There might be some truth to the idea that the way to someone's heart is through their stomach. Cooking a meal for two can make for a fun, romantic date night, but it requires some planning ahead of time. Avoid overly complicated dishes or ones that take too long to prepare. Plan a menu that's simple, quick and delicious.
Quesadillas are as easy to make as grilled cheese, and they're customizable to individual tastes and preferences, as well as to the contents of your pantry. They can be made vegetarian or vegan and filled with interesting, inventive fillers such as sweet potatoes or portobello mushrooms in addition to traditional ingredients like peppers, black beans, queso, or chicken.
For a simple but tasty quesadilla dinner, heat some store-bought tortillas in a skillet, distribute fillings like canned beans, chopped onions, shredded cheese or pre-cooked chicken on top, fold the tortillas over and cook until heated through.
Grilled Steak with Baby Vegetables
An elegant steak dinner is sure to impress, and the preparation can be surprisingly easy. Just sear the steak with butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Ten minutes of cooking on the stovetop is all it takes to render a juicy, tender main dish. The most tender cut of steak is filet mignon, but simpler, less expensive cuts like strip steak or T-bone steak will also work. You can also prepare the steak on a grill or with a broiler, if you wish.
Round out the meal with a simple saute of mixed vegetables with a little oil, salt and pepper, or your favorite spice blend. For an even easier preparation, pop a bag of frozen vegetables into the microwave.
Stir-fry dishes cook rapidly over high heat, and it's easy to make just enough to serve two. Try a pork and bok choy stir-fry with a drizzle of soy sauce, or spicy eggplant, or chicken and broccoli. For a simple stir-fry, you can chop up everyday ingredients like bell peppers, carrots and onions, or purchase a bag of frozen stir-fry mixed vegetables that includes baby corn, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Fresh or frozen, the vegetables will cook very quickly on the stove, along with the meat or tofu. Add soy sauce and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for flavor. If you want to thicken the sauce, whisk a teaspoon or two of cornstarch into the soy sauce.
Begin cooking the rice first, and prepare your stir-fry ingredients as the rice cooks. You can have a full meal ready in less than half an hour.
Michelle Labbe has been writing online and for print since 2004. Her work has appeared in the online journals Reflection's Edge and Cabinet des Fées as well as in Harvard Book Store's anthology, "Michrochondria." She is pursuing a Master of Arts in publishing and writing at Emerson College.