Spice Up Dinner With Aphrodisiacs

Date Night: Spice Up Dinner with Aphrodisiacs

Last week I wrote a post titled 5 Tips for A Romantic Valentine’s Day at Home. 4 days later, for Valentine’s Day, I took my own advice and did the things I posted on that list.

I didn’t do a formal invitation, but I told Husband that we would be having dinner at 8 in our dining room, while simultaneously barring him from an entire portion of the house while I set up. Other than that, his only instructions were to dress up and to supply our evening play list. I took advantage of our empty dining room to create a canopy and lounge space after being inspired by a photo I saw on pinterest. I built it out of some sheers we had around the house and I was a little nervous at first, because I didn’t have a back up plan and I was a slightly afraid that with all my tinkering the chandelier would fall because of the additional weight -not from us hanging from it after dinner, but from the sheers.  I was wrong. It was great. Nothing broke. I brought out our fancy china, the chargers, the toasting flutes from our wedding, pillows from our bed, and arranged an assortment of candles to show that I meant business. The set up was great. Husband was very impressed. And now I have no idea how to top it for next Valentine’s. I really set myself up sometimes. *le sigh*

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My final tip was to serve something special. Now, I cook 5+ days a week. Sometimes twice a day. There really is no specific reason why any meal is more special than another. It’s n ormal around here. I really had to dig deep to try to do something nice and different this year as it was our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. I decided to use my InterCourses cookbook as an inspiration and use a menu entirely based on aphrodisiacs. I went through…page by page…and picked some items that I thought would make for a great dinner, choosing some of the actual recipes for some dishes and just taking cues on ingredients for others. Of course, it’s important to pick things your partner will actually eat. Our aphrodisiacs were ginger, strawberries, honey, rosemary, chocolate and champagne and there was at least one of these items in every dish. It does sound like, based on the abundance of inspiring ingredients, that our night would have been filled with some steamy hot coitus following dinner, but I honestly wasn’t expecting it to work. I just thought it would be fun to try. I was right, per usual.

For our entree, we had cornish hens with a strawberry balsamic sauce. I’ve never served cornish hens for Husband before, and he was surprised to see a “whole chicken” on his plate. They were so cute and delicious. It was worth it. I served our little chickens with a side of rosemary risotto and orange glazed carrots with ginger and honey. For dessert, we had chocolate croissants. As our drink for the evening, we had mango ginger bellinis.

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Our view from beneath the canopy.

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Dessert.

And it was ALL amazing and we weren’t super stuffed when it was all over -perfect for a post dinner work out. Was there some kind of irresistible urge to make love? Maybe, but I’m almost sure the entire bottle of champagne had to do with it.  I think that’s called being tipsy, which is probably why champagne made the list.

All in all, it was a very romantic experience aphrodisiacs or not. As an alternative to overwhelming yourself trying to get it all into one meal, I’d suggest trying a thing or two at every meal throughout the week just to see how you feel. When coupled with a proper ambiance, it’s sure to inspire some loving feelings, and if that fails, just drink more champagne!

AUM 2.14

Date Night: at Atlanta Underground Market

Husband and I finally made it to one of our favorite events. YAY! It’s been a long time since we were able to make it, but I’m so glad we found the time. We had The Nephew for the weekend, so we ended up taking him along. Although he was disappointed that it wasn’t literally underground (he’s only 9), he actually had a good time.

I discovered the Atlanta Underground Market back in 2011. I went to the first one with a few friends and it was definitely an experience. It was held at the Auburn Market and although it was “underground,” the crowd suggested otherwise. It was all together great though and since then, the crowds are more manageable and I’ve been a number of times. I took Husband early on in our relationship and despite him being generally picky, he likes it too.

AUM describes itself as “a venue for passionate Atlanta home cooks to showcase their talent and get valuable feedback from members. Through monthly members-only events, vendors are able to sell food that was often cooked and shared with family members. At the same time it’s a food adventure for attending members, who get to taste unique food creations.”

