A Valentine’s Date Night In

Love & Lemons Valentine's Date Night Ideas

For years, Jack and I have been celebrating Valentine’s Day at home in lieu of long waits for dinners at fancy restaurants. Tackling a new kitchen project together – even if you mess it up – is always tons of fun. Here are 3 date night ideas… each with a Love & Lemons spin, of course!

#1: CREATE A SIGNATURE COCKTAIL

prep ahead:
1. Make fancy ice in the shape of hearts or x’s and o’s – how cute?!

2. Think about some fun memories you’ve shared over drinks. It can be as extravagant as the Caipirinhas you sipped on your honeymoon in Rio or as simple as the margaritas you love at your favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. If freestyle mixing sounds scary, you can get a book or check out some recipes online to use as a guide.

3. Gather ingredients for your cocktail that you also like in your food. For me, that means a lot of fresh citrus and herbs. Lemons, limes, grapefruit, blood oranges, basil, mint, rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, and ginger (or better yet, ginger juice) are all cocktail-worthy ingredients. Most drinks need a little sweetness, so either make a simple syrup (simmer 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, stir until dissolved) or get agave nectar (my preference). For lighter cocktails, have some sparkling water on hand (I like Topo Chico) for effervescence.

4. Stock a simple bar. You don’t need to buy the whole liquor store to get started, just choose a few liquors that you already know you like. I keep vodka, gin, tequila, and bourbon on-hand. Pick up some Angostura bitters (or fancy flavored bitters) to play with – a few drops will take your bourbon drinks to the next level.

the night of:
1. Squeeze your citrus in style with this pretty Olivewood Citrus Reamer.

2. Shake or stir your creations.

3. Serve them in gorgeous glasses like these Schott Zwiesel Pure Double Old-Fashioned Glasses.

#2: MAKE PASTA TOGETHER

prep ahead:
1. Choose a recipe and gather your ingredients (this is my go-to fresh pasta recipe). Once your pasta is made, Linguine with Winter Greens (pictured above) or Lemony White Wine pasta are nice, simple choices for fresh pasta.

2. Make the pasta dough and let it chill in the fridge a few hours in advance.

the night of:
1. Roll the dough (I use my KitchenAid pasta attachment) and make pasta! Tag team – one person does the rolling while the other grabs the pasta and strings it on a drying rack.

2. Serve your pasta in these ultra chic Fortessa Rim Pasta Bowls (pictured), or Fortessa Coupe Bowls, and twirl it on fancy Royal Pacific Flatware.

#3: TRY A NEW DESSERT

Jack usually makes his infamous Molten Chocolate Cakes. This year, we’re making adorable Heart Shaped Lemon Madeleines! Get the pan here and the recipe here. Mini Valentine’s Day Spatulas are optional but, in my opinion, way too cute to resist!

#4: AND FOR THE ULTIMATE DATE, WIN A TRIP TO SONOMA! 

This is an idyllic trip that I’ve personally been on. The food and wine were amazing, the Fairmont Sonoma was luxurious, and the cooking class at the original Williams Sonoma store was tons of fun. Click here to enter. My fingers are crossed for you!

– xoxo & Happy Valentine’s Day!

This post was created in partnership, and is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Fortessa.

pasta-rolling photo credit: Kate LeSueur via Camille Styles.

Pre-order The Love & Lemons Cookbook!

Pre-order The Love & Lemons Cookbook!

It’s so surreal to be sitting here writing this post. When we first started talking about this book (nearly 2 years ago!), the year 2016 felt like a lifetime away. It’s no joke, the process of publishing a book is LONG! But here we are – 120 recipes, roughly 300 photos and 1 broken dishwasher later – and it’s now available for preorder and will be out March 29th!

So what’s the book about? Simple, beautiful cooking with fresh seasonal ingredients. The recipe chapters are organized by vegetable so that your cooking inspiration can start where mine does – the farmer’s market, your CSA box, or sometimes even the contents of your fridge. The recipes are easy to make, and almost all of them use ingredients you’ll have on hand.

How do I know what you’ll have on hand? At the beginning of the book, I have a handy guide to keeping your pantry stocked, and most of the recipes in the book can be made with those ingredients. There’s also a section called “What to make with what you have” that offers creative tips for those times when your pantry isn’t entirely stocked. This is the way I cook every day and the book has a nice well-designed way of describing it.

I also have some mix-and-match sections at the end of the book for things like salsas, guacamole, pestos… because who wants just one option when you can have 4! And of course, the book is all vegetarian with many, many vegan and gluten-free options.

