The way my romance novels usually work is this: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again. Boy says the three little words girl wants to hear, which is “I love you,” of course. Boy and girl live happily ever after.

In real life the three other little words I and most other women I know love to hear are: “I’ll make dinner.’

Probably because my father was a wonderful cook who showed his love for his family with tasty meals, for me, a man who can cook, or at least plate up dinner, is a winner in the romance department. Both my sons-in-law cook and my daughters found that almost as irresistible as their handsome faces and charming personalities. (Although one of them once tried to wok an artichoke which we all find rather endearing.)

So, if you want to impress your woman, listen up, men. And, ladies, drop a hint if you want to hear those three other words. Print this out and tape it to the mirror where he’ll see it when he shaves.

Don’t know how to cook, guys? You don’t have to. There are at least two ways to make dinner at home with no cooking skills whatsoever.

1. You can bring home takeout from her favorite Thai, Chinese or Middle Eastern restaurant. Open a bottle of wine. Light a couple candles. Serve the meal at the table on plates, not from the carton, and with silverwear, not plastic forks. Done.

2. Better yet, cruise the deli section of your favorite grocery store and assemble a plate of noshes. You can feed your mate, serve her little bits and bites of her favorite things, intersperse the food with nibbles on her neck–(oops, sorry, romance writer digression there.)

Serve the noshes with a salad and the above mentioned wine, candles and nice plates and you’re golden.

Not sure what to include in an appetizer dinner? Here’s a photo from Pinterest to inspire you:

appetizer dinner

There are all sorts of cold meats–salami, ham, turkey–cheeses, olives and crackers, looks like roasted peppers, too.

You could add hummus and pita bread cut into triangles, a pate, her favorite nuts, smoked salmon, herring in sour cream, salsa and chips, little cornichon pickles, grapes, a tangerine to peel and feed to her a section at a time.

Oh, and the salad? Easy–my all time favorite is caprese–a slice of tomato with a basil leaf or two, topped with a bit of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of good balsamic vinegar. Here’s the visual for that one:caprese salad

Throw in a bit of chocolate–truffles, pre-made brownies or cookies–and you’ve got a great dinner with no cooking involved. And when the meal is over, you’ll be hearing the other three little words, the “I love you” ones, from her! I guarantee.

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