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This past Christmas, Joe gifted me the Gilmore Girls cookbook. It was thoughtful and something that I would love, but I already owned it. We decided to return the book and I got to use the refund to purchase something else that I wanted. I'd had my eye on this Date Night In cookbook for a while, so I snatched it up and waited anxiously for it to arrive. The day it was delivered, I hardly put it down and when I wasn't reading it, it was sitting on the kitchen counter where I could admire it.
The Date Night In cookbook is gorgeous and really great quality. The cover itself is enough to make any book lover swoon. The pages of the book are amazing and the entire thing is bound, making it easy to open to a page and cook from while still allowing the book to stay in good shape. The pictures on each page are styled in a way that is simple but still gorgeous and appealing. Every time I turned the page to a new recipe, I was bookmarking it so I could plan to make it for date night in the future.
My most favorite thing about this cookbook is the way that the content is laid out. It reads like a blog in book format but functions like a cookbook. Each chapter contains a menu and the personal story behind the inspiration for that particular date night meal. The menu for each meal includes a main dish, side dish, dessert and an appetizer or drink, sometimes both. Scattered throughout the book, you'll find photos of the author and her husband enjoying moments from their date night in meals.
The author, Ashley Rodriguez, is also the creator of the website, Not Without Salt. She tells the story of how she and her husband met and fell in love over delicious food and how a lot of their date night memories include the food they enjoyed while they were connecting with each other. Ashley shared that the idea for the book came when she started a monthly series on the blog sharing meals that she and her husband connected over on date night. Those nights that they spent at home cooking together and eating the meals that they made helped them to "stay connected, feed [their] marriage and [gave them] space to fall deeper in love." Ashley said it best when she said, "Date Night In is the story of nourishing a relationship and the food that brings us together."
I loved reading through the book and hearing the story of the meals that Ashley and Gabe enjoyed when they were dating each other outside the house that inspired the recipes they invented for couples to create during their own date nights at home. There are date night meals for every season and to fit any taste. I immediately bookmarked 15 of the 25 included in the book, which means we have at least one date night a month taken care of for over a year, then we will try the others in the book and repeat our favorites for years to come.
The first meal that we decided to try was "Our Burger". It included recipes for Oven-Baked Onion Rings, Our Perfect Burger with Special Sauce and Bittersweet Chocolate Malted Shakes. Ashley says that burgers have played a significant role in their relationship, acting as a sort of grounding force during the harder times. The stories she shares in the beginning of the chapter illustrate how this meal brought comfort and hope to their family at many points in their marriage. I feel the same way about burgers, onion rings and milkshakes and the good that they can do for the soul.
In the middle of each chapter of the Date Night In is the most helpful page you'll ever find in a cookbook. On it you'll find three lists; the first is a timeline, the second is a grocery list and the third is a list of items you'll need from your pantry. The week before our date, I reviewed both ingredient lists to ensure that I had everything we would need for our date. Then I looked over the timeline and made notes on my daily to do list to make sure that I prepped the things that needed to be ready ahead of time.
The timeline list can help make the time that you have on date night, more fun and less messy. If most things are prepared ahead of time, the two of you will have the simple task of cooking and assembling the meal. I loved that with the Our Burger meal, we could both hang out by the grill, chatting and sipping on our milkshakes (I'm a dessert first type of girl), while the onion rings cooked. We could also split the tasks, which we did on this night. Joe manned the grill while I set up our burger building station and kept an eye on the onion rings in the oven. I wish you could smell the meal through these pictures because our house smelled divine!
This meal tasted as delicious as it looks and was perfect for the summer weather that we've been experiencing lately. It was the perfect first meal to try from the cookbook and made me even more excited to incorporate the book into our date night routine. I'm already making plans for our next "date night in"! I think we'll make the By the Fire meal which includes Fire-Pit Fontina with Tomatoes, Rosemary and Lemon, German Pretzel Sandwiches, Smoky Potato Salad with Sour Cream and Dill and S'more Terrine with Smoked Salt. It seems like the perfect meal to accompany the backyard camp out date that I have planned for us next month.
Whether you love cooking together, are looking for ways to change up your date night routine, aren't going out as often to save money or are looking for new hobbies to enjoy together, I think you'll love the Date Night In cookbook. Everyone who I have shown it to in person has exclaimed over how gorgeous the book is and I can't get enough of the real life relationship stories that are included. I'm looking forward to our next date night with the book!
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography