Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Weekday Date Night Dinners

Just because Valentine’s Day has come and gone, doesn’t mean you can’t keep the romance alive! Going out to a restaurant is always fun but – why not save some money and instead spend some time together in the kitchen, cooking up great meals and great memories! I myself have vetted these recipes were definitely hubby approved!

In line with the health and diet trends, all recipes are gluten and dairy free, along with a vegan option.

Osso Bucco:

This is something I love to order at restaurants, but never figured that I could cook it myself. It’s surprisingly not that expensive ($25.00 for 3lbs) and super easy. This is the perfect mid-week date night recipe as you literally can fix it and forget, using a slow cooker.

  • 1.75kg (3-3/4lbs) beef (or lamb) Osso Bucco shanks, bone in
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chopped carrot
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped. Dried is fine.
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves, chopped. Dried is fine.
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • Pat the meat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Melt a generous amount of healthy cooking fat such as lard, ghee, or coconut oil in a heavy skillet set over high heat.
  • Add the meat and cook 3-5 minutes without moving to create a beautiful, golden crust. Flip the meat and cook until a crust forms on that side too. Remove the cooked pieces of meat to and place in slow cooker.
  • In the same pan, lower the heat to medium and add a little more fat to the pan if necessary. Throw in the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are fragrant and become just slightly softened. Put in slow cooker.
  • Add vegetables, broth, tomatoes, paste, balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt, pepper, and cinnamon to the slow cooker. 
  • Set on low and cook for 6 - 8 hours or until meat is tender and falling off the bone. Serve bone in for a beautiful presentation. I paired it with roasted potatoes, and it was perfection!

Vegan borscht: 

Borscht, you think? That’s not sexy at all! Actually ancient Romans used beets as an aphrodisiac. Beets increase blood flow and give you an awesome energy boost. Plus, this creamy, velvety, beautiful red soup will have your lips stained and ready for some kisses!  
This recipe is so easy, it’s almost criminal!


  • 1 pound beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 3/4 pound red cabbage, cut thinly into shreds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Sour cream (optional, omit for vegan soup)
  • Finely chopped parsley or chives for garnish

  • Peel and cut the onions, carrots, and beets. If you have a food processor, shred the carrots and beets using the shredding blade. If not, chop as finely as possible. Sauté in a large soup pot with olive oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat. Reserve a small amount of beet to grate and add near the end to enliven the color.
  • Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. When the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes, add the shredded cabbage. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer 15-25 minutes, until all vegetables are tender. With a few minutes left, add the reserved grated beet.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice, aiming for a pleasing but subtle sour taste. Serve with freshly grated black pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and chopped parsley, if desired.

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara:

Feeling like some Italian pasta but want to do something more adventurous? Check out this divine Spaghetti Squash Carbonara! Yummmm is all I can say.


  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. bacon
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 cups of chopped mushroom
  • 2 cups of spinach, frozen or fresh

  • Microwave the entire squash in the microwave for 5 minutes. This will make it much easier to cut in half. After, carefully cut the squash in half. Place cut side down into a microwavable safe dish, deep enough to put in some water so that the vegetable may steam. Place in microwave for 7 minutes on each side then scoop out the “spaghetti” and set aside. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a generous dash of pepper until completely combined.
  • Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, crumble, and set aside. Discard of the bacon grease, reserving about one tablespoon. Add the onion, spinach, mushroom, and garlic to the pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the shredded spaghetti squash. Add half of the crumbled bacon to the pan and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting.
  • Slowly pour the egg mixture into the squash, stirring vigorously. Continue stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes so that the eggs do not scramble, until the egg mixture forms a creamy sauce over the squash noodles.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining crumbled bacon and fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Enjoy and hope you have fun spicing up your weeknight!