Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Easy Valentine’s Dessert: 6-Ingredient Molten Chocolate Cakes.

For those of you looking for a last-minute dessert idea for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, here is a molten chocolate cake that tastes every bit as fancy as the restaurant ones, but is easy enough to leave plenty of time for romance!

These beauties became a family tradition for us the first Valentine’s Day after The Munchkin was born, when we weren’t able to go out. This year we actually got a babysitter & get to go out for the first Valentine’s Day since then, so I decided to make them tonight for Sunday Dinner so I could share the recipe with you. I’m sure that My Husband The Eater minded terribly.

I think I first got this from Kraft food&family magazine. This recipe yields 4 small cakes; you can easily halve it for just the two of you, or make the full recipe & save the other 2 to eat later (though they will be less molten). I won’t judge you one bit…. since that’s what we do every year.

  • 4 (1 oz.) squares Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate (or for more richness, use 4 oz. of your favorite bittersweet chocolate)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • whipped cream or ice cream, for serving
  1. Preheat your oven to 425. Butter or grease 4, 3/4-cup custard cups or souflee dishes. Place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Microwave chocolate & butter in a large microwaveable bowl on high 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with a wire whisk until the chocolate is melted too.
  3. Stir in sugar with the whisk until well blended.
  4. Whisk in the eggs & egg yolks. Stir in flour.
  5. Divide the batter equally among prepared cups. Bake 13-14 minutes or until the sides are firm but the centers are still soft.
  6. Let stand 1 minute, then gently run a small knife around the cakes to loosen them. Carefully invert them onto dessert dishes & serve immediately with ice cream or whipped cream.


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Fresh strawberry frosting for heart cutout cookies.

Have you heard of Sprinkles Cupcakes? The first time I heard of them was when they featured this recipe on the Martha Stewart Show a few years ago. Then the California bakery opened a store on the Upper East Side shortly before we left New York, & I had grand designs of doing an East Side-West Side, West Coast-East Coast cupcake taste test to see if they competed with Magnolia, but ran out of time. So I still haven’t had one of their cupcakes. But I’ve never forgotten this frosting recipe!

While I was planning a slew of projects & activities to keep The Munchkin & me occupied & sane in our tiny apartment during Three-Day Potty Training (incidentally, it worked!), I decided on cookies instead of cupcakes because I knew she’d have more fun cutting them out. I had some Pillsbury refrigerated dough on hand, which saved prep time, but honestly the strawberry flavor didn’t come out very well because of the vanilla cookies. Ideally, you’d use the Sprinkles strawberry cupcake recipe too so you really get the strawberry flavor, or if you did do cookies, add some puree or a fruity extract (like lemon or orange) to the dough. But it sure does give a beautiful soft pink hue!

If you plan to decorate your cookies with piping, rather than just sprinkles, you’ll probably want to strain your strawberry puree & add enough cream to reach your desired piping consistency. Also, try to freeze your own fresh strawberries. Buying a whole bag of frozen strawberries at the store not only wastes money & strawberries if you’re not going to be using them; commenters had stated that the less-fresh strawberries made their frosting more gray than pink.

  • about 8 medium strawberries, frozen & thawed (I think they release more juice when they’re frozen… but I could be wrong.)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, firm & slightly cold
  • pinch salt
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla
  1. Puree your strawberries in a food processor. (I used a blender & ended up with some small chunks, rather than a completely smooth puree.)
  2. Cream butter & salt in stand mixer with paddle attachment until fluffy. Reduce speed & slowly add powdered sugar.
  3. Add vanilla & 3+ Tbsp. (to taste) puree; mix until just blended & even in color. Don’t overmix.

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Valentine’s Day Soup & Sandwich.

I feel like tomato soup is just ideal for Valentine’s Day. If you’re not in Florida, where it hit 80 today, it’s still cold enough for soup in February. Plus, the soup is PINK! Could this be any more perfect? Yes, if you add a heart-shaped sandwich!

