Small food things that are appreciated.
May 13, 2014 11:49 AM   Subscribe

So I'm trying to up my game a bit in dating my wife. Nothing crazy, as we are home-bound a lot with kids, but I have something specific in mind regarding something that she likes. We are trying to carve out some time together during the week just to chill and enjoy movies together. What I'd like to do is have something special every week that I would make for us in terms of food, beyond chips and popcorn, etc. I'd like this to require some planning and effort, but without a crazy amount of prep time, as we have limited time in the evenings. Are there some fun, snacky (i.e, not a meal) things that are not super low maintenance, but not high maintenance, either, that would impress my wife (just a little bit)?
posted by SpacemanStix to Human Relations (55 answers total) 103 users marked this as a favorite
Antipasto! Mini mozzarella ball, folded salami or prosciutto, and an olive or jarred artichoke heart all stacked on a toothpick are the easiest, but here are some more ideas.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

toffee! my mom makes something like this and the first time she made it i was pretty impressed, and it wasn't hard at all. you can use any chocolate and any nuts in it.
posted by koroshiya at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2014

aw this is sweet. people's definition of snacky and such might vary and also i have a pretty low bar for food, but here are some suggestions...

puppy chow
homemade bean dip and/or guac
fondue (chocolate or cheese based)
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Get a couple of small cheeses (my whole foods has an under $5 basket that is perfect for this), some smoked almonds, quince paste, and nice chocolate and hide in the fridge. When the time comes, bust out a cheese plate. Bonus points if you serve it on a wood cutting board. Leftovers keep for a while.
posted by justjess at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2014 [18 favorites]

- Hummus & pita bread (especially if you can pick some up freshly made, or even make it yourself)
- Salmon with dill sauce (Ikea's one is delicious)
- Veggies and dip
posted by Dragonness at 11:57 AM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

A small selection of good quality cheese from the deli, good quality crackers, some fresh fruit carefully selected for being fine to rinse and eat (nothing that is mushy enough that you feel you need to cut big bits out of it and toss it into a baked good recipe to salvage). Consume these together. It feels very European. My sis and I liked doing this when we got together.

Maybe sample different teas while watching movies? Have a different one each week? Serve on a nice tray with all the accoutrements so it feels upscale.
posted by Michele in California at 11:58 AM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. Use an better quality cheese and include slices of vegetables or fruits, such as apples, tomatoes, pears or kale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on May 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Brie with fancy crackers and strawberries is our standard simple-fancy thing.
We also have a local chocolate maker that we'll sometimes get a couple of truffles from.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2014

Chocolate-dipped strawberries with champagne. Cheesy but effective.
posted by amaire at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Make one night a week your tapas night.

(If you're a big goofy dork like I am, you could institute Topless Tapas Tuesdays or something like that.)
posted by jbickers at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2014

Our fancy grilled cheese is pugliese bread, smoked gouda and fig paste. Wow.

Takes 5 minutes and everyone is a fan!
posted by 26.2 at 12:04 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Watch Mermaids quietly by yourself. Take notes. Bob Hoskins is trying to court Cher and the only cooking she does is finger food. Then watch the movie together, while you serve the finger food from the movie. This movie is extra fun if you have a daughter.
posted by ouke at 12:05 PM on May 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Learn to make good biscuits or scones and serve with fancy jams. Once you get your biscuit groove on, they take about 5 minutes to mix/roll/cut and 12 minutes to bake.
posted by drlith at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2014

Shrimp cocktail
posted by LonnieK at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bacon-wrapped dates.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:08 PM on May 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Meat/cheese platter: 3-4 cheeses (goat, a blue, an aged comte/gruyere/manchego/cheddar, and a brie), sliced baguette and crackers, thinly sliced sopressata, marcona almonds, dried cherries, fig jam, creamed honey.....I may have had this for dinner two nights this week

Homemade baba ghanoush, hummus, and olive tapenade w/ pita chips


Muddy Buddies

Pickled things -- try pickled radishes with goat cheese on toast; Pickled eggs are also really good (seriously)

