This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, serendipitously slow-paced day for those dating, engaged, newly married or even empty-nesters. However, for couples with kids, the weekend is jammed packed with sports games, playground time, errand running and catching up on any quality family time that may have been sacrificed during the work week. With the children home from school, there’s not even an hour free to sneak off for a romantic candle-lit lunch. This might just be the year to celebrate Valentine’s Day with everyone you love, the more the merrier! I have planned a stay-at-home Valentine’s Day dinner that is charming, child-friendly and cheap --- plus, the menu can be prepared and plated in 30 minutes or less leaving you more time to enjoy the day!
Expect hugs and kisses all around when you announce the dinner line up of Gimme Some Amore Pizza with Homemade Sauce (sauce recipe follows), Veggie Lover’s Salad with Litehouse Dressings, and Strawberries with Chocolate Dip. Get the whole gang in on the fun of preparing this celebration meal -- little kids can wash veggies and use cookie cutters on cucumber slices while older kids can set the table, grate the cheese and blend the sauce. Your spouse can pour two glasses of wine!
For speed and stress-free convenience, the crust of the Gimme Some Amore Pizza is premade - I purchase par-baked crusts from my bakery but canned or frozen dough, packaged prepared crusts, or even naan or French bread all work just as well. However, you can brag that the sauce is made from scratch. Those not in the know would think this hearty sauce