I hope most of all that this book not only gives you delicious recipes (Eggplant & Mushroom “Meatballs,” Veggie Ceviche, and Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are some of my favorites!), but also gives you some inspiration to play around in your own kitchen.

Preorder it now! 
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / Google Play
iBooks / IndieBound / KindleKobo / Nook

In Canada: Amazon / Indigo

In Europe: Book Depository / Amazon Germany / BOL Holland / Amazon IT
Books.ch Switzerland / Amazon UK / Amazon France / Amazon Spain

In Asia: Kinokuniya Singapore

Here’s a little sneak peek!

Pre-order The Love & Lemons Cookbook! Pre-order The Love & Lemons Cookbook! Pre-order The Love & Lemons Cookbook!

And a special shout out to my favorite collaborators: Jenn Elliot Blake for your gorgeous prop styling, and Trina Bentley (Make & Matter) who brought the Love & Lemons vision to life through beautiful typography and design.

10 Healthy Soups and Stews

10 Healthy Soups and Stews

A few weeks ago, we flew out of Chicago just before the snow started falling and the temps dropped below zero. This year, unlike most winters, we got lucky. If you’re in the midwest (or another frigid location) – my heart goes out to you. I don’t know how you do it, but here are ten of of my favorite healthy soup recipes that will hopefully help warm & nourish the soul.

I make these all the time, but I want to know – what are you favorite soups?

Pictured above: Butternut Squash Soup
Curried Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew / Ribollita Tuscan White Bean Stew
Chickpea Miso Noodle Soup / Tomato Chickpea & Coconut Soup

10 Healthy Soups and Stews

Pictured Above: Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili
“Creamy” Sundried Tomato Soup / Spicy Black Bean Soup
Ginger Miso Soup with Tokyo Turnips / Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew

Hemp Seed & Kale Pesto

Kale & Hemp Seed Pesto

I freaking love pesto. I make it all the time – usually with any herbs, greens, nuts, or seeds I have around. I like to swirl it into my soups, top it onto my eggs, or dollop it onto big salad-ey grain bowls. While there are one or two (or twelve) pesto recipes on this site already, I really love this version, so I think there’s room for one more.

Before I started the blog, I would have never imagined just how many people are allergic to nuts. So in the spirit of the healthy new year, this tasty pesto is dairy free, gluten free (obviously), and nut free with omega-rich hemp seeds in place of the nuts. It’s also basil-free because, well, it’s winter and basil is hard to find.

Kale & Hemp Seed Pesto

Make this and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days – put it on anything & everything (or use it in one of these recipes!)

Top 10 Recipes of 2015

Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas & Kale / gluten free, vegan-option

Happy new year! I hope you’re all having a lovely holiday weekend.

I have some exciting things planned for 2016 (like our book! more on that soon). But first, I thought it would be fun to share what all of your favorite recipes were over the past year. These 10 recipes topped the analytics, but also ranked high in “I made this and loved it!” comments that were either made here on the blog, in social media, or told to me in person. And always – let me know if there’s anything you would especially like to see in 2016!

#1: Spaghetti Squash with Kale & Chickpeas (pictured above)
Even though spaghetti squash is decidedly not spaghetti, this is a delicious go-to winter recipe, especially if you’re trying to eat a little lighter in the new year.

Butternut Squash Kale & Quinoa Stew / vegan, gluten free

#2: Butternut Squash, Kale & Quinoa Stew
A one-pot hearty dinner for a cold night – even better for lunch the next day.

Seared Tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches / vegan

#3: Seared Tofu Banh Mi’s
And here I was thinking you didn’t like tofu but this made it to #3! Do you want more tofu recipes?

Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos / vegan-option

#4: Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos
All my favorite things – wrapped in a tortilla.

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado Tahini Sauce / vegan, gluten free

#5: Kale Salad with Avocado Tahini Sauce
Dark leafy greens + a creamy tangy dressing. A perfect way to start 2016.

Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder

#6: Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder
A hearty & spicy stew, made of sweet corn & thickened with potatoes. No one will know this one’s vegan.

Jalapeño Cauliflower Shells & Cheese

#7: Jalapeño Cauliflower Shells & Cheese
This one started as an instagram and soon became an insta-favorite.

Spicy Mango Avocado Rice Bowl / vegan & gluten free

#8: Spicy Mango Avocado Rice Bowl
A light and bright bowl with black forbidden rice – I could go for this one for lunch right now…. mmm.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut Oil

#9: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut Oil
A sweet little treat – although I also really love these cookies too.

Curried Avocado Chickpea Salad Sliders / vegan-option

#10: Curried Avocado Chickpea Salad Sliders
Is it picnic weather yet?