Color me pink: Of Elmer's glue, paper doilies and sweet celebration

February 6, 2019 11:16:56 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Try as I might, I've never come across anyone else who grew up delivering Valentines to special neighbors and friends incognito. I swear, my mother told us this was a thing. And so, in our family, it was. My younger sister and I would make up our little bundles of happy -- often homemade cards made of frilly white paper doilies and pink or red construction paper. Add cookies from our kitchen, candies or one of those small heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. We'd walk under cover of darkness, stealthily creep up to the intended's front door, leave our Valentine goodies, ring the doorbell, then make a mad dash out of sight -- usually to Mother who was keeping watch from the shrubs. It made for loads of adrenaline-induced giggles. As if the recipient wouldn't know exactly who had been on their doorstep when they saw who signed the Valentine. But they always seemed to get a tickle out of it, too.


I so clearly recall one February when I was probably 9'ish or so. Columbus actually saw snowfall one evening. Mother set up a table at the big picture window in our living room. We sat at it, armed with Elmer's glue, scissors and paper, making and addressing our Valentines and marveling at the rare sight of drifting snowflakes illuminated in the porch light. It made such an impression on me.


When Mother baked for Cupid's holiday, it was often cookies or cake, tinted pink, or featherlight meringue cups filled with good things with strawberries on top. The marbled meringue hearts recipe on page 6B especially reminds me of her. I bet she would have tried making these.



To this day, the approach of Feb. 14 stirs up a warm and fuzzy feeling, and a determination to observe it, to pass it on. My younger sister and I may not be as speedy at running for cover as we once were, but we still try to occasionally pull a fast one on her young grandchildren -- leaving happies at the doorstep and ringing the bell.


However you plan to mark Valentine's Day, you're wished a sweet occasion. The recipes today are designed to put you "in the pink."


Now, if it would only snow.






1/4 cup boiling water


1 small box (.3 ounce) sugar free raspberry Jello


12 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt


1 (8 ounce) light or non-fat whipped topping or Cool Whip, thawed


2 (4 ounce) packages graham cracker tart crusts (12 tart shells total)



  • Place tart shells on a tray.


  • Bring water to a boil.


  • Place Jello in a small heat-proof bowl then add boiling water. Stir until Jello is dissolved. Cool slightly.


  • Add yogurt and whipped topping. Gently mix until well incorporated. Spoon yogurt mixture into the graham cracker tart shells and refrigerate until firmly set, 2-3 hours.


  • Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping, fresh raspberries and mint leaves. Serve immediately.








    1 box strawberry cake mix


    1 teaspoon baking powder


    2 eggs


    1/3 cup vegetable oil


    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    1 cup white chocolate chips



  • Preheat oven to 350 F.


  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.


  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix and baking powder. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla by hand. Whisk until well combined.


  • Pour egg mixture into bowl with cake mix and stir with a spoon until a dough forms. Be sure to fully combine. Mix in the white chocolate chips.


  • Using a small ice cream scoop, drop rounded balls of the dough onto your baking sheet.


  • These cookies flatten out quite a bit, so make sure the balls are taller than they are wide, and give them quite a bit of space between each cookie.


  • Bake 9-10 minutes. Do not let them brown in the oven. They will appear slightly undercooked, but that is a good thing. They will firm up and flatten as they cool. When you take them out, you can add a couple more white chocolate chips to the top to make them look pretty. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.







    Prep time: 25 minutes


    Bake time: 20 minutes, plus cooling


    Makes about 2 dozen



    3 large egg whites


    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


    Food coloring, optional


    3/4 cup sugar



  • Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.


  • Preheat oven to 200 F. Add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. Remove 1/4 cup and tint pink. Lightly swirl pink mixture into remaining meringue.


  • Fill pastry bag with meringue. Pipe 2-inch heart shapes 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.


  • Bake until set and dry, about 20 minutes. Turn oven off; leave meringues in oven until oven has completely cooled. Store in an airtight container.


    Nutrition Facts: 1 meringue: 27 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 7mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.







    Makes 4 servings



    1 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk


    1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons agar-agar flakes or 1 3/4 teaspoons agar-agar powder


    3/4 cup drained silken tofu


    1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    5 teaspoons honey or agave nectar


    2 red grapefruits (strawberries or raspberries are also great)



  • Place almond milk and agar-agar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the agar-agar melts, 3 to 4 minutes (2 minutes for powder).


  • Transfer to a blender and add tofu, vanilla and honey, and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into 4 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.


  • Meanwhile, cut thin slices off the top and bottom of grapefruit and set on a cutting board. Slice down along the curve of the fruit, removing all skin and white pith, and cutting all the way to the flesh.


  • Working over a bowl, cut along each side of the membranes to release the sections, allowing them to fall into the bowl along with any juice. Repeat with remaining grapefruit.


  • To serve, run a knife around the edge of each pudding and invert puddings onto plates. Surround with grapefruit sections.


    Nutritional Info: Per Serving, 110 calories (20 from fat), 2.5g total fat, 70mg sodium, 18g carbohydrates, (2 g dietary fiber, 15g sugar), 4g protein.




    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.