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Food to romance by

I'm looking for some of your go-to recipes that you make for the 'special person' in your life. My boyfriend and I are looking to reduce the amount of money/calories we spend in restaurants and enjoy cooking together.

The only other time we've eaten together at one of our houses, we made a pantry baked pasta with chicken, veggies, and fontina. It was pretty good, but a little heavy. It did use up a lot of things I needed to get rid of, though!

Requirements?
Something versatile. Something that can please me (basically a vegetarian) and him (he likes all meat). Also, it's be GREAT if the leftovers were good, too! I'm trying to convert him into a leftover-at-lunch-the-next day person :)

Sides/salads/sandwiches/pastas/soups...I'm open to anything.

I have never really spend a lot of time cooking for someone else and I don't want to force him to eat tofu and veggie burgers on the times we do eat together at home.

So tell me - what do you cook to romance your SO?

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  1. I lost a lot of weight by just eating more at home! It's just as easy to scoop some hummus into a pita with cucumbers or tomatoes as it is to buy a salad or sandwich from a deli. So good for you for trying to take control.

    Think SPICY to keep the "home fires" burning! I love to make a big pot of lentils with lots of Indian seasonings (onions, tomatoes, vindaloo spice mix, garlic, ginger). The whole house smells yummy, which is romantic, right? And lentils cook rather quickly compared to other beans. Also, stir fry dishes with fresh vegetables and hot peppers are easy and versatile. Depending on your mood, you can use more japanese ingredients, or Thai ingredients. We often do "Mexican" stir fry - lots of vegetables with jalapenos, cumin, thyme and chili powder. Don't tell anyone, but if things are really crazy I grab prepared vegetables off of the supermarket salad bar....peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery...if your store keeps a good salad bar the vegetables are fresh and convenient.

    I bought small eggplants at a farmer's market last weekend. On a greased sheet of foil I layered thinly sliced eggplant (salt, pepper, oregano, basil) with sliced tomatoes (salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil). The last layer on the top should be tomato, as the juice from the tomatoes keeps the eggplant from drying out. Seal up the foil to make a neat package, and either cook on the grill or just bake. Sprinkle freshly grated parmesean on the top after the eggplant has cooked. This is delicious in the summer when tomatoes are gorgeous.

    Gazpacho is really nice, too. The bonus is that no heat is required! Just use your blender or immersion blender to buzz up tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, some olive oil, a bit of sherry or white wine vinegar, lots of garlic, salt, basil or cilantro...adjust to your taste.

    I also make a super easy melon soup. I like honeydew, SO prefers cantaloupe - blend cut up fruit, about 1/4 cup lime juice, chicken stock (I imagine you could just use some water if you want it vegetarian) and a smidge of red onion. You might need salt or sugar depending on the characteristics of your melon. Chill for at least an hour before servicing. Add chopped cilantro just before serving. The color is lovely and the fresh flavor is great in the summer.

    Really, the process of cooking together, sharing the chopping and washing, is romantic regardless of what you're cooking. Open a nice wine and even throwing a salad together can be a lot of fun.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dcandohio

      all of that is great - I make AWESOME gazpacho, so maybe I'll make some on Friday and bring it with me to his place. I forgot about that!

      I DID forget to mention - SO has a sensitive stomach so a lot of beans and some veggies are out. However, he seems flexible and just eats around the stuff he should stay away from.

      PS: I do the "stir fry" thing myself, at home! Every ethnicity, just vary the spices!

      1. re: Jeserf

        You may want to purchase this cookbook:

        http://www.amazon.com/Greens-Cookbook...

        I went to this restaurant in San Francisco some years ago and left with the cookbook. It's vegetarian, but so delicious that even a carnivore could fall in love. You could even add shrimp or chicken for him.

        1. re: Jeserf

          Wow. You are vegetarian and SO can't eat too many beans and some vegetables...you have quite a challenge. What about twice baked potatoes? You can use some reduced fat cheese, and cooked, left-over vegetables.

          Do you ever use spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute? It's messy, but so healthy.

          I like polenta, too (SO does not, sigh). I make a pan of it with lots of red pepper and garlic, let it cool, and then cut into squares which I either lightly saute or broil to crisp. You can top with any pasta sauce, cheese and/or vegetables.

          Try stuffing a largish zucchini or squash shell by sauteeing the chopped up squash flesh, onions, garlic, celery, peppers...add left-over rice and some good grated parmesean or romano. Bake and then top with a little pasta sauce. Or you can stuff tomatoes with this...or bell peppers.

          And remember, anything eaten by candlelight, even sandwiches, is more romantic. We light candles at almost every dinner. Plus, candle light is flattering!

