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
fresh green pesto
spiced pinot noir + goat cheese turnovers [best straight from the oven]
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.