food thursday: date night

As a parent I think date nights are important for our marriage. As a parent I also think date nights can be downright impossible to schedule. So over the years my husband and I have gotten very good at the stay-at-home date. With Valentine’s Day coming up I thought I’d share some ideas for this stay-at-home date. You know, in case you can’t find a sitter (or don’t want to pay for one) or just need to do something grown-up!

1. Make the kids a fun and easy dinner. Something they like so there will be no whining – whining can ruin the mood of the stay-at-home date. While they are eating you and your husband can sit at the table with them and have an appetizer. Maybe some nice cheese with a glass of wine. Or something else you can put together fairly quickly (or even toss in the oven from the freezer).

2. When the kids are done, send them off to a separate room to watch a movie. You now have 90-120 minutes for your date. Ideal? Perhaps not. Are there chances you’ll be interrupted? Yes. But be firm and make the most of some quiet time in the kitchen.

3. While one of you settles the kids in, perhaps bribes them with the promise of popcorn later, the other can get out things for dinner. I recommend you make something that your kids won’t eat without complaining. Something that you & your husband enjoy but can’t make for the whole family so you rarely have it. Below is one of our fall back dinners for just this sort of occasion. I wouldn’t call it fancy but it is very good and much more enjoyable when shared with just the two of us, maybe with the lights down low and a candle on the table.

Spicy Sweet Shrimp & Noodles
1 box of thick-cut rice noodles (in a pinch spaghetti works)
1 can of light coconut milk
1/2 of a small can of tomato paste (approx 3 tablespoons)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp basil
3 TB sweet chili sauce
2 TB chili garlic sauce
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 lb of precooked shrimp, 25-30 count size, thawed if frozen
3 green onions, cut into matchsticks

1. Cook pasta according to directions.

2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk (shake the can before opening) and tomato paste. Stir with a whisk to blend in the paste. Now add your seasonings: chili powder, basil and both chili sauces. Stir to combine and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add your precooked shrimp and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. *note: if you’re not using precooked shrimp, saute them in a bit of olive oil until no longer pink. Then add to the sauce.

3. Drain your pasta and stir the noodles into the sauce, toss to coat. Sprinkle the top with the green onions before serving.

A note about the ingredients. Some of these ingredients may seem a little unusual to some of you but I assure you that if I can find them in the International or Asian aisle of the store in this small town, they aren’t that hard to find. For those of you that live in the Midwest, I’ve found Meijer to be a great place to find all of the ingredients on this list.

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