Music to Set the Mood – Artists and Songs to get you there

Last month I asked my friends and followers on Facebook what their favorite ‘mood music’ or ‘song’ is. I got several responses ūüôā

Here they are:
  1.  Ray Lamontagne
  2. The Carpenters
  3. Kenny G
  4. Barry Manilow
  5. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Diana Krall, and others of that genre
  6. Randy Travis – “Forever and Ever, Amen
  7. You are my special Angel
  8. Damien Rice
  9. ¬†The Beatles – “Something

 

And #10 is my husband’s and my song.

It’s the¬†ultimate introvert love song.

For full disclosure, I much prefer Ronan Keating singing it, but his video is really weird and totally detracts from the beauty of the song.

So here it is, “When you say Nothing at All”. I hope you like it!

 

 

Do you have a favorite artist or song? Let me know in the comments.

 

10 Date Ideas – #’s 6-10

Top 10 Date Nights
Top 10 Date Nights, continued….

6. Play video games – I have to admit, we don’t have any experience with this one. But a good friend of mine has said that is how she and her husband have date night. And, from what I’ve heard, talking actually happens while the game is being played. You know, that heart to heart, soul talking that we women¬†long for from our husbands.

7. Read a novel together – Years ago my husband and I read Winnie the Pooh. Hardly, romantic, I know, but there was something about reading together. Maybe it was the levity of the book, or that we had something to look forward to. Whatever it was, it was fun and brought us together. I’d say it did its job ūüôā

8.¬†Candlelight picnic in the Living Room¬†¬†– For those of you who live in an apartment or a condo and don’t have access to a backyard, a picnic in your living room would be perfect. My husband and I have done this on several occasions and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Candles, wine (or beverage of choice) and a blanket can set the mood for a very romantic evening. Oh, and for this one, make sure that you have your kids do a tidy-up before they go to bed. It’s not as romantic if you’re stepping on Legos ūüėČ

9. Start a Hobby – Is there something that you’ve thought might be fun to try? Or is there a project that has been on your ‘to-do’ list for ages? Head to the library with your guy and see if there is a book in the hobby section that catches your eye. Maybe it’s learning how to do origami together. Or, maybe you could build a model airplane. There are so many possibilities!

10. Star Gazing – Remember when you were a kid, and you would lay down on the grass and stare at the sky? Well, we’re never too old for this. So, go outside one evening, lay down, and gaze at the stars. Make sure that you’re holding hands, though, the magic happens more readily when you and your man are holding hands ūüėČ

 

 

Caprese Salad

This is one of summer’s most wonderful offerings and surprisingly one of the more easily prepared date night snacks. Not only is it beautiful, but will make your mouth¬†glad for sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and just-picked basil.

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Caprese Salad
  • Two ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • chopped basil
  • Balsamic vinegar reduction
  1. Arrange sliced tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate, sprinkle with chopped basil
  2. Drizzle with reduction
Reduction
  • 1 C. to 2 C. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Sweetener

Pour vinegar and honey into saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let reduce by at least half. Watch closely, until reduction is syrupy. Remove from heat, let cool and drizzle over salad.

 

 

 

 

Creme Brulee

This is one of my husband’s all time favorite desserts. The combination of maple and creamy, rich, custard make for a very sensuous dessert. Plus your husband will love when you make this because he gets to play with fire.

Plan to make this one in the afternoon. It should be chilled before serving. And don’t let the hazelnuts scare you. ¬†I’ve never served this with them because of the cost. I’m sure they add a lovely dimension, but aren’t completely necessary. Oh, and don’t worry about trying to make this for two – you’ll eat the entire batch. It’s that good!

Note: Step 6 states to melt the sugar in a saucepan and then pour over each cr√®me brulee. It’s much easier and less touchy to invest in a cr√®me brulee torch. This might sound laughable, but believe me, you’ll get your money’s worth out of it since you won’t be able to make this just one time.

 

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Photo credit Better Homes and Garden

 

Maple Creme Brulee with Hazelnuts 
recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds, toasted
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat six 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins* with cooking spray. Place custard cups in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In a heavy small saucepan, combine whipping cream and the 3 tablespoons sugar; heat over medium heat just until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine egg yolks, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Beat with a wire whisk or rotary beater just until combined. Slowly whisk hot whipping cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  3. Divide mixture among prepared custard cups. Place baking dish on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until mixture in custard cups appears set when lightly shaken. Transfer custard cups to a wire rack; cool. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  5. Before serving, let custard cups stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, for caramelized sugar, in a heavy 8-inch skillet, heat the 1/4 cup sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low; cook about 5 minutes more or until all of the sugar is melted and golden brown, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Quickly drizzle some of the caramelized sugar over each creme brulee. (If sugar starts to harden in the skillet, return to heat, stirring until melted.) Sprinkle individual servings with toasted hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

5 Tips for Getting Ready for Date Night

Over the years I’ve learned some things when it comes to planning Date Nights. These 5 things have really helped when I’ve wanted to do something extra special for us.

