Category Archives: Date Night at Home

Cocktails / Dairy-Free / Date Night at Home / Drinks / Favorite Things / Gluten-Free / Happy Hour / Vegan / Vegetarian

Monk's Garden Copycat Cocktail

January 29, 2014

I have a ridiculously delicious, pink (!) cocktail for you today.  And don’t worry, this isn’t one of those grossly sweet, girly pink cocktails — it’s a well-balanced, citrusy-bitter type of cocktail.

I mean, KC was even singing the praises of this cocktail, so don’t rule it out just because you’re manly.

This cocktail came A. from my quest to use a pomelo which had shown up in our most recent CSA box, and B. from my desire to recreate the cocktail I’m obsessed with at one of my favorite eateries — Boot and Shoe Service.  The cocktail is called the Monk’s Garden (I have no idea why), and it’s bright, refreshing, a tad bitter, and, of course, pink (hello).  The traditional cocktail uses grapefruit and yellow chartreuse, but I didn’t have either of those (and yellow chartreuse is sort of absurdly expensive), so this copycat was born.

And y’know what?  It tasted spot-on to me.  Dead ringer for one of my favorite $10 beverages.

So next time you’re having a date night at home, or a fancy girls-night-in, whip up a couple of these (maybe even top it off with champagne..? OMG WHAT.)

Monks Garden Copycat Cocktail

Monk’s Garden Copycat Cocktail

makes 2 cocktails (feel free to cut in half to make just one — but why would you want to?)



  • 3 oz gin*
  • 1.5 oz St. Germaine
  • 3 oz fresh-squeezed pomelo** or grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 – 2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice (depending on how tart/bitter you want your cocktail)
  • scant 1/2 oz simple syrup*** (optional — you won’t need this if your grapefruit is really ripe)
  • 7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • ice
  1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 60 seconds.
  2. Strain into two chilled cocktail glasses and enjoy!


*Gin: I used Hendricks Gin in these.  I wouldn’t recommend Tanqueray for this cocktail (too piney for these, I think).

**If you use pomelo rather than grapefruit, you may need to add a little more simple syrup to balance out the bitterness.

***For the simple syrup, I prefer to start without it and then add a little if I feel like it needs it (remember: you can always add, but you can’t subtract!)

Date Night at Home / Dinner / Meals for Two / Savory

Pesto Chicken Pizza

October 15, 2013

pesto pizzaYou guys, this pizza is so good.  You should probably make it immediately.

Pesto Chicken Pizza

  • 1 lb pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)
  • pesto (I used TJs)
  • mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • optional: red bell pepper, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 475°
  2. Stretch our pizza dough, and place onto a greased baking sheet.  Cover dough liberally with pesto, then bake for 8-12 minutes, until crust is just beginning to brown.
  3. Cover dough with mozzarella, then top with chicken, red onion, sun dried tomatoes, and bell pepper (if using).  Bake another 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is crispy and golden brown.

Then, obviously, eat the entire thing and wonder why you don’t make this for dinner every night.

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / Date Night at Home / Dessert / Favorite Things / Gluten-Free / Sweet / Vegetarian

Date Night at Home Ideas: Dessert

March 26, 2013

Since you’ll be making dinner for date night, and maybe even cocktails, the simpler the dessert is, the better.  For date nights, I like to have something store-bought or easily assembled for dessert (since, by the time dinner is over, I’m generally not ready and raring to be measuring out cups of flour in the kitchen.  Or sober.  Y’know.)

Part 3: Dessert

It tastes even better when you’re not the one who made it.


One of my most favorite things to order for dessert when we’re out is an affogato — which is vanilla ice cream covered in espresso.  It’s basically like having your dessert and after-dinner coffee all in one.  Also, because it’s a whopping two ingredients, it would be easy to make at home.  Use either an espresso machine (here‘s the one I have) or a stove top espresso maker (I have one similar to this) to brew espresso, then pour over a scoop of good vanilla ice cream (I love Three Twins).

date night 3I love French macarons, but I highly doubt I’d ever have the patience to make them.  (Much less make an assortment of them.)  I would love for my husband to come home with a bright assortment of these cookies for a date night to have for dessert — they’re almost prettier than flowers, don’t you think?  Miette and La Boulange make good ones.

