Make this holiday season one to remember. Here are some suggestions and steps to consider when planning a romantic night in with your significant other that’ll make sure you’ll keep warm during those cold winter nights.
A good romance is like opening a good bottle of wine. When you open a bottle, you need to let it mix and mingle with air. The wine will warm up, and it allows its flavor to soften and mellow, and your overall experience with it will improve. Treat your romantic dinners the same; let him know beforehand that you’re planning something for him. Remember to be subtle. Tell him you have something in store for the weekend, or that he has a surprise waiting for him when he gets home. Do not to give too much away, just tell him enough that will get his interests peaked. Leave an element of mystery and surprise to your advantage.
Do this by sending him a simple text or a picture message hinting at what’s to come, or tell him while you’re kissing him goodbye as he leaves for work in the morning. The trick is to let the idea simmer in his mind, and like a good stew, by the time the big day comes, his imagination and excitement will be brewing with possibilities.
Is he a sucker for Sade’s soft sultry vocals? Or is he more of a Norah Jones fan? Does Dave Matthews play the songs that make the soundtrack of his life? Personalized touches are what make the whole event more intimate and enjoyable overall. You know the basics- soft candle lighting, throw pillows strategically placed all about, and mood music playing in the background. To drive home the point that this is especially for him, make sure that the little details have some meaning to him. He’ll appreciate it more this way.
Avoid things that he’s not too fond of. For instance, if he doesn’t like the smell of warm vanilla sugar, scented candles in general, or he doesn’t really care for jazz at all, take into account that these can maybe distract him from enjoying the night as much as he can.
Love is a two-way street, so you need to make sure you’re ready for a great night in too. Set some time aside to shower after slaving away by the stove. Apply liberal amounts of lotion afterwards to ensure your skin is also soft and touchable for later that night. It’s important to wash away the fumes from standing over the heat of the sizzling pans. You don’t want to smell like roast beef when he’s holding you close.
Choose a dress that highlights your best features and make sure it’s in a color you feel amazing in. Pair it up with some great lingerie underneath. You need to not only look great, but feel great about yourself too. Confidence is key here; if you want him to think you’re sexy, you have to believe that you are sexy. Even if he can’t see what you’re wearing underneath (at least, not yet), it’ll show in the way you carry yourself over the course of the meal.
Remember to do your hair, make up and your nails. You’re spending the night at home, but put some effort as if you’re spending it out rather than in. You should look as amazing as the dinner you cooked.
A good rule of thumb in making any kind of meal for a man: remember to treat all of his senses. Full-bodied flavors and different textures are key in making the experience worthwhile. Below are some tips and suggestions on what to make:
Foods you eat with your bare hands would be a great way to start a romantic meal. They usually don’t require much effort and keeps the start of the meal a little more casual and relaxed. Don’t worry if eating them is a little messy, it allows you to touch, help clean, or feed each other if you’d like.
a. Artichoke Bread
For this, you’ll need a tube (11 ounces) of premade French bread, about a 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped, 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs, 1/3 cup cream cheese, 2 garlic cloves (or depending on how much you actually like garlic, you may increase this to about 3 cloves), minced, 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
First, bake loaf according to package directions, then when it has cooled, cut the bread in half lengthwise. Afterwards place on an ungreased baking sheet.
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, and spread them evenly over the pieces of bread. Sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired. Bake at about 350° for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
b. Apple Sausages
You’ll need about a jar (23 ounces) of unsweetened chunky applesauce, 3 tablespoons of honey, a pound of fully cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices, and 1 medium onion, chopped.
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40-50 minutes or until it starts bubbling.
a. Pan-Seared Filet Mignon With Red-Wine Sauce and Haricots Verts
Guys love steak, and steak works best with red wine. Need I say more?
You’ll need 2 filet mignons (about 1½ inches thick each), ½ cup of low-sodium beef broth, ½ cup of red wine, 1 tablespoon of shallots that are minced, 1 teaspoon of flour, ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon of brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon of thyme, 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, minced, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, and finally salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, mix broth, red wine, shallots, flour, thyme, sugar and mustard. Meanwhile, heat a heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat. After seasoning the cuts with the desired amount of salt and pepper, sear each side for 3 minutes or until it has reached the desired level of being cooked. Transfer the meats to a plate, and cover to keep. While keeping the same pan under medium to low heat, pour wine mixture in, and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Eventually, stir in butter and parsley then pour sauce over steaks.
The green beans and tomatoes add nice color to the plate as a side for this. You will need 3/4 pounds of green beans that are trimmed, 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, 1 shallot that has been minced, ½ cup of cherry tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon of thyme, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
Prepare an ice-water bath (fill a large bowl with cold water and ice). Boil water in a large pot, then add green beans and cook 2 minutes. Drain beans, and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. In a skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots, and sauté 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes. Add beans, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Cook until beans are heated through (about 5 minutes).
