Easy Romantic Meals for Two

by Carlye Cunniff
( April 10th, 2015 )

Guess what? It’s raining in Seattle. Nothing makes me want to stay at home and cuddle more than a rainy weekend. And, dreary as it may sound, a rainy weekend can actually be quite romantic. You might have to venture out of the house for some ingredients, but otherwise, stay in and cook one of these easy romantic meals for two!

Rainy Day Romance

 

Linguini Carbonara

Possibly my favorite pasta dish, I always save making linguini carbonara for special occasions, even though it’s so easy to make. The keys to making this dinner stand out as a romantic feast? High quality bacon and parmesan, fresh parsley and homemade bread. I prefer the red wine version of carbonara, but white wine works well too.

My Favorite Recipes:

Linguini Carbonara by Food & Wine

Pasta Carbonara by Rachel Ray

Homemade Pizza

Want to make your pizza stand out from the greasy-cheese-carb-overload-crowd (not that there is anything wrong with that crowd)? Try making pizza at home, with unique ingredients for an easy romantic meal. Serve your creation with a fresh spinach, beet and goat cheese salad for optimum romance. Want to make your pizza extra-special? Make the sauce at home, it’s super easy (especially if you have a food processor) and makes your meal so much tastier.  For extreme ease of cooking, use a cast iron skillet and pre-made tortillas for the crust—the finished product tastes like
restaurant style trendy flatbread pizza. My secret pizza topping combo? Homemade pesto sauce, thinly sliced potatoes, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and goat cheese.

My Favorite Crust Recipes:

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Serious Eats—Use Your Cast Iron Skillet to Make Pizza Dough

 

Homemade PIzza

Mussels

A huge pot of homemade mussels with a side of freshly baked bread signifies home-cooked mastery, but mussels are super easy to make. There is something about eating mussels that turns up the romance as well, you have to use your hands, you share a big pot, they go great with crisp white wine – you get the picture. The key is buying them the day you’re going to use them, so stop off at the store on your way home for the evening. I add fresh tarragon to mine, and use vermouth in place of the white wine. If you’re going to add butter to the sauce, using a high quality butter is essential, I prefer Kerry Gold.

Favorite Recipes

A Cozy Kitchen-Steamed Mussels

Williams-Sonoma-Mussels Steamed in Belgian Ale

Prime Rib

Cooking a beautiful piece of meat is probably the trickiest thing on this list, but only because of the time it takes to cook it. I rub rosemary and garlic all over the prime rib before it goes in the oven, then make mashed potatoes with the same flavors for a perfect combo.  I would serve this meal with a colorful side of whiskey-ginger carrots and a bold red wine, then let the romance begin!

Buying a high quality piece of prime rib for this meal is essential, and well worth the price. Beef tenderloin will work just as well as prime rib, but it’s more expensive, and I personally love the fatty extras on the prime rib.

Favorite Method

Culinary Arts-Prime Rib Roast

Raclette

Raclette is a traditional swiss dish that involves melted cheese being scraped off the cheese wheel onto bread, potatoes and dried meats. I make it with a cast iron skillet, and try to use a few different cheese varieties to round out the flavor. I would use this romantic recipe as a basis for laying out a candle-lit picnic in the living room, baking a loaf of bread, buying some delightful prosciutto and olives and enjoying a glass of sparkling wine with my hunny. This may be the easiest romantic meal on this list because it involves very little cooking, and lots of food sharing.

Homemade bread—the warmer the better—takes this easy meal to the next level! I use this occasion to get fancy with my flavors—add some olives to my normal bread recipe and crust it with sea salt. This meal is another call for high quality cheese, as cheese takes center stage with this dish. I prefer the combination of Camembert and Gruyere but any cheese that melts well will do just fine.

Favorite Method

Cook The Story-Easy Raclette 

What’s your favorite romantic meal? Let us know in the comments below!

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Photo Credits:

Untitled, Marko Milosevic, licensed under CC BY -ND 2.0

White Pizza, Ginny, licensed under CC BY - SA 2.0

 

 

 

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Roasted Asparagus and Beet Spaghetti

by Carlye Cunniff
( April 7th, 2015 )

 

Roasted asparagus and beet spaghetti

I associate pasta with fall and winter – it’s warm and comforting, it fills you up, and pasta sauce is a great place to put a ton of seasonal veggies. I try to lighten it up when spring time rolls around, because the pasta cravings never actually go away. I roasted the asparagus and beets before putting this dish together – I did them in a big batch and used them all week. The slightly bitter flavor of the asparagus compliments the sweetness of the roasted beets in this dish, as does the tang of the swiss cheese. The best part of this roasted asparagus and beet spaghetti? It’s purple!

This recipe serves two people quite comfortably.

Roasted Vegtables

Ingredients:

1/2 package spaghetti noodles (I’m a whole wheat die hard, but whatever works!)

2 tbsp. butter

1 large beet, roasted and cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 bunch of asparagus

3/4 cup of shredded parmesan

3/4 cup of shredded Emmentaler cheese

juice from 1 lemon

1 tsp. caraway

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce.

Meanwhile, use a large pan to melt the butter over medium high heat

Whisk in both type of cheeses, keep stirring until completely melted

Stir in lemon juice

Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, stir in the caraway seed

Stir in reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time until the sauce is the desired thickness

Reduce heat to low, stir in the roasted veggies

Toss with cooked spaghetti, top with extra parmesan and enjoy!

Roasted asparagus and beet spaghetti

 

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Sea Salt and Vanilla Toasted Nuts

by Carlye Cunniff
( March 31st, 2015 )

Sea salt and vanilla toasted nuts.

I’m in school right now, and it’s not the kind of school where you have class two hours a day and then go home and work on your thesis in your pjs. I’m in boot camp-style school. I go to class from 9-5 Monday – Friday, work on projects after the school day ends and build a portfolio on the weekends. I go to networking events, and work on group projects. Not that I’m complaining, I love it, but it’s hard. I get pretty grumpy. I want to eat potato chips all day long to cope with the stress. I might have the occasional break down (or seven). So, to fight off the urge to eat cake, beer and Cheetos, I made a big batch of these sea salt and vanilla toasted nuts over the weekend and packed them for class. They are full of brain food (Walnuts! Pecans! Quinoa, oh my!) and satisfy the cravings for both sweet and savory.

Ingredients

1 cup each of raw, unsalted pecans, walnuts and cashews.

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon agave nectar

2 tablespoons quinoa

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Sea salt and vanilla nuts

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine honey, agave, vanilla, salt and sugar together in large bowl. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s so much salt, it’s must be a typo.” It’s not a typo. It’s great. This is three cups of nuts people. Just make sure you start with the unsalted variety.

Add in the quinoa and nuts.

Stir until everything is well coated.

Spread into a single layer on your pre lined baking sheet.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Let cool before serving.

Baked sea salt and vanilla toasted nuts

 

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