One of the most important things to do when you have a family, and one of the easiest to forget, is to really make time to spend alone with your significant other. I think one of the best ways to do this is, you guessed it, to have a lovely meal together.

Now, restaurant dining is nice.There’s no mess to clean up and the duties of home life are out of sight and out of mind. But it can get expensive, there is the issue of finding a sitter, and frankly, to me, nothing says romance more than a home-cooked meal. Don’t worry just yet. I’m not talking about driving yourself crazy making some fancy meal that takes hours to prepare. Working on a complicated recipe while your kids are tugging at your legs is no way to get in the mood for romance. I am talking about something simple and elegant and perhaps a little indulgent. Something that doesn’t make it into your normal meal planning routine. Be sure to turn on some music, light candles, pull out some cloth napkins, whatever makes you feel special.

Here are some special meals for two that come to mind:

A couple of grilled steaks, baked potatoes and a wedge salad. I would go to the special butcher and buy really great steaks, because this is a very worthy occasion after all.

Spaghetti with Clams (or Mussels). Nothing says celebrate to me more than some sort of really good shellfish. All you have to do for this is steam some clams in a few yummy ingredients that you probably already have on hand, and toss with hot spaghetti. Again, feels festive, but is a 20 minute meal.

French Onion Soup. If you have never had homemade, I highly recommend you try it. It is really quite simple, it just takes the better part of an hour to simmer away. You know, just enough time to bathe the kids, put them in their pajamas, read stories, tuck in, etc. Serve with a green salad and a homemade dressing and you’re set. Perfect for keeping cozy on a cold night.

Another very simple yet decadent option is to get some fancy cheeses, salami, olives, and bread and have your very own indoor picnic for two. There is something that feels so European about eating this way to me…and I guess that’s why I consider it romantic.

What about you? Do you have special dinners that you prepare for your significant other?