Getting engaged begins with the perfect proposal. No matter how the proposal is planned to take place, the moment when the ring box pops open is always filled with romance…and perhaps even captured with the perfect photo. Every couple has their own definition of ‘perfect,’ and the proposal plan can be humorous, quiet, incredibly public or a complete surprise. Of course, the perfect proposal may also happen over a romantic meal, maybe with the ring tucked inside a dessert like a fortune cookie.
For some couples, food is the way to the heart. And proposing over a candlelit dinner, snuggling under the covers with breakfast in bed or even while enjoying a decadent dessert is the recipe for romance. If you’re planning out an engagement and want to cook up the most romantic meal to set the mood, here are 20 recipes that are the perfect prelude for proposing marriage.
Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but breakfast in bed is also a sweet gesture for your proposal. If you think a dinner proposal is simply too predictable and lunch is just too basic, plan your ring presentation during a romantic bedroom breakfast.
Heart-Shaped Pancakes with Strawberries & Cream
Serve up the proposal with a shape of love. For this recipe you will need heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut your cakes. You can mix your batter however you like; it’s perfectly fine to use a box mix (if that’s your comfort zone) or make the buttermilk mix from scratch. To make those cakes extra special, you can mix strawberries into the batter for a pink or red hue. Heat your griddle while you mix up the batter so that the temperature is perfect for cooking!
Drop your batter onto the griddle, and be sure that your pancakes are large enough so that you can cut them into hearts. Cook the cakes until you see all the batter bubbles pop, and then flip to the other side. After all your pancakes are finished, it’s time to cut them. Press your heart shaped cookie cutter into each cake and peel away the excess. Serve with fresh-cut strawberries and whipped cream.
Layer your favorite yogurt with granola and fruit for a breakfast parfait. You also can use cooked quinoa in place of the granola or a favorite cereal. Serve the parfait in an elegant glass like a champagne flute. So why is this sweet breakfast called a ‘proposal parfait?’ The ring can be placed as a decorative topper. Just make sure you don’t hide the ring…so your beloved doesn’t swallow it!
One of the most posh and elegant breakfast entrees is the classic Eggs Benedict. There are many variations on this traditional dish, and you can use Canadian bacon or ham when serving up your elegant eggs. For an easy homemade recipe, check out Tastes Better from Scratch. Yes, you will need to make your own hollandaise sauce (that’s in the recipe, too!), but don’t worry, hollandaise is easy!
Serve up Eggs Benedict on whole wheat toast or English muffins.
An evening proposal allows you to create romance under the stars or to cook up a dinner by candlelight. Plan an engagement during a romantic dinner or simply start off the evening’s plans by romancing your partner’s appetite. For dinner, you can plan a favorite dish or just try something new. However, if you are planning a new recipe, be sure to do a practice run before the big night. You don’t want to undercook meat or discover that a recipe is too complex to handle.
Steak & Potatoes
A classic romantic (and hearty) dinner is filet with potatoes. Steak is easy to grill, but everyone likes theirs prepared differently. Be sure you know your partner’s ‘pink’ preference: rare, medium rare, medium, medium well or well done. Don’t over season your steak; opt for a light dusting of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Some also use butter.
The cut of steak you choose depends on your preference and budget. Filet is the most expensive cut. Sirloin is a cheaper option, and delicious when cooked just right (keep it juicy!). So what do you serve along with that hearty steak? Baked potatoes might be too casual, so try mashed or scalloped. Mashed sweet potatoes are another option; top them with cinnamon and brown sugar or drizzle with honey.
Don’t forget the veggies. A pre-dinner salad is a traditional choice; add in all your favorite veggies or fruits. Grilled asparagus also looks pretty when plated.
Surf & Turf
For those who prefer seafood or ‘surf’ with their turf, grill a tuna steak and drizzle with lemon and pepper (forgo the garlic, though!). Salmon or tilapias also are mild fish that also look elegant on the plate. However, when you are selecting fish or seafood, be sure to buy it fresh. Frozen fillets might not have the same flavor, although they may be more budget friendly.
Choose similar sides with seafood as you would with steak. Salad, potatoes and a pretty green veggie look amazing and colorful when plated. You also may serve a mixed veggie option like cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.
Many couples think of lobster when they envision a romantic dinner. And, yes, you could serve lobster solo or with steak. Remember, though, lobster (the whole lobster) can get really messy. Instead opt for a lobster section like the tail and serve with butter sauce for dipping.
If your proposal is planned for the fall, serve a dish that is hearty and seasonal. Pork tenderloin with apples is perfect for fall and combines sweet and savory flavors. Pork needs to be cooked to perfection for the best flavor; this means that it can’t be too pink…or overcooked. There are many variations for tenderloin with apples; for a simple take on this recipe, season the tenderloin with a little salt and pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon or autumn spices. Place the tenderloin in a baking dish. Cut and peel about two pounds of apples (more or less…depending on your preference), place them in a bowl and add about ¼ cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of apple juice, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Arrange the seasoned apples around your tenderloin. Cook at 400 degrees for about an hour (make sure the internal temp is 155 degrees). If you want a more complex take on the tenderloin recipe, try this recipe at Food Network.
Those looking for a meatless romantic dinner option, Making Thyme for Health offers up some amazing recipes for romance. The site’s recipe for Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon is simple, elegant and delicious. Serve this entrée with mashed cauliflower or potatoes. Sautéed carrots or mashed carrot soufflé create color when plated; sprinkle the soufflé with cinnamon and nutmeg for a festive flavor.
Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen has a recipe for Tempeh Cacciatore that is served with linguini. However, you can serve this dish up with any pasta shape or variety. This dish is a vegan version of chicken cacciatore.
Diamonds with Dessert
Maybe a proposal over dinner or breakfast just isn’t in the cards. Dessert, though, might be a sweet option for romance. For the ultimate in dessert decadence, whip up chocolate mousse. Or if the two of you are traditional in your dessert preferences, prepare a sundae bar and sprinkle on the toppings.
Of course, you also could melt a few hearts with fondue. Choose multiple dips like caramel, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and butterscotch and serve with chunks of fruit, marshmallows or homemade brownie bites!
Don’t Eat That: Foods to Avoid
Some foods are problematic. They may be more prone to foodborne illness or just smell…yucky! The biggest food culprits for halitosis are onions and garlic, so leave these two seasoning darlings out of your recipes! Oysters and other shellfish also may not be the best choices for serving because of food allergies and the risk of illness.
Also avoid foods that require bibs! Say no to barbecue and whole lobsters. And while many love pizza or burgers, these fast foods aren’t exactly recipes for romance.
Also on the chopping block? Extremely spicy foods (stomach issues!), chicken fingers (too casual) and just say no to French fries (opt for a sexier side dish!).
No matter how you choose to propose, a romantic meal sets the mood for that perfect engagement. Prepare to eat first, and propose later, because after the ring slips over the finger, there will be so much excitement that eating will be the last thing on the list. But romance doesn’t just sizzle after the sun sets, breakfast in bed also serves as a comforting, romantic and snuggly backdrop to present that ring. Or take the proposal to the sweetest level and present the ring over a decadent dessert. Whatever romantic recipe you prepare, be sure to snap a photo of the plated dish to add to your album of engagement memories. While that ring selfie will be in high demand, everyone knows that food wins hearts (and likes), too.