Kale chips

Deviled eggs


Avocado with salt (I recommend trying this on cracked pepper triscuits)

Pigs in a blanket (the trader joes parmesan pastry pups are really good)

Smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers on bagel chips

Oysters mignonette

Toasted nuts with spices
posted by melissasaurus at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Cheeseboard! Serve them on a wooden chopping board with nice crackers, grapes, sliced apples.
posted by like_neon at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2014

It's not the food itself so much as the thought that goes into it. Two things that Mr. JulThumbscrew did recently that made me go, "Aww!" (and immediately inform my friends what an awesome fella I have):

- I was studying and asked him if he would mind bringing me a piece of cheese. Ten minutes later, he showed up with an elaborately-prepared mini "cheese plate" with several varieties of fruit and cheese, sliced up and nicely arranged.

- Apropos of nothing, he assembled a "diet soda buffet" in my study area (several flavors of sweet, sweet poison - erm, diet soda - plus a glass full of ice and a large bowl full of MORE ice, ensuring I would not need to get up to freshen my drink for several hours).
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:10 PM on May 13, 2014 [9 favorites]

It's totally overdone, but baked brie is yummy and easy.

Take brie. Cut the rind off the top (leave the rest). Spread with jam (raspberry, peach, fig). Wrap in refrigerator crescent roll dough. Toss in the oven for 25 or 30 minutes at 350.

Serve with brioche crackers.
posted by 26.2 at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oooh, also: you can make all SORTS of insanely-impressive things just by hitting the olive bar/cheese cave/bakery at a good supermarket (ala Wegman's). They are your go-to place for impressive foodstuffs that are already mostly prepared.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

oven roasted crunchy chick peas. You can experiment with seasonings. I also agree trying a different tea every movie night sounds like fun.
posted by Blitz at 12:12 PM on May 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Strawberries, served with a bowl of sour cream, and a dish of brown sugar - you dip a strawberry into the sour cream, then roll it in the brown sugar. It tastes amazing, and there is something very tactile and sensual about the process of eating it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

if i came home to a hunk of cheese, crackers, olives, and salami i would be VERY pleased.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

beyond chips and popcorn

Did you know you can take popcorn beyond popcorn?

Get a stovetop popper like a whirley-pop (or just use a pot), some not-extra-virgin olive oil for cooking it, and some fancypants heirloom popcorms. Top with flavacol. This right here will be about one infinity more better than that microwave filth that the Lord curses.

...and add to it as you will. Parmesan or parmagiano reggiano is nice. Cook some bacon and whack it into itsy bitsy bits. Herbs and/or spices.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Home made houmous. Serve with the pitta strips they recommend but also works with carrot sticks or chopped bell peppers.
posted by biffa at 12:24 PM on May 13, 2014

Puff pastry tart, either savory or sweet. Lay out puff pastry, maybe do something to make an edge on it, put toppings on. Pretty much any vegetable in the world and goat cheese, pizza-ish ingredients, buttered fruit and sugar - Google is your oyster here.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Roast elephant garlic (like regular garlic, but huge and milder) with goat cheese and marinara sauce.

Take a an elephant garlic, chop off the top, rub a bit of olive oil over it. Bake for around 20-30 minutes at 325.

Place on a plate with a soft goat cheese covered with a warmed marinara sauce. Serve with crackers.

Squeeze out the garlic and smear on crackers, scoop up some goat cheese. Hope you don't smell too bad the next day as the garlic sweats out your body. Laugh at your children as they complain about the smell.
posted by bswinburn at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get yourself a copy of this cookbook. This is the motherlode of snacks and finger food - some are a little fiddly, like these things she calls "roulades" which are sort of like flat crepe-like omlettes that you spread with a filling, roll up, and slice - but others are all things like dips, spreads for bread, fried things, canapes, etc. That book is where I found the recipe for a sun-dried tomato dip which always gets people asking for the recipe when I bring it to a party, and it's also where I got the recipe for cheese puffs.

