Everyone loves a good date night, right? As much as we love going out for a special date night, movies, plays, ballets, musicals, dinner at our favorite local joint, can get a bit spendy over time. It just is not practical to do activities like that for date night every week.
We’ve found that we really need the time and space away from the kids where we can just be “us,” and though we don’t do it as often as I’d like (blame my lack of organization on advance planning…) the cost of a date night does add up. For us, a date night means money for a babysitter in addition to money spent on a date. Even one date can be quite expensive!
I try to add “date nights” at home to the mix to keep the cost down and more money in our wallets. Watching new movies at home after kids are in bed. Waiting to eat dinner until the little ones in our life are all tucked in so we can actually have a conversation. The main point is that we’re spending time together.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant to count. And sometimes simple is better. I can often be a homebody. Staying home can be easier. And that’s okay once in a while!
I brainstormed an idea for a quick Mexican inspired menu that is easy enough to put together after kids are in bed, but still date night worthy! Spicy shrimp with pasta, a refreshing side dish and a dessert that’s a snap to put together ahead of time.
Mexican Inspired Date Night In Menu
- Main Dish: Spicy Chipotle Grilled Shrimp with Creamy Garlic Pasta (recipe below)
- Side Salad: Mango and Avocado Salad (recipe below)
- Make Ahead Dessert: Kiwi-Lime Bars
This grilled shrimp and pasta menu is meant to be quick. Fast recipe and a dessert that can be made in advance. Even the grilled chipotle shrimp can be made ahead and warmed by tossing with the pasta. When time is a little more abundant I really like to add Black Beans and cilantro to the mango and avocado for a more elaborate side to go with our date night menu.
For drinks we just had ice water with a squeeze of lime, but you could certainly include a margarita if that’s more your style. Another great dessert idea that takes almost no time would be vanilla bean ice cream sprinkled with toasted coconut.
Check out this post for more tips and ideas for a date night at home.
What are your favorite at home date nights?
Spicy Chipotle Grilled Shrimp with Creamy Garlic Pasta
For the Shrimp:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (1/4 for medium, 1/2 for hot)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
15 shrimp, deveined and tails removed
For the Pasta:
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 lb. pasta
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan (using a microplane)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
For the Mango Avocado Salad:
2/3 mango, chopped
1/2 cup avocado, diced
juice of 1-2 limes
For the Shrimp:
Combine the garlic through oil in a medium sized bowl. Add the shrimp and let marinade for 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours if you need to make it ahead.
Preheat the grill to high heat. Remove shrimp from marinade. Thread the shrimp onto skewers (remember to soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes first if you are using wooden skewers). Grill the shrimp for 2-4 minutes per side, flipping once, or until cooked through as individual grill temperatures may vary. Serve with creamy pasta, recipe follows.
For the Pasta:
Cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic clove and saute 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the half and half, cooked pasta, black pepper, cayenne, and salt (to taste). Stir to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan. Cook on very low heat, tossing to combine the ingredients, until sauce is slightly thick, 1-2 minutes. Toss with grilled shrimp and serve.
For the Salad:
Combine the mango and lime juice. Chill for 10 minutes, more if you like. Toss with avocado just before serving. Enjoy immediately.
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