Plate the dish by putting the steak on one side, glazing the meat with the sauce, and placing a liberal amount of the greens beside it. Serve with aplomb and a smile.
b. Salmon with Mushroom Orzo and Red Wine Sauce
This is a great alternative if you two are not big fans of read meat. You will need about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 5-ounce skinless boneless salmon fillets, ½ of a medium onion sliced, ½ cup of dry white wine, 2 cups of canned chicken broth, a sprig of fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, 1/3 pound of orzo, 1 shallot minced, 1 teaspoon of flour, ¼ pound of portabella mushrooms, 4 tablespoons of whipping cream, ½ tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon, and 1/4 stick of butter.
Over a medium fire warm up about a tablespoon of oil in heavy large saucepan. Add and sauté the sliced onions to the pan for about 3 minutes. Add the white wine ¼ of the chicken broth, thyme, and the bay leaf. Boil this mixture for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often, making sure that the sauce does not burn. Strain the sauce into a container.
On a rimmed baking sheet, bake the orzo for 20 minutes at about 300-350 °F.
In a different pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add shallots to this and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add orzo, the rest of the chicken and 1 bay leaf until it is boiling. Once it has reached this point, reduce heat to medium-low. For about 15 minutes, cook the orzo uncovered until it has absorbed all the broth and is tender. Remember to stir often to avoid burning the orzo. Once all the liquid is gone, add the cream and tarragon. Allow this to slowly simmer for about 5 minutes. Do not forget to keep stirring. Taste the orzo and season with salt and pepper according to taste.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in another heavy large nonstick skillet. Over medium high heat, sauté the salmon for about 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper to taste.
Reheat the sauce until it is simmering, and whisk in the remainder of the butter.
For plating, spoon a liberal amount of the orzo in the center of the plate. Put the salmon on top of it, and glaze the salmon with the sauce. Serve the remainder of the sauce as a side. Enjoy!
Coffee-Infused, Dark Chocolate Truffles
For the pièce-de-résistance, these dark chocolate will sure to be a hit with you and your love. You may adjust the recipe by adding whatever liqueur you want. About 2 tablespoons should do it. You can also put nuts or any type of filling to go with the truffles. This recipe is simply a base for you to build on, or simply enjoy it as is.
You will need about ½ pound good bittersweet chocolate, ½ pound good semisweet chocolate, a cup of heavy cream, a shot of espresso, 1 tablespoon of good vanilla extract, and dark cocoa powder.
First, chop both the semisweet and the bittersweet chocolates into fine slices. Make sure there are no huge chunks that will prove difficult to melt later on. Place the chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to form bubbles all around the sides. Make sure you do not fully boil or burn the cream. Turn off the heat and pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve that is over the heatproof mixing bowl. Using a wire-whisk, slowly stir the cream and the chocolate together, while slowly incorporating the espresso and vanilla. If you are using any liqueur, put it in as well. Mix thoroughly until it is a creamy and even consistency. Make sure there are no lumps. Set aside for about an hour at room temperature.
Using two teaspoon, or a plastic bag around one hand, scoop out and round balls of the chocolate mixture. Dip the balls into cocoa powder, remove the excess, and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate, but serve at room temperature.
Read more extra special recipes for a romantic dinner for two.
Be sure to select the right accompanying drinks that will enhance your romantic meal. A general rule of thumb to follow is if you are choosing to serve the salmon above, or a dish that uses chicken of seafood, white wine works best. If you are serving the filet above, any kind of beef, lamb, or pork, red wine works better. However, for the dessert above, we recommend using red wine.
Rosé would be an excellent way to end the night as well, and you can never go wrong with a bottle of bubbly champagne either. Just make sure not to over do it, because you want to enjoy the effects of your hard work after. Being drunk will put a damper on that.
If you both do not like alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic cocktails are always an option. Try simple sparkling water, ginger ale, or juices that you’re fond of. You don’t have to consume alcohol to have some fun.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remember, you’re not only doing this for him, you’re doing this for the both of you. If you’re having a great time, you can be sure that your enthusiasm will be infectious.
Romantic meals at home are a great way to reignite that spark, or keep the fire alive. Whether it’s for a cold winter’s eve, or a warm summer night, they’re a great way to change things about that’ll make your everyday routine interesting.
You might also like one of these 5 spectacular aphrodisiac dinner recipes.
Niccole is a blogger based in Madrid, but is frequently in America and Asia as well. She's owned a private catering company, been a private language tutor, and a personal assistant.
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