Date Night- so easy to skip, so important not to! Soccer parents aren’t the only ones with hectic schedules. We are Gymnastics and Fencing parents, and Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls type-family, and then there is the everything-else-we-do parent side of us. In a word, busy parents.
We love the movie. You know, the one with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey called “Date Night”. In less dramatic fashion, we decided to reintroduce Date Night into our lives. But, we took Steve’s line to heart when he said, “If we are going to pay this much for crab it better sing and dance and introduce us to the Little Mermaid!”
We want our date to be nice, but we want it to be affordable and convenient in addition to fun and romantic.
From a scheduling perspective, we have time during the week while the kids are practicing gymnastics at night. And, while we enjoy eating out, really, nothing beats a nice relaxing meal at home – comfortable, the right-sized portions, and no tipping! We really enjoy cooking together – it gives us time to joke and relax. Good stuff!
But, it gets hard to think up new ideas, and this week time is a factor, so we need something fast, easy, and hopefully delicious! A colleague at #CollectiveBias recommended we try Campbell’s Skillet Sauces. In fact, as a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community, I am compensated for this content as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Campbell’s. #cbias #SocialFabric” (NOTE: I may be paid for this, but the opinions expressed are totally mine and unbiased!).
So, I will give one of these sauces a shot. But, which one? Not knowing what these Skillet Sauces are and what they pair with, there are a few steps I need to take in prepping for this meal:
1. Research Campbell’s Skillet Sauces, and pick one or two
3. Put together a dinner menu, and derive ingredients and a shopping list
4. “Shop” our pantry and freezer (we really like it when we can eat down food we already have)
5. Go get the rest from the store
Searching the web 2.0 style (involving social media) I find info on Twitter, Facebook, and of course, on Campbell’s site. I go the site first to learn about the product selection, and see there are six choices – Creamy Chipotle, Fire Roasted Tomato, Thai Green Curry, Toasted Sesame, Marsala, and Scampi.
I like these selections – easy to come up with a protein, and a nice array of flavors. Given it is sort of cold and wet outside, and we just had Asian for dinner, I am learning more to comfort foods, and am thinking Marsala, but might go with Scampi. It all depends on what we have in our freezer.
I go to Twitter to see what the crowd thinks about my selections, but I don’t find it helpful (although I do find links to coupons – I question whether they are reputable sites, so I shy away). Beyond that, it is sort of hard to gather what the crowd is liking, not liking.
Best to move on now to Facebook which in this case has nice presentation, coupons, recipes, and testimonials. There are in store coupons as well but my store did not have any when I shopped.
Based on my scan of the comments, I lean away from the Marsala and towards either the Fire Roasted Tomato or the Scampi. Problem with the Scampi is the color looks a little “cold”. Given we have sirloin strip steak in the freezer, I decide to go with the Fire Roasted Tomato with Steak, and because it is steak, a potato side.
Here are the ingredients for the main dish: 1lb of sirloin steak, 1 package of Campbell’s Fire Roasted Tomato Skillet Sauce and that’s it! It just could not get any easier. So, of course, I had to make it a little more difficult with Parmesan-coated potatoes.
Off to Shaw’s to get the products I need. I have not been to this Shaw’s in Warwick, RI before, but it is amazingly well-kept and clean. That said, I had trouble finding the Campbell’s Skillet Sauces. I went up and down the aisles, but could not find it. Finally, I noticed a stand-alone cap next to a middle-aisle freezer in the meat section (?), and saw the sauces on the lower shelving. Even the Shaw’s Associates did not know where they were. I doubt Campbell’s is doing themselves any favors with this sort of placement, but o.k., I found it at any rate.
In addition to the Fire Roasted pack, I decide to buy the Scampi and Marsala for use at a later date. So, I hurry home and pull together all the ingredients.
First, I have to prep the potatoes. I slice them into eights lengthwise, put some olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper in a Ziplock bag along with the potato slices, coat them well, then place them on a baking tray and apply grated Parmesan cheese liberally to the slices. Heat the oven to 375 deg, and bake them for 1 hr 20 min.
At about 15 minutes before the potatoes are ready, I heat up the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, slice the steak, and start browning it. Once the steak is browned nicely on all sides, I add the sauce, let it come to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer.
It all comes together very nicely, and so I plate the various components, and dinner is served!
So, besides the fact that this meal just tasted awesome, I have to admit the real reason I did it -
All in all, we very much enjoyed this meal. If not for the potatoes, it would have been a very fast cook, and because the portions were perfect for two, and the taste is really, really nice, it makes a perfect main dish for a date night when we are just very busy otherwise.
If you’d like to see a pictorial of my shopping and cooking experience, please visit my Google+ album here. Or, to see how others did it, check out #dinnerin15