#whatsonyourplateblogchallenge HOME RESTAURANT DATE NIGHTS Over 50s Lifestyle Recipes

Home Restaurant Date Nights are back in 2023!

February 1, 2023

As part of using my TIME (WOTY) wisely in 2023 my goals include reintroducing our regular Home Restaurant Date Nights as well as Day Trips. There was a time when we would both take turns each Saturday to prepare a three course meal or at times we would prepare the meal together. It was fun finding recipes and writing up the menu whilst trying to keep it a surprise for each other.

Unfortunately, like many things in life, our weekly dinners fell away as responsibilities for looking after my parents-in-law increased.

I’m happy to say that Home Restaurant Date Nights are back in 2023 in the Loncaric house. In my last What’s On Your Plate? post I wrote how receiving the Italian Street Food cookbook for Christmas was the catlyst to start cooking restaurant meals at home again.

I had skimmed through some possible recipes for our first restaurant at home dinner but then we re-discovered Nigella! Mike and I were watching her TV show and were inspired by a couple of recipes she made. So, the Italian Street Food cookbook was put aside for the moment and I dived into our first Nigella inspired restaurant at home meal.

On the menu

I’ve shared the links to Nigella’s post with the recipes and my ratings for degree of difficulty and also the taste.

Main Poached Chicken with Lardons and Lentils

DessertItalian Rice Pudding Cake

Our Home Restaurant Meal in Pictures

Poached Chicken with Lardons and Lentils

  • I had to consult Google to find out what Lardons were and discovered they are small or cube pieces of fatty bacon or pork. I had some bacon but you could use ham.
  • I used canned lentils so I didn’t put them in until the last 10 minutes just to heat them through.
  • I also threw in a large handful of baby spinach at the last moment just so it was wilted but not overcooked.
  • I also added a tablespoon of cornflour to thicken the sauce a little as it is more of a broth. I had enough sauce left over to freeze for another meal.

Italian Rice Pudding Cake with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Yogurt

  • I didn’t have nutmeg on hand so substituted cinammon.
  • Make sure the tin you use is greased well with oil or butter to avoid sticking
  • For the raspberry coulis, I just boiled down some fresh raspberries and added a little water. It would be easier with the ready made jam but I didn’t have any as we don’t eat jam very often. I prepared this earlier and reheated before serving.
  • I left some fresh raspberries to decorate and added a dollop of vanilla yogurt. You could use ice cream or fresh cream if you prefer.
  • I prepared earlier and put the cooled puddings still in the pans into the refrigerator until I served the main. Then I removed from fridge. When it was time for dessert, I removed the puddings, placed on the serve plate and added coulis, fresh raspberries and Yogurt.

How did the recipes rate?

Poached Chicken with Lardons and Lentils

✰✰✰✰✰ – Easy to make and ingredients readily available
✰✰✰✰✰ – Tasted delicious and I would make it again. The recipe could lend itself to a slow cooker version. It is also healthy so a win/win on taste and being good for us.

Italian Rice Pudding Cake

✰✰✰⬙ – This cake was not difficult to make but was time consuming. I also only made it for two servings so there were mathematical calculations to the ingredients (lucky I have a calculator).
Having to stir the rice for 30 minutes then cool, then beat eggs and egg whites separately was very time consuming. However, I did enjoy time in the kitchen and preparing something new so that’s why I’ve given a 3- 1/2 star rating. It would be good for a special dinner party or afternoon tea.
✰✰✰✰✰ – The effort was worth it as it was very tasty and with the combination of the tart raspberries with the smooth creamy yogurt was a perfect ending to our meal.
I would make this again despite the time it takes to prepare.

Do you take time to prepare Restaurant-style meals at home? Do you have a favourite recipe? I’d love you to share with me.

I look forward to sharing our Home Restaurant Dinners with you during 2023 and perhaps improving my food photography skills at the same time.

Buon Appetito!

Sue Loncaric

I’m linking up as usual to join the What’s On Your Plate? Blog Challenging co-hosted by Donna from Retirement Reflections and DebThe Widow Badass. Take some time to pop over and see what’s been on their plate during the month

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Debbie February 1, 2023 at 19:39

    Sue, these both look great! What a lovely idea to have Home Restaurant Date Nights 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 3, 2023 at 07:17

      I’m not putting pressure on ourselves, Deb but aiming to have our Home Restaurant Date Nights at least fortnightly. x

  • Reply Retirement Reflections February 2, 2023 at 00:46

    Hi, Sue – I am delighted that Home Restaurant Date Nights are back in 2023 in the Loncaric home! The recipes that you shared here both look fabulous. I greatly appreciate your rating system (very good to know about what dishes take longer to prepare and if they are worth the effort in the end). I look forward to reading more about your Home Restaurant adventures!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 3, 2023 at 07:23

