It was a fun and festive occasion when my grandmother cooked up Valentine's Day Dinner for her growing family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It came at just the right time of year too – a celebration of “love” after weeks of long, cold, dreary winter days. It always seemed just about this time of year you felt desperately in need of signs of spring. Pink and red heart paper doilies and flowers could do the trick!
At grandmom's house it wasn't just about the dinner it was also about the decorations. We could always count on our spirits being lifted as soon as we'd arrive at the front door. Her pretty picture window would be decorated with the pink and red hearts. Upon entering her cozy home the aromas of country style food filled the air: baked stuffed chicken, twice baked potatoes and fresh baked Feather Bed rolls to name a few. The table was set with the traditional red heart tablecloth. Our family Valentine's dinner always included individual heart shaped Jello molds and of course a heart shaped cake!
Wouldn't it be wonderful to start creating this kind of tradition for your own family? If you follow my grandmother's “recipe” on life, love and family it will bring yours closer together. It's fun to put together a holiday dinner! Why not get the kids involved with decorating and helping out in the kitchen? And like I said, this is the perfect time of year to do something fun and festive after all of those long gray days. Give your family a gift of immeasurable value – treasured memories to last a lifetime. Below are a few tried and true recipes to get you started.
Twice Baked Potatoes
Use Idaho potatoes and bake for about 1 hour until done. Before baking wash them and puncture a few times with a knife. When done slice the top off and with a teaspoon remove the inside and put into a bowl. After all the potatoes are hollowed out and insides are all in the bowl, add ½ stick (¼ cup) butter, salt, pepper and enough milk to make them fluffy. Mix well. Put back into the skins heaped up nicely and sprinkled with paprika. You can also add some Parmesan cheese. Put them back into the oven and re-bake at 350 degrees until hot. (about 15 minutes)
Fruit and Jello Mold
Take a 16 ounce can of fruit cocktail and drain, saving the juice. Prepare Jello as directed on package except use the fruit juice as part of the required liquid. Let Jello stand in refrigerator until slightly thickened. Add fruit cocktail by folding into the Jello. Put into Jello mold (you can use 1 large or small individual servings.) I like to use small heart shaped molds. Put back into refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Unmold by dipping the bottom into hot water for a few seconds. Serve on lettuce leaves. I like to use Butter lettuce, sometimes called Boston lettuce. You can change the color according to the occasion – red for Valentine's Day, green for St. Patrick's Day, Yellow for Easter.
For Topping: Make a mixture of 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and enough milk to make it the consistency of whipped cream. Place a spoonful on top of each serving. You may garnish with a strawberry or cherry.
This is a favorite holiday dessert. It looks very festive and is delicious!