little, my husband and I set aside Friday night as "date" night. Since we couldn't afford both going out and hiring a babysitter, we'd often stay home. But we certainly made the best of it, with some fantastic late dinners.

One of us would put the kids to bed while the other hurried down the stairs to begin the meal. We took turns cooking, and it got to be as much fun preparing as it was to wait and see what we'd eat.

We had two big needs for the meals: they had to be quick to make (since we were already hungry), and they had to be delicious (no cold tuna sandwiches allowed). Over time we devised a few go-too dishes that fit the bill for us.

These dinner ideas were designed for mid-evening, but you could make them anytime you're in a hurry. For a causally elegant ambiance, simply add candles and some nice table settings - but no fine china necessary! Oh, and some nice jazz or music you like sets a romantic tone too.

Meal #1 - Shrimp with Linguini

"Shrimpees" as we like to call them, are easy to make. You can cook some linguini for the kids and make extra. Later, just dunk the pasta into boiling water for about 30 seconds to heat it up. If you want to prep ahead even more, peel the shrimp so they're ready to cook.

1/3 box of linguine

4 tbsp olive oil

1 pound medium shrimp

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp dried parlsey

salt and black pepper to taste

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the linguine and cook for about 8 minutes, until it is al dente - tender with just a bit of firmness left, then drain.

Put 2 tbsp of oil into a large saute pan and bring to a medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook until it is translucent, about 2 minutes on each side. Take off the heat and add the cheese, parsley, peas, salt and pepper, the rest of the oil and pasta into the pan. Gently toss until everything is mixed.

Put equal amounts onto 2 dinner plates.

Serving ideas: With slices of Italian bread and glasses of Chardonnay.

Meal #2 - Steak with Baked Potatoes

The first time my husband made me tenderloin steak I fell in love - with him and the steak! We don't always splurge on tenderloin, though - some nights we've had London broil or skirt steak. There are a lot of flavorful cuts to try. And the potato in this meal is a sweet yam, which adds a fun and bit of health. Done in the microwave, it cooks more quickly than the oven. A cooked green vegetable (like frozen or fresh broccoli) or salad from the store rounds this out nicely.

2 small tenderloin steaks or 1 medium steak of your choice

1 clove garlic, cut into several small pieces

2 tbsp canola oil

Black pepper

2 yams, washed

2 tbsp butter or margarine

2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the broiler. Put the steaks on a broiler pan. Make several cuts into the top, not too deep. Then, insert a piece of garlic into each cut. Use 2 tbsp of canola oil to coat the meat (spread it around with your hands), and sprinkle pepper on top. Put the meat into the oven and cook until it reaches your desired doneness.

Meanwhile, pierce the skin of the yam in several places (to let air vent as it cooks). Put the yams into the microwave and let them cook for 8-10 minutes, until they are soft to the touch. Take them out and cut the top open. Put half the butter and cinnamon in each.

Cook your vegetable as the yams and meat are cooking. Blanching is quick and easy: Cover the bottom of a saucepan with water and bring that to a boil. Put the veggies in and cover - let it cook for about a minute. Take the pan off the heat and drain the water so the vegetable doesn't get soggy.

Serving Ideas: With Grain Rolls and glasses of Merlot or a stout beer

Here's a few of our favorite album selections for romantic dinner music. They span the range from jazz to classical to folk - something for whatever mood we're in!

  • Tony Bennett - "Here's To The Ladies"
  • Diana Krall - "From This Moment On
  • Richard Stoltzman - "Maid With The Flaxen Hair"
  • Peter, Paul & Mary - "Flowers and Stones"


Tips for a great dinner:

  1. Give your mate your full attention - you both deserve the time and focus
  2. Cut out distractions - no texting, no TV, just the two of you
  3. Relax and have fun - there's no pressure to make everything perfect
  4. Buy a favorite dessert to share - preferably chocolate!!

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