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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Date Night In After Baby

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The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.
My husband, Mario, makes a big deal out of Valentine's Day, so much so that I really look forward to it every year.  He does this thing he calls the 12 days of Valentine's Day where he either does something incredibly thoughtful and sweet or gives me a gift each day leading up to the 14th of February.  On the day of, we used to go out for dinner like so many others.  But now, we prefer to spend that day at home.  With our baby turning eight months old on Valentine's Day, we're definitely sticking to the plan to have a date night in to avoid the crowds and avoid paying a sitter.

To make the night a success there are some key things that must be done to ensure that just the two of are able to spend some much needed time together.  Here's a few of our must-do tasks to prepare for date night:

Feed Kids ASAP
As soon as you can, get the kids fed.  This could be take-out, pizza you've ordered or something that takes no effort to prepare and serve quickly.

Bedtime Routine 
It's imperative that you establish a bedtime routine with your child(ren), baby included.  This is so helpful on any given night, but it's even more critical on nights when you either need a sitter or have planned an intimate night in.  For us, this looks like a warm bath, some lavender lotion, story time and for my eight month old, a nursing session.  It knocks the kiddos out every time.

Set Expectations 
Be realistic and understand that when you have small children, especially a baby, there may be interruptions no matter how well you've planned out the night.  Expect this to happen every now and again, deal with it accordingly and get back to your night as quickly as you can.

Prepare Favorite Meal
When I know the hubs and I are going to spend the night in, I prefer to prepare a meal for us to enjoy in advance.  It allows us to put more time towards each other and since my favorite dishes are typically pasta dishes, it gives the flavors time to really marinate and seep into the pasta.

Below I've shared one of my absolute favorite pasta dishes, using Barilla® Classic Blue Box Penne that you can find at Kroger. It's a wholesome, high quality brand that I keep on hand as a staple item in my home.  Pick up a few boxes to give this recipe a try, and be sure to visit the link for more Barilla "Wonderful Your Way" recipe inspiration.

Four-Cheese Pasta w/ Chicken & Veggies

1 Barilla Classic Blue Box Penne
1 lb Chicken, seasoned and cooked to your liking
2 Cups Four-Cheese Italian white cheese blend
2 tbs Blour
2 tbs Butter
1 Cup Heavy whipping cream
1 Head of Broccoli, chopped
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp Smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Season and cook chicken in a skillet according to your liking.
Remove chicken from skillet, add water and steam the broccoli for a few minutes.
Cook Barilla Classic Blue Box Penne according to directions, and save one cup of the pasta water.
Create a rouge by melting butter on low-medium heat and add flour, stirring constantly.
Slowly add in the heavy cream and saved pasta water.
Add cheese and season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper to your liking.
Add pasta and broccoli to cheese sauce.
Plate cheesy pasta with broccoli and top w/ sliced chicken and tomatoes.

Serve and enjoy!
If you've recently had a baby, like us, or just don't feel like braving the long wait times this Valentine's Day then give the above tips a try.  I'd love to hear what date night in typically looks like for you.  Please share in the comments!

Be Strategic,
xoxo, Nicole
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