Making time to “turn-off” life, and enjoy some time with your spouse or partner is important. We all lead such busy lives, that time can fly by at the speed of light, and before you know it, you haven’t connected in days.
But let’s face it, at the end of a hectic work day, I’m tired. And often, the last thing I feel like doing is getting fancied up to go out for an official “date-night”. At my house, we have a thing called “Friday Tired”. It’s that kind of bone weary exhaustion that you get after a long week of non-stop work, appointments, tasks, to-do lists….you know what I mean. On Friday night, all I want to do is put on my comfy clothes and stop moving for awhile. And maybe drink some wine, too. 🙂
Date Night at Home
But date-night does not always have to mean going out. In fact, this year on Valentines’ Day, my hubby and I were both fighting off colds, and were just tired and worn-down. So we decided to skip our typical “dress-up and go out someplace nice for dinner” type of celebration of past years.
Staying in can be just as fun and romantic. In fact, I think our dinner at home turned out even better than going out! We cracked open a bottle of cabernet, put some music on, and enjoyed preparing our dinner together.
Plan Your Menu
Plan you menu in advance. Think about something that would be meaningful to the two of you. What you ordered on your first date? Something you loved from a special trip together? Or, select something you’ve never made before and have fun preparing it together.
My husband and I had just returned from a trip to Disney World, where we celebrated our joint birthdays, so we decided to use this opportunity to recreate a couple of our favorite dishes from the trip. The first was a Beef Wellington we enjoyed at the Festival of Arts in Epcot. It really isn’t as hard as it looks. It’s just a small piece of filet mignon, coated with some dijon mustard and a few sauteed onions, and then wrapped in puff pastry. It works great for a special dinner like this, because it’s “fancy-ish”, but not a ton of work. The cooking together part should be fun, but not so much work that you’re too worn out to sit down and enjoy the meal together!
Second, we made Maple Bourbon Glazed Brussel Sprouts from our dinner at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Disney’s Epcot. Again, it was pretty simple, but sooooo good. It will definitely go on regular rotation around here.
Create a Romantic Table Setting
An important part of making your special dinner….well, special, is your table setting. I love to set a pretty table, and it does not have to be complicated. This setting is from things I already had at home and just experimented with arranging it, until I had something I liked.
I used my ordinary white dinner plates. All my everyday dishes are white, plus I have some white china and some white ironstone. I only collect white dishes these days, because it’s so versatile. It works for our ordinary weeknight dinners, and also for holidays or special occasions. You can get a completely different look based on what you pair it with.
Here, I dug out the red chargers from my Christmas boxes. The Valentine dessert plates are disposable and left over from a previous year. I only had a couple left, but it was perfect for this low-key dinner for two. Stacked on top of the white plates, they added a Valentine flair, and were perfect for our dessert later.
Using cloth napkins makes your dinner at home feel more special, almost as if you were eating out in a fancy restaurant. I have a couple dozen plain white cloth napkins that I use for special occasions and holidays. Again, the white goes with anything, washes up easily, is wrinkle resistant, and can be folded in many different ways to achieve the look you want. They really are a good investment if you like to set a pretty table.
Candles are a Must for a Romantic Dinner
I finished up the look with a variety of different candles I had on hand, some salt and pepper “love-birds” from my china cabinet, and a simple little easel left from my son’s graduation party a few years ago. It was a cute way to record our menu, add a special touch to the table, and also serve as a fun way to document our special night in the photos for future memories. ❤️
The lovely roses my hubby surprised me with that morning when I stepped out of the shower to this bouquet and a cup of steaming hot coffee were the perfect final detail for our table. I tell ya, that man knows my love language.
The Benefits of Date Night at Home
My husband and I both agreed– our Valentine’s Day date-night at home was a big success.
1. It was quieter than a bustling restaurant on Valentine’s Day. We were able to have a peaceful, and relaxing dinner, just the two of us.
2. It cost much less money. Case in point: last year we went downtown to a sweet little restaurant for Valentine’s Day, and they had Monogamy wine on special. We liked it so much, I inquired about it at our local grocery store. They didn’t carry it, but were able to special order it for me. They offered a discount for ordering six, so obviously that’s what I did. SIX bottles to stock up in our wine fridge cost just slightly more than we paid for ONE bottle at the restaurant. Last year’s dinner out was well over $100 dollars. This year we were under $50, including dessert!
3. Last year we didn’t order dessert at all because we were too full immediately after enjoying dinner. This year, since we were on our own timeline, we had the luxury of delaying dessert a couple of hours until we were ready for it. We had these very easy little chocolate lava cakes with a twist– a peanut butter filling. These are super simple to make.
4. And the final perk to celebrating Valentine’s Day at home was that we got to enjoy it all in our pajamas! When dinner was over, we were already home, comfy and relaxed. For two people fighting back from another round of winter colds, it was perfect. And, in the future, even if we aren’t sick, this may be our preferred way of celebrating.
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Molten Chocolate Lave Cakes for Two with Peanut Butter Filling
- 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chopped
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 4 tsp creamy peanut butter (about 2 teaspoons per cake)
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray two 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder. This ensures the cakes will easily come out of the ramekins when inverted onto a plate after baking.
- Chop the chocolate (or you can use equivalent amount of chocolate chips). Place butter into a medium heat-proof bowl, then add chopped chocolate on top. Microwave on high in 10 second increments, stirring after each until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, powdered sugar, espresso powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract together until combined in another small bowl. Pour the flour mixture and egg mixture into the bowl of chocolate. Slowly stir everything together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Spoon chocolate batter evenly into each prepared ramekin. Top with peanut butter and use a spoon to slightly press it down into the batter. Some may still be exposed
- Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes until the sides appear solid and firm. The top may still look slightly soft.
- Allow to cool for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted plate and turn over. They will be hot, so be careful. The cakes should release easily from the ramekin.
- Top with ice cream and melted peanut butter for serving, if desired. Serve immediately.Cakes can also be rewarmed for a few seconds in the microwave, if you want to prepare in advance. Just enough to make the peanut butter filling slightly oozy.
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