To tide you over until you get that, though -

* Spiced nuts. For every pound of the nut of your choice, heat up about two tablespoons of oil in a skillet, and add about two tablespoons total of a spice mix of your choice; toast the spices in the oil for about a minute, then dump that all over the nuts, add a little salt, mix it up good, and spread that on a baking sheet. Then bake that at 350 for about 10-15 minutes, stirring things around a couple times, until it's all roasted up nice. (I actually do this to use up the random "cooking spice blends" that I don't use up fast enough.)

* Someone already suggested bacon-wrapped dates. I concur. if you want to gild the lily you can look for dates that have been stuffed with something, or stuff the dates with something yourself.

* fried green olives. This is especially good if you live near a market where there's a good olive bar - go for the really fat green olives that are pitted and then stuffed with something (garlic cloves, almonds, etc.). Then spread a bunch of bread crumbs on a plate, heat up some oil in a skillet, then roll the olives in the bread crumbs and fry them until the bread crumb coating is all golden.

* Bruschetta. This is just fat slices of baguette with funky stuff on top. I've had it with everything from white beans with tuna mixed in, to a spread made of arugula and butter topped with a slice of braesola, to really-super-fresh chopped tomato with really-super-fresh basil and really-super-fresh garlic.

* A grand aioli is basically finger food in dinner form. You set out a whole collection of blanched or fresh vegetables - things like blanched asparagus spears, blanched green beans, maybe some tomato wedges, spears of green pepper, radishes, tiny boiled new potatoes, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes - and some wedges of hardboiled egg, olives, and some really good poached fish or cooked shrimp (I actually once used super-fancy tuna straight out of the jar). Set all that out on platters with lettuce, and offer aioli on the side - that's just garlic mayonnaise. You can totally cheat at that by roasting a small head of garlic, mashing the cloves up and mixing it into mayo. This is really improvisational when it comes to what vegetables to use - think French and summer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on May 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm usually a big fan of the "nice bread/cheese/meat/olive/fruit" plate - we are lucky to have a big Wegmans in town and it's super-easy to cruise through there and throw that sort of thing together, but these combos are always nice (with bonus drink suggestions!):

Small bits of bread/good blue cheese or gorgonzola (I like Maytag blue, and I LOVE this thing at Wegmans called "buttermilk blue" - it's really a gorgonzola)/fig jam/sprinkle of coarse salt - bitchy red wine with this

Small bits of bread/good cheddar/sliced apples - light white (reisling, pinot grigio), rose, or easy-drinking beer with this

Salty thin pretzels/cherries/teeny pieces of good dark chocolate - softer red wine with this

Thin, crispy breadsticks (think long, thin Italian things)/parmigiano/prosciutto/grapes - crisp white wine with this
posted by ersatzkat at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

The key to pulling this off is to make it special. You going to serve these fancy treats on your regular plates? Hell no. You're stepping up your game. That means fancy ass tiny plates. That means a trip to Crate and Barrel. Get a nice serving tray, a few tiny useless plates, dipping bowls and spoons. A nice placemat or dish towels. A bud vase that holds a single flower.

Then, with a sweep of your arm, plow the cruft of kid junk from the coffee table. Have your bride take her seat; kiss her hand; pour her a drink. With much ceremony and fanfare bring in the FANCY TIME SNACKS on FANCY TRAY with that cute fucking FANCY SPOON and be transported into your own personal bistro/movie theater.
posted by fontophilic at 12:57 PM on May 13, 2014 [21 favorites]

If someone offered to crack pistachios and feed them to me I'd swoon.
posted by ezust at 1:01 PM on May 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

A block of some fancy chocolate, broken up into uneven pieces, with some berries.

The chocolate can change each week (this one has almonds, the next one has bacon!) and the berries change each week (strawberries this week, blueberries next week. Clementine slices!)

Looks gourmet. So easy.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about shrimp cocktail. It's so easy, it's fancy and yummy! It's also figure friendly.

1. Buy cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp (I got a huge frozen bag at Costco for a party and MAN were they tasty!)

