Believe it or not, you might use all three. There are pretty much infinite easy recipes for two, but obviously, you want to stick with what’s easiest for your comfort level (and budget!) Complicating the matter even more, what’s the mood? You won’t make the same meal for a proposal dinner as you will for your sister who’s running a marathon tomorrow, at least I hope not. So before we delve into the how, let’s explore the what a little bit.
Since my whole focus is creating memories while you cook, I hope you’ll pardon an old fool for indulging a little bit. Hey, I have to have some fun too, right? So at least to start this off, I’m going to assume a romantic dinner. We might change things up a little bit as we go, but romantic dinners are just so fun to cook. There are two reasons to stick with easy meals in these circumstances:
1. You are cooking by yourself to impress them. Why risk messing anything up? Make it easy for yourself. Plus, you want to be with them, not in the kitchen the whole time.
2. You are both cooking together (what I recommend). An easy recipe leaves time for distractions, just in case it gets a little… hot in the kitchen, so to speak.
Either way, KISS – keep it simple stupid! We’ll go through 3 recipes that are drop-dead simple but deliver fantastic results. We’ll start with the easiest recipe and they will get progressively more difficult, just choose whichever one best suits your skill level. What is the easiest? The slow cooker of course!
A fun little bit of useless trivia: the slow cooker was originally invented to cook beans back before they came canned. However, we will elevate this humble little appliance to make a delicious meal that will be done when you walk in the door. First, gather the following ingredients:
1 bone-in pork shoulder
2 heads of garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
If you’re intimidated by meat with the bone still in, don’t worry. This recipe will make the meat fall off the bone. If you just don’t want to deal with that you can just substitute a boneless shoulder or Boston butt. This recipe couldn’t be any easier: Cut the limes into wedges and squeeze half of them into the slow cooker, then toss in all of the wedges.
Peel all of the cloves of garlic and just throw them in whole (it won’t be too much I promise), then season the pork with salt and fresh black pepper and set it on the bed of garlic and limes. Pour the beer over the pork, then cover and set on low for about 10 hours.
Once it has fully cooked, let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Now, here’s the key to amazingly tender pulled pork: reheat it fully for about 2 hours before you serve it. The best part of this recipe? Assembly!
Making tacos with these is a lot of fun, especially if you each make a taco for the other. Chop up some fresh cilantro, dice some onions, grab some lime wedges, and some shredded cheese, and just have fun! If there are any leftovers just serve over lime rice, super simple. If you want to try something a little more involved:
To the oven! Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit and find for yourself a pork tenderloin. Marinate it with ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ apple juice, salt, fresh black pepper, and a small pinch of ginger. Get a pot of water boiling, and then put the pork in the oven. Peel or clean 1# of carrots, cut into large chunks, and then boil until tender with a fork. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup each of apple juice, chicken brother, and chardonnay. Simmer until reduced by half then stir in ¼ cup of heavy cream and remove from heat.
I know, a lot is going on, don’t worry! It’s all stuff that can just go on its own without much attention. The only thing left to do is mash the carrots with butter, salt, pepper, and milk and slice the pork when it’s done (remove from the oven at 145 degrees, and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing). If you’re up for a challenge, we have one last recipe to attack:
Alright, I’ll admit it. When it comes to easy recipes for two, this barely qualifies. However, you can do it and the results will be well worth it. First, get a pot of water boiling on the stove, then combine 1 cup of red wine with one cup of beef broth in a saucepan and set to simmer. Add dried basil, tarragon, and black pepper. While those are both going, season two steaks with salt and pepper and place on a hot grill.
Wait approximately 2 minutes then rotate 90 degrees for perfect grill marks. After another two minutes, flip to the other side and repeat (this is for medium rare steaks). Meanwhile, boil the asparagus until tender (2-4 minutes) and remove from the water.
Put the steak on a plate, rest the asparagus up against it, and pour your reduction sauce around. Lastly, show it off!