While AUM may be an opportunity for chefs and home chefs alike, for me, it’s been an adventure. ADVENTURE! That’s probably what interested us both in the event. You’re literally trying things that you’ve never tried before, because they may have never been done before. You even have to sign a waiver! *gasp* It remains one of my top events by being an inexpensive and fun night out where I can try new and adventurous cuisine, while satisfying my inner cool kid by attending an “underground” event.

Over the years, I’ve tried maple BACON brittle ice cream (delicious) from Morelli’s (another suite spot). I’ve tried ribs with chocolate barbecue sauce (amazing). Bakon vodka (not impressed). Arepas (for the first time). They were okay. Basil ice cream (surprisingly tasty). A chicken drumstick stuffed with pasta (who would have thought?)! At the most recent event, I had cucumber for the first time (by mistake). I avoid it, because I think it will taste like soap, probably due to my choice in body wash, but it was actually okay. The Nephew tried a s’more and risotto for the first time. Husband was actually going to give a (meaty) vegan dish a try, but they were taking too long to whip up a new batch, but he did have a deep fried banana foster and jerk chicken sliders. We all had cranberry ginger lemonade.

Ciao Bocca

By Ciao Bocca Catering: I tried the Nutella stuffed fried ravioli in the top right. Nutella is awesome.

Cupcakes

Kelly’s Kupcakes on the left and Iced on the right. I also won a free cupcake at Iced, but The Nephew contributed to ruined frosting. #nopic

We all tried the “pancake” from Kelly’s. It had a maple cream cheese frosting and candied bacon on top. YUM! They are 1 bite brownies and only $1 each. I tried the peach bourbon brownie from Iced. In my head, I said it tasted like Thanksgiving.

Empanadas

My first empanada. DELICIOUS!!!

Noodle Dish

This is how I ended up eating cucumber. But this was quite tasty.

Sweet Potato Dish

Cocoa Montage by Urban Foodie Cafe

This last dish by Urban Foodie Cafe was great. It was like a smoked, winter, cheeseless, sweet potato version of the mashed potato bowls I make for us at home. Tea brined, smoked chicken. Cocoa Sweet Potatoes. Maple. Bourbon. Bacon. And a good sized portion too. All for $5.

I personally recommend this to everyone who’s looking for something fun to do in Atlanta. Here’s how it works. You have to sign the waiver to get on the mailing list. About 2-3 weeks before, AUM will email you the date for the next event. About a week out, they will start posting menu teasers on their Facebook page. You’ll also get a reminder email. The night before, you finally get to find out the secret location. When you show up, it’s $5 to get in and all the food is priced between $1-5. It’s a great dinner alternative. I got really full this time for only $20, got to try food from all different parts of the world, and I brought a cupcake home in my purse. #SUITE

The next date for AUM is Saturday, March 8. Be sure to check it out.

Kids Breakfast 2014

5 Ideas for a Kid Friendly Valentine’s Breakfast

On Monday I shared some tips on how to plan a romantic Valentine’s dinner for two. Today, I thought it would be a good idea to share something a little more kid friendly. How about a fun breakfast?

We don’t have kids yet, and to be honest, Mommy and I never did this kind of thing when I was a kid. However, as an adult we did do some fun things from time to time. One of them included having ice cream for breakfast. Do I think that’s a good idea? Absolutely! If it’s a special occasion. Does Valentine’s Day count? Yep…with sprinkles. However, if you want to do something more reasonable here are a few things that I found that were SUPER cute.

1) This heart shaped variation of “egg in the hole” is adorable. And can be done very easily. Check out One Charming Party for the full instructions.

love nest

2) On one of our frequent trips to Ikea, I was excited to find out that they sell milk jugs. They actually call it a vase, but I know better. I actually had a project in mind, but the small ones would be perfect for serving up strawberry milk. A few simple decorations will make it extra special. No cooking required.

Strawberry Milk

3) It is my firm belief that you cannot go wrong with fresh fruit. Just use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut it into “love”ly shapes and put it on a skewer, or in this case a popsicle stick. The heart shaped plate is nice, but definitely not a requirement. Serve with a side of yogurt for dipping. Add sprinkles, because it’s a special occasion.

Fruit Kabob

These next two are my favorites and if I wasn’t doing dinner, I’d give this a try for a breakfast in bed.

