Tag Archives: date night

Thai Peanut Veggies with Pasta

Pressed for time and tired of take-out?  Want somethin’ yummy using stuff you already have on hand?  Love the hot nutty wonderfulness of a Thai peanut sauce?  Look no further, my vegan friends; dinner will be chopstick-ready in no time.  (And for you non-vegans, stir in some rotisserie chicken if you like, but I’m thinking you ought to try it as written here–you won’t miss the meat!)


This is another fabulous recipe from The Fat Free Vegan.  If you’re vegan and not following her blog or Facebook yet, go do that now!  (I’ll wait here until you get back.)  I’ve altered the recipe slightly, dropping the oil, adjusting to veggies I had on hand, and adding peanuts and cilantro for toppings/garnish.


  • 8 oz pasta, prepared according to the package (I used udon noodles)
  • 4-5 cups mixed, chopped veggies (I have red onion, broccoli, two kinds of cauliflower, zucchini, and carrots here)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder or 1 tsp fresh grated
  • 2-3 TBSP natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky  (I used chunky)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8- 1/4 tsp cayenne  (I used 1/4 tsp–we love spicy!)
  • 2-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Start heating water for your pasta and chop veggies into similar sizes.  Drop the pasta into the boiling water and saute veggies in a large pan, using veggie broth to keep them from sticking.

saute veggies

As the veggies and pasta cook, saute garlic and ginger in a bit of veggie broth for a minute or two–until aromatic.

saute garlic and ginger

Stir in peanut butter and cook until heated through and combined.  This will start sticking quickly; not to worry–the next step will release it from the bottom of the pan.

add peanut butter

Stir in water, soy sauce, vinegar and cayenne.  Mix until smooth–as smooth as you can get with chunky peanut butter, that is!  Add more water or more peanut butter to adjust the thickness to your liking.

add liquid and cayenne

Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

toss with pasta

Stir/toss in the veggies.

toss with veggies

Serve with sliced green onions, peanuts and cilantro.  How easy was that?!


Perfect for a busy weeknight, fabulous for company, special enough for date night.  Delicious and more spicy for lunch the next day!  Yummy!  We love to use chopsticks for Asian foods…do you?



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Filed under dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, recipe, Vegetarian

Baked Polenta with Mushroom Sauce

I know where the clearance areas are in every store I usually shop.  I love to find little bargains, sometimes things I need anyway, and sometime things I didn’t know I needed.  Last weekend I found a discounted package of prepared polenta, basil-garlic polenta–yum!  It’s been hanging out in the fridge, waiting for inspiration.  Inspiration struck from the memory of a dish I’d had at a local restaurant, a gnocchi with mushroom sauce.  Polenta could be the gnocchi, right?  Yes!  Earthy, rich, perfect balance of flavors.  Quick and easy enough for a weeknight, thanks to the prepared polenta.  I’ll be making this again….


Such a luxurious dish from such basic ingredients.  Serves two as an entree, 6-8 as an appetizer.


  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used creminis and shitakes)
  • salt and pepper (I used truffle salt–really ups the mushroomy yum factor if you can find some)
  • veggie broth for sauteing
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • a dollop of plain soy yogurt
  • a few grinds of dried porchini mushrooms, optional  (My wonderful sis-in-law found this porchini grinder on Amazon and sent it to me.  Adds a depth of flavor to the sauce, but still optional.)
  • 1 (18 oz) package of prepared polenta

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon baking mat, or spray with baking spray.

Cut polenta into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Lay on the prepared  baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

slice polenta and bake

Meanwhile, start some veggie broth heating in a large skillet.  Mince the garlic and add it to the pan.

saute garlic

Clean and slice the mushrooms.  Shitake caps can be stacked and sliced.  (Shitake stems are woody, discard them or save them to make mushroom broth later.)

clean and slice mushrooms

Add mushrooms to the pan when the garlic becomes aromatic.  Add salt, pepper and dried porchini, if using, to taste.  Saute until softened.

add mushrooms

Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring to pick up any yummies sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add parsley and simmer to reduce the wine by half.

add wine and parsley

Add milk and stir, bringing the sauce back up to a simmer.  Stir occasionally as the sauce reduces and thickens.  Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as needed.

add milk

Stir in a dollop of yogurt to finish the sauce.

add yogurt

Place polenta slices on plates and spoon the mushroom sauce over the top.  Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top and voila!  (A sprinkle of parmesan would be perfect!)


Simple, earthy, date-night-worthy.  Perhaps even Valentine’s-worthy.   It’s that kind of yummy and decadent. With as low-fat as this dish is, you’ll have plenty of calories to spend on a killer dessert–bonus!  Check out a few from Somethin’ Yummy!

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Filed under appetizer, comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, Holiday foods, recipe, Vegetarian

Crostini Three Ways

Crostini is one of the fastest, easiest, yummiest appetizers around.  Basically it’s toast with toppings.  The toppings can be sweet or savory or in between.  Think about flavors you like and put them on crunchy, toasted bread and you’ve got crostini!

Here are 3 ideas, ranging from sweet to savory.  Make all three or bunches of your favorite, serve with wine and you’ve got an appetizer for date night or a party!  Yum! 

I used a sesame semolina bread–any light crusty bread will be yummy!