          1. re: dcandohio

            I like spaghetti squash, but isn't it out of season?

            When I eat pasta, I use Barilla Plus, so it's somewhat "better"!

            I think for right now I'm just going to cook and worry about the nutritional stuff once I get used to his eating habits. He currently eats a lot of junk (well, what I consider junk), and while I don't want to change him, I'd like to know he's getting nutrients!

            he eats salad. so that's a start!
            Maybe the beans stuff is because he THINKS it will be bad for his insides!

      2. Great thread! My BF and I love to cook together as well and we've really enjoyed time in the kitchen and at the grill together. Leftovers for lunch have become a delicious standard.

        We both eat everything so our romance fave tend to lean toward beef and lobsters. But there are some stand-by meals that we both really enjoy making together. Soups, salads with roasted beats,mushrooms, etc. Goat cheese is a wonderful thing to have around since it's so good with everything. Pasta can be really fun to learn to make together. I find ravioli is especially easy and it's really versatile.

        I agree that going with spicy options can add a great variety heat to your relationship. ;) (Hopefully your SO doesn't have a tough time with spicy stuff). Spicy Thai soups, curry, and stir fry are really good. Think mango or pineapple stir-fry with veggies that he enjoys and sneak in extra-firm tofu. My BF has learned to LOVE tofu and it's been a huge help.

        Think soups! Fall is coming and what's better than soup/stew and hunk of crusty bread? I make a fantastic hot and sour soup that I got from Living many years ago. It's amazing. A very special recipe if you can find it.

        On the bean and vegetable issue - Beano actually does work wonders. Also, using dried beans rather than canned can help the stomach upset problems. I have had issues with yeast, gluten, wheat,etc. for many years. Andrew Weil's books and web site might help you think of new things to try. His first cookbook is well worn in my house.

        I tend to read a lot of blogs and come up with a couple new things to try every week. It keeps it fun and interesting and often we wound up finding something we love. The other nice thing about many food blogs is that there are so many options for veggies, gluten-free, low-sugar, low-acid, etc. And the food-porn photos really inspire me to get in the kitchen. My BF has started snapping pics of our better kitchen creations. ;) A couple I'd recommend are smittenkitchen, foodbeam, steamykitchen, lastnightskitchen.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kittychow

          post the recipes for the soups!
          I LOVE soup of all kinds, so even if he doesnt, screw that!

          I know he'd be ok with goat cheese...and actually, trader joes sells a fantastic low fat goat cheese that I use instead of regular and no one ever notices.

          I love tofu - but I also don't mind making meat for him. i'm easy like that.

          thanks for all the helpful input!

          1. re: Jeserf

            Don't know how familiar you are with the Bon Appetit/Epicurious site. The recipe search is pretty fantastic and you can keep a handy recipe box if you create an account (free). Here's some soups that I've made several times that have become solid favorites. Some notes: Soups that only do 4 servings I typically double so I have tons of left-overs. I have often substituted veggie broth but some might not be ideal. And with soups I usually have rustic bread and/or a simple green salad with shaved parm (two fridge staples at my house).

            White bean, arugula, potato soup
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            Chinese egg drop
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            Spicy shrimp, shitake, coconut noodle
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            The hot & sour is out of the Living magazing. I'll try to find time to transcribe in the next couple days.

            1. re: kittychow

              Yep, I'll add that the recipe for tuna with ginger shitake cream sauce from this website is pretty fantastic! Of course, to make it healthier and cheaper, I just use button mushrooms, cut back on the butter (maybe 1 TB), cut back on the soy sauce (and use low-sodium) and sprinkle flour over the veggies sauteed in the butter so that I can add skim milk in lieu of cream and get the same sauce thickness.

              The original recipe is REALLY good, but I definitely don't feel deprived making the lightened.version. If you don't eat fish (or it's pricey), you could spoon this over a broiled portabella mushroom cap. It's also very good over chicken.

        2. Fondue made w/ low-fat ingredients can be very sensual

          Omelettes are a good partnership... one of you guys can man the pan that cooks the veggies/insides, one can man the eggs, then put em together... together. Leave out yolks for more healthy lower cal.

          Personally I love blackened fish/tofu served with grilled veggies coated in garlic salt or seasonings.

          I'd look into shirataki noodles as a sub for pasta... as long as you rinse em first, they're great for stirfries. I also love kelp noodles for cold salads.

          Using the shiratakis, you can make non-fried chilled spring rolls, and each fill your own with desired ingredients.

          Similarly, use wonton skins to make and boil your own raviolis, then share a common sauce... My recent inspiration for summer has been to chop tomatoes and saute in a little olive oil with garlic and sundried tomatoes, adding seasoned rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, and fresh basil at the last minute. Toss with ravioli and shredded parmesan.

