What’s not to love about Valentine’s Day? It’s a time to show the people in our lives how much we love them by maxing out our cards and throwing expensive gifts at them, competing by who can spend the most money. Wait a minute? The card companies would like us to believe that this is what makes the holiday special. This year, instead of reaching for the cards, chocolates, and flowers, see how creative you can be when giving gifts and making special memories for your family. Below are a few creative and budget-friendly ideas for making this holiday really special.
Dinner for Two
I truly cannot remember the last time we went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. I really do love to cook for my hubby, and I find that the holiday helps inspire me to be even more creative in the kitchen. Dining at home doesn’t have to feel like a chore. First begin with mixing up the scenery. Can you relocate to a different location in your home? A fun picnic on the floor? A folding table elegantly set with your finest table linens? What about that dining table that only gets used for special occasion? When you eat in spots of your home that are seldom visited, it can feel a lot like dining out, but at a fraction of the price tag.
Don’t cook the same old dinner as you would any other night; make it a delicious experience that you both can treasure. I think having great ingredients and new recipes to indulge in makes cooking feel like fun instead of the same old dinner routine during the week. Try pairing store-bought items (like fresh fruit, bakery treats, and easy appetizers from the frozen food section) with a thoughtful, homemade recipe of a favorite that you would enjoy when dining out. We love to push our dinner back and have it after our kids go to bed so we feel like we get a night away without the expense of the sitter.
Start a Fun New Tradition for the Kids
Kids love Valentine’s Day as much as their parents. I love to create fun new treats for them in my kitchen. Anything that can be cut into hearts is an instant celebration meal from lunchbox sandwiches to pancakes, and even heart-shaped pizzas. Of course, Valentine’s Day also means lots of delicious treats. Last year, I featured a fun frozen hot chocolate recipe that we shared for our Valentine’s Day treat. This year, it is all about delicious baked donuts in our house. For a fun surprise, try these easy Be Mine Donuts and serve them with mason jars of orange juice on a breakfast tray in bed. I love to lay a tablecloth on top of the bed and let my kids enjoy their treat in a new location.
A Savory Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two
For dinner this year I plan to make heart-shaped calzones that can be made in your bread machine and serve them with my favorite microwave broccoli recipe on the side.
Bread Machine Puffy Calzone Hearts With Dipping Sauce
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 cups bread flour (can substitute with all-purpose flour, half white flour/half wheat flour, or whole wheat white flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon powdered milk
- ¾ cup of your favorite pizza sauce
- 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Your choice of fillings (pepperoni, sausage, extra cheese, etc.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Garlic salt for sprinkling
To Make Dough: Place water, yeast, sugar, flour, salt and powdered milk in the pan of the bread machine, in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle. After cycle is completed, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.
Roll out flat and then cut into hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cutting two hearts for each puffy heart. Transfer to a lightly greased cookie sheet, and spoon a small amount of sauce, cheese, and (optional) toppings on one heart. Top with the other heart-shaped cut-out and then crimp the edges with a fork to seal in the toppings (Side Note: Because these are puffy hearts, make sure you seal them well with the forks, but they will likely puff up and not hold the markings from your fork). Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt on each heart. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Serve with a bowl of dipping sauce and lots of hugs and kisses for your valentines.
Easy Microwave Lemony Broccoli
- 1 (14 ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets, cleaned and cut into florets or 2 heads fresh broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets (I prefer fresh)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, bottled is fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to your liking
Microwave broccoli, minced garlic, and water in covered bowl on high for 6 minutes or till crisp and tender. While it is cooking mix the rest of the ingredients together. Drain cooked broccoli. Pour lemon garlic mixture over broccoli and mix to coat.
I love to make Valentines with my kids and last year was no exception. My daughter Emily hand-stamped her Valentines from items I already had in my craft supplies and we paired them with pink fabric flower hair accessories for each girl from inexpensive supplies from our craft store.
For the boys in her class, we made Superhero Valentines using Zakka Life’s free superhero cape and mask printables. These are the cutest and I love that other than cutting them out, they basically held together by themselves with just a single piece of tape.
Homemade Valentines need not be elaborate, but it can be a fun opportunity to tackle a craft with your kids and share a moment together with them.
However you decide to celebrate it, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with those you love the most!
Will you be spending your Valentine’s Day indoors or catching a reservation at your favorite restaurant? Do you have any special ideas or crafts of your own? Share them with us in the comments section below!