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Keep the fun in funny Valentine

If home is where the heart is, and the heart is the symbol of love, what better place to celebrate Valentine’s Day than home sweet home?

If I may co-mingle a holiday term, “bah humbug” is the sentiment many feel about this love day. Their general opinion is it’s over-rated, commercialized and the only people really feeling the “love” are florists, greeting card companies, jewelers, restaurants and candy/chocolate makers.

What’s more, if paying inflated prices for rushed service and mediocre food is your idea of a romantic evening, then Valentine dinner reservations are for you.

I can see why many have grown bitter over what should be the sweetest day of the year. Shenanigans like some florists banging customers over the head with $55+ for a dozen roses doesn’t elicit the warm fuzzies. Neither does a small heart-shape box of chocolates for $40 — OK, it’s Ethel M, but still.

Circling back to my opening statement, if home is where the heart is, whether you’re a Valentine’s Day fan or not, creating a fun and festive dinner for your sweetheart or family, is a wonderful way to celebrate love.

A great place to start is at your table with a romantic centerpiece. Autumn McGrath-Shook, owner/designer of Village Floral House in Boulder City, shares her simple and beautiful DIY centerpiece:

“Using a market bunch, this centerpiece is designed to look at the face of the flowers, instead of stems. FYI, flowers last longer cut shorter because the stems don’t have as far to drink.

Choose a short vase, like teacups or sugar bowl. Imagine creating a ‘muffin top’ on top of your vase. Pick off leaves from submerged stems to avoid rotting. Hold the stems near the vase and eyeball where to cut.

Avoid cutting too short, re-trim if necessary. Use pruning shears but scissors are fine as long as you get a clean diagonal cut that isn’t smashed or stringy. Avoid placing the centerpiece under heat or drafts.”

If making floral arrangements isn’t your thing, Autumn will offer a menu of three Valentine arrangements—“I’ll have the place packed with fresh roses—last-minute orders and walk-ins welcome.”

Here are a few of my favorite savory and sweet Valentine recipes to fill hearts and bellies with love.

Bouquet of Bacon Roses

Color a dozen wood skewers with green food dye. Let dry.

Roll up thick-sliced bacon to create the “bud.” Secure the bottom closed with toothpicks in a cross shape.

Set a cooling rack over a baking dish. Place bacon buds on rack, toothpick side down. Bake at 400 until crispy.

Remove from oven. When cooler, dip bud tips in maple syrup, then a sugar/paprika mix. Let cool. Remove toothpicks.

Stick a few baby lettuce leaves on the tip of a skewer. Push them down with a bacon bud, until the bud is snug on the skewer and lettuce looks like leaves nestling the bud.

Arrange in a vase.

Heart Shaped Mozzarella, Tomato &Basil

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts out of ¼” to ½” slices of fresh mozzarella.

Place the mozzarella hearts over ¼” to ½” slices of tomatoes.

Sprinkle with shredded fresh basil or arrange whole basil leaves.

Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper (balsamic vinegar is optional).

Easy Valentine Cookies

Bake any shortbread or sugar cookie recipe. Once the cookies are removed from the oven, let them cool a few minutes then press in a single Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart or several Valentine M&Ms.

Red Hots Popcorn

Combine 1 cup butter, ½ cup light corn syrup, 1 ½ cups Red Hots in a pot.

Boil 5 minutes.

Pour over 8 cups popped popcorn, coating well. Spread onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake at 250 (preheated) for 30 minutes.

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