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Need a fabulous, but not trying-too-hard menu for a date

So - I'm newly single, and taking baby steps with a new person - impulsively invited the person over for a home-cooked meal. I know how to do elaborate, pull-out-all-the-stops, but what's a good casual, but creative meal? I need this meal to subliminally say, you're a lot of fun, but I'm not looking for a new spouse. I DO NOT want a "seduction" menu. Guidance would be much appreciated . . . I was playing with the idea of mussels steamed in beer or homemade pizza?
** Also, it would be awesome if it's budget friendly

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  1. I think a home made pizza would be great. It's nice and casual, and gives you some room to show your creative side.

    1. My first thought was an amazing pasta dish - a sauce that you can make ahead, so that all you have to do is boil the water, cook the pasta and toss with the sauce, and then a simple but very good salad - my favorite is arugula, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, salt & pepper and shaved parmesan.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        Too funny, MMR. I was just about to suggest "your" salad :) I would do Hazan's carbonara - here's the recipe:

        http://www.fooddownunder.com/cgi-bin/...

        I have cooked the oil, bacon, wine part hours ahead and then reheated. Grated the cheese likewise and the parsley. It comes together super fast. I also have a panini grill on which I put sliced sourdough bread that's brushed with garlic infused olive oil.

      2. I'd go with a comfort food, like a nice organic roasted chicken with roasted potatoes.

        9 Replies
        1. re: chuckl

          I was also going to suggest roast chicken. Are you a man or a woman?

          1. re: Laurie914

            I, too, was thinking roast chicken. Everyone loves it, and you'll have leftovers.

            1. re: Laurie914

              I'm a woman. Roast chicken sounds like a good bet. . . just really simple? Or should I throw in a fancy sauce?

              1. re: ziggy5

                Make a gravy from the pan drippings. Include something to absorb the gravy and a green vegetable. It knocks my husband off his feet every time I make it. Classic "American" meal if you include apple pie a la mode.

                This food isn't too heavy or bad breath inducing, both of which are date killers.

                1. re: TampaAurora

                  i can't help but think of all those tales about "engagement chicken"...and rumor has it that some women have also topped off the meal with apple pie as the clincher...so since ziggy5 isn't looking to seduce this guy [yet], perhaps she should hold off on this one! ;)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    My thoughts exactly! Roast chicken just screams domesticity and coupledom to me!(though when I wanted to seduce hubby the dish of choice was cioppino. worked like a charm... :-))

                2. re: ziggy5

                  You could do the Zuni chicken with the bread salad. They're delicious, and take some effort but seem like something very simple.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Is this recipe available on the internet? Or just in the cookbook?

            2. With the recent thread, how about pasta carbonara? Come together quickly, delicious, classic.

              1. What about MMRs salad and a I love your idea of a big bowl of steamed mussels. I love moules marineres ( white wine, garlic, shallots, parsley and butter). mussels are usually very cheap, and cook fast and with a nice pieces of bread to sop up the juices. I think it is a fun dish to share with a friend.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cassoulady

                  She'd need to know if he likes mussels or not. I eat them but prefer other things. That wouldn't be an impressive meal for me :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    maybe roast chicken, that is yummy and nice but not over the top.