It's finally February and spring is in the air, along with hints of romance and the fancy-free desire to court a loved one, or maybe even put yourself out there after a long dry spell. But as your mind wanders to intimate dates and arduous evenings, so does everyone else's, meaning restaurants will have wait lists a mile long. Who wants to waste date night queuing for a table, when you could be spending time with your sweetheart?
Never fear, we at Gourmet Cooking have everything you need to plan, prepare, and serve a sexy date night dinner for two. So skip the reservations, ignore the lines, and take romance into your own hands. We've pieced everything together, from appetizers to dessert, for you to delight your loved one.
To Start: Apple Butter and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
1/2 cup apple butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 pieces bacon
6 extra large shrimp or prawns, cleaned and deveined
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (if desired)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Add apple butter, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and smoked paprika in a skillet. Whisk together and until the mixture is thick and cooked down by half. Set aside.
In another skillet, add bacon slices and cook just until browned but still flexible. Remove from the pan and drain.
Wrap 1 bacon slice around each shrimp, secure with a toothpick and place onto prepared baking sheet. Once shrimp has been wrapped, baste the top with the apple butter mixture. Bake for 5 minutes, flip, baste, and back for another 5 minutes.
Main Dish: Pork in Port Wine Sauce
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Port
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup plum preserves, strained
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Bring shallots, Port, and sugar to boil in a saucepan; boil until the mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup. Add broth, return to a boil and reduce again to 1/4 cup. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the preserves, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook 2 minutes. Cover and keep warm. Combine the coriander, garlic powder, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and sprinkle over the pork.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high; add the chops in a single layer and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F.
Serve each pork chop with the sauce spooned over top.
Dessert: Red Velvet Milkshakes
1 cup vanilla Ice Cream
3 tablespoons Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup milk
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add more or less red velvet cake mix to liking (will alter color and flavor). Also try cake batter flavored ice cream for a more "cake-like" flavor!