With Valentine's Day in the rear-view mirror, it can be pretty easy to slip back into old patterns and forget that healthy romance requires more than just one candlelit dinner per year.
Finding the time and energy to do a weekly date night is easier said than done, and even when I muster up the motivation to get all gussied up to go out to a nice restaurant, it never ends up being as passionate as I planned.
It always plays out the same way, every Friday night. We battle with downtown traffic, hunt for the perfect parking spot, wait for a table, and pay for an expensive meal that we could have made at home for a lot less cash. That last one is the clincher - nothing saps the sexiness out of the evening quite like a pricey receipt, which serves as a sobering reminder of the money that we probably shouldn't even be spending.
So, this Friday, we're staying in. I plan to make a special meal for my better half, with all the pomp and circumstance that comes with a romantic dinner. But after years of doing date night at restaurants, I’m unsure how to make an evening at home more memorable.
I know I’m not the only wife out there who is clueless when it comes to planning a marriage-enhancing meal, so I enlisted the help of Karine Bakhoum, a culinary expert who is frequently seen on the Food Network when she’s not running one of New York’s leading restaurant consulting firms, KB Network News.
With more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Bakhoum is one of the nation’s top tastemakers.
She’s appeared as a judge on “Iron Chef America” so many times that she earned the moniker, “The Iron Palate.” (Her famous palate is even insured for $1 million with Lloyd’s of London.)
This lady is serious about food and entertaining, so if anyone could offer some inspiration for a couples’ night in, it’s her.
Bakhoum was sweet enough to share 7 tips for a spark-inducing evening at home:
- Cook together.
Instead of preparing the meal by yourself while your spouse watches TV, bring him or her into the kitchen to help you. This is nice way to bond with your partner, not to mention getting an extra hand with meal prep.
- Make it special.
Now’s not the time for pizza delivery; your relationship deserves something special, such as caviar, foie gras, filet mignon, or rich ice creams. Spoil yourselves a little and console your guilt with the reminder that no matter what you splurge on at the grocery store, it’s probably still less expensive than what you’d spend at a fancy restaurant.
- Set the mood.
Don’t underestimate the power of candles, incense and soft music. With a delicate flame flickering over a table filled with good homemade food, it’s impossible not to feel flirty. Don’t forget to bust out some sultry songs and stimulating scents like vanilla and peppermint to up the swoon factor.
- Drink and be merry.
Keep the libations and music flowing while the two of you prepare the meal. This is a time to let go of stress and enjoy one another, so pop a bottle of champagne and toast your love as the steaks sear. While dessert is baking, take your partner by the hand and dance like nobody’s watching.
- Make it a picnic.
Move the food from the kitchen to a low table or in front of the fireplace. Or, into a bed piled high with pillows and a couple of large trays. This allows you to sit closer to your partner, making for a more intimate experience.
- Feed by hand.
Start the meal with luscious finger foods like oysters, cheese fondue, and shrimp with spicy dipping sauce. The meal will instantly become sexy as your guy or gal playfully nibbles on the delicious delicacies in your hand.
- End it right.
Finish the night with dessert in bed while watching your favorite romantic movie. Sweets under the sheets are the perfect way to put a cherry on top of a perfect meal.
Above all else, don’t feel pressured to prepare a complicated five-course meal. Remember, it’s supposed to be a relaxing romantic evening, not an audition for “Iron Chef America.” As long as you focus on foods that you and your partner enjoy eating, your special night in will be filled with love and laughter.
Written by: Amanda Patton
Recipe of the Day: Chocolate Covered Strawberries
To learn how to make chocolate covered strawberries, click here.