By Abby Humphreys
As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, bundling up to go out on dinner dates may not seem as appealing as simply staying indoors with bowls of ramen. However, cooking delicious food at home to impress your date only takes a quick trip to the store and a few minutes of preparation. Whether it’s your first date or fiftieth, creating meals together always makes for a memorable bonding experience.
1. Baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic
This recipe involves only basic ingredients that can be found for cheap at any grocery store. It also only requires a single cast iron skillet, so after-dinner cleanup is kept to a minimum.
2. Fish en papillote
“En papillote” in French means “in parchment.” Instead of struggling with searing or frying fish, wrapping a few fillets and some vegetables in parchment paper and baking the bundle for a short amount of time creates an easy and light meal. There are numerous fish and vegetable combinations to try, but these versatile recipes from Food Network and Epicurious provide two different flavor profiles to the same basic meal preparation.
3. Tortellini Soup
This soup uses ingredients that are easy to find during the winter months, but any vegetables you enjoy or have on hand could be thrown in. Chunks of sweet potato or even frozen vegetables like corn could bring even more flavor to this simple dish.
4. Meatballs, Kale, and Mozzarella Pasta Bake
This comfort food combo is great for a chilly night and requires only minimal effort to make. Kale leaves become sweeter after the first frost, so October through December is the perfect time to include this leafy vegetable in meals.
5. Crispy Breaded Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce
This recipe takes slightly more preparation than most due to its delicious sauce, but will make a great impression on your date. Pork chops pair well with mashed potatoes and green in-season vegetables like kale and broccoli.
6. Mug Cakes
A romantic meal wouldn’t be complete without dessert, and nothing is more comforting on a cold night than cuddling up on the couch with mug cakes and Netflix. There are hundreds of variations of the easy dessert online, but popular recipes with common ingredients can be found here and here.