On Valentine’s Day, you don't need to pull out all the stops for the loved ones in your life. No fancy chocolates, no indulgent dishes to prepare (though, it does make the occasion special and romantic). Stick with what works, but with a little added love. Dress up those breakfast pancakes, or meatloaf at dinner, with a little holiday flair by making everyday food into a heart-shaped form on Valentine’s Day.
Pancakes: When pouring the batter onto the hot skillet, pour in a V-shaped motion to create hearts. Cook the pancakes as you normally would. Serve with some maple syrup that has been blended with raspberry purée, for a pink tint. You can also try waffles, if you have a heart-shaped waffle maker.
Toast: With a plain heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes after the bread is toasted (if you cut the bread before toasting, you run the risk of losing the bread in the toaster, if you have one with upright slots. It’s happened). Spread toast with your choice of toppings. My favorite is almond butter with homemade raspberry jam, or plain strawberry butter. You can also use heart-shaped pieces of toast when making French toast.
Egg in Toast: Instead of serving a fried egg on toast, cut a small heart-shaped hole out of the center of a square slice of bread and cook the egg in the bread. First, butter both sides of the bread and place in a hot, buttered skillet over medium heat. Immediately crack an egg into the heart-shaped hole and cook until the egg is just set and the bread is golden. Flip to quickly cook the other side, and then serve.
Grilled Cheese: Turn your kids’ favorite grilled cheese sandwich into two little hearts with the help of cookie cutters. Serve the sandwiches with a cup of cream of tomato soup for dipping; it’s a fun and delicious lunch that even grown-ups will like. The same technique can also be used for regular sandwiches, or even pizza.
Fruits and Vegetables: We love the idea The Full Plate Blog’s Eila Johnson had for making eating vegetables fun for your kids. Using small cookie cutters, she cut out little heart-shaped pieces from red bell peppers. You can do the same with apple slices, mango slices, pear slices, even beets and carrots (if you want). Or, toss heart-shaped croutons into a standard green salad.
As a Snack:
Brownies: After you bake a batch of brownies, let them completely cool in the pan. With your choice of heart-shaped cookie cutter, punch out little heart brownies. You can serve them as is, or dress them up with a little frosting and red or pink sprinkles.
Cookies: Inspired by these sugar cookies that have been decorated for the holidays, create your own heart-shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day, then decorate them with pink and red frosting and sprinkles. This is a fun project that you can do together with your children, and they can then gift their decorated cookies as “edible Valentines” to friends and family. If you don’t like sugar cookies, you can also make heart-shaped dried cherry shortbread by simply adding dried cherries to this basic recipe, and using heart-shaped cookie cutters.
Whoopie Pies: Inspired by these whoopie pies that you can buy, create your own version at home. Using a simple whoopie pie recipe (that is also gluten-free!), shape the devil’s food cake into more of a V or heart shape when portioning out the batter. Bake as normal. When making the marshmallow, add a couple of drops of red food coloring to the boiling sugar mixture to tint the marshmallow pink, then continue as normal with the recipe.
Meatloaf: Traditionally, meatloaf is either baked in a loaf pan, or shaped into a log and baked free-form. For a Valentine’s Day twist on this comfort food dish, mold the meat into hearts. First, shape the meat into large balls. Flatten the top, on one side, and then using two hands, shape the round gently into a heart. Bake as normal, and top with the red sauce.
Mashed Potatoes: If we’re serving heart-shaped meatloaf for dinner, mashed potatoes, piped in the shape of heart, are the perfect side dish. You can also create the heart with spoonfuls of the mashed potato, as well (tinting your potatoes pink is optional).
Raviolis: For those who are up for more of an adventure in the kitchen, make your own heart-shaped raviolis. Use a simple cheese ravioli recipe and beet purée to tint your filling red, if you wish. Instead of cutting the raviolis apart with a knife, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter; just be sure the cutter is large enough that there is enough sealed pasta around the filling, so your ravioli don’t explode when you cook them.