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date night

I miss those days when we went out on dates all the time :)

Dinners at datesy restaurants, cocktail nights at upscale lounges, crazy clubbing and bar hopping, romantic weekend getaways; we did it all!  We went out a lot before we had the baby.  Life’s changed now and we spend a lot of time at home, with our little girl. Going out on dates is certainly a bit of a challenge now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a date nights anymore. When the baby’s off to bed, it’s a date night at home!

Here’s a simple but  stunning menu that sets the mood right!

A Wine Just-for-Two

Moscato D’Oro from the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley CA, is a fresh, floral and beautifully balanced white wine with a crisp, clean finish and a bit of spritz. Lightly sweet and refreshing as a tropical breeze, lush with honeysuckle aromas and sweet-citrusy flavors, this wine is great for sipping after dinner as a dessert wine or for casual drinking in any season.

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With its seductive fruity-floral character and perfect serving for two, this wine is a perfect way to start or end your date night!

Moscato D'Oro

Go over to A Meal without Wine for more wine tasting notes.

Grilled Shrimp with Pasta in Alfredo Sauce

There’s something special about shrimp! My date night dinner was indeed a special one and there had to be shrimp on the menu.

I didn’t want to order take-out or spend too much time in the kitchen making dinner. So, to keep it quick and simple yet elegant, I decided to grill some garlic-herb marinated shrimp and serve them along side of pasta tossed in a quick alfredo sauce and crispy garlic toasts. The shrimp absorb all the flavors of the garlic and herbs and are wonderfully succulent when grilled to perfection. The crunchy garlic toasts and the creamy alfredo pasta add a neutral flavor and a different combination of textures. They are a great accompaniment, but certainly don’t steal the show away from the shrimp!

This main dish has three different components, but trust me – it’ll all come together in no time. Be sure to read and understand the steps below thoroughly, if you decide to give it a shot. If you gather the ingredients and stick to my method, you should be done with all the three components within 30 mins (40 tops!). This is kitchen multi-tasking at its best!

grilled herbed shrimp & pasta in alfredo sauce

Serves 2

Garlic -Herb Shrimp

10-12 large shrimp (size: 31-40 count), peeled and deveined

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsbp (about 1/2 spring) rosemary leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp (about 1 sprig) oregano leaves, finely chopped

½ lemon, zested and juiced

salt

freshly ground black pepper

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

wooden/bamboo skewers (optional for easy grilling)

Pasta

½ lb pasta (rotini, penne, bowtie, etc)

water

salt

Alfredo Sauce

1 cup light (or heavy) cream

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted light (or regular) butter, softened (I used Smart Balance)

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Parmesan cheese)

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Garlic Toasts

1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4-6 (1-inch thick) slices French baguette

salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves

Combine the garlic and herbs along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the olive oil. Mix well and let the shrimp marinate in this mixture for about a half hour till you prepare the toasts, pasta and alfredo sauce.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F for making the garlic toasts.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.

Till the water comes to a boil, cut the baguette into 1 inch slices and peel garlic. Arrange the bread on an aluminium foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the bread slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set them aside.

Add a generous quantity of salt to the boling water and throw in the pasta. Cook until al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), stirring occasionally, about  10 mins.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Heat the cream over low-medium heat in a deep sauté pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the saute pan, gently toss it to coat in the alfredo. Continue simmering on very low heat.

While the alfredo sauce thickens, preheat the grill pan to medium-high. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and skewer 5 per stick and place the shrimp on the grill pan. Grill on each side until they turn pink, about 4-5 mins, basting with the remaining marinade as they cook.

As soon as you place the shrimp on the grill pan, pop the baking sheet with the bread slices into the oven.  You will then be free to turn the shrimp and gently toss the pasta again while the bread bakes for about 5-6 mins and becomes crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and immediately rub the garlic cloves over the hot toasts.

Transfer pasta to a warm serving bowl. Top with more grated cheese and chopped parsley. Season with more freshly ground black pepper.

Plate the shrimp skewers, pasta and a couple of toasts together and serve warm.

grilled herbed shrimp & pasta in alfredo sauce

Vanilla Custard with Raspberry Coulis

A date night dinner should end on a romantic note, right? Here’s a perfect dessert that marries the two individuals that were destined to be together- a creamy vanilla custard and ravishing red raspberries.

It’s a simple vanilla custard made by baking milk and eggs together, just like a traditional flan! I love the flan, but I wanted to get creative with the topping (or should I say “bottom”) and make something else instead of the usual caramel. Mmmm, how about a light raspberry sauce?!

Raspberries give this dessert a sexy twist! The deep red raspberry sauce forms a pool of “love” in which the custard sits and soaks. The soft ‘n’silky custard  melts in your mouth followed by the raspberries that explode as you bite them leaving a sweet-tart lingering taste behind.

Try my lovely dessert and feel the “love” on your date night!

vanilla custard with raspberry sauce

Makes about 4 ramekins

Vanilla Custard

¼ cup sugar (or more to suit your taste)

1 cup whole/reduced fat or low fat milk

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

Light Raspberry Sauce

a handful of fresh or frozen raspberries

2 tbsp water

½ tsp sugar (or more to suit your taste)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In the meantime, add the vanilla extract to the milk in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside.

While the milk cools, whisk together the eggs and the  sugar in a bowl till the sugar seems to have dissolved completely. Then add about half of the hot milk into the egg-sugar mixture and continue to whisk. Finally whisk the remaining hot milk into the egg mixture.

Pour the milk-eggs-sugar mixture into ramekins and arrange in a hot water bath. Bake in the center of the oven until dry and set in the center, 60 to 65 minutes.

vanilla custard

Remove from the water bath and let cool. Tightly cover each ramekin with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.

Just before serving make the raspberry sauce. In a small pan or saucepan, dissolve the  sugar in water, then add raspberries. Simmer for about 3 min then stop the heat and let the raspberries cool down in the syrup.

raspberry sauce

Top it with the raspberries sauce and some fresh raspberries. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

vanilla custard with raspberry sauce


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