Friday, February 10, 2012

A Five-Course Dinner for a Five-Star Date

It’s Date Night, and you’re bored with the usual restaurant-and-a-movie routine. If your relationship is in a rut, don’t ignore it; oftentimes, monotony can cause partners to lose that lovin’ feeling. Tonight, change things up with a candlelight dinner at home. Surprise your sweetie with tunes softly playing, conversation (and wine) flowing, and a five-course meal prepared to enjoy together. Even better, plan your romantic evening ‘just because,’ with no other reason than to express your love. The following recipes make up a delightful five-course dinner—it’s up to you, however, to make it special. Bon appétit!

Course 1: The Appetizer
Shrimp Cocktail with Lemon Seafood Sauce
Servings: 4
16 frozen cooked cleaned shrimp (6 oz.), thawed, drained
Lemon Seafood Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. zest and 1 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon

Mix first 5 ingredients.
Serve with shrimp.

Course 2: The Salad
Fruity Spinach Salad
Servings: 6
8 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup halved seedless green grapes
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup sliced red onions
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup Asian Toasted Sesame dressing

Combine all ingredients except dressing.
Add dressing just before serving; toss to coat.

Course 3: The Soup
Creamy Asparagus Soup
Servings: 4
3 Tbsp. butter
1 leek, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh asparagus spears, each cut into thirds
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup (1/2 of 8-oz. tub) Philadelphia Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1/4 cup milk

Melt butter in medium saucepan on medium heat. Add leeks; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add asparagus, broth and water; stir. Simmer on medium-low heat 5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Stir in salt and pepper.
Mix cream cheese spread and milk until well blended.
Process asparagus mixture in food processor until smooth. Pour into 4 soup bowls. Add cream cheese mixture; swirl gently with spoon.

Course 4: The Main Entrée & Side Dish
Bacon-Covered Pork Tenderloin
Servings: 6
5 slices smoked uncured bacon
1 pork tenderloin (1 lb.)
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. apple juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
Dash ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 400ºF.
Wrap bacon around meat. Place in foil-lined pan sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with pepper.
Bake 20 minutes or until cooked to 135ºF. Meanwhile, bring remaining ingredients to boil in saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Brush meat with glaze. Bake 10 minutes or until done (145ºF); cover loosely with foil. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Balsamic Green Beans with Cranberries
Servings: 6
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp. butter
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Cook beans and cranberries in simmering water in skillet 4 to 5 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain; rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add onions and sugar; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add bean mixture; cook and stir 3 minutes or until heated through.
Stir in dressing; cook and stir 1 minute. Top with nuts.

Course 5: The Dessert
Easy Dark Chocolate Mousse
Servings: 6
4 squares Baker’s Select Bittersweet Chocolate
1 tub (8 oz.) whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Microwave chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on high 1-1/2 minutes, stirring with whisk every 45 seconds until melted.
Add 1 cup whipped topping; stir until blended. Stir in remaining whipped topping.
Spoon into dessert dishes; top with raspberries.

Want More?
If you need additional ideas to turn up the heat in your relationship, check out these romantic activities. Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune to make Date Night unique and memorable—show your loved one he or she is totally worth it with these simple ideas.
  1. Give a Massage – Buying a gift card at the local spa is considered cheating—give your sweetheart a 30–60-minute massage, complete with fragrant oils, lotions and soft music. Then, finish it with a hot bubble bath prepared for him or her (champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries will win you extra points!).
  2. Watch the Sun Set – There is something incredibly calming about watching the sun set, and you and your lover can enjoy this lovely moment together. Keep the chatter at a minimum—just relish each other’s company and the beauty before your eyes.
  3. Make S’mores – Sometimes a romantic gesture can involve embracing the little child within. Build a cozy fire for your darling and make s’mores together. Get even more creative by pouring a glass of milk in a wine glass—it shows him or her that you’re playful and fun!

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