Today is Preston’s and my five year anniversary!
We are off celebrating in a tiny cabin in the snow. (Pictures for sure to come soon.) Nice romantic dinner to be included.
But until that dinner, we have sworn off restaurants for the whole month of January (okay, we have cheated twice for totally acceptable reasons.) It’s something that we’ve done a couple times before, when we want to save money and/or be healthier. It works especially well in January since our waistlines and wallets could use a break after the holidays… So by the end of the month, splurging (monetarily and health-wise) on a really special meal for our anniversary is perfect!
And I kind of like focusing on eating at home because it always inspires me to make some special meals for us to have a romantic date night at home. We really don’t do very many special or romantic date nights out during the year (most of our date nights are pretty casual and often impromptu.) So it feels special to put a lot of thought, time, and effort into a romantic meal at home.
So I thought I’d do a little round-up of some fun menu ideas. Just in time for VALENTINE’S DAY!! If you’d rather stay in than join the masses at a restaurant.
I have four menus that range from SUPER easy but still really fun and special to WAY over-the-top and time-consuming. Something for everyone 😀
THE OVER-THE-TOP MENU:
This menu is all-out, but still easy considering every component is made from scratch! But this dinner feels really upscale and will definitely impress your date.
- Spicy BBQ lobster tails (sadly, it seems that the blog whose recipe I’ve used in the past no longer exists 🙁 but it was a crazy simple recipe: barbecue lobster tails. Mix a small amount of sriracha into softened butter. Melt on hot lobster tails. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. This recipe looks the same.)
- Artichoke + Roasted Garlic Bread (homemade, of course!)
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Smoked old fashioned cocktails (I just made these for the first time a couple weekends ago and they were so much fun! I left out the cinnamon and I would do the same for this menu.)
THE SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT MENU:
I love this menu because you focus a lot of time and attention into one really special made-from-scratch treat. My char siu bao are Preston’s favorite thing I make, so if I’m going to spend a few hours dedicated to one recipe, it’s often that. But the only other thing you need with this meal is a vegetable, so make it easy on yourself and get something store-bought!
THE SIMPLE-BUT-IMPRESSIVE MENU:
One of my favorite recipes I’ve shared. These seared tuna towers don’t require very much work and come together very quickly, but they are gorgeous and feel so special. Like the last menu, a quick vegetable is all you need to go with.
- Spicy Seared Tuna Tower
- Sweet & Tangy Cucumber Salad
- Bonus appetizer if you’re up for it: Spicy Lemongrass Chili Edamame
- Store-bought sake
THE SIMPLEST NO-COOKING MENU:
A super elaborate cheese, charcuterie, and appetizer plate! You can absolutely make a cheese plate filling enough to be a whole meal. I stick to things that require no cooking. The best part is that this is so easily customized to suit any diet. Pop a bottle of wine and it’s so FUN. Below I’m listing ideas so you can pick and choose. A platter with all of these items would be a little too much for two people. 😀
- Assorted cheeses. Since this is just to serve two people, buy your cheese somewhere you can find small pieces. I typically choose Trader Joe’s because they have great affordable options in a variety of sizes. Pick a soft spreadable cheese like a brie, something firm but creamy like gouda, and something aged and firm like an aged cheddar. P and I just LOVE the mini basque cheese from Trader Joe’s as an aged firm choice.
- Deli meats (or “meats” for those of us who don’t eat meat.)
- Pickled vegetables
- Fresh baby bell peppers
- Olive assortment
- Crackers of choice
- Whole wheat pita
- Fresh fruit
- Jam spread
- Savory spread for crackers and cheese (think pesto, hot chili jam, artichoke bruschetta)
- A bottle of wine 😉