      Thanks, Donna. I do enjoy preparing special occasion meals but I’m not putting pressure on ourselves for every week. Fortnightly will be a good start. x

  • Reply Jo February 2, 2023 at 05:40

    They both look great! As an aside, I usually substitute what we call speck (it’s a thick cut piece of bacon you can cut into the thick batons for those recipes which call for lardons) but it’s just the bacon fat and flavour you’re after.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 3, 2023 at 07:23

      High praise from you, my mentor, Jo. I had forgotten about speck and don’t really use it but thanks for the tip. x

  • Reply Suzanne@PictureRetirement February 2, 2023 at 07:34

    Sue, sadly to say, Malcolm and I eat at the breakfast counter most nights. I haven’t set the table, or made anything ‘special’ just for the two of us in a long while. Thanks for the inspiration to step up my game a little.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 3, 2023 at 07:24

      Hi Suzanne, it can be hard to create and make the effort for special dinners when there are only two of you. I’m aiming for fortnightly dinners which is doable at this stage. x

  • Reply The Widow Badass February 2, 2023 at 23:04

    That dessert looks amazing and I will have to make it once I am back home! Love this post, Sue.


    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 3, 2023 at 07:25

      The dessert took some time to prepare but I thought it was worth the effort. Enjoy your Caribbean holiday it will certainly be a few degrees warmer than where you live. x

  • Reply Erica/Erika February 3, 2023 at 00:02

    I love the concept of “Date Nights” in general, Sue.💕 I am thankful how we have a date night almost every night. As you and I have talked about in the past, we do not take the time with our loved ones for granted. We were lucky to have one date night a week when we were both working…egad.

    Thanks to you and Jo, I discovered Nigella a few years ago. Great, doable recipes and I drool scrolling through her photos.

    I am a fan of lentils and spinach and great suggestions to add them to the recipe. Freezing another meal…bonus! Thank you for sharing the recipes and photos. Better than a restaurant! xx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 3, 2023 at 07:27

      We had a rough start to the year, Erica with Mike not feeling that positve. These little moments that we can create and spending quality time is what counts – even if the dinner is quick and easy. I remember you had discovered, Nigella and I’ve known of her for years but this was the first time I had made any of her recipes. I’ll definitely be trying more in the future. Have a beautiful weekend. xx

      • Reply Erica/Erika February 3, 2023 at 09:17

        You have a beautiful weekend, too, Sue xx

  • Reply Bernadette February 3, 2023 at 08:10

    Sue, I love the idea of a date night. Did you get out special dishes, candles, etc.? Since rice pudding is one of my all time favorites, I will definitely give the cake a try. I agree with Donna, your rating system is great.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 5, 2023 at 09:42

      Hi Bernadette I think you will enjoy the cake despite it being a little time consuming to make. I do try to use our special dishes etc for our date nights, otherwise they just sit in the cupboard and we don’t enjoy them. I’m looking forward to the Milk Street contributions. x

  • Reply Max Ethan February 18, 2023 at 21:06

    They both look great! As an aside, I usually substitute what we call speck (it’s a thick cut piece of bacon you can cut into the thick batons for those recipes which call for lardons) but it’s just the bacon fat and flavour you’re after.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 19, 2023 at 13:26

      Thanks Max, I have heard of speck but never used it. The recipe was delicious and I had some of the broth left over which I reused and thickened. It was even tastier second time around.

  • Reply Terrie Gura February 25, 2023 at 02:46

    Hello, Sue! I found your blog through Bernadette and looking forward to your great ideas. Love home restaurant date night! We do this at home also, but I need to do better about letting my hubby take a turn. 😁

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 25, 2023 at 17:09

      Hi Terrie, lovely to meet you and thanks for visiting. If your hubby likes to cook then let him spoil you or you could make the dinner together. x

  • Reply Simran Seth November 30, 2023 at 12:41

    It’s wonderful to hear that Home Restaurant Date Nights are making a comeback in your household in 2023! Creating a three-course meal together and finding new recipes sounds like a delightful way to spend quality time and enjoy delicious food. It’s great that you found inspiration from Nigella and made dishes like “Poached Chicken with Lardons and Lentils” and “Italian Rice Pudding Cake.” Your detailed description and ratings of the recipes provide valuable insights for anyone looking to try them. The effort you put into preparing these restaurant-style meals at home is truly commendable, and it’s evident that the taste was worth it. Looking forward to more of your Home Restaurant Dinner adventures and perhaps some improved food photography skills! 🍽️👩‍🍳📸 #HomeCookedMeals #FoodieAdventures #RestaurantAtHome

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