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How To Set Up An “Easy-Breezy” Date Night

February 23rd, 2011 1 Comment

Every dating book I’ve ever heard of says that you shouldn’t put too much noticeable effort into cooking for your date for the first time. You don’t want to create unnecessary pressure on yourself to cook perfectly or on him to love the meal or on the relationship based on the outcome, yaddah yaddah yaddah.

Sunday night I went over to Kim’s for dinner, and she has the perfect approach to creating the perfect casual evening in for friends or love interest.

You’re probably looking at the picture above and saying to yourself, “whoa, that seems a little overboard to me.” I agree with you, which is why we took away a wine glass, but otherwise, it’s spot on.

Let me break down her setup for you. (Tumblrs click through to the MoreThanMary post to see all the pics.)

1. Location

She chose to seat us at the bar attached to the stove not at her formal dining table so we could chat while she cooked.

2. Presentation

Kim has an advantage because she has amazing silver-rimmed china and stemware. But, if you use a simple white plate, score some crystal glasses from Marshall’s (about $5 each), and use nice cloth napkins ($2-$6 at Cost Plus or Sur La Table), then you can create the same look.

The way she folded her napkin is key. It’s simple and makes the setting look complete.

Personally, no matter who is coming to my house for dinner, I always set the scene, whether at the bar, dining table, or coffee table like this.  Even if you’re eating take out, it makes the whole experience more pleasant.

3. Food

A cheese plate is an easy way to keep your guest occupied and satisfied while  you chat and cook.  I always choose an mild or medium firm white cheese (aged cheddar, Gouda, gruyere) and something creamy with wafer crackers.  Ask the person at the store who works in the cheese section to maybe pull something unique for you.

As for the main course, most of the preparation for the ingredients – cooking the pasta, chopping the tomatoes, tossing the salad – was done ahead of time so she could throw it all together effortlessly. Despite if you choose an easy dish like she did or something more complicated, it’s smart to have most of it done beforehand so you make it all look “easy-breezy” as she says.  And the kitchen stays clean, which is always a plus.

If I were cooking, I would prepare either “You Can’t F*ck This Up” Chicken or my apricot rosemary pork both of which require minimal prep and about a half hour in the oven.  I strongly believe that a way to a man’s heart is through a nice piece of meat (childish innuendo intended).  Since I can’t grill, roasting is my go-to.

4.  Dessert

You can pretty much do anything you want for dessert.  She wrapped fresh berries in croissants and backed them according to the instructions on the package.  I like rubbing overly ripe bananas with lemon, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon before roasting them until soft (see below before baked).  Both can be served in a bowl or martini glass and covered with a dollop of ice-cream.

For more easy dessert recipes, click here.

5.  Flowers, Music, Lighting???

This is something you have to decide on for each situation.  Whatever the case may be just don’t go overboard.  Light a candle, maybe put a lily in a small bud vase, and create a station on Pandora.  Keep it simple.

Most importantly, just be yourself, and have fun!

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  • Sarah

    Thanks for the tips! Also, I think she “baked” the berry