A Kid (and Guy) Friendly Valentine’s Day

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By Martha Lee

Valentine’s Day could easily be the most cringe-worthy holiday of all (for most men anyway).  I mean, let’s face it.  How many of any of us really want to jump at the chance to spend $4.99 on a cheesy card for such an overly commercialized holiday such as this one anyways?  The candy and card companies are just coming off of their post-holiday high only to reel in yet another extremely profitable day – cue Cupid’s arrow any minute now.

There are lines at the cinemas, flower shops, and restaurants, and I know many savvy couples that actually go out to V-day dinner a few days before or after the big day only so they won’t have to fight the crowds and confusion.  Smart folks.  I, too, choose to keep things a little less fussy so we simply eat at home skipping all the materialized drama of it all.  I’ve even threatened my husband, Andrew, that if he ever comes home with a $75 bouquet of roses again, I will ring his neck, so he now takes the more adventurous route and picks his own flowers (off the side of the road).  He’s a true catch, that man! But the holiday isn’t about the cards or the candy or the roses.  It’s more about taking the time to show those you love how much they mean to you – whether it is your spouse, father, grandmother, or children.

This year, it’s all about the children!  I’m using this day full of hearts and all things pink and red to focus on the littlest love in my life. So, instead of store-bought goodies, we are making our own Valentines treats to share with you all.  Hope you enjoy this not-so-commercialized, kid-friendly version of Valentine’s Day as much as we do!

I picked up heart-shaped cookie and fondue (smaller size) cutters at our local craft store for half-off (look for those coupons in the paper), and I should warn you. Heart-shaped EVERYTHING takes place in my kitchen on V-day!

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Heart-shaped French Toast

This is a super easy recipe to prepare with the kids.  Cut large heart shapes out of the bread and make French Toast as usual.  It’s a great way to get your children involved in the cooking process and excited about the day ahead! Would be great with pancakes too!

Multi-grain bread
1 egg
1/2 C milk, butter for pan.

Mix the egg and milk, and dip the bread into the egg wash until fully covered. Cook on stovetop about 1-2 mins each side.

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Heart-shaped Fruit Kabobs

These are a hit with kids of all ages, but like the French toast, kids love to participate.  Let them help you cut out the hearts in the fruit and slide them on the wooden sticks.  These are great for a picnic in the summertime too!

Melon! I used watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe.

Cut the melon large enough for the cookie cutter.  Cut out shapes and add to the sticks. Voila!

Zucchini boats and French bread pizza with, you guessed it, heart-shaped pepperonis!

3 zucchinis, gutted with spoon.  Save the spooned-out portion.
Mozzarella cheese.
Half small onion, finely chopped.
Half of a tomato, chopped.
Tomato/pizza sauce
Pepperonis – use small heart-shaped fondue cutter to cut out shapes.

Preheat oven to 400. Sauté onions with spooned-out portion of zucchini. Add tomato. On a baking sheet, spoon the sautéed veggies back into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Add pepperoni hearts. Bake for 20 minutes.

Frozen (heart-shaped) banana bites

These. Are. Delicious!  You could really use any fruit large enough to cut-out with shapes, but frozen, chocolate covered bananas? Heaven!

3 or 4 bananas, sliced length-wise.  Cut out hearts.
Almost a cup full of milk chocolates
2 spoonful of peanut butter.
Coconut

Heat the chocolate and peanut butter until melted.  I added a little milk to speed up the melting process.

Dip banana hearts into chocolate mixture and spread out on parchment paper. 

Drizzle remaining chocolate over all. Sprinkle with coconut flakes. Freeze for at least 2 hours, 10 to 12 hours preferably. This is a decadent treat for kids of all ages! Enjoy!

Martha Lee and her husband began working for Paula Deen Enterprises in 2006 until Martha left to pursue a degree in Special Education. She takes a cue from her 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, leaving tiny footprints on the planet. Her blog shares practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. Born and raised in beautiful, soulful Macon, GA, Martha and her family now lives in Savannah, where she can be found outside hula-hooping and performing handstands daily.
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Reader Comments:

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I love me some good country cookin'!

By Mista Lovah on February 23, 2012

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Thanks for sharing your great ideas & beautiful family, reminding us of what's truly important. Looking fwd to trying those banana treats! Mmmmmm. Love this blog & am always excited for the next one to come along.

By Lily on February 15, 2012

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hi PAULA I JUST WANT TO LET U KNOW THAT I REALLY ADMIRAL U I LOVE TO COOK I REALLY LIKE ALL THE GAGETS OF YOUR COLLECTION I HAVE QUITE A FEW. I TRIED TO WATCH UR PROGRAM ALMOST EVERY DAY . I LOVED WHEN U R WORKING WITH UR KIDS THEY SINCE TO BE VERY DORABLE WITH U AND IM A FAMILY PERSON gONGRATULATIONS KEEP A GOOD WORK CARMEN RODRIGUEZ

By Anonymous on February 14, 2012

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By Joyce Rollings on February 14, 2012

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http://abeautyandthefeast.blogspot.com Heart shape sandwiches and chocolate peanut butter hearts!

By Erica on February 14, 2012

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Hi Paula, I loved your comments about "grandsons" because I have "2" of my own now. Jackson is 8 yrs old and in so many ways puts me in mind of your Jack - dark hair and big dark eyes! My Jackson has the longest black eyelashes - all the mommies and g-ma's go crazy when they see them for the first time. He is without a doubt one of the Joy's of my life. Then there is 4 month old Judah who has captured my heart also. This was the child the "doctors" said would never come to pass. Well doctors make mistakes - BUT GOD DOESN'T! We prayed for our Judah as he grew in his mommy's belly and on Oct. 4, 2011 our "miracle" was born. Beautiful and whole. We are so thankful to God for our grandsons - and we will spend the rest of our days making their lives better. Thanks for sharing Paula - I'm glad there are other "Maw-Maws" like myself. That is what I am proudly called by Jackson and soon Judah will follow suit. Blessings. judy

By Judy Jung on February 09, 2012

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Made the French cinn breakfast casserole.yummy! It was a hit with the church group. Thanks!

By mutch on February 07, 2012

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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The Queen of Southern Cuisine muses about her recipes, life and family. See Posts

Brooke Deen
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Advice on raising two boys (three counting Jamie). See Posts

Brandon Branch
Brandon Branch
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Julia Sayers
Julia Sayers
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Step behind the pages and let the Associate Editor of Cooking with Paula Deen fill you in on what goes into creating every issue. See Posts

Lisa Scarbrough
Lisa Scarbrough
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Andrea Goto
Andrea Goto
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Tips from a real-world mom with comedic tendencies. See Posts

Martha Lee
Martha Lee
Earth Mother
Practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. See Posts

Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Bubbles' Corner
Ideas and advice from a 21st Century young at heart Grandmother. See Posts

Cindy Edwards
Cindy Edwards
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Etiquette advice from a true Southern belle. See Posts

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm