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By Laura Matney

The perfect romantic dinner for two

Whether a couple has been dating awhile or married for 20 years, it is important to spend time together connecting. In a hectic world of work, family and a steady diet of news and social media, it can be hard to remember to stop, disconnect and reconnect with loved ones. Looking for a way to do just that? Think about planning a romantic dinner at home, which can be a relaxed, no-pressure way to rekindle that spark even for those who do not cook much.

Plan ahead

Pick a night that works well for both of you – free of other commitments and pressures that could be distracting. Have kids? Try to plan an overnight play date or other child care outside of the home so no little one is asking for a drink of water or to watch their favorite video for the hundredth time.

Decide in advance if this is a surprise dinner or not. If it is a surprise, sending an invitation can be fun: just be specific about the location and time. Another option is to light candles at the front entrance of the home to set the mood.

Dinner does not have to be a culinary feat

The idea is spending time with each other, not slaving over a new and complicated recipe in the kitchen. Pick a menu that includes items that are familiar and loved. Cooking a meal together can create a romantic setting in itself, but if one person drives the other crazy in the kitchen, it is not necessary. One person can cook and the other can set the table and open the wine (or any other drink of choice).

Use food that requires more interaction than just the act of eating. Food that gives people something to do with their hands lengthens the meal and can be a conversation starter. Foods like fondue can be fun and create additional romance.

Consider these easy dinner options that anyone can make:

Spiced sirloin roast for two
Wine pairing suggestion: chardonnay, white burgundy or a medium-bodied red

Baked chicken with tomatoes and garlic
Wine pairing suggestion: cabernet sauvignon or syrah

Dessert is an essential part of any romantic dinner. Consider these options to cap off the meal:

Raspberry fool
Chocolate bar fondue
Dulce-de-leche mousse
Setting the table helps set the mood

This is a great time to break out the fancy tablecloth, fine china and crystal. Decorate the table with flowers and candles. Another way to make the table special would be to scatter flower petals or partially fill containers with cranberry juice or colored water and float candles in it. Don’t have a table or don’t want to use it? Spread a blanket outside or in front of a fireplace and have a picnic.

Create the right ambiance

The most important tip for a romantic dinner is to turn off the TV. It is hard to spend time together while the show is on. Use music instead. Dim the lighting for effect – a fire in the fireplace or Christmas lights strung around a room work well.

Have a plan for after dinner

Once the meal is over, it can be easy to return to the couch and the television. Planning ahead for a romantic evening walk, sitting out under the stars or even a favorite shared movie can make the evening more successful.

A romantic dinner can help rekindle a flame or be just a nice, quiet evening together. With a little planning, the night can be held in the comfort of home. Dinner does not have to be fancy because the point is to spend time together, as a couple. The important part is the right ambiance to spark conversation (of something other than the kids or work) and connection.

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