‘Dinner For Two’ Date Night Gift Basket

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WonderfulYourWay #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Before we had kids, Sinisa and I would go on dates quite often. We’d go out to eat, go to the movies, and walk around local downtown areas. It was nice to be able to connect during those times. Unfortunately, once we had our first child, our date nights out became almost non-existent. Nowadays we tend to do a lot of date nights in which basically consist of watching a movie on the couch.

With Valentine’s Day coming soon, I wanted to change things up a bit and create a special date night basket. Since Sinisa loves to cook I thought he’d enjoy a gift basket full of goodies that would let us have a date night in where we could cook a special meal together. I’m calling this a “Dinner for two” date night gift basket.

I started by figuring out what type of meal we’d make and decided upon pasta. Maybe it’s the whole Lady & the Tramp spaghetti scene stuck in my head, but I equate pasta with romantic meals. Along with the box of pasta, I put some other items we’d need for our date night in the basket including Valentine’s themed kitchen hand towels, some red cooking utensils, a couple chocolate roses, salt and pepper shakers, candles and a bottle of wine to enjoy with our meal.

We have a few go-to pasta dishes that we make but Sinisa made a really delicious one a couple years ago that I wanted to recreate together. It’s a dish similar to Pasta Carbonara though we don’t add eggs to it like the typical recipe calls for.

For our recipe, I got all the ingredients at Kroger, including Barilla® Pronto® Penne pasta, a product innovation that allows for one-pan meals to be created with no need to wait for water to boil, and no draining required. I like this pasta because it cooks within ten minutes and is perfect for one pot meals.

Ingredients to make dinner for 2:

  • 1/2 box of Barilla Pronto Penne
  • 1/4 cup of bacon pieces
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 cups of (cold) water or broth (we used vegetable broth)
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • Seasoning to taste (we used black pepper and garlic powder)
  • A teaspoon of vegetable oil

Directions:

Add the oil to the pan along with the bacon and peas and heat for a minute or so, stirring to mix.

Add the dry pasta.

Pour the cold water (or broth) over the pasta. (Feels strange doesn’t it? Usually you have to put a pot of water on the stovetop and then wait forever for it to boil before you can put your pasta in but this new pasta is “no boil”.) Cover and let cook on medium heat for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the 4 ounces of cream cheese. Then cover and cook for three more minutes to finish cooking the pasta.

At this point the pasta is fully cooked. Can you believe that you have perfectly cooked pasta in just 10 minutes?! Whoever invented this no boil pasta is a genius. I also love that you don’t have to drain it because the majority of the liquid has cooked out. To finish making this pasta dish, add the shredded cheese, season to taste and stir everything together.

I love the combo of cheese and bacon in this dish and the addition of the peas helps me meet my veggie goal for the week lol. This pasta dish is so easy to make and requires little prep which is perfect for date night. You’ll have dinner on the table within 15 minutes and making the whole meal in one pan is great because nobody wants to spend date night stuck in the kitchen washing a sink full of dishes.

What pasta dish would you make on your “dinner for two” date night? Find more “Wonderful Your Way” recipe inspiration here.

 

Summer Day Date Idea: Recreate Memories On A Local Road Trip

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheLyrics #CollectiveBias

Back before we had kids, Sinisa and I went on a lot of dates. A lack of money kept us from doing anything too expensive so we’d do things like walk around downtown, go star gazing, go to festivals and enjoy picnics at the park. Here we are at a local festival on one of our first dates back in 2007:

Looking back on our relationship, one of our favorite dates was a road trip to a campsite where we intended to camp for the evening. It turned out to be an even more memorable trip when we woke up to find ourselves, and everything inside our tent, soaked from rain and we ended up sleeping in Sinisa’s small sports car that night. We have learned that it’s not what we are doing, but who we are doing it with that matters. Sometimes the simplest things bring the best memories so I set out to recreate some of our favorite dates- road trips-  as we hopped in the car for a short road trip to a lake area in another town.

Want to plan your own day date full of memories? Here are some of my tips for planning a road trip day date:

1) Think back to your most memorable times as a couple and what you two enjoy the most and plan those into your road trip, whether it’s the spot of your first kiss or an activity you two love doing together. Some of my favorite dates have been sitting by the water just talking so that’s why I chose a park with a beautiful lake so we could sit and relax like the “good ‘ol days”.

2) Pack a picnic lunch and keep the menu simple. We love finger foods like cheese, crackers and salami along with some fresh fruit. It’s filling, doesn’t require silverware, and is easy to eat.

3) Make a road trip playlist. There is nothing worse than having to flip through radio stations while you are in the car so I like to have a playlist ready to go. Sinisa and I have different tastes in music (he likes country and old school rock and I like r&b and pop) so we find a mix of genres is best. You can even make a list of romantic songs that you both enjoy and make a playlist out of those. If you need some song inspiration for your road trip playlist, you can find it on the new Share a Coke and a Song Coca-Cola campaign cans because Coca-Cola has lyrics to popular songs right on the cans.

