Easy & Delicious Recipes to Impress a Date?

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Q: I'm a single, 27-year-old gal with a problem: when it comes to cooking for someone, especially a date, I get extremely nervous! What is a fool-proof, delicious meal that is affordable (not lobster, for example), and has at least a little 'wow' factor? 

My other question is: how can I look like I'm cooking with confidence and ease? Don't get me wrong, I can cook, but I feel like a total scatter brain when I have an audience. At least I don't use my oven for stiletto storage. ;)

Sent by Andrea

Editor: Andrea, braised meat — especially braised beef — is foolproof, utterly delicious and can be made almost completely ahead of time. If you have a slow-cooker, it doesn't even have to heat up your kitchen. Beef shanks braised in red wine is a favorite in my household. I serve it over polenta:

A more summer-appropriate dish is steamed mussels, another easy and reliably tasty recipe:

The best way to cook confidently is to practice! If guests make you nervous, try to do as much of the work ahead of time as possible and make a recipe several times before cooking it in front of others. Good luck!

Readers, do you have any foolproof recipes to impress a date? Any advice for cooking more confidently in front of guests?

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(Image: Emma Christensen)

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