Monday, February 15, 2016

3 Easy Date Night Meals

My boyfriend and I love going out to dinner, but our budgets don't always allow it. To save money, we've been experimenting with different recipes – many of which come straight from Pinterest

Cooking food from scratch isn't the easiest thing for us, though. For starters, his college apartment doesn't have a full kitchen, so we have to use a toaster oven and a hot plate. We also have completely different taste buds... I adore melted cheese; he hates it. I love spicy food; he's not a fan. He could eat red meat for every meal; I prefer chicken. As you can imagine, compromise is key. 

Today I'm sharing three simple recipes that you can make anywhere (even a college apartment without a real kitchen!) Each meal features a different protein – fish, red meat, and chicken – so there's hopefully a recipe for everyone. 

1. Baked Salmon

Salmon can be expensive, but I think the health benefits and easy preparation justify the splurge. To make this dish, you will need salmon fillets, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Garlic and lemon juice are optional. 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Place the salmon on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.
3. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper on each fillet. You can also rub minced garlic and/or lemon juice on the salmon, if you want.
4. Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10-15 minutes. 

You can find a similar recipe here.

Jake and I also made a side of broccoli, which we cooked with the salmon and coated with olive oil, garlic, and salt. I imagine that most other garlic-coated vegetables, like green beans or asparagus, would work well with baked salmon, too.  

2. Steak Sandwiches 

Despite having different tastebuds, Jake and I both appreciate a good steak sandwich. We found this recipe on the Food Network website but modified it a bit to suit our lack-of-a-kitchen situation. Instead of cooking the dish with sliced yellow onions, we bought a mixture of pre-cut green pepper and diced white onions. We also excluded the provolone cheese, but added a bit of mayonnaise to the rolls instead. 

We served the sandwiches with steamed green beans and baked French fries. Both of us absolutely loved the recipe, and we would definitely make the same thing again. 

3. Breaded Pesto Chicken 

For this dish, Jake and I took a simple breaded chicken recipe (like this one from Food Network) and added pre-made pesto to the mix. We put the pesto on the chicken breasts after the egg and before the breadcrumbs. Although the Food Network instructions recommend making your own breadcrumbs, we bought pre-mixed ones at the store to ease the preparation. 

We love this recipe because the pesto adds a flavorful kick to the chicken with no dipping sauces necessary. But, being a Midwesterner, I would never pass up a side of Ranch dressing!

Tell me: What are your favorite date night meals?