I have big dreams to travel the world with Joe and our family! It's a ways down the road, and we have a lot of things that we want to do first, so for now it's just a distant idea. Because I have an urge to vacation with Joe, but our schedules and current financial goals don't allow it, I've decided that we are going to start living vicariously through our date nights. A week abroad can be expensive, but we can bring our dream destinations to the comfort of our home without sacrificing resources that we've set aside for the things that need to be our first priority in this stage of life. Our first stop? TUSCANY!!!
In Tuscany, the small and simple things matter the most, making it the perfect place for the first stop on our world tour. You can bring a little part of Tuscany into your home by taking time to stop and appreciate the little things around the kitchen table, enjoying good food and great conversation with your friends and family. Romance, relaxation, quality time and memories are the perfect ingredients for an Italian date night.
Decorate your kitchen with colors that make you think of Tuscany. Yellows, oranges, browns, fuschia, light turquoise, deep blue, etc. Google or Pinterest are both great places to turn for inspiration. You can find tablecloths and paper goods in the colors you're looking for at your local party or dollar store. Light some tall candles and, if the weather is good, open the windows and enjoy some fresh air. It would also be good to get rid of any clutter in the area where you will be having your date.
Pasta! I will not visit Italy without eating a lot of carbs and pasta! To bring Tuscany into our home, I picked up Bertolli pasta sauce (click here to save $1.50 on yours). I love the simplicity and authenticity of Bertolli Riserva! Bertolli's sauces have a short and simple list of ingredients and are based on Old World Tradition. And with 150 years of Tuscan expertise, Bertolli sauces can provide you with a more authentically Italian dining experience.
I grabbed Bertolli's Creamy Alfredo sauce and their Five Cheese sauce. A couple of weeks ago when I made a chicken in a tomato sauce, Joe commented that it needed a little bit of alfredo. So, for this date night, I decided to combine both sauces for a new flavor. I added a few Italian inspired ingredients, but I kept the dish simple because Joe enjoys simple. I couldn't resist topping our pasta with one of my favorite flavors, Parmesan crusted chicken. Visit the Bertolli Cooking School online for more meal inspiration that will bring Tuscany to your kitchen table.
Complete your meal with breadsticks, a salad, your favorite kind of bubbly and finish it off with some delicious gelato! Don't rush your time together at the table. Linger and talk, enjoying each other's company and cherishing the moment. Dream about the things that you will do when you are able to visit Tuscany in the future. What places do you have to see? What Italian moments do you want to experience? What food will you eat? I like to use colored paper plates and utensils on this kind of date so that our dishes are minimal and we won't have to ruin the moment with a lot of clean up.
In the spirit of enjoying the simple things, take a stroll and enjoy watching the sunset together. Cuddle up on your couch and hold hands while you continue to talk about your dreams for an Italian vacation. Consider a day date and take a nice "siesta" after you're done eating. Watching an Italian themed movie could be a fun way to end your night. I'm thinking movies like The Italian Job, Letters to Juliet, or Under the Tuscan Sun. Just slow down and enjoy your time together.