For Strawberry Citrus:

  • sliced strawberries
  • cream cheese or mascarpone
  • goat cheese
  • lemon zest
  • a bit of sugar

Slice bread and toast it–in the oven or in a toaster.

Mix a half-and-half spread of cream cheese and goat cheese.

Spread slices with cheese mixture, top with sliced strawberries, lemon zest and a sprinkle of sugar.

For Pear Arugula:

  • thin pear wedges (I leave the peels on)
  • baby arugula leaves
  • goat cheese
  • balsamic vinegar

Slice and toast bread–in the oven or toaster.

Spread bread slices with goat cheese, top with 4 or 5 baby arugula leaves, then 3 thin pear wedges.  Sprinkle with balamic vinegar.

For Tomato Pesto:

  • roasted grape tomatoes
  • pesto
  • pine nuts

Roast tomatoes on a baking sheet with sides: place on sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast 10 minutes at 350F.

Slice and toast bread–in oven or toaster.

Spread bread slices with pesto, top with roasted tomatoes and pine nuts.

Three crostinis in no time at all!

Next time you have a few people over or just want to make a pretty and yummy start to a meal, make crostini!  I’d pair a citrusy-floral white wine with the strawberry citrus–Whitewater Hill’s Muscat Canelli would be fabulous.  For the pear arugula, a crisp, fruity white like Reeder Mesa’s Riesling would be lovely.  And for the Tomato Pesto, I’d serve an earthy pinot noir from Alfred Eames Cellars.

Crostini+wine=yummy!  It’s all about knowing the method–usually a spread with a starring flavor or two and a topping to bring it all together.  What flavor combos will you create? 

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Twice-baked Potatoes

If you bake a potato once it’s pretty yummy, right?  A pretty yummy (and common) side dish for a steak dinner.  So it stands to reason, if you bake it twice it will be amazing, and take your steak dinner to a whole new level–a Date Night worthy level! 

While your steak marinates, you can make this yummy side dish.  Gather up some baked potato-y ingredients:

 Ingredients for 2-4 servings:

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup-1/2 cup plain yogurt  (or sour cream if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chives snipped into small pieces for garnish and extra flavor!

You’ll also need a ziploc bag and a baking sheet.

Preheat your oven to broil.

Scrub and pierce potatoes with the tines of a fork to release steam as they bake.

Bake potatoes however you want.  I baked mine in the microwave–pushing the potato button twice.  🙂

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out the centers with a spoon, keeping the potato you scoop out in a bowl and leaving a 1/4 inch shell.  Place shells on a baking sheet.

Add butter, cheese, yogurt, salt and pepper to the potato centers in the bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Place whipped potato mixture into a ziploc bag.  Snip off one corner.  (You’ll be using this ziploc as a piping bag.)

Squeeze the potato mixture down into the corner, twist the excess bag around close to the potatoes and squeeze the potatoes into the shells, dividing the mixture evenly.  (Make fancy patterns if you want…or not!)

Place pan under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until as browned as you like.

Place on serving dish, garnish with chives and await the compliments!  “Wow!  You’re amazing!”  “These are so yummy!”  “How did you do this?!”

Jazz up the recipe next time with some garlic powder….or chopped rosemary….or a different cheese….  Once you have the method, you can become the twice-baked potato master!  Yummy!

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Marinated Steak Salad

Looking for a perfect date-night meal?  Here it is!  Super easy, impressive presentation, and mmmm-mmmmm yummy!  My friend Carol was searching my blog for something to do with a sirloin steak a few weeks back and found nothing!  I rarely eat red meat, so I had neglected recipes containing it.  Well.  Carol inspired me, I found some nice little sirloin steaks at the grocery last week and voila!  A meal that made DH say yum!

Only a few things are needed:

 Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 2 small sirloin steaks (about 8 oz each)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 2 handfuls baby arugula
  • parmesan cheese ribbons, cut using a vegetable peeler
  • dressing of your choice–a balsamic vinaigrette is perfect!
  • small handful chives, snipped into tiny pieces for garnish

You’ll also need a ziploc bag and a grill–indoor or out, grill pan or broiler.

Place an open ziploc bag in a bowl.  Add balsamic vinegar and dijon.  Whisk to combine.

Add steak, press out air and seal.  Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to overnight.  (The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavor and the more tender the meat.  Turn the bag over occasionally for even marination.  If you have a tender cut to begin with, no need for long marinating.)

Preheat your grill when you’re ready and place steaks.  Grill for 6-8 minutes per side for medium rare-medium doneness.  (If you’re grilling indoors, remember to turn your exaust fan on high!)

Remove from grill to a cutting board.  Tent with foil and let rest 3-5 minutes. 

Prepare a baby arugula salad by placing a handful of arugula on one side of a plate, adding as much chopped shallots as you like and make some big ribbons of parmesan using a vegetable peeler.

Slice the steak against the grain on a diagonal.  Use your knife to lift the steak onto the top of the arugula salad.  Top with salad dressing and chives.  Add a side dish, such as a twice-baked potato (recipe tomorrow!), and Voila!  It’s date night!

Ya gotta love it when something so pretty and so yummy is so easy!  I marinated for just 15 minutes–giving the steak just the slightest tang, but providing a coating that seared beautifully.  Yummy!

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Filed under dinner, recipe, salad