There are alot of different reasons why you and your partner may not be connecting as much as you have in the past. Maybe your kids schedules take over and you just can’t seem to be in the same place at the same time. Maybe you or him, or both, have work that is unpredictable. For Kent and I, it was he has long work days, and while I had some free time in the day, I do NOT have any in the evenings. Once in a while we would be in the same place at the same time; but our faces were usually shoved into our phones. Almost as a way of saying, “I’m here; but I’m checking out. My job is done for the day”. That’s far from quality time, wouldn’t you say?
If you’ve read some of my past posts on Method to Faith, you will see that Kent and I have been quite involved with a Marriage Ministry put on by our church called Re|Engage. It’s been transforming for us, and what it makes you realize very quickly is, the more time you spend with your spouse, really prioritize them and your connection with them, is crucial to keeping your love alive and well.
Once a week, for almost 72 consecutive weeks (4 semesters at 18 weeks each) we have been going to lead groups in this ministry, encourage that relationships be brought back from the dead and watch connections get renewed, simply by communicating in a loving way.
One of the things we realized is we haven’t dated each other in a long time. Kent and I take each other for granted alot and just because we have a healthy and loving relationship now, doesn’t mean it will always stay that way “just because”. No, it takes work, effort and committment. Imagine doing that over delicious food you made together, or just FOR him, something that we happily put the smartphones down for…..now you are talking. That’s where Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez comes in.
But here is where Ashley’s book differs from any other cookbook. It’s actually, her and her husbands story of reconnecting once realizing that life doesn’t look the same after careers and small babies come into play. We can ALL relate to her, to their struggles and want in on the journey of re-creating our own love stories, one gorgeous meal at a time.
I actually think you will want to sit down and read this cover to cover like a book, before you even attempt a meal plan out of it! She’s got a way with words and, honestly, makes you feel like you are with a friend.
My very first attempt at a menu from the book was “Somewhere In Italy” p. 64-72. Why? Because I want to go there someday and the way she introduced the menu, the pictures and the ingredients made me feel like it might just be the closest thing to being there, as I created it in my Texas kitchen.
I. NAILED. IT. Nailed it friends!! My plated creations looked JUST LIKE hers! So if you can follow a recipe, you too, can blow your spouses mind with any of this. And Ashley’s a real pro, making it very clear what you need to do, what you need to do it, alternatives if possible and so much more.
Side note, I could not do the Aperol Spritz because I decided on Sunday morning to do this meal for our bit Sunday Dinner. I didn’t realize that Aperol was only sold in liquor stores, so my local HEB / Grocer didn’t stock it, so I drank regular old Procsecco (yes, poor me right?), my kids sipped sparkling apple cider (yep, they got in on the chopping, stirring, prepping and plating!) and Kent sipped his favorite, an Old Fashioned.
Here’s how my appetizer turned out. Ashley’s Crostini with Ricotta, Prosciutto and Peas is on the left, and mine is on the right…and YEAH! I made my own Ricotta!!!! (and I apologize….I did an instastory on it; but didn’t take an actual picture, and we gobbled these up so fast, I was on the last bite when I realized I needed an ACTUAL pic….sorry, not sorry, haha!)
Then there was the main dish of Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto (give me ALL THE prosciutto) and this was absolutely amazing….even my pickiest eater licked her plate clean….MAJOR WIN ASHLEY!!
And finally we finished it off with Grapefruit and Olive Oil Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate. Topped with a Grapefruit glaze and some Creme Fraiche. I mean….seriously….
I know it is a Date Night menu, and it is super decadent, so could end up being pretty romantic at a candlelit table at 9pm after the kids are in bed and just leaning in to chat to each other, not so much to be romantic; but so we don’t wake the kids. But, we chose to make this a family affair. Connecting over good food is emotional. We remember things based on the way we feel when it’s happening. So, why not include our kids once in a while, so share in that. Teach them that one of the most sacred ways to show how to love someone is to break bread with them, and if it happens to be crisped up with home made ricotta, peas mixed with olive oil, mint, lemon juice and toasted walnuts…then do that.
Thank you to Ashley Rodriguez for getting vulnerable while writing. Speaking to me and so many other women fighting to keep the connection with our partners alive amongst the incredible noise of life! Food is necessary for life; but it’s critical for our hearts as well.
I hope you grab a copy, read through it and enjoy many of her well thought out meal plans, and they bring a little bit of the world to your dinner table or patio, which is as good a place as any, to reconnect and reignite the love with your person.
Which one was your favorite?! We might get Wooed by Fried Chicken next….
Until then…xoxo Taryn
Want to see more of Ashley and her cooking? Follow her blog at www.notwithoutsalt.com or her on Instagram @ashrod