          I do love spaghetti squash, as suggested by another. I do a braised fish dish with a pumpkin sauce over spaghetti squash.

          My favorite quick dish is miso broth, simmered with crushed garlic, greens (kale, collards, mustard, bok choy), mushrooms (shiitake, portabello, oyster, cremini), then once those are cooked, drizzle in egg whites beaten with seasoning (a la egg drop soup), or add cubes of tofu, or shredded roasted chicken.

          Breakfast burritos w/ whole wheat tortillas, eggs (whites), sausage (vegetarian if desired), stirfried onions and peppers, cheese, salsa, etc.

          Enchiladas, some with tofu, some with meat, or some with low-fat cheese.

          Broccoli or spinach souffle... blend well cooked veggies, lipton's onion soup mix, non-fat ricotta, non-fat sour cream, egg white, salt and pepper.. bake. Good and simple.

          Miso-glazed eggplant

          Ratatouille

          Baba Ghanoush w/ Chicken or Tofu Schwarma or Grilled skewers

          Crustless quiche w/ reduced yolks

          Strata subbing either Milton's bread or veggies (sliced eggplant or zucchini) for the bread

          Steel cut oat pancakes for dinner (oats mixed with whites, cinnamon, vanilla, sweetener) cooked in non-stick skillet; serve w/ a little jam or reduced sugar syrup.

          1 Reply
          1. One thing that my DH and I did while dating and still do now is pick a food that we want to find the "best ever" version of, and make it often until we end up with a recipe that we both love and have created together. It's been a lot of fun, with both of us throwing in ideas and taste testing together, and we now have our "own" special dishes, such as lasagna, guacamole, pecan pie, etc. Since you're looking for the "best ever" there's always room for improvement and if a dish doesn't turn out quite right you can still have fun brainstorming about what to do differently next time.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ExercisetoEat

              We do this seasonally and it is really a lot of fun. Granted, sometimes the food is overload, but it feels nice at the end of the day to know you made the recipe together.

              I have a friend who is a vegetarian and her husband is a meat and potatoes guy. I had them over for dinner one night and made this - it is really a weekend meal, but yields a lot of leftovers so you guys can eat it during the week. Just a note, I always forget the pasta water that it calls for and I don't see why the dish needs it -

              http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

              I make the meatballs to eat with this dish (see below the recipes) to make the meat eaters happy.

            2. I have a similar - but more complicated - request. Eight months into the relationship, we've never actually shared a meal: we get takeout, or cook separate things, to get around the fact that we don't eat the same type of food. But now I want to cook for him.

              The complications: I'm vegetarian, he's not. BUT he's really picky. On the list of banned ingredients and dishes, so far: cheese, mayo, mushrooms, omelets (eggs are fine any other way), tofu, avocado, gaspacho, spicy foods, anything too "ethnic" or "yuppie". He's OK with Chinese food as long as it isn't too weird, but tends to gravitate towards fast-food.

              HELP! I don't want to keep eating separately forever.

              4 Replies
              1. re: piccola

                HAHA shortly after this thread, I dumped said boyfriend. It was rather funny to re-read what I wrote. That guy had no taste in food.

                Breaking up with him was by far the best decision of my life.

                ANYWAY....there are TONS of good burger recipes from Rachel Ray. Mock her if you will, but she has good burger recipes.

                He doesn't eat cheese?

                Dump him.

                1. re: Jeserf

                  Unfortunately, I actually care for the cheese-hating lout. And to be fair, he'll eat melted mozzarella on pizza - but that's it.

                  The burger solution doesn't work for me, since I'm veg. Unless I did a bean burger... What's the consensus on those? Do non-vegs like them?

                  1. re: piccola

                    You could do a hearty vegetarian chili, and give it a meatier texture/taste using TVP.

                    you could try feeding him tempeh breaded "nuggets."

                    grilled eggplant (and/or other veg) paninis

                    does he do tacos (is mexican "too ethnic?") - or burritos filling his with meat and yours with veggies alone - or given him chicken, beans, rice, no cheese - i know no omelets but would he do a breakfast burrito with eggs inside and maybe soy chorizo?

                    burritos filled with sweet potatoes, black beans, chiles, cumin, coriander, garlic

                    breakfast for dinner - waffles or pancakes, just for fun :) or blintzes

                    1. re: Emme

                      He loves chili, so that's a great idea! Ditto burritos, etc - I'm pretty sure Mexican is fine as long as there's no cheese (which can easily go on the side).

                      Breakfast for dinner, we've actually done - it's probably the only thing we agree on, foodwise. :)