For our little family, I made a half recipe of this creamy tomato soup, with one tweak, & then served it with grilled cheese sandwiches on whole-wheat bread cut into heart shapes with a large cookie cutter. Comforting & delicious! (Oh, & lower in fat than a cream-based soup!)

Here’s how I made it:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, plus additional leaves, chiffonade, for garnish
  • 3 oz. softened Neufchatel cheese
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 can (15 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic & saute about 2 minutes, until tender.
  2. Reduce heat to low & add paprika, basil, & cream cheese. Gradually stir in milk & soup & stir until smooth.
  3. Turn heat back up to medium & add tomatoes, stirring constantly & breaking up tomatoes further by squashing them with the back of a wooden spoon, until hot.
  4. Serve with heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches!

Get Your Craft On Tuesdays

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Oatmeal-Raisin Pancakes.

Our first Valentine’s Day as new parents was a family occasion: we went to breakfast at the highly-touted Uptown Cafe in Bloomington. There I tried the special of the day, oatmeal-raisin pancakes. They were sublime… probably the best pancakes I’d ever had.

So tonight, for “brinner” (breakfast for dinner — any other Scrubs fans out there?), I decided to make my own. I found an oatmeal pancakes recipe over at Bees Knees Recipes as my jumping-off point. The result? Well, let’s just say that if they were this tasty even with an uneven-heating electric range & my atrocious pancake-flipping skills (if you could even call them that), they’ve gotta be great!

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup raisins (or to taste)
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats & milk & let stand 5 minutes. (I let it stand while I got my frittata ready to go in the oven.)
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. Add vanilla, eggs, & applesauce to oat mixture & mix well. Then blend in flour mixture. Finally, stir in raisins.
  4. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to ladle batter for each pancake onto your nonstick griddle. You’ll likely need to stir the batter up again with each batch to keep the raisins from settling at the bottom.
  5. Serve with delicious butter syrup (below). For some reason, regular old plain syrup doesn’t cut it anymore for us!

Butter syrup:

Just put a 2:1 ratio of syrup (doesn’t need to be pure — we use Log Cabin) to butter in a Pyrex measuring cup & melt in the microwave. Swirl, pour over pancakes, & enjoy!

Tidy Mom

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with sweet treats, sticky-sweet kisses from your little ones, & time with your sweetheart.

Because of my husband’s late Monday classes, we’ll be spending the evening with our standard Monday-night Dunkin’ & “Chuck,” but have a romantic dinner with a city view planned for this weekend!

What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day?

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Valentine’s breakfast.

Almost no effort, & so cute! (Yes, I know I should’ve gone with the pink plate, but a certain small human was getting hungry.)

Heart-shaped Egg in a Hole

  1. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.
  2. Use a cookie cutter to cut a heart shape out of the middle of a piece of whole-grain bread.
  3. Melt about a teaspoon of butter in your pan, distributing it evenly.
  4. Place the piece of bread into the pan & fill the hole with egg. I scrambled my egg in a small bowl first because runny yolks creep me out, & since I was using regular sandwich bread I only used half of the egg in each slice. But you could use Texas Toast & a sunny-side-up egg if it doesn’t give you panic attacks.
  5. After a minute or two, when the egg is set on the bottom, carefully flip your toast. Place the heart shape you cut out in the pan too so it can toast as well.
  6. Enjoy a balanced Valentine’s breakfast with a glass of milk & some of I am Mommy’s ingeniously festive heart-shaped strawberries! Just make sure you use the pink plate.

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How I got my man.

Don’t have a valentine this year? Here’s how to get one before Monday.

It’s a well-known fact that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but nowhere is that aphorism taken more to heart than Provo, Utah. When I first got there, I was told — in all seriousness too — that the way to get a date was to bake cookies. But Provo guys get sick of cookies after awhile. Lucky for me, I was one of the few girls in my complex who could cook something other than dessert. It’s how my husband agreed to let our mutual friend set us up on our blind date.

