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Sweet to eat: Ways to say, 'Be Mine, Valentine'

 

Cookies dressed in pink, white and red for Valentine’s Day are among the holiday’s most popular goodies. These were made by Diane Earwood of Columbus, pictured in the background, for customers of her home-based Cookies, Etc. business. Read below for more ideas for making Feb. 14 special.

Cookies dressed in pink, white and red for Valentine’s Day are among the holiday’s most popular goodies. These were made by Diane Earwood of Columbus, pictured in the background, for customers of her home-based Cookies, Etc. business. Read below for more ideas for making Feb. 14 special.
Photo by: Kelly Tippett

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

There''s just something about Valentine''s Day. From the first little sack "mail box" we decorated and taped to our elementary school desks for classmates to drop their Valentines in, we were hooked. Now, all grown up, we still love to be remembered -- and to remember those we care about. 

 

Hearts and flowers are all well and good for saying "You''re special," but there is something mighty sweet about a Valentine you can eat. Whether it''s for the love of our life, our children, or friends, saying "I love you" with something delicious never goes amiss.  

 

Cookies are a popular way to butter up a sweetheart.  

 

For bakers like Diane Earwood of Columbus, with her home-based Cookies, Etc., business, Cupid''s holiday always triggers a flurry of orders, for parties, classrooms and happies. Diane has more cookie cutters than she can count, but the tried-and-true heart gets a real workout this time of year. Armed with plenty of pink, white and red icing, she will be busy in the kitchen right up until Feb. 14. 

 

 

 

Berry good 

 

The plump red strawberry seems made Valentine''s Day. So do bouquets of flowers. But with today''s Berry Sweet Bouquet recipe from www.familyfun.go.com, you can cover "sweet" and "floral" in one impressive gesture. Wooden skewers, candy melts, some stems of mint and a touch of food coloring can transform a dozen strawberries into a dozen "roses."  

 

Or, for a romantic dinner for two -- or dinner party for 12 -- you may want to try strawberries filled with cream. Made with mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract, these "petaled" strawberries can add pretty to any table. Mascarpone is a soft, unripened cheese from Switzerland and Italy. It is sweet and buttery-rich, and has the texture of clotted or sour cream. Produced mainly in the fall and winter, it''s usually found in specialty food stores and in the deli sections of some grocery stores. 

 

 

 

Good fortune 

 

One unique cookie variation to try at home tells your fortune and tastes good, too. Valentine fortune cookies (recipe included) are simpler than you may think. Kids especially will love these treats made with a piecrust, cookie cutter, colored sugar and your own creative writing skills. 

 

 

 

Ideas for the day 

 

Making Feb. 14 special means making it memorable. After deciding how to impress your Valentine''s tastebuds, you may want to consider small gestures, like these below, that add to the enjoyment of the day.

     

     

  • Use a metal heart-shaped cookie cutter to fry eggs. 

     

  • Add a few drops of red food coloring to pancake batter. Instead of syrup, top with powdered sugar, strawberries and whipped cream. 

     

  • Get your message across: Surprise your significant others with notes, or a mini box of chocolates, in a lunch box, gym bag or briefcase. 

     

  • With a cookie cutter or knife, make heart-shaped sandwiches for the kids. Strawberry jam with cream cheese on white bread, or even bologna on white, will meet the Valentine color scheme.  

     

  • Frame a collage of photographs of you and your Valentine. 

     

  • Stick a post-it note with "I love you" written on it in a child''s shoe. 

     

  • Cue up a special love song in your spouse''s car that will begin playing when the engine starts. 

     

  • Lay out a picnic in front of the fireplace. 

     

    When all is said and done, expressing love and affection is what Valentine''s Day is all about. And in the end, it''s not so much how we do it, but that we do it.

 

 

 

 

BERRY SWEET BOUQUET 

 

 

 

12 wooden skewers 

 

Cotton swabs 

 

Green food coloring 

 

12 large strawberries 

 

14 ounces of candy melts 

 

Fresh mint 

 

     

     

  • For flower stems, use a cotton swab dipped in food coloring to tint wooden skewers. Let them dry (ours took about two hours). 

     

  • Stem the strawberries, then insert a skewer into each one. 

     

  • Heat the candy melts according to package instructions. Dip each strawberry into the melted candy, twirling it to coat it completely. 

     

  • Stand the skewers in a vase or tall glass and let the candy harden. Add fresh mint to resemble rose leaves and keep the bouquet chilled until time to give.
 

 

(Source: www.familyfun.go. com/valentines-day) 

 

 

 

STRAWBERRIES FILLED WITH CREAM 

 

 

 

16-18 large strawberries 

 

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese 

 

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream 

 

2-3 tablespoons granulated white sugar 

 

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

 

     

     

  • With a small, sharp knife, cut an X in each strawberry, starting at the top and cutting almost to the bottom of each. You want strawberry to open up, but not fall apart. (Strawberries should sit flat. If they are wobbly, cut the green stem off so berry stands upright when placed on a serving tray.) 

     

  • With fingertips, gently spread each berry to make "petals." Set aside while you make the cream filling. 

     

  • In a medium sized bowl, whip mascarpone cheese and whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. 

     

  • Spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe the cream into the strawberries. If not serving immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until serving time.
 

 

(Source: www.joyofbaking.com) 

 

 

 

VALENTINE FORTUNE COOKIES 

 

Makes abut 16 cookies. 

 

 

 

Chilled 9-inch piecrust 

 

Cornstarch 

 

3-inch wide round cookie cutter or drinking glass 

 

Rolling pin or glass 

 

Nontoxic marker 

 

Slips of paper 

 

Water 

 

Colored sugar 

 

     

     

  • Lay a chilled 9-inch piecrust on a cornstarch-dusted surface. Cut out 3-inch-wide circles with a round cookie cutter or drinking glass. To use all the dough, roll out the scraps with a rolling pin or a cornstarch-dusted glass. 

     

  • Use nontoxic marker to write fortunes on slips of paper and place in the center of each dough circle. 

     

  • Fold the dough circle in half, then pinch and fold ends together, as pictured. 

     

  • Brush the top of each cookie with water, then sprinkle on colored sugar. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart, sugar side up. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, and let cool before removing from the pan.
 

 

(Source: www.familyfun.go.com) 

 

 

 

CHOCOLATE DECADENCE 

 

Makes 16 2-inch squares, or slightly smaller hearts 

 

 

 

4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for pan 

 

3/4 cup evaporated milk 

 

2 cups sugar 

 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

 

1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows 

 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

 

One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips 

 

     

     

  • Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.  

     

  • In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the butter, milk, sugar and salt and stir over low heat until the butter has melted. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. 

     

  • Remove from heat and stir in the miniature marshmallows until they have fully melted. Stir in the vanilla extract. Then slowly pour in the chocolate chips, stirring as you go, until the mixture is smooth. 

     

  • Turn the mixture into the buttered pan and smooth out with a plastic spatula, if necessary. While the fudge is still warm, score it into 16 squares. Once fudge has cooled fully (which can take at least an hour), cut it into squares with a sharp knife. For heart-shaped pieces, gently press a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter onto each square and remove excess.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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