Sorry, there aren’t too many ideas for dessert on here — but I’m sure you can come up with some good ideas of what to tell your love to pick up on his way home for date night.  These are just two of my favorite things.  (Hint hint, Kace!) 🙂

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / Date Night at Home / Dinner / Happy Hour / Savory / Snack / weekend

Date Night at Home Ideas: Dinner, continued

March 25, 2013

I have to admit that one of the things I love about going out to dinner is all the courses you can order.  Generally, I’ll have an ordering strategy before we even make it to the table at a restaurant — one that enables me to try a lot of the dishes on the menu.  (Luckily, KC is generally very amenable to letting me choose what we order.  He’s a keeper, that one.)  Obviously, when you’re having a date night at home, having to prepare all those courses would take up a lot of your precious time that you’d much rather spend gazing at your sweetie.  Or downing another cocktail.

One of the ways to get around the time in the kitchen/I want to eat more than one thing dilemma, is to create an appetizer spread for your date night.  Appetizers are fabulous, because they’re not too big (allowing you to eat a lot of different things without ending up feeling like you’ve swallowed some kind of large sea mammal), and generally don’t require too much prep time.

Here’s a spread I put together for KC’s birthday last year:

appetizer spreadIt may look impressive and time-consuming, but it’s really just three main things.

1. Cheese Board

I always start off with a cheese board, because a. I love cheese, and b. it requires zero cooking.  My general rules for a cheese board are to display 3-4 cheeses + toppings + pickled item(s) + bread/crackers.

Cheese: I like to have at least one soft/creamy cheese (goat or brie, generally), one hard cheese (like an aged gouda or cheddar), one semi-hard cheese (like a comte or emmentaler), and/or one semi-soft cheese (like havarti or jarlsberg).

Toppings: I’ll generally do at least one type of meat (turkey, salami, and prosciutto are my go-to’s), tomatoes, and condiments (I love honey with goat cheese, grainy mustard adds a nice kick to semi-hard cheeses, jam is wonderful with certain types of brie, and TJ’s just started selling quince paste — I couldn’t pass that up!).  Other things like sliced fruit, nuts, and roasted peppers are also nice additions.

Pickled Items: There’s something about pickled things that I automatically associate with a cheese spread.  Also, things that are pickled last forever in the fridge, making them easy to keep on hand.  I almost always have cornichons (I’m obsessed) and green olives laying around; but you can always include other types of olives and/or pickled veggies as well (carrots, mushrooms, peppers, etc.)

2. Veggies and Dip

I like to include a vegetable-centered appetizer, to provide a little relief (and peace of mind) from the cheese + carb happenings which generally dominate my table.  My favorite one to serve is crudite with green goddess dressing.


Green Goddess Dressing

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (I like Fage 2%)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use full-fat mayo)
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 anchovy filet or 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 scallions, tops and bottoms removed, then cut into thirds
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves (basically a few handfuls)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper
  1. Using a regular or hand blender, combine all ingredients together, then blend until fully combined and pureed.
  2. Serve with any combination of sliced: carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, snap peas, zucchini, cherry or grape tomatoes, radishes… whatever you can think of.  It’s not great with celery though, just take my word for it.

3. Something Hot

Obviously none of the above requires any real cooking, so I like to include something warm to balance out the room-temp cheese plate and cold veggies + dip.  To make things easy on yourself, you could prepare a hot dip which could be served with the same bread you’re using for the cheese plate (artichoke dip yummmm).  Here I made ricotta crostini with prosciutto.


Ricotta Crostini with Prosciutto

  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tub whole milk ricotta (I think it’s generally 12 or 16 oz)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or lemon zest (use zest if you like it more lemony)
  • 1 small bunch mint, finely minced
  • 3/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen, defrosted)
  • prosciutto (thin slices cut into thirds)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Lay out sliced baguette in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, turning to coat.  Bake 8-12 minutes, until browned and crispy, turning once halfway through.
  3. While the bread is baking, stir together ricotta, parmesan, lemon juice or zest, mint, and peas, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When bread is done baking, top slices with ricotta mixture, then top with prosciutto.

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / Dairy-Free / Date Night at Home / Dinner / Gluten-Free / Savory / Vegetarian

Date Night at Home Ideas: Dinner

March 22, 2013

Part 2: Dinner

Because I’m hungry.

Easy recipes that are just a tad indulgent, but don’t take too long to make.  Let’s eat.

  1. Caramelized Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese and Prosciuttocarmelized onion pizza with goat cheese and prosciutto 2
  2. Copycat Chipotle Burrito BowlsCopycat Chipotle Burrito Bowls
  3. Chili-Rubbed Salmon Tacos with Apple-Cucumber Salsa and Lime Cremataco
  4. Barbeque Chicken PizzaBarbeque Chicken Pizza by Go for 30
  5. Margherita PizzaMagherita Pizza by Go for 30
  6. Spicy Summer Vegetable FlatbreadIMG_4246
  7. Steak and Shrimp with Parsley-Smashed Potatoes and Caesar SaladIMG_3508