A week or two after that first date, the time came that I needed to prove that I really was as good a cook as he had been promised.

No pressure.

So I decided to make something that only took 3 or 4 ingredients, but that looked impressive & was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made growing up. Think of it as the quick Mormon version of Chicken Madiera. We call it Apple Juice Chicken now, but if you really want to impress your man, use the foreign-sounding name.

He loved it. It’s still his favorite. And now you know how I tricked my husband into marrying me.

Virgin Chicken Madiera, alias Apple Juice Chicken

  • about 1/3 cup flour
  • about 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • about 1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 can Golden Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 can apple juice (or more if you need more sauce)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine flour & paprika in a shallow dish & spread evenly.
  3. Heat oil in a stove- & oven-safe pot with lid (I use a LeCreuset braiser).
  4. Dredge chicken breast halves in flour & place in oil. Brown both sides.
  5. Remove chicken from pot & remove pot from heat. Add soup & apple juice. Return pot to heat & bring mixture to boiling, making sure to break up any lumps.
  6. Turn off the heat again & submerge the chicken. Cover with lid & put in the oven for 40 minutes or until done through.
  7. Serve over rice.
  8. Wait for your just-a-friend to ask you out, or for your boyfriend to propose to you. (You may be waiting 8 months… cough cough… but it’ll come. Trust me.)

What’s your sweetheart’s favorite dish that you make?

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Bee mine.

Looking for a Valentine’s treat to make with your kids that isn’t heart-shaped?

How about these sweet honey bees?

(Please forgive the photos… After an outdoor temper tantrum resulted in my camera hitting the asphalt, my lens no longer zooms. Add that to the chronically terrible light in my apartment, & close-up photos will look interesting until we can get the lens replaced. Or we move. Or both.)

I found this recipe at Disney’s Family Fun Magazine site for “Bee Mines” & decided to make it my own. Theirs sure are cute, but they used sliced almonds for the wings. A) I didn’t feel like buying a whole bag of sliced almonds for 1 recipe, & B) They wound up looking suspiciously like striped, eyeless rabbits.

So here’s my version.

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Rice Krispies (a Ziploc bag & a rolling pin can do wonders)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • optional: mini chocolate chips (maybe white chocolate?) They would make for better eyes than my method did with the piping bag.

1. Combine peanut butter, honey, & crushed cereal in a bowl & stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

2. Shape heaping teaspoonfuls (I used an actual tea spoon — you know, from your silverware drawer — because it was already an oval shape) into teardrop-like shapes (rounded end is the head, pointed end is the stinger). Chill until firm.

3. Pour chocolate chips into a small Ziploc baggie or disposable piping bag & microwave on medium 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stopping every 30 seconds to rotate & knead the bag.

4. Clip off the corner to make a small opening in the bag. Pipe bee wings onto wax paper, making sure there’s plenty of chocolate at each wing’s base for stability; put the wax paper in the freezer to harden.

5. Remove bees from refrigerator. Pipe 3-4 stripes across each bee’s body. Don’t pipe them straight across; round them a little to give the illusion of a head. (I know, I’m not very good at explaining this. Here’s a picture.)

6. Remove wings from freezer. Pipe a dollop of chocolate between the top two stripes & press a wing set into the chocolate dollop to attach. Pipe on eyes (or use mini chocolate chips).

7. Serve chilled or they will get mushy & melted… Just like you do for your Valentine. {tee hee!}

So sweet!

Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays

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Love your heart, curry style

As promised, here is the first of what I hope to be many contributor posts from talented friends who’ve taught me a thing or two about domesticity. I first met “Momo,” as her firstborn writes her name, in Indiana when our husbands were both toiling away in law school. Countless late-night board game sessions & a couple trips to the Monroe County Fair later (trust me, it’s an experience), I consider her my very best friend. We’re conspiring to move to the same city so we can be neighbors again, but until the planets align to make that happen, she & her family are living in smalltown Idaho. She’s a fabulous cook; some of my favorite recipes are hers, written down on “High School Musical” stationery. I know you’ll love them too — even without Zac Efron smiling back at you as you read!

