To make a heart-shaped cupcake or muffin, fill cupcake liners with batter, then put a marble on one side, between the liner and the pan.  This makes the top of the heart.  These muffins are made with frozen cranberries, to up the 'Valentines' factor.

The baked muffin.  It will look even more like a heart it you strategically put on a drizzle of glaze, or frosting, for a cupcake.

I love making people smile by cooking them something they like, and I love the peace of mind I get from 'shopping' for the ingredients in my own pantry.

My family’s Valentine’s tradition, as a child, was that my mom would make us each a big heart-shaped sugar cookie, frost it red or pink, then decorate it with our name and a pretty border.  We got those every year (often for breakfast!), and loved them.  For most of my growing-up years, our heart-shaped cookie cutter was formed out of an empty tuna can.  I remember being fascinated as I watched her shape a replacement cutter one year, amazed that this thing we’d normally throw away could turn into a useful item.  Especially something that would create our much-anticipated heart cookie!

If you’re looking for something new to do for Valentine’s this year, here are some ideas (I borrowed heavily from Living On a Dime, links below):

-For any food, ask yourself, “could I cut/shape it into a heart or make it red?” You can use food coloring, or if you like the natural route, use beet puree or beet juice, raspberry, strawberry, or cherry juice to color things.  They each give a different version of red.

-Make heart-shaped food:  pizza (crust recipe here), muffins or cupcakes (use the marble trick), biscuits (recipe here, use hands or a cookie cutter), heart-shaped cinnamon rolls (individual or cooked in a heart pan), Rice Krispie treats, cookies, toast, brownies, red Jello cut with cookie cutters or set up in a heart-shaped cake pan, slices of cheese, pancakes.  If you want, write their name on these with frosting, whipped cream, chocolate, or chocolate chips.

-If you don’t have a heart cookie cutter for the ideas above, trace a heart onto cardstock, cardboard, or a whipped topping lid.  Cut out, then  use that as a guide for your knife.  Or cut off the top and bottom from a tuna fish can, then use pliers to shape it into a heart.  

-Use pretty place settings.  Or decorate paper plates using red and pink markers.  Use little paper doilies under fancy glasses, or use bigger ones under a plate.

-Serve foods that are red, maybe even a whole meal’s worth! – enchiladas, red Jello, strawberries, beets, maraschino cherries, cherry cobbler or pie, red juice, toast with strawberry jam, tomato soup, apple slices, watermelon, cranberries, spaghetti and meatballs 

-Decorate with a little construction-paper hearts- stack pages so you can cut out multiples.

-A kiss on their pillow- cut out a paper heart, glue a kiss to it, and leave it on your kids’ or sweetie’s pillow.  Simple but effective!

-Buy a candy bar  or make and wrap bar cookies, then make your own label for it.  You could just draw hearts on it, or you could write a personalized message or a cute little poem. 

-Try making just one part of the meal special- their favorite main dish, dessert, OR side dish.

-Make some homemade candy, instead of purchasing it.

-If you want to make a cake or cupcakes, try my favorite chocolate frosting, or the any-flavor basic frosting.

-Send your hubby or kids on a Valentine’s Treasure Hunt: http://www.livingonadime.com/valentines-on-a-dime/

For more ideas, also see:
Valentine’s dessert recipes http://www.livingonadime.com/valentines-day-recipes/



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