4) It seems like everything is getting the red velvet treatment…ice cream, chicken, and brownies…and I think we’re all okay with this. So when I saw these yummy red heart shaped pancakes by WhipperBerry, I thought they would be perfect for this list. She even includes a recipe for buttermilk syrup. Not sure what that would taste like, but I’m curious. You could also try them with a cream cheese glaze to keep it more traditional.

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5) The Paper Mama shares her budget friendly Valentine’s go to item…Heart shaped bacon!! It’s like love shaped, love flavored love. To kick it up a notch, as if that’s really necessary, she suggests dipping it in chocolate. I’d suggest candied bacon. Either way, it’s still bacon and that’s more than enough.

hearty bacon

If this seems like too much, you could always do the ice cream thing. Your kids will love you for it. Check out my pinterest board for more lovey dove-y Valentine’s edibles and creative ways to show you care.

5 Tips for a Romantic Valentine's Day at Home

5 Tips for A Romantic Valentine’s Day at Home

We’ve never been a big Valentine’s Day couple. I don’t care for the crowds and since there was a time when we didn’t live in the same house, we celebrated on the Tuesday nearest February 14th, because that was the night he usually came to visit. I’d cook a fancy dinner and we would eat by candlelight in the dining room. We talked about our plans this morning and decided to stick to the tradition. I think Husband really likes it and it’s always fun for me. If you’re anything like us and would prefer a more intimate affair at home, here are a few tips to make it more special.

1) Send an invitation. I came across this super saucy one on pinterest that promised a chance to get laid if the instructions were properly followed. That sounds like a win.

Invitation

The purpose is to get your Valentine excited about what’s to come. You don’t have to give specifics if you want to keep it a surprise, but at least tell them what time to arrive and how to dress. Which brings me to number 2…

2) Dress up. Just because you’re eating at home doesn’t mean you don’t have to look nice. It’s actually the perfect time to get all dolled up and possibly wear those shoes you love, but never wear because you have to do a lot of walking. Guess what? You’re not going anywhere…PUT THEM ON! And keep in mind, what you wear under your outfit is just as important as the outfit itself.

3) Dine somewhere special. We rarely ever eat in our dining room, so we always have our Valentine’s Dinner in there. It’s different than the norm. If you normally eat in the dining room, create a picnic in front of the fireplace. I was even inspired by this cute streamer canopy filled with pillows. Then you can dine on the floor, and stay there for “dessert.”

Romantic Fort

I wish it came with a tutorial. I’d do this.

Use your wedding china. Drink out of the crystal. Use a tablecloth, place mats, and linen napkins. If there’s anything that you consider too fancy to do on a regular night, do it for Valentine’s day.

4) Set the mood. Turn off the lights. And light a candle. Actually, light lots of candles. Nothing says “I’m serious about this romance business,” like a room full of candles. Furthermore, I’ve heard that everyone looks better in candlelight. If you needed a reason, this is the best one. Also, make a playlist of romantic music to play during dinner. It’ll get everybody in the appropriate mood.

5) Serve something special. I usually let Husband pick, but last year, I got so full I could barely leave the table. I don’t remember what we had, but this year, I’m choosing lighter fare and trying some recipes from my InterCourses cookbook that Boo gave me at my bridal shower. Inside are recipes inspired by foods that have been long thought to be aphrodisiacs, along with sensuous reviews by couples who have tried the recipes, and photos of models tastefully and modestly covered in food. I haven’t tried anything yet, but I’ve prepared my menu and included one of the suggested items in each dish. The list includes things like strawberries, figs, honey, coffee, chocolate, ginger, and edible flowers. There are even a few sample recipes on their website. Even if it doesn’t get the fire burning, it would be fun to try. The most important thing is to keep it simple and do something out of the ordinary. Try to keep it sexy. For example, last year, we did a chocolate fondue. It really only takes a few minutes to make and it was really good. You could dip all kinds of fruit and desserts (and even bacon!) and if there’s anything left over, dip your finger in it and feed it to your partner.

The basic rules are to have fun and do something different. The food is just a bonus. If push comes to shove, keep items 1-4 and serve some take out on your finest china! That’s definitely allowed.