Sexy Stay At Home Date Dinner

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!



Belgian Waffles

Belgian Waffles

Authentic Belgian Waffle Recipe

To prepare authentic Belgian waffle recipe at home, blend together the butter, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, rum and whiskey in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

Slowly add flour one cup at a time until all the flour is incorporated.

Refrigerate waffle dough for 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat the waffle iron.

Place about 1 tablespoon of waffle dough in the center of each section of the waffle iron.

Cook waffles according to manufacturer's instructions or until cooked through and golden brown, approximately 1 to 3 minutes.

Repeat process until all the dough is gone.

Transfer immediately to a wire rack.

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar if desired, once authentic Belgian waffles are cool.

Belgian waffle recipe - some Tips

If you prefer non-alcoholic cookies, you may substitute water.

Yield will depend on type of waffle iron used.

Can be frozen in air tight containers.


Chia Pancakes with Kumquats and Persimmon

Chia Pancakes with Kumquats and Persimmon

To prepare chia pancakes first soak the chia seeds in the milk for 20 minutes.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

Stir in the mashed bananas, milk and lemon juice to form a smooth, thick dough. Add a little more milk if necessary.

Heat the butter in a pan. Add a portion of the dough, enough to form a small pancake, and fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Serve the chia pancakes with the fruit.


Classic Mojito

Classic Mojito

To prepare a classic mojito recipe first put the sliced lime, sugar and mint leaves in the glass and crush with a pestle.

Add the rum and ice cubes.

Top up with mineral water and stir briefly.

Serve the classic mojito garnished with mint.


Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

To prepare lemon poppy seed scones first position oven rack in the top third of oven.

Preheat oven to 190ºC.

Grease and lightly flour a baking sheet.

Mix flour, baking powder, 1 cup sugar, poppy seeds, lemon peel and salt into the bowl of a food processor.

Add butter and cut in by pulsing on and off, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg and lemon juice until blended.

Add to the flour mixture and pulse until moist clumps form.

Add milk and pulse until dough just comes together, adding more milk 1 teaspoon at a time if dough seems dry.

Using clean floured hands, gather dough into a ball.

Knead lightly until smooth and roll out to a 8/10 cm thickness.

Cut out rounds using a 5 cm cookie cutter.

Re-roll the scraps and cut out more rounds.

Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake until scones are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes.

Cool the lemon poppy seed scones on a wire rack and serve.