I can’t help thinking of that old ditty about beans being good for your heart as I share this recipe.  Heart health has become an important issue in our family recently, so the “heart” part of Valentine’s Day will take on new meaning for our holiday eating this year!  While we will still be having the occasional yummy treat or two, we will be eating healthier overall.

This recipe is one I have been making for over a year and that is well loved by all of us, #1 and #2 included.  It is perfect for this time of year when cauliflower is abundant and inexpensive.  I have eliminated any added salt to make it healthier, and for us the curry is strong enough that we don’t miss it. The only “exotic” ingredient involved is fresh ginger, but I can find it at my local grocery store, so don’t be afraid, you can too.

This little nugget of ginger (in #1′s hand) was enough to make this recipe twice. I always choose the smallest piece I can find and it is usually more than enough.

The recipe (originally found in Good Housekeeping, January 2009 and modified by me):

Cauliflower Curry

serves 6-8

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 can vegetable broth

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets (5-6 cups)

1 can reduced sodium garbanzo beans, drained and well rinsed

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup plain yogurt, plus more for serving

Have all of the vegetables chopped and ready before you begin.

In a 6 quart dutch oven or a similar size soup pot, heat oil on medium heat until hot, then add carrots and onions.  Cook for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Stir frequently.

In the meantime, prepare rice according to package instructions.

Stir ginger and curry into carrot mixture and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil on high heat. Stir in cauliflower and garbanzo beans.  Cover and cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.

Stir chopped cilantro and yogurt into stew.  Serve in bowls over rice and top with additional yogurt and cilantro if you like.

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I heart pizza.

We love pizza. If I don’t feel like cooking & I ask my husband what he wants to get for dinner, 95% of the time it’ll be pizza. Give The Munchkin a choice, & she’ll say either “pizza” or “pancakes.” About once a week, we make pizza bagels for lunch. We love pizza. My husband prefers Chicago-style, but living here is giving him an appreciation for the finer points of my favorite, New York-style pizza. I won’t give you a run-down of my favorite pizza places on both sides of the Hudson (unless you ask, & then I’ll be more than happy to oblige) because today we’re talking about heart-shaped pizza. You know, the kind you make yourself.

What? No delivery? Not even DiGiornio?

Heart-shaped pizza has a special place in my heart because when my husband & I were dating at BYU, he took me to the pizza place in Provo, The Brick Oven, for Valentine’s Day. On the menu? Heart-shaped pizza. Then he took me to my first BYU Cougar Basketball game. Then we said “I love you” for the first time. (This is where you say, “Awwwww…”) So a few weeks ago, to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the blind date where we met, I made us a heart-shaped pizza. Just like old times.

I bought some dough for $1.95 at a bakery here in town. But you could make your own. I spread it out into a heart shape (took way longer than expected) onto some parchment paper & covered it with sauce. I prefer the Contadina sauce in the squeeze bottle because it tastes the most homemade & is super easy to spread evenly. But again, you could make your own.

Then I scattered part-skim mozzarella cheese all over it. You know, because we’re being heart-healthy here on our heart-shaped pizza.

Then I put on the topping we had: mini pepperonis. Don’t judge. After that I slid the pizza, parchment paper & all, onto the pizza stone I’d had heating up in our 450-degree oven. The parchment paper eliminates the need for cornmeal or one of those nifty pizza paddles (I wonder what the technical term is) you see at pizza parlors. The stone helps the pizza bake evenly without burning. But, as you can see, it doesn’t guarantee against ridiculous bubbling.

This could be part of a fun family Valentine’s Day dinner (since it’s a weeknight, & let’s be serious: what parents are going to have time to go out to dinner on actual Valentine’s Day this year?) that everyone can help with.

What’s on your weeknight Valentine’s Day menu this year?

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