4 Moms: Valentine’s Day recipes and a story {linky}

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When I mentioned that today’s topic was recipes for Valentine’s Day, my kids were not impressed.  I think in our house we generally agree that Valentine’s Day is for lovers (i.e. married people), and thus the day holds very little interest for children in our family.

“Who chooses these topics?  Didn’t you tell the other moms we don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day?”

“Valentine’s Day?  Who cooks for Valentine’s Day?  You and Dad usually go out and we eat macaroni and cheese.”

“I’ll give you a Valentine’s Day recipe:

  1. Take chocolate.
  2. Put in mouth.”

I’m still not sure whether I should feel guilty because I don’t do any special cooking, or relieved because my kids don’t expect any.  They like macaroni and cheese.  I’ll let you know when I decide – or maybe I’ll let you decide.  What do you think?  On second thought, I only want to hear what you think if you’re on my side.

That’s not to say that I don’t get special treatment on Valentine’s Day, and any other excuse-of-a-holiday for romance.  Last year my husband hit one out of the park.  No, you can’t have him.

Being a good dad, Perry often brings home a  box of candy hearts or a small box of chocolates for each of the girls, too.  He knows the way to a woman’s heart, and any young man who wants to marry one of our girls had better learn a few tricks from her dad first.  He’ll have a tough act to follow.

So I get special treatment on Valentine’s Day.  If you’re wondering why I don’t do special cooking for Perry on Valentine’s Day, I just might be still punishing him for Valentine’s Day, 1998.   I hesitated to tell this story, but when I mentioned my hesitation to Perry he laughed and dared me.  He dared me, I tell you.  What else could I do?

Valentine’s Day ’98

or, Why I Don’t Cook a Romantic Dinner for Two on Valentine’s Day

It had been a long and difficult winter.  Perry was gone a lot, working full time while he tried to get his own business off the ground.  I had 3 kids 4yo and under, and was 6 months pregnant with our 4th.  My morning sickness had been worse than ever this time and I was down by 12 lbs, but I was finally feeling better.

As Valentine’s Day drew near, I decided to do something special.  Until now, Valentine’s Day had been pretty low key, but I wanted to make it special this year. Money was tight and babysitters were expensive, so we usually stayed in for our dates, but that wasn’t a problem.  I planned a menu of boneless turkey breast with all the traditional trimmings, and a nice bottle of wine on the side.  I made a special dessert.

Perry had the day off his regular job but was training a friend to clean carpets, his side business.  They planned to spend the day going over the maintenance of the machines and cleaning his friend’s carpets.  I didn’t know what time he would be home, but I wanted to be ready.  As evening fell, I fed the kids a cheap fun dinner and put them to bed early.   They were all too young to object, so all was well.

I dressed for dinner and set the table with candles and our prettiest dishes, keeping dinner warm while I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

When Perry finally arrived home very late that night, the turkey was about as hard and dry as my own attitude.  He made a valiant attempt to act hungry and chew the turkey jerky, but it just wasn’t working for either of us.  My attitude only got worse when I heard his side of the story:

After working all afternoon, he and his friend realized it was dinner time and they still had a few hours to go.  They were both hungry so they drove around the corner from Dave’s house to a local diner for a bite to eat.  The special was a 2-for-1 steak dinner – perfect!  Although both were married men, neither had a clue what day it was or why the quiet little diner was completely packed with starry-eyed lovebirds – and why the waitresses were giggling at the two of them.

My husband missed my special Valentine’s dinner because he went out for a romantic couple’s dinner with his buddy.

Of course it was partly my fault for not tipping him off ahead of time, but it’s more fun to blame him.  I’m not bitter, but I still tease him about his hot date with Dave.  I’m pretty sure the waitresses teased Dave about it for years afterward, too.

Because the title of this post promises recipes, I’ll share two.  I actually have made the Red Velvet Cake for Valentine’s Day because it is Perry’s favorite cake.  I made the Bacon Roses for Father’s Day, but they would be perfect for Valentine’s Day as well.

Red Velvet Cake

From the cookbook published by the church where Perry and I met as children.  How romantic is that?  Skip the red food coloring if you must, but don’t change the icing!

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz. red food coloring
  • 3 Tbs. cocoa
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 Tbs vinegar)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  1. Cream shortening, sugar and eggs.
  2. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa.  Add to creamed mixture.
  3. Add buttermilk alternately with flour and salt.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Add soda to vinegar, then mix thoroughly into batter.
  6. Pour into 2 8″ pans, greased and floured.  Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.
  7. Cool and split to make 4 layers.

Butter Cream Icing for Red Velvet Cake

Rich, buttery and not too sweet.  The easiest and most delicious cooked icing you will ever taste!
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Cook milk, flour and salt until thick, stirring constantly.
  2. Let cool thoroughly.  Learn from my mistakes: don’t rush it.  
  3. Cream butter and sugar well.  Add vanilla.
  4. Combine with milk mixture and beat until it looks like whipped cream.
  5. Spread between layers, top and sides of cake.  Learn more from my mistakes: Resist the urge to lick the bowl before you’re done or you won’t have enough for all 4 layers.

Bacon Roses

  • 1 lb. bacon, any type
  • muffin pan (12 cups)
  • 2 bunches of cheap plastic roses (12 total)

The original instructions said to drill a hole in the bottom of each cup in a muffin pan so that the grease could drain.  I bought 2 cheap muffin pans from The Dollar Tree so I could destroy them without guilt, then I decided not to drill the holes anyway.  They worked perfectly because bacon cooks very nicely in its own drippings, so 2 years later I still have the pans.  🙂

Roll each slice of bacon into a curl and set into a muffin cup, edges on top and bottom so you see a spiral when you look at it.  Bake about 20-30 minutes at 400, until crisp.  Drain thoroughly.

