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I love date nights at home. Honestly, I’d choose a quiet night at home with Mark over going out almost anytime. We started these dates when our children were babies and went to bed early. It felt expensive and tiresome to regularly set up babysitting, never mind looking for the perfect window between feeding a baby. Home felt simpler.

Once a week, we’d tuck our children in early as usual, turn off our cell phones and computers for the night, pour a glass of wine, and unwind together. Over the years, as our family has changed, so have these dates. Our children aren’t ever asleep at 7pm, making it trickier to schedule, but I also have a bit more energy to spice these evenings up with special desserts or cocktails or snacks. I’ve also planned them for different times of day, like I previously wrote here. Of course we still go out occasionally for dinner or concerts or special events, but honestly these times at home still win in my heart.


For Valentine’s Day this year, I’m planning a tapas style meal, full of dips and sauces, breads, roasted and raw veggies, cheeses, meats. These small plates are textural, sensorial, entirely engaging, and dare I say sexy? Paired with your favorite wine, they’re perfect for a late evening rendezvous. And the best part for busy parents everywhere? They’re relatively easy to make, since you can make much of it ahead of time and most of it can be served cold. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

roasted asparagus + tomatoes 

kalamata olives

fresh green pesto

spiced pinot noir + goat cheese turnovers [best straight from the oven]

brie cheese

caramelized onions

sautéed mushrooms 

sliced french baguette [toast them if you prefer crunch]

Italian dry salami + prosciutto 

sweet red pepper relish



+ I made the spiced pinot + goat cheese turnovers last weekend, and they are truly swoon-worthy. I prefer them best straight from the oven when the creamy goat cheese and sauce run out from the pastry. If you’re needing a gluten-free option, consider making the choux pastry dough from this book.

+ Add cold meats and cheeses when possible to save time. For a fancier meat option, try sliced beef tenderloin. My favorite recipe is in this book, as well as tons of other inspiration for seasonal date night meals.

+ Use high-quality jarred sauces for an easy stand-in on homemade ones. I snatched this sweet red pepper relish from this month’s Hatchery box. Since it was in a sample size already, I simply popped the lid and added a spoon for serving.

+ Take a few moments beforehand to style all of the ingredients on one board, tray, or tablecloth. It will feel a little more special than the average dinner at home.

+ Eat by candlelight and turn on soft music. It feels cliche, but it can successfully drown out the distractions of an unclean kitchen or a pile of toys lingering nearby.

As a partner with Hatchery, I receive a small portion of whatever is purchased through the links. As a perk, any friends + family of Cloistered Away can get their first Hatchery box for $10, using the code CLOISTEREDAWAY. All images and thoughts are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. Happy Valentine’s Day. 




9 replies
  1. Vicky
    Vicky says:

    This is great! We did the same thing and I’m just seeing your post now! I bought many of our tapas prepared from Wegmans and cheese from a local farm. Date nights in are a fave! (I put a link to our date night pic from Instagram below)

  2. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    We are doing this! Thank you for the idea. It sounds much more romantic and won’t cost us our summer vacation;)

  3. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    These are some of my favorite pics you’ve taken. So lovely!

    Love all these ideas! I want to make the turnovers, but they’re out of stock with the Promiscuous Pinot Noir with Allspice & Cinnamon! Tell them to get it back in stock! ;)

  4. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    I LOVE reading this!!! My hubby & I have done this too for years, (lol, although typically he travels for work on Valentines). Love this space you have created, its beautiful, and so encouraging. Peace, Crystal

  5. Audie
    Audie says:

    This is a fabulous idea and your photography is gorgeous! I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog months ago.

    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Audie. I’m so grateful for your encouragement and to hear this space has been meaningful to you. Best to you. x


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