4) Bring a cooler full of drinks to enjoy as you travel and to drink once you arrive at your picnic spot. I bought a 28 pack of the Share a Coke cans at Sam’s Club and, not only did we drink them, but I incorporated the cans into our date by telling Sinisa how I feel about him using the lyrics on the cans. It would also be a fun idea to have each person pick out a can for their significant other and explain why they chose it and what the lyrics mean to them or pick out cans that tell your love story. Below is the story I told him as I handed him the corresponding cans. It was kind of sappy and corny but thankfully he likes things like that :)

You can find Share a Coke cans at your local Sam’s Club. We found ours on pallets near the kitchen products. You’ll want to look for ones that have the special Share a Coke and a Song Coca-Cola campaign packaging so you make sure to get the cans with the lyrics on them.

What tips do you have for planning a memorable day date?

 

Date Night Ideas {One For Every Week Of The Year}

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One of my goals for 2015 is to go on a date with Sinisa once a month. Since our {rare} date nights normally consist of dinner and a movie I thought it was time to do a little brainstorming and come up with some unique date ideas so we had a little variety. Of course I had to enlist the help of my newest blog contributor to get a male perspective. {It’s actually a funny story because when I finally climbed into bed last night he was half asleep and I was chattering on and on about this blog post idea I had and texting him date night ideas lol.}

Here are 52+ fun date night ideas that we came up with- one for every week of the year! Our goal is to do at least one a month and share about our experience :)

1) Go ice skating

2) Head to the library and check out some books about destinations you’d like to visit and then plan a trip together

3) Cook dinner together and have a romantic candlelight dinner

4) Pretend you are tourists in your own town and head to the number 1 tourist attraction.

5) Go on a picnic

6) Volunteer together

7) Take a dance class together

8) Go to a wine tasting

9) Visit a local museum

10) Have a game night and each pick your favorite board game to play

11) Go to a drive in movie

12) Make pizza together and practice tossing the dough

13) Go on a short train ride and explore a neighboring town

14) Find a big hill and go sledding on a snowy day

15) Workout together

16) Go tailgating and cheer on your favorite team

17) Find somewhere far from city lights and stargaze together

18) Bake cookies together and decorate a cookie for the other person

19) Walk around an arboretum or flower garden

20) Work on a diy project around the house together

21) Go shopping for each other! Go to Walmart or Target and head in different directions with a plan to meet at the front of the store in 30 minutes. Your goal? To each find a gift for the other under $5. Once you are in the car or back at home give the gift to the other and explain why you bought the item. (This date idea came from my college roommate!)

22) Get a couples massage

23) Go bowling. Whoever loses has to make dinner for the other.

24) Find the perfect spot to watch the sunset (or sunrise!)

25) Go on a bike ride

26) Take a cooking class

27) Write each other love notes and then read them to each other

28) Go camping

29) Go out for coffee and people watch

30) Take a cooking class

31) Buy a canvas and paint and spend the evening creating a masterpiece together

32) Play a game of mini-golf

33) Go on a double date with friends

34) Go on a day trip with no destination planned. Enjoy the ride as you drive through nature and stop at places that look interesting

35) See a live show

36) Get dressed up in your Sunday best and go out for brunch

37) Rent a foreign language romance without subtitles and create your own translations of what they are saying just based on their body movements and facial expressions

38) During the holidays, drive around to look at Christmas lights. Don’t forget the hot cocoa and the Christmas music

39) Go to a sporting event, like a baseball game

40) Turn some romantic music on and dance together in your living room

41) Go to an open mic poetry night. If you are brave get on stage and read poetry you wrote

42) Head to the beach on a warm day

43) Stay overnight at a B&B

44) Visit a nearby lake and go paddle boating

45) Spend the evening in front of the fireplace

46) Take a walk, hand in hand

47) Go roller skating- old school!

48) Go to a free concert at your local park

49) Take a trip to your local thrift store and pick out an outfit for each other

50) Take a boat tour or walking tour of your town or one nearby

51) Visit your local Farmer’s Market or county fair

52) Go to the pumpkin patch in the Fall and then carve pumpkins

53) Spend a whole day in bed together

 

What would you add? I’d love to hear your date night ideas!

Date Night Ideas {Saturday Stumbles}

Chinese Date Night

I’m excited to be going out on an actual date with Sinisa for the first time in a very long time. Both kids are going to be gone so we are going to have date night. Here are some ideas I came across while looking for fun date night ideas:

Have a Chinese themed date night at home {great pictures and ideas here}

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If you have a whole weekend for the date, check out this WILD JUNGLE SAFARI date idea!

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33 At Home Date Night Ideas

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Check out these unusual date night ideas {sure to make you laugh for years to come}

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Recreate your first date! {and find more ideas here}

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Go sledding {and 50 more date night ideas here}

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One friend used to go to the store with her boyfriend and they each had to buy something for the other. The catch? The gift had to be less than $5. It’s always funny to see what each person buys for the other on their limited budget.

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The Knot has 20 date ideas here {including volunteering together}

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What is your favorite date night idea?