Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, or just looking to connect with your partner, Date Nights aren’t as easy as they once were. We talked to Arden Hawes, a self-taught home cook and the author of the food blog The Ardent Cook, about some ways to make a date night at home feel special.

Read on for her suggestions, plus a recipe she created, so you can make a delicious “Takeout” Chinese Beef and Mushroom Noodles at home!

Stuck at home this winter? Why not turn your home into the backdrop for a three-course date night in? Start in your kitchen, where your counter transforms into a “bar” with just a few easy steps. Start by gathering a few cheeses, cured meats, nuts, and crackers for an easy charcuterie appetizer, then mix up your favorite cocktail. Set the mood with candles and flowers, dim the lights, and don’t forget to dress like you’re headed out on the town.

Next stop on your at-home date night is the dining table, where you can indulge on a plate of “Takeout” Chinese Beef and Mushroom Noodles. This recipe was developed by Arden Hawes of @theardentcook and it’s easy, fast, and flavor-packed. You’ll really feel like you’re eating restaurant-quality in the comfort of your own home. Arden says, “Don’t be afraid to relocate or rearrange your furniture to create the perfect atmosphere for your dinner at home. I moved my dining table to my living room and placed it under one of my favorite paintings in our home. We lit a few candles, poured some wine, and enjoyed feeling like we were in a completely new space while we ate the most delicious Chinese noodles!”

TIP: Find the recipe below! 

Round out your date-night in by seeking out the coziest spot in your home for music and conversation. For Arden, that’s her record room, but any warm and inviting space in the home will be perfect. Perhaps it’s on the couch by the fire, in the backyard with a roaring fire pit, or even in the bedroom in pajamas. Pour a night cap, grab a square of dark chocolate or a bowl of ice cream, and turn on your favorite music to end the evening. Pro tip? Leave the dishes for the morning!

Arden’s At-Home Takeout Chinese Beef and Mushroom Noodles

  • 1 8oz package rice noodles
  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 8oz package baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha, plus more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil, plus a splash
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • Cucumber, cut into thin ribbons, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, for serving
  1. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. When the noodles are cooked, drain and toss immediately with a splash of sesame oil, then set aside.

  2. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and brown the beef. Once browned, transfer to a plate. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.

  3. Return the beef to the skillet with the mushroom mixture. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, nut butter, sriracha, and sesame oil and stir thoroughly to coat the beef and mushrooms. Turn the burner to low and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly.

  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sesame seeds. Serve the beef and mushrooms over the rice noodles, then top with the cucumber ribbons and chopped cilantro. Drizzle with additional sriracha if desired. Enjoy!

About Arden

Arden Hawes is a self-taught home cook with a passion for using local ingredients and cooking with the seasons. A Bucks County native herself, she started her food blog, The Ardent Cook, in March of 2020 following the loss of her job as a Speech-Language Pathologist due to COVID-19. Since then, she has been sharing original recipes featuring ingredients from local farms and vendors with the goal of inspiring other home cooks to up their confidence, refine their technique, and put delicious meals on the table… every time.”

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