A Perfect Date Night Dinner

What to Cook for a Perfect Date Night Dinner

So you’ve decided to make your man dinner. Now the question is, what in the world can you make that is easy but still appears to be fabulous? That’s a great question but not to worry, we have a few things your date will no doubt love! It’s what I call the perfect date night dinner!

Every great dinner starts with something savory (an appetizer) and ends with something sweet (dessert).

Lemon-Herb Salmon Toast

Lemon-Herb Salmon Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dill weed
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 24 slices snack rye bread
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon or lox
  • Optional toppings: Grated lemon zest, coarsely ground pepper and fresh dill sprigs

Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, beat the first 8 ingredients. Place bread slices on baking sheets. Broil 4-5 in. from heat 1-2 minutes on each side or until lightly toasted. Spread with cream cheese mixture; top with lox. Serve with toppings as desired.

Next, there is the salad.  Sure you could make a simple dinner salad, but if you really want to impress, try a Greek Salad instead.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE LEMON VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  1. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon zest and juice and sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. To assemble the salad, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, goat cheese, and pepper, to taste. Pour dressing on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  3. Serve immediately.

To go with that Greek salad, you should make Italian Stuffed Pork Chops. I got this recipe from Dinner at the Zoo.

TIPS FOR STUFFED PORK CHOPS

  • I like to use oil packed sun dried tomato halves in this recipe. You can also use dry packed sun dried tomatoes.
  • No spinach on hand? Try kale leaves instead!
  • This recipe uses dried Italian seasoning which is a blend of various herbs such as basil, parsley and oregano. If you can’t find Italian seasoning, you can make your own by combining equal parts of dried parsley, basil, garlic powder and oregano.
  • The toothpicks hold the meat together so that the filling doesn’t spill out, but be sure to remove all the toothpicks prior to serving.
  • This recipe calls for mozzarella cheese, but you can also use a different variety of Italian cheese such as fontina or provolone.

WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD PORK BE COOKED TO?

Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. The easiest way to gauge if your pork is done is to insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the pork – be sure that the thermometer is not touching the bone! Once you’ve reached the correct temperature, remove the pork from the heat and let it rest for 3 minutes before you slice it.

HOW LONG DO YOU COOK A STUFFED PORK CHOP?

These pork chops start out on the stove top, then they’re finished off in the oven. It takes approximately 3-4 minutes per side on the stove to get a golden brown chop, then an additional 8-10 minutes in the oven for the pork to reach 145 degrees F.

These stuffed pork chops are boneless chops filled with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese, then seared to golden brown perfection. An easy dinner option that’s quick enough for a weeknight, yet elegant enough for entertaining!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless pork chops approximately 1-1 1/4 lbs
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Slice a deep pocket into each pork chop, but do not cut all the way through.
  • Divide the sun-dried tomatoes evenly between the pockets in the pork chops, then layer in a handful of spinach leaves and 2 tablespoons of cheese.
  • Use toothpicks to seal each pork chop shut so that the filling will not spill out during the cooking process.
  • Sprinkle the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper over both sides of each pork chop.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the pork chops for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  • Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the pork chop. Place the pan of pork chops in the oven.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the thermometer registers 145 degrees F.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let the pork stand for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.

For a side, how about some simple mashed potatoes? Perfect side dish for pork chops!

How To Make Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes are super simple to make with very few ingredients. The real key to making the BEST creamy mashed potatoes is to get the consistency right.

  • Drain well:
    • I usually let them sit about 5 minutes or so to completely drain or even drain well and put them back in the warm pot for a few minutes to make sure all liquid is evaporated.
  • Mash by Hand: 
    • For the very best mashed potatoes, use a hand masher or a potato ricer. Using a hand mixer, stand mixer or food processor can break down the starches in the potatoes and cause a very gluey or gummy texture. You can still get buttery smooth creamy mashed potatoes mashing by hand.
  • Butter is Your Friend:
    • There are places you can skimp on the butter and mashed potatoes is not one of them.  I like to use salted butter and lots of it (but you can use unsalted season yourself). Butter helps your mashed potatoes get a creamy… well, buttery texture.
  • Heat Your Cream: 
    • Heat your milk/cream before adding.  This keeps the potatoes hot and absorbs better.  Add cream/milk a little a time to get the right consistency.

Cream cheese, garlic, and butter added to homemade mashed potatoes can add a delicious tang! You can really add whatever toppings you love the most, mashed potatoes are very forgiving!

Potatoes should always be placed in cold salted water and brought to a boil, this helps them cook evenly.

The length of time you need to boil the potatoes for entirely depends on how big they are cut. I quarter them so they generally take about 15 minutes.  To check if your potatoes are ready, use a fork. If it is easy to pierce the potato, it is ready to go!

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds potatoes russet or Yukon gold
  • 1/3 cup salted butter melted
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic optional

Instructions

  1. Peel and quarter potatoes, place in COLD salted water.

  2. Add potatoes (and garlic if using) and cook uncovered 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain well.

  3. Heat milk on the stove top (or in the microwave) until warm.
  4. Add butter to the potatoes and begin mashing. Pour in milk a little at a time while using a potato masher to reach desired consistency.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Add milk/cream a little bit at a time until desired consistency is reached.

For desert, you want something sweet but small. So how about some chocolate caramel truffles? Check out this great recipe I found at Truffle Trouble!

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 2/3 cup heavy cream
    • 9 to 12 ounces of fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. For coating
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted, and/or 1/2 to 1 cup pecans, ground fine

PREPARATION

    1. In a dry heavy saucepan (about 3 1/2 quarts) cook sugar over moderate heat, stirring with a fork until melted, and swirl pan until sugar is a golden caramel. Remove pan from heat and add cream carefully (mixture will bubble up). Return pan to heat and simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved.
    2. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, salt, and vanilla. Let mixture stand 5 minutes and stir until chocolate is melted. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool, uncovered. Chill mixture, covered, 2 hours, or until firm.
  1. Coat truffles:
    1. Scoop out truffle mixture with a spoon and form into 1-inch balls. Roll truffles in 1/2 cup cocoa powder or coat with 1 cup pecans, pressing nuts slightly to adhere. (Alternatively, roll half of the truffles in 1/4 cup cocoa powder and coat remaining truffles with 1/2 cup pecans.) Chill truffles on a tray lined with wax paper until firm, about 1 hour. Truffles keep in an airtight container, chilled, 2 weeks.

What to Cook for a Perfect Date Night Dinner

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