Here they are ūüôā

a title here

 Photo credit Jolly Voyager

1. Plan your theme – This may sound silly and you might be wondering “what theme, it’s just date night”. But sometimes a theme really comes in handy. What if you want to do “movie night” or “game night”. Pick your activities, food, etc. around that theme.

2. Gather your needed ingredients/items the day or two before – Sometimes I’m a procrastinator, and then things¬†come up, and the date night I had planned¬†doesn’t turn out so ‘romantical’. It always works out better if you gather¬†your things at least the day before – you’ll be more relaxed and it’ll lead to a better evening.

3. Plan an easy supper for the kiddos¬†– So, it’s not a sin to feed your kids PB and J or hotdogs¬†for supper on an evening that you’ve got a date¬†planned – especially if you’re planning on making a special meal or snack for you and your man. Be easy on yourself!¬†(It’s not a sin to feed them these things even if you don’t have a date night planned, not that I know anything about this)

4. Don’t feel guilty for letting the kids watch a video while you get ready¬†for ‘date night’¬†– There is going to be some prep that will need your undivided attention.¬†The food, yourself, all takes time to get ready. If you need/or want to take a shower before¬†your husband comes home, take the time to do it! No¬†matter what catches his eye – high heels or a baseball cap – he’ll¬†notice that you made an effort.

5. Think ‘happy thoughts’ about your man all day long ūüôā – And, yes, by ‘happy’ I mean sexual. Let’s face it, there are all sorts of things clamoring for our attention as wives and mothers. If we don’t intentionally fix our minds on our men, we¬†might miss out on a spectacular evening ūüėČ

Hot Cocoa

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 Close your eyes. The days have started to get cooler, the leaves are changing, and the nights are begging for you to start a fire.

A little music, some cozy blankets, and a mug of  Hot cocoa, are just what you need to set the stage for a romantic evening.

This is one of those recipes that you can make as complicated as you’d like. I typically make our hot chocolate . But, this can be made just as easily and just as well using a mix.

This isn’t about how elaborate we can make a recipe. It’s about you and your man spending some quality time together.

So, let’s make some hot chocolate!

Hot Cocoa
  • 2 C. milk
  • 1/4 C. cocoa, or to taste ( we always add more)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Heat your milk in a medium saucepan over low to medium heat. Once your milk is heated, whisk in your cocoa powder. I find that the cocoa dissolves more easily if the milk is warmed through.

2. Add powdered sugar, to taste. Whisk well

3. Whisk in salt and vanilla.

Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

I first saw this recipe floating around the internet about a year ago. Savory foods are my go-to snack, so when I saw bacon and cream cheese, I knew that I had to try them. There are several variations out there, so get creative. I found a rather straight-forward recipe over at the Brown Eyed Baker.  This recipe, though makes enough for a crowd, can be easily adapted for just two people.

Be aware – they’re addictive.

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Bacon-Wrapped Jalape√Īos

Yield: 40 appetizers

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 20 whole, fresh jalape√Īos
  • ¬†2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 to 2 pounds of bacon

 

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Cut the jalape√Īos in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and membranes. Stuff each jalape√Īo half with cream cheese. Wrap each jalape√Īo half with bacon. Secure with a toothpick.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If after 20 minutes the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish. Just keep a close eye so they don’t burn! Serve immediately or at room temperature.

These would be a great snack for those nights when you and your man break out the cards or a game of Scrabble.

 

 

Top 10 Date Night Ideas

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By virtue of where my husband and I have ended up in our lives – living away from family and not having too many close friends until recently – we’ve had to be creative with our date nights. They’ve consisted of the elaborate and the casual. But all have created good memories.

Without further ado, here are my Top 10 Date Nights

1. Play a Game – sounds so clich√©, doesn’t it. But it’s true, games can be fun. Get out the Uno cards, play a game of Rummy. How about Risk – the options are endless! And, if you’re in the mood the competition can lead to good conversation and lots of flirting.

2. Sit outside – I’m always amazed that the simple act of going outside makes me feel¬†like we’re on an actual date. We leave the phones inside, get a hot chocolate or¬†cold beer, and talk. Some of the best talks that we’ve had¬†have either been around the fire pit on a¬†cool autumn night, or sitting on the¬†back steps in the heat of July.

3. Movie and Popcorn – this one is kind of obvious, just from the title. But it’s still fun. We have a certain movie that we both find hilarious and can pretty much quote to each other. It’s been our own private running joke over the¬†years. So, find a movie that you both connect over and laugh. Something that simple can make a world of difference.

4.¬†Have a Chocolate¬†Tasting¬†– Go a little crazy at the specialty grocery store next time you’re in town. Pick up several different chocolates to try and decide which is the best. ¬†This might get a little pricey, but could be romantically worth it in the long run ūüėČ

5. Dance! – everyone that I’ve asked has either had a ‘song’ or has mentioned some type of music or artist that puts them into that romantic mood. Whether you like the Carpenters, Michael Buble, or Ray LaMontagne, let the music set the stage for romance.

 

Stay tuned for #’s 6 – 10 – I’ll be posting those next week!