It’s as if we have two Valentine’s Days.
One is for lovers – duh! This is the Valentine’s Day where romantic greeting cards and boxes of chocolate fly off the shelves, and where reservations at fine-dining restaurants reach an all-time high.
But there is another Valentine’s Day – the one for kids. This is the one filled with plush teddy bears and parties at school, where there are sweet treats and homemade, decorated boxes of holiday mail for classmates.
As a mom, I caught on early that food somehow tasted better to my kids if I made it into different shapes. I am a firm believer in appetizing presentation. On Valentine’s Day in particular, I put a lot of heart into cooking for my angels. I treated them to traditional heart-shaped pancakes and cookies, and went the extra mile with heart-shaped pizza and even heart-shaped cheeseburgers. They were extra yummy because they were obviously made with love.
Now that I am grandmom, I still have a chance to put some extra Valentine’s Day TLC into foods for my granddaughter, Rachel. Looking for something new, I found these clever, easy ideas on foodnetwork.com for your kids or your sweetheart’s inner child.
Don’t Go Bacon My Heart
Fold strips of bacon into hearts on a baking sheet (inset with a rack if you have one) and bake at 400 degrees until crisp.
The Heart of the Batter
Heart-shaped hotcakes take breakfast in bed to a new level. Think of a squeeze bottle filled with batter as your kitchen paintbrush. Squirt a heart outline on a hot griddle, let it start to set, and then flood it with more batter for charming less-than-perfect hotcakes.
Cross-my-Heart Cinnamon Twists
Shape ropes of puff pastry or pizza dough into hearts; brush with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking. Go over the top with a dipping sauce of warmed chocolate syrup or lavender honey.
To upgrade the brunch classic, use a cookie cutter to punch out hearts instead of circles from buttered slices of bread. Fry up the crust pieces, adding eggs to the holes after flipping. Serve the cut-out hearts alongside as “soldiers” for dipping into the yolks.
Sealed with a Shrimp
For those with a savory bent, two shrimp arranged kissing with curved-sides out make a you-know-what. (Use jumbo if you’re feeling fancy.)
Hot Date Cheese Plate
Use a mini heart cutter to shape cheddar, Havarti or other semi-firm cheeses into cute little tokens of affection that will appeal to both adults and the toddler set.
Home is Where the Pork Is
Nothing says “I love you” like a home-cooked meal. Butterfly a boneless pork chop or chicken breast and you have a lean, good-for-you main that’s fit for the dinner plate of that special someone.
For the Love of Fruit
A strawberry with shapely “shoulders” becomes a pink and red heart when you slice it in half lengthwise (cut out a notch at the stem on less-rotund fruit). Use as a cheerful topper for cupcakes, oatmeal and waffles.
Heartbeats and Cereal Treats
Toss in a handful of cranberries, freeze-dried strawberries or pink sprinkles to dress up your standard treat mix. Coating a heart-shaped cookie cutter with nonstick spray makes cutting bars from the pan easy.
Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.