Make it a romantic dinner at home

Are you looking to avoid the restaurant crowd and create something more special at home?

A few ground rules: To ensure a romantic setting, make certain that this is a night you will be alone. Turn off the phone and the computer — and put the mobiles away.

If the dinner is meant to be a surprise, try lighting candles in the front hallway that lead to the dining room table. If it is not going to be a surprise, give or send your partner an invitation letting them know the date and time of your romantic night.

Set the table, set the mood

Use this occasion to use your good china and silverware. This is that ‘special occasion’ you were waiting for.

Set the table with a red or white table cloth. Sprinkle rose petals on the cloth and light unscented candles. You want unscented candles because you don’t want to mix the smell of the wonderful meal with the scent of the candle.

The meal

Start off with a crisp glass of white wine (try Pinot Grigio) to go with this light appetizer.

Lacy Parmesan Crisps (Frico, in Italy)

For best results, invest in reusable bakeware liners, which are available in most kitchenware stores and bakery suppliers. If you cannot find these, a nonstick cookie sheet will work fine as well.

1½ cups of fresh, coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (must be fresh, prepared will not work)

Preheat oven to 375° F

Line a large cookie sheet with the reusable bakeware liner.

Drop level tablespoons of the parmesan three inches apart on cookie sheet.

Spread to form two inch rounds.

Bake rounds until edges just begin to colour — six to seven minutes.

Transfer rounds, still on bakeware liner, to wire rack.

Cool two minutes.

Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Each crisp: About 28 calories, 3g protein, 0g carbohydrate, 2g total fat.

Recipe from The Recipe Link

Chicken Piccata

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 egg
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 very thin lemon slices

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Place chicken breast halves between sheets of plastic wrap.
Lightly pound.

In a shallow bowl, stir together mustard and eggs until well blended. Spread bread crumbs on a plate. Dip chicken into egg mixture and then coat with crumbs, patting to make crumbs adhere.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet in a single layer and sauté 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken over and cook about 5 minutes more or until internal temperature registers 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer chicken to a platter; cover and keep warm.

Drain any excess fat from skillet and add broth, lemon juice, capers and salt. Bring mixture to boiling, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon. Add lemon slices and parsley.

Remove from heat and spoon lemon sauce over chicken on platter. Serve immediately.

For a side, simply cook brown rice and place chicken on top.

Another add-on to this recipe is to add a crisp mixed-greens salad with balsamic dressing and fresh goat’s milk cheese

Per serving: 350 calories, 30 g protein, 15 g fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 1241 mg sodium, 134 mg cholesterol

Recipe adapted from The Recipe Link

Dessert – Pavlova (Served in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova when she visited New Zealand in the 1930s)

4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 cup of caster sugar
1 cup whipped cream
Fruit to decorate

Line your baking tray with foil or wax paper.
On the foil, draw a circle with a 9″ diameter.
In a large bowl beat egg whites, vanilla and vinegar until soft peaks form.
Slowly beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
When the sugar is dissolved, pile it on the baking tray, keeping the mixture in the circle.
Smooth the top but leave a hollow in the central area.

Bake at 250° F for about 1 hour and 25 min.
When it is ready, the Pavlova should be a very light beige colour.
Turn off the oven. Leave Pavlova to cool in the oven.

When cold, top with whipped cream and decorate with fruit.

Per serving: Calories: 256, Fat: 11.5, Carbohydrates: 35.5

These delicious recipes are sure to please that special someone. The best part of this romantic night at home is that you get to spend quality time with your partner. So, relax and enjoy. Bon Appetite!

Photo © Lisa Thornberg

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