Remember date night? More to the point, remember date night before the novel coronavirus? Before there were restrictions and face coverings and extra hand-washing? Remember date night before your kids (and/or other family members!) were in the house with you 24/7/almost 365?
We remember those days — and those dates.
Whether you’re single and dating, or are married with children, this blog is for you. Especially if you’re married with children! We’re tossing you a life jacket in the middle of a non-stop care cycle, especially if you're still working from home and home-schooling. We feel you; we have school-aged kids, too, and a restaurant to run.
Answer a few simple questions: Are your kids old enough to sit and watch a movie without you? Do you have an older child you could assign (read: bribe, if necessary) to watch the others? In other words, is it possible, one night, maybe every two weeks, for you and your other half to have dinner together all adult-like? Hey, if we can do it, you can do it! We believe in you.
You most certainly could do takeout for your time together, so if cooking a meal seems like too much, we get it. For those who enjoy making a quick and simple repast we’ve included one of our favorites. But first things first!
Step 1: Get The Kids Busy With a Dinner and a Movie
Your date night is a great time to indulge the kids in their favorite dinner. Maybe that’s pizza, mac and cheese, PB&J, a big salad — it doesn’t matter as long as they’re pleased. Next, pick out the longest, most entertaining, riveting movie you can find and let them know they’re going to get to eat dinner and watch a movie at the same time. There should be rejoicing!
Step 2: Plan Your Dinner
Now for adulting! We’ve got butternut squash and sausage risotto, an easy-to-make dinner that pairs great with your favorite libations. You can leave out the sausage, if you prefer a vegetarian repast. It won’t take all that long to make, so you can coordinate meal prep for the whole family at the same time. Pro tip: Do keep the kids’ meal simple, as noted in Step 1. That cuts the prep way back!
Step 3: Finalize the Logistics
You’ll want to stage the kids’ dining area ahead of time, and that depends on where the TV is in your house. To minimize mess and speed clean up, consider putting a sheet or two down where the kids will be hanging out. We recommend lots of blankets and pillows for a picnic-style set-up (and pillows might lull them to sleep!). Recruit older kids to set it up and make it fun! Then, set your table for whatever level of fancy you’d like; or, not! Sometimes just the adult conversation is enough.
Step 4: Cook Dinner and Make Drinks
Truth be told, we like to cook dinner with a drink. Here’s the recipe!
Butternut Squash and Sausage Risotto
Serves 4 (so you have leftovers!)
Total time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons oil
1 shallot, diced small
2 cups risotto
5 ounces white wine
8 ounces butternut squash, diced
6 ounces ground sausage
8 cups vegetable broth, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in pan; add shallots and saute until translucent, two to four minutes. Be careful not to brown them.
Add risotto, and toast it for one minute; stir frequently.
Add wine and stir until it evaporates.
Add butternut squash and ground sausage; stir to incorporate.
Add broth in 1/2 cup increments and stir to incorporate. Continue until risotto is cooked, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Risotto should be al dente and the broth creamy.
Turn the heat off and add butter and cheese. Stir to incorporate.
Step. 5: Settle the Kiddos
As the partner who is responsible for dinner prep brings your dinners to the table, the other should call the kids, get them set in front of the TV with their dinner and their marching orders to stay put. Let them know it’s parents' date night and kids' fun night. You could even offer them dessert if they stay put the whole time (depending on your philosophy about the bribes we’d previously mentioned!).
Step 6: Enjoy!
Fill the background with your favorite playlist as you and your boo sit back, relax, and get caught up over dinner and drinks. Keep the conversation light, away from heavy topics. Tell jokes. Maybe even squeeze in a favorite game before … wait … is the movie over already?!
Step 7: Clean Up and Plan the Next One
If this is your first date night/kids movie night, take stock of what you learned about rocking steps one through six. Adjustments can be made to settle the kids more, keep them distracted longer and extend your dinner date time. Did you manage an hour this time? Fist bumps to you! It isn’t easy with everyone in the house but you took the first step. Keep working it, and before you know it, the kids will be asking you when they can have another movie night — just the kids!
Rather order in for date night? We’ve got you covered; simply order online. And, a reminder that we’re here to serve you at the restaurant, too, with appropriate precautions — we love reservations, but walk-ins are welcome. We can’t wait to see you again!
The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley and features fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm, and enchanting outdoor dining (in season). The Gables is also the perfect venue to host a special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.
Photos: Pexels and courtesy of The Gables at Chadds Ford