A Valentine’s Date Night In

3 Valentine's Date Night Ideas for signature cocktails, homemade pasta dinner recipes, and romantic desserts.

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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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  1. I was sick for valentine’s day so it was a complete surprise when my bf had cooked dinner and it was just perfect. Later he told me that he used your recipe and I just wanted to thank you for that.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      awww, that’s the sweetest thing, you just made my day :). I hope you’re feeling better!

  2. I need that “Sweet” spatula!
    And I need to make this because it loks AMAZING. We still haven’t celebrated Valentine’s day, how many days later?

  3. Anne from greenearthpackaging.co.uk

    Look nice, I love this! I must try this.

  4. We typically enjoy Valentine’s dinner at home. Mostly because we wanna make our own dessert! And fighting crowds is no fun! Thanks for your inspiration!

  5. I absolutely LOVE these date night in ideas! Especially creating your own signature drink as a couple. I think me and Ryan might do that tonight! 😀

  6. Molly from heartsandflours.com

    What a lovely idea! Your pictures are so crisp, clean, and beautiful:)

  7. Date night in is so much better than dealing with the hub bub of Valentine’s Day!

  8. Kari from sweetteasweetie.com

    We’ll also be staying in and cooking together this Valentine’s Day! It’s so much more romantic than the over croweded, over priced restaurants.

  9. I love this! We do date night in too, and I’ve been looking for fresh ideas ideas. Currently homemade pizza is on the menu (what is it about Italian that is so utterly romantic?), and I love the idea of adding a signature cocktail. Too fun!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I was *this* close to going with homemade pizza for this post 🙂

  10. Aimee from foodbanjo.com

    We also do date night in! I love just staying home and relaxing. We usually make pasta and creme brulee. But we may switch it up this year. I love these ideas, and creating a signature cocktail. Although we got married in Italy, and love wine.. so there’s always that option!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.