2. Make Cocktail sauce. I throw it together but these are the ingredients:

Horseradish (the good stuff in the Kosher section, if it's not refrigerated, skip it.)
A dash or two of worchestershire sauce
As much tobasco as you like.
Squirt of lemon, or squirt lemon on

That's it, sort of a solid Bloody Mary.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2014

Cut up pieces of different fruits into small pieces and put them into a bowl together. Fruit salad. Sounds simple, but it's amazingly good. If you're using banana and/or apple that will be out in the air for a while, slosh them around on a plate with lemon juice before putting in the bowl (helps prevent turning brown). Be sure to avoid/remove seeds.

You can also add coconut, nuts, berries, and/or a side of whipped cream.
posted by amtho at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2014

Also nice: fresh bread (which can be prepared fresh by a pre-programmed bread machine) and room-temperature cultured butter.

Devonshire cream and little biscuits.

Cucumber sandwiches: bread without crust, thinly-sliced cucumbers, and either mayo or hummus.

This is sounding more and more like afternoon tea...
posted by amtho at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2014

I really love this idea, but I'm surprised as I read the thread to see that some of these sound ...really unappealing to me. Which I guess is to confirm: before doing any of these things, think about whether your wife has ever expressed any interest in it, like at restaurants, etc.

I would go for things that are fun to eat in front of a movie. spiced nuts. Homemade caramel corn. Bruschettas on baguette circles, served with plates because it can get messy. Little capreses -- a cherry tomato, a mozzarella bocconcino and a basil leaf, on a toothpick. Cute, thoughtful, easy to eat.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Shutterbean is one of my favorite food blogs and she has a bunch of posts on fancying up popcorn if you search through the site. It's never too complicated or involved but the end result is always delicious.
posted by logic vs love at 1:58 PM on May 13, 2014

Crazy feta dip with homemade pita chips is fantastic.
posted by evoque at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

> Did you know you can take popcorn beyond popcorn

For example: miso popcorn! Melt the butter and smash some miso into it before pouring it on the popcorn. It's going to end up a bit clumpy, but those clumps are delicious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:23 PM on May 13, 2014

Fresh baked bread (not the sliced square loaf, plastic bag stuff you get on the bakery shelf) is really one of the pleasures of life. Get thee to a more upscale grocer (ie. not Kroger or Food Lion) and go to their bakery/deli section; they sell fresh, beautifully crusty loafs of bread like Pugliese, etc. Get the Pugliese. (My Costco sells wonderful bread like this too.)

Lightly chop up some garlic and roast it in the oven until they smell divine; then pop into a small olive oil and serve with some fresh Pugliese bread to dip. The roasted garlic olive oil is really something beautiful that takes the whole enterprise to a whole new level. Plain bread never tasted so damn good. This is a perfect base to your cheese platter, along with some wine.

(What's also great is that bread really costs peanuts. A fresh loaf costs maybe $2-3 max.)

Oh! And when the bread goes stale, you can either make bruschetta, or toss them in a ziploc with some olive oil and herbs to make some bitchin croutons.)
posted by krakus at 3:05 PM on May 13, 2014

Making your own crackers is pretty cool and also absurdly easy compared to basically any other baked goods.
posted by steinwald at 3:13 PM on May 13, 2014

This caramel corn recipe is to die for, and pretty easy!

This is a version of what in Australia we'd call Rocky Road - looks good. Rocky road traditionally has things like biscuit chunks, cut up jellies, and marshmallow in it - up to you (the linked recipe uses dried fruit & nuts). You can also adjust the proportions (lots of chocolate and a few fillings vs. tons of fillings held together with a little chocolate).

This post from awhile ago may help too: Small delicious homemade snack food?
The after dinner butter mints and homemade cheese-its sound amazing.

Candied nuts are easy too... almonds toasted with cinnamon sugar, or walnuts with sugar and peppermint essence and toasted in butter.

