If you’re planning a special Valentine’s Day dinner for family and friends or just want to make some special Valentine’s Day treat to share, today’s recipes can help.

Cover the table with a red or lace tablecloth, pick up some valentine napkins from the store , add a red candle to the table and you’re set. Even if it’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, the decorations make it festive and it becomes a memorable family event.

 

Brunch or

Lunch Hearts

Cut six slices of day-old bread into heart shapes with a cookie cutter. Combine ½ cup half-and-half with 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt. Dip bread hearts into egg mixture and brown the hearts in a skillet like you would French toast. Serve with warm raspberry, strawberry or currant syrup and a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

 

Valentine Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup soft shortening like Crisco
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • 7 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (1½ teaspoons for Salida’s elevation)

Frosting (recipe follows)

Mix butter and shortening. Add sugar, vanilla and beaten eggs. Sift flour and baking powder into the wet mixture. If mixture gets too thick for your electric beater, mix it by hand or with a wooden spoon. Shape dough into two flattened ovals and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Roll to desired thickness (I prefer mine pretty thin so they bake up crisp). Bake on ungreased cooking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Set on paper towels to cool. Then completely cool cookies or let them set overnight (I refrigerate them) before decorating with red, pink and white frosting and decorative sugars. If you have cake decorating equipment, you can use a plain round tube to outline the hearts, write names or draw Xs and Os (hugs and kisses).

 

Frosting

  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • ½ cup soft white shortening like Crisco
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup milk

Mix all ingredients, tint half the frosting red or pink and spread on cookies. If desired, use a cake decorating tube to outline hearts or draw decorations or names on them. Let set for at least 2 hours so when you stack the cookies in a container (with waxed paper between layers) the frosting trim won’t flatten out or stick to waxed paper.

 

Chocolate Dipped

Strawberries

  • 1 quart whole fresh strawberries
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate (you can also use white chocolate)

Wash and dry berries, leaving hulls intact.

Place chocolate in top of a double boiler until it melts. Stir chocolate and dip berries, holding them by the stem, covering each almost up to the stem. Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper and place dipped berries on sheet. Refrigerate until serving time.

 

Brandied Chicken

  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Combine flour, salt, pepper and tarragon. Dip chicken in the mixture and sauté about 3 minutes on each side in butter and oil mixture until brown. Warm brandy in a saucepan and pour over chicken. Light with a match and shake out flame. Add lemon juice, mustard and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer about 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Serve with Mandarin Orange Salad (follows) and rice or baked potato.

 

Green Salad

with Almonds and

Mandarin Oranges

  • 1 small head of leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 large can mandarin oranges
  • Olive oil
  • Italian dressing

Rinse lettuce and spinach. Tear into pieces and place in a bowl. Sauté almonds in olive oil until golden. Cool and add to the lettuce. Add oranges and Italian dressing just before serving. Toss lightly and serve.

 

Cherry Crisp

2 (21-ounce) cans cherry pie filling, drained, reserving 1 cup of juice

½ teaspoon almond extract

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Heart-shaped cake pan, if possible

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray pan with vegetable spray. Combine cherry filling, almond extract and almonds in a bowl and pour into heart-shaped pan. In another bowl combine butter, oatmeal, flour, sugar and cinnamon until it resembles coarse crumbs or blend in a food processor. Sprinkle topping over filling. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve over ice cream and use remaining juice as sauce. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Chocolate Raspberry

Cheesecake

  • 18 cream-filled chocolate cookies (like Oreos), crushed (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cookie crumbs and butter and press into bottom of a springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla until well blended or blend in a food processor. Add slightly cooled chocolate and mix thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour over crust. Bake about 1 hour or until center is almost set. Let cool and refrigerate. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake before removing sides. Top with fresh berries just before serving and sprinkle with powdered sugar.