First date/First home cooked meal
I have invited a new romantic intrest and her daughters(9 & 11) to dinner at my home.
Initially I suggested that she and her daughters should pick the menu. This came up in conversation that we both love to cook. Now however, I'm thinkingmmaybe I should continue with my bold approach, and set the menu myself.
My quandary here is thus, while I desire some romantic aspects, I definitely want to prevent the daughters from feeling less than included. As a parent myself, if the kiddos don't cluck too, it's probably not going to work. I consider myself to be of above average in reference to my skills in the kitchen, and would like a meal that can show off a bit of that talent, without it looking luke I'm trying too hard.
The only culinary intel I have at the moment is; they like "everything", the really love Thai food and there are no food allergies to contend with. Now I have never cooked anything Thai, and honestly, have only eaten it maybe twice. And I wasn't particularly impressed. So I'm hesitant to go that route. I may only get one chance and I really want to impress all three of them.
I know I want to use my cookies (chocolate chip, or some variant, as my "ace in the hole", but that leaves an entire meal to plan.
Ladies (and gents) I could use some suggestions as, this is my first attempt at "woo-ing" with a home cooked meal.
I've dated single mothers and and I can tell you when a new man enters the lives of their kids....the women are not the ones to ask. Women want the kids to like the new guy and vice versa for the guy to like their kids.... in the beginning they want you to believe it's all easy ...but the kids will always still love their Dad.
Cooking something elaborate will not always be appreciated because the kids will think of it as weird. Once I made a four cheese Mac n' Cheese with toasted fresh bread crumbs atop the dish for similar aged kids you indicated. The younger kid ate it willfully and enjoyed it, but the older kid would not saying that's not the way they like it and wouldn't touch it.
I suggest you go the simpler along the comfort route with something like Roast Chicken with mashed potatoes...Or Spaghetti and Meatballs with some nice Italian or French Bread on the table..
Concentrate on a dessert they would like.
I've won the kids over more by allowing them to watch the TV shows they like and engaging them in conversation about their day...rather than the food I cooked for them I had ready when they came home.
Being a dad of four, I absolutely know that the kids need to know that they are included, not just tolerated. This is precisely why I have invited her to include them from the earliest possible time. I want them (mom and the daughters) to know that I understand they are a package deal. I won't let a new girlfriend take time from my kids and I will not ask her to do so either.
Since this entire date (read interview) is based on our shared passion for cooking, take out is definitely our of the question, and as I have offered to cook, it will be to my benefit to cook in my kitchen, where I know where everything is and I will be more at ease in my familiar space. Making it less stressful and more conducive to easy conversation.
Maybe pizzas, with homemade or storebought dough. I suggest that because it would allow the girls to participate, both in preparing the toppings and selecting combinations of their choosing. Pizza is a safe choice for almost all kids, and I think the most important thing you can do, in terms of making a favorable impression on their mother, is to demonstrate that you want to establish a comfortable relationship with her daughters. You can prepare sauce and cheese ahead of time, but the girls could slice mushrooms on a hard-boiled egg slicer, tear up greens and slice cukes and tomatoes for side salads, etc. They could help portion and bake the cookie dough, too. Or you could make that the interactive part of the meal. Make a basic oatmeal or brown sugar cookie dough, divide it into different bowls, and allow the kids to add various dried fruits, baking chips, and nuts. Stores like Trader Joe's have freeze-dried banana chips and berries that could also be used as add-ins. Use cupcake papers in a muffin tin to hold the add-in "buffet".
I agree with the idea previous to have an interactive aspect to the meal, and to serve a very casual comfort food (that your romantic interest could imagine having on a regular wednesday night)
A special touch like a serving them milk in a wineglass with dinner or having a sparkling apple cider in a champagne flute would be fun.
For the menu make what you know and consider a signature recipe and serve family style so the girls can try as much or as little as they want. But with awesome choco chip cookies you're already golden :)