We all love going out for a fancy dinner and a rom-com every now and then, but sometimes staying in is just what the relationship doctor ordered. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, your date-night ideas can include a nice, low-key (or fancy) night at home. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to treat your sweetie to a romantic dinner — any night would be great for a sweet date. Check out these appetizers, side dishes and main courses for a little meal planning inspo. And don’t worry, we didn’t forget V-Day dessert!
1. Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed With Marcona Almonds + Blue Cheese: Serve up a few dates for your date and you can’t go wrong. Fancy appetizers are a great way to kick off any night with that special someone. (via Cooking Divine)
3. Kale Pesto Crostini: Toast up a few baguette slices and smear them with a nutrient-rich kale-based pesto and tomato slices. Serve this restaurant-quality appetizer with a fruity sparkling white wine to really bring out the flavors. (via Cooking Chat Food)
4. Mini Chopped Caesar Salad Cups: Salad as a starter may not seem super original… but when’s the last time you served it in an edible cheese cup? This bite-size app is refreshingly delicious and fun to eat. (via Life Is but a Dish)
5. Roasted Bok Choy: Nobody puts bok choy in the corner. Or you could, while you focused on other aspects of the meal. This super simple side only takes about 10 minutes to roast in the oven, so let it sit patiently until you’re just about done with everything else. (via Rasa Malaysia)
6. Microwave Risotto: Risotto is notoriously tricky to make, so when your S.O. sees that you went through all the “trouble,” they won’t be able to resist. Little do they know that you made it in under 10 minutes in the microwave! (via Brit + Co)
7. Honey Garlic Caramelized Carrots: Fancy date night doesn’t mean you have to slave away in the kitchen — after all, there’s hair and makeup to be done. Get that slow-cooked flavor in just 15 minutes with this caramelized carrot recipe that’s sure to be a hit. (via Heartbeet Kitchen)
8. Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Over Polenta: Creamy polenta is practically begging to be topped with crispy pancetta and caramelized Brussels sprouts. Just make sure you save room for the main course. (via Just a Little Bit of Bacon)
9. Orange Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs: The aroma that takes over your home when you’re making this dish is enough to make anyone salivate. Plus, once it’s in the oven you’re free to move on to other things: cooking, kissing or cleanup — whichever you prefer. (via The Peach Kitchen)
12. Seared Filet With Mixed-Herb Gremolata: If you’re both meat eaters, steak is pretty much always a good idea. Top each filet with a fresh herb gremolata for a flavor-packed main course. (via Good Life Eats)
13. Strawberry Brownie Lollipops: You can either make your own mini brownies or find a fresh batch at the supermarket (you’ve earned a break). These brownie lollies may look complex, but trust us — they’re super simple. (via Kitchen Mason)
14. No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake: There is something so fun about having your own pre-portioned serving of anything, especially when it’s cheesecake. The no-bake nature of this little guy makes it even more appealing. (via Center Cut Cook)
15. Bittersweet Chocolate Meringue Nests With Salted Caramel Sauce + Cacao Nibs: If you’ve grown tired of the simple approach to dessert and want to show your date what you can do, this is the way to go. Pro tip: Use a fresh and local organic cream for best results. (via The Spiced Life)
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