Although I wish I had pastry-decorating talents, me and my pastry tip kit will never see eye-to-eye. However, I do love Valentine’s Day with all my heart and have come up with some delicious DIY ways to bring some love to the table. Try making a day-long menu of edible Valentines on February 14th (or any day of the year to show your family you love them in a culinary way!):
Breakfast Lovely Pancakes: Make my no-fail, healthy pancake/waffle batter (recipe below). Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. This part will take some practice so allow for some abstract shapes at first. Pour the pancake batter into a heart-shape using whatever method you prefer. Try pouring batter from a measuring cup, a small ladle or a plastic squeeze bottle (I got one cheap at Bed, Bath & Beyond and cut the top a little more to make a bigger hole). Make the outline of an exaggerated heart-shape, then fill in the middle. Flip the pancake when the edges start to look dry. Serve with strawberry slices cut lengthwise, which naturally look like hearts.
Lunch Sandwich Some Love: With a good, sharp-edged, heart-shaped cookie cutter, turn just about any sandwich into a Valentine. Avoid ones made with veggies which won’t cut well. Cold cut, cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut the best.
Dinner Pizza Pie of Love: Make your own pizza dough (surprisingly easy) or buy some at the grocery store (Whole Foods makes a great one). Roll it out on a floured baking surface like a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone. Using a table knife, cut it into a heart-shape (this works for individual pizzas too). Top with your favorite toppings. Be sure to show off the pizza before cutting lest your heart-shaped efforts go unnoticed.
My Heart “Beets” for You Salad: Even if your family doesn’t like beets, they’ll still appreciate how pretty this is. Open a can of sliced beets, draining any liquid. Laying the slices on a cutting board, use a sharp knife to cut heart-shapes out of the beet slices (or use a cookie cutter if it’s the right size). Make a tossed salad and place one or two hearts on top (or to the side if you know the beats will be violently rejected for merely touching the salad – it’s the thought that counts).
A Passion for Brownies: Before you bake your favorite recipe for brownies, line the baking pan with wax paper or parchment paper with excess extending beyond the edge of the pan. Bake per directions and allow to cool. Instead of cutting them in the pan, grab the edges of the paper and lift the slab of brownies out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Take a sharp cookie cutter and cut out heart-shaped brownies. Avoid brownies with nuts because they can interfere with cutting a clean shape. Put on a pretty plate and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
OLIVIA’S SUNDAY MORNING PANCAKE & WAFFLE BATTER
2 1/4 cup flour (half white and half whole wheat)
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 TBS sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. olive or canola oil
Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients, beating only until moistened. Makes 10-12 waffles or up to 18 pancakes depending on size.