To prepare rose stems, pull the flower off each one and push the green base down so that at least 1″ of the stem protrudes above.  Slide bacon buds onto protruding stems, place in a vase, and give to the love of your life.  If he insists on sharing, you’ve got a keeper.

I can’t find the photo, but our first try turned out just as pretty as the photos in the tutorial linked above, and so will yours.

What do you do for Valentine’s Day?

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  1. The red velvet cake is so appropriate. And they’re my favorite. Yum!

  2. Funny story!
    Although….you do know it’s SAINT Valentine’s day we’re celebrating, right? The guy who continued to perform Christian marriage services, and help his fellow Christians until the Romans killed him, because that was they only way they could stop him.

    So, yes, the cards and chocolates thing has been introduced much later. And, yes, we can proclaim our love for each other daily. But, I still think as families we can learn something from these stories of the Saints.
    Maybe it’s just an Orthodox thing! 🙂
    Happy St. Valentine’s Day, anyway!

  3. My birthday is close to valentines day so my husband gets away with one gift and one meal out. I try to do Valentines at home and a meal out on a less busy night. This year is different because my parents will be in town. My mom insists on dinner out and something special, she wanted us all to out for dinner together so that is what we will do. Besides one year I got a car for my birthday/valentines gift he is pretty much covered, after all how can he be expected to beat a car? This year I got a new computer, it’s not a car but pretty awesome:D

  4. We don’t have a traditional meal but I do try to do something special. One year we did fondue (main dish and dessert), which my kids love. Years ago, however, I instituted a tradition where every child had to make at least one card for each of their 11 siblings and had to say on it something they appreciated about that sibling. I also am required to do this and I love that it forces me to stop and really consider what I appreciate and enjoy about each of my children. It ends up being a special time for all and one of my favorite days all year. (I figure it is also good training for my 7 sons!)
    Note: For the toddlers it is more just a craft project but with stickers at their disposal, they are thrilled to participate!

  5. So funny! I needed a good laugh!

  6. Yeah, DON’T skip the red food coloring.

    Also the diner was NOT packed.


  7. Valentine’s Day was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid (and still is!). My family never did anything major, but we would always have a special family breakfast and we would always get a small gift. We kids would often buy little candy treats for everyone else. I loved that special day. It helps that my birthday is the day after Valentine’s day, so I have always loved having two special days in a row. I’m trying to continue the same tradition in my family – we enjoy a simple, special meal (complete with the special dishes) and everyone gets a small treat. I don’t go overboard and decorate the whole house or anything like that, but it’s fun to have a reason to celebrate and make everyone feel special!

  8. Hehe! I LOVED the beginning to your post. As I was hopping around the other mom’s site’s today I was bummed out about the topic -“Valentine’s Day? Seriously!? Why do people make such a big deal about this day?” hehehe, so I am most certainly with you. I too am VERY happily married but Valentine’s Day has just always seemed weird to me -and now to us. I was never one of those single girls who just couldn’t wait to have someone to spoil her on Valentine’s Day and the normal Valentine Festivities all seem rather fake and contrived to me so we’ve just never made a big deal out of it. We do not to flowers on Valentine’s Day because of how much the jack up the prices… and there are plenty of other day’s in a year for giving flowers -which my husband is great at. We do not usually go out for dinner either as babysitters can be rather scarce that night of the year and I feel weird going out that night when you are “supposed to” as if that day is somehow different for us -so we usually just enjoy bringing in a special dinner together after the kids are in bed for the night. This year our church’s youth group is hosting free babysitting for a parent date night on Feb 15 so we might do that. If I am really feeling creative I might make Valentine cookies with my kids… maybe, because I have heart shaped cutters and we need things to do in the winter. Other than that, I just don’t “get” Valentine’s day and we don’t do much of anything to observe it.

  9. So if you didn’t drill the hole in the bottom of the muffin tins, what happened to the grease? Did you just let it accumulate and the bacon turned out ok anyway?

    • Yes, it’s just like frying the bacon in a skillet. You don’t stop and drain the grease whenever a little begins to accumulate – at least I don’t. I think the grease helps it to cook more evenly.

  10. I would have to disagree and say that our whole family enjoys celebrating Valentine’s Day, just as a special reminder of our love for one another. I absolutely love setting a beautiful pink/red table, make love notes for everybody, maybe get them a little candy bar, etc. Maybe it’s because I’m 26 and don’t have a husband to celebrate with or something, but I love to bless my parents and siblings! 😀 This year I will be in charge of supper on Valentine’s Day, so I’m planning something special as well as decorating a cake. So fun!

    • Same with our family. It seems like a holiday is a nice.pick me up in this month of smoggy dreary winter weather. My kids love it, and my husband and I consider it the anniveraary of the beginning of our relationship.

    • I think it’s also an example to children of love and commitment between parents aside from anniversary days. A way a father can show his boys how to be sweetly masculine and a wife to show her girls how to do something special for her man.
      Most people celebrate birthdays. Why? So why not celebrate LOVE in a blessed and honoring and fun way. Gingerbread heart cookies is one of our favorites.
      And making valentines is a good way for the boys to learn that boys and men can appreciate beauty as well as women. Much as in the same way it’s good to make your boys study poetry.

  11. I’m with you, Valentines Day is for couples not for anyone else. We are starting to get more “Amercianised” with the whole celebration of Valentines Day which annoys me. Gifts for little children, decorating your house (seriously what is that all about?!?!) and the cards and gifts come out in the shops on the 2nd of January. Really does my head in!!! However I love your story of your husband going out on a date with his buddy and I may have to try your recipes but not because its Valentines day just because they sound delcious!! 🙂

  12. HILARIOUS!!!

    In Him


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