No-bake chocolate peanut butter bars. Essentially the same thing as the "puppy chow" mentioned previously (also good!).
posted by jrobin276 at 3:20 PM on May 13, 2014

Response by poster: Holy cow, you all are awesome. These are great ideas.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:29 PM on May 13, 2014

If it's dinner, then movie, I'd go with something sweet. Maybe fancy cookies or brownies. If it's movie, then dinner, some thing savory would be better.

But I have to ask, do you ever make dinner for the whole family?
posted by SemiSalt at 4:08 PM on May 13, 2014

Sliced red pepper and either hummus or good dip.
Baked brie, in puff pastry if you want to be fancy, and sliced apples to spread it on.
I love strawberies with sour cream and brown sugar, but hate the mess, so I mix the brown sugar into the sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt).
Peeled, sliced mango
Baked stuffed mushrooms
posted by theora55 at 4:53 PM on May 13, 2014

Liquid nitrogen ice cream
posted by Sophont at 5:04 PM on May 13, 2014

My husband makes me homemade mozzarella sticks and I love him for it.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:03 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it's cold out, go a baked wheel of camembert. Melty, yummy goodness.

Slice up a baguette and have lots of toppings (smoked oysters, cheeses, deli meats, antipasto, hazelnut spread).

Ice cream! On cones!

A mini lolly bar - gummy bears, marshmallows, chocolate buttons, raisins, etc.

Oysters are dead simple, if you guys are into them, just need to be bought fresh.

Sliced crudites (vegetables) and dips.

Sliced fruit - there's something that makes me feel very spoilt when there's a platter of ready, cut up fruit in front of me.
posted by shazzam! at 6:09 PM on May 13, 2014

If you're going to do something with pistachios, get some from the amazing Santa Barbara Pistachio Company.
I believe its the onion-garlic flavor that sold out in about half an hour at my house.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:49 PM on May 13, 2014

This whipped coconut cream sounds like it would be delicious on a bowl of berries and bananas, or on anything!
posted by sucre at 6:53 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tiger butter or peppermint bark.

Tiger butter: melt a bag of chocolate chips in the microwave by microwaving on low for 30 second increments. In a second bowl, melt a bag of white chocolate chips together with a cup of peanut butter, using the same 30 seconds on low increments. Spread the chocolate on a cookie sheet and swirl in the peanut butter/white chocolate mixture. Freeze in the freezer, and use a butter knife to break into chunks.

For peppermint bark, do the same thing, but instead of peanut butter mix peppermint extract into the white chocolate. If you want some extra crunch, crush some peppermint candy canes by rolling them with a rolling pin in a ziploc bag. Add the peppermint candy cane bits to your white chocolate mix. Freeze and break up the same way as above.

Cookies - you can make cookie dough and freeze it. Cut pieces off with a chef's knife and bake - yay fresh hot cookies!
posted by RogueTech at 8:20 PM on May 13, 2014

Pile up the cushions. Invite her to recline. Feed her grapes. (Or potato chips. Doesn't matter.)

Roughly torn figs, thick yoghurt, honey.

Eat Maltesers from her navel.

Melt chocolate in the microwave. Dip marshmallows.

Halve strawberries. Drizzle with a little reduced balsamic vinegar. Eat with your fingers.

Melon wrapped in prosciutto.

Fresh medjool dates and goat's cheese.

Small cups of chocolate mousse (just melted chocolate folded through whipped cream).

A big bowl of oven-baked sweet potato fries.

A bowl of oven-baked wingettes (jointed wings, tips removed, tossed in butter and seasoning, baked at hottest oven setting), cool ranch dip, and a single gigantic movie soda cup of Long Island iced tea with two straws.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:38 AM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chocolate truffles are actually pretty simple to make, while still being fancy and impressive.
posted by inertia at 7:10 AM on May 14, 2014

If she likes goat cheese, grapes with goat cheese pressed around them and then rolled in almonds are amazing and pretty simple to make.
posted by randomnity at 1:56 PM on May 14, 2014

Pig candy!

I suggest dividing the bacon squares equally in two separate bowls to avoid a fight. Don't ask me how I know.
posted by Karotz at 9:18 PM on May 14, 2014

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