Manageable date night in

Is that not the most romantic headline regarding a date night in you’ve ever read? There’s a running joke in our house that I have two levels of cooking: cereal for dinner or a masterpiece. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve promised a beautiful dinner and then spent two to three hours creating a disaster in the kitchen followed by a late-night feast. Very early on in our relationship, I spent hours preparing gnocchi only to have it fall apart immediately upon entering the pot. This resulted in both a bruised ego and an inedible flour/potato stew. Since starting this blog, I’ve been working on coming up with a list of go-to recipes that don’t take four years to prepare.

Three weekday date night dinners

After months of experimentation, and a strict requirement that each of these recipes be easy, relatively quick and require minimal clean-up, here’s what I’ve got.

  • Thai Mango Cabbage Wraps with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Sauce – Obviously no list of mine would be complete without a Cookie and Kate entry. These are so easy and so good – and the recipe is wonderfully detailed in providing instructions to keep the meal moving along smoothly while you’re cooking. The crispy tofu is to die for, and an excellent way to ease into tofu if it’s not typically your jam.
  • Garlic + Basil Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Creamy Avocado Pesto – Quick and delicious. In fact, I’ve taken to making a double batch of these and eating them on salads through the week. I’ve also substituted the egg for a flax egg to keep the recipe vegan-friendly.

    IMG_20160716_235427-2

    Not only delicious, but visually appealing this Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Salad is destined to become a staple in our home.

  • Vietnamese Shrimp (Prawn) Noodle Salad – What a win. I have been talking about this salad to everyone who will listen since I made it. This was light, delicious, quick and felt fancy. Since we had this not too long ago, I’m just waiting for an appropriate amount of time to pass until I can make it again without seeming repetitive.

One of the things I loved most about each of these recipes is the ingredient lists. Other than a few things here and there, all three of these are composed of things I already had in the house. This meant that I could decide day-of to make any of the recipes above and not need to worry too much about fitting in a big trip to the grocery store.

Lessons learned

  • As always, plan ahead – but if you can’t, pick a recipe that has ingredients you’re likely to have in your kitchen.
  • Find something you love? Make a double batch. Find different ways to fit it into various meals.
  • Fancy doesn’t need to mean complicated.
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