You may want to prepare a romantic dinner to celebrate an anniversary, good news, a birthday, or just to show someone he or she is special. You naturally want everything to be perfect, but you may be a novice at such things. Regardless of the reason for the dinner and whether you are planning your first or your fiftieth such dinner, here are some tips that might be helpful.
Earlier that day or the day before, clean house. Vacuum, dust, and eliminate clutter. Use a room freshener liberally, preferably one with odor eliminating properties, five or six hours before time. Plug in your automatic air freshener at least two hours before, since they need a little time to work. Choose some background music, preferably soft instrumentals that will not be a distraction.
Clean off the kitchen counters so that cooking will be easier. Unload the dishwasher so that you can add the dirty ones as you go. This reduces the time you will need to clean up later and prevents an untidy stack in case your guest should wander into the kitchen.
Well before time to start cooking, take inventory to make sure you have everything needed for preparing and serving the dinner. For instance, if you plan to serve a green salad, make sure you have not only the vegetables but also the dressing. Compute how long you will need for each item and then estimate a starting time by working backwards.
Make your table as elegant as possible. For instance, if you happen to own a black dining room set, use items that will look dramatic against that background. White dinnerware or place mats are a good choice. Rose petals, especially red ones, can look nice spread over the table top. Check the centerpiece to make sure it does not block the view of either diner. Place candles in faceted glass or gold holders so that the light, which will probably be dim, will be reflected.
Use a Camerons stovetop smoker to prepare the meats without the extra heat that an oven can produce. This will let you serve tender, tasty steaks, chicken, or chops with less bother. You can also use it to steam vegetables for side dishes.
A hand mixer can help eliminate lumps in your mashed potatoes. If you plan to use the instant type instead of preparing them from scratch, you may wish to alter the directions on the box. Increasing the butter and milk while decreasing the water will yield a creamier dish. Shredded cheese, paprika, or bacon bits added prior to serving can make them taste and appear more special. Do not wait until the day of the dinner to begin experimenting, however. Take the time to create your personal variations once or twice first, so that you will have the recipe fine tuned before then.
An interesting tossed salad can be used as your first course. Mix together iceberg and romaine lettuce, then toss in some olives, cherry tomatoes, and pecan pieces. If desired, you could also add shredded cheese, chopped sweet pickles, or grated carrots. Before serving, add croutons and toss with a dressing, either a commercial product or one you have prepared earlier in the day. One simple dressing requires only mixing mayonnaise, ketchup, seasoning salt, and dill seeds to suit. Refrigerate several hours before serving.
An elaborate dessert such as cherries jubilee is always nice, but it is seldom practical and not necessary. There are simple desserts you can prepare that seem more complex than they are. Consider selections such as gingered fruit cups, a shortcake made with fresh peaches, or a decadent chocolate cake with ice cream.