Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Date Night In :)

So, We've gone out for a few weeks now and in an effort to show my appreciation for his chivarious behavior of paying for all of our dinner dates thus far, I thought it would be nice if I treated him to a nice home cooked meal.  Its selfish really, I eat "healthier" when I cook for myself and thoroughly enjoy cooking :)

Here's the Menu from yesterday's date night:
1. Rosemary, Garlic Roasted Chicken- recipe from Epicurious
2. Stuffed tomatoes with Mozzarella and Gargonzola Cheese (Thanks Dad!)
3. Asparagus with lemon juice with balsamic vinegar drizzle

Well, there you have the menu from last night's dinner.  Obviously paired with a delicious wine, which is entirely by preference.  I'm on a red wine (Malbec) kick, so I served it with an Argentinean selection!

Grocery list:
1. 3 lbs of Chicken parts (with skins- preferably breasts and thighs)
2. Garlic (LOTS)
3. Lemons
4. Fresh Rosemary & Parsley
5. Panko- Japanese Break Crumbs
6. Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Gargonzola Cheese
7. Shallots
8. Asparagus
9. Tomatoes
10. Wine (Red and/or White- for drinking)

What You'll Need:
1. All ingredients listed above (on grocery list)
2. Olive Oil
3. Balsamic Vinegar
4. Salt and Pepper
5. Broiler Pan
6. Pan to cook tomatoes
7. Saute pan to cook asparagus

I know this looks incredibly intense and overwhelming. You're probably wondering how in the world I planned on cooking all of this and going to work all day.  Well, here's my little trick.  I did most of the preparations the night before when I was cooking my meal the night before, I minced more garlic, parsley and shallots.  This way I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed the night of.  It involves a little more planning for a weekday dinner, but doable.  Probably ideal for a weekend night, but it works for the weekday as well.

Let's start with the Rosemary Garlic Chicken.  I followed the recipe from Epicurious and it was actually relatively easy.  I did let the chicken marinate for a little longer and it came out really juicy and not dry at all, but with a nice crusted skin.   Here are a few pictures from throughout the process.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Gorgonzola Cheese

Preheat the oven to 375

While the chicken was marinating, I started to make the Stuffed Tomatoes.  I got lucky and found some time savers, it just so happens that Whole Foods carries a seasoned panko mixture that included, garlic, parsley and pistachios.  I hadn't planned on using pistachios, but it was a nice little addition.  Here's how I made the stuff tomatoes:

I first start off by cutting the ends off the tomatoes, gutting them with a spoon and then laying them upside down on a paper towel to dry.  While they are drying, I started to prep the panko mixture, since I had purchased an already seasoned mixture, I just added a little bit of my fresh garlic, parsley and shallots.  I suppose they weren't necessary, but I didn't want to waste what I had already prepped the night before so I added it anyways.  Once the tomatoes are dry and the stuffing is ready, in the bottom of the casserole dish, I drizzle a little bit of olive oil on the bottom and sprinkle a little bit of the stuffing onto the bottom of the dish (this helps the tomatoes from sliding around in the olive oil). After the dish is ready,  I spooned a generous amount into each tomato as shown below.  And cooked them until the tomatoes are cooked through.  Once the tomatoes look softer and cooked through (usually about 15 minutes),  I placed the sliced mozzarella and gorgonzola square onto each and then placed back into the oven until the cheese is melted.

Asparagus with Balsamic Drizzle

While the tomatoes are getting all kinds of happy in the oven.  I filled a deeper sauté pan with water and brought it to a rolling bowl.  When the water is warming up,   I rinsed off the asparagus, snapped off the ends.  Some people slice off the ends, but I like to use the snapping method, if you bend the asparagus in the right place (close to the end) the end snaps off without an issues.  I placed them on a paper towel to dry.  Once the water was at a rolling boil, I added the asparagus and had them cook for a few minutes until they were a vibrant green.  I like mine warmed through, but still crispy so they only need to cook for a few minutes.  Immediately following, I placed them in a bowl of cool water, which stops them from cooking more.  I lightly patted them dry and put them in the serving dish, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, squeezed a little lemon juice and then drizzled them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  As a final touch, I sprinkled some parmesan cheese shavings over top.  Here's a few photos of the process and the final product.

As you can imagine, I was rather busy preparing dinner, that I didn't have much time left to get Me ready!  I was lucky and remembered this Three Twisted Buns tutorial on A Cup Of Jo which left my hair effortlessly put together- perfect for a date night in.  Here's how it looked on me.

Dinner was great, but the best part was when he said the following "How did you manage to work, cook dinner and get your nails done today?"  He noticed my still perfectly manicured, smudge and chip proof nails- haha.  I giggled to myself and all I could think was, Gotta love that Shellac :)

xoxo. I'll keep everyone posted on any other goodies I cook up.  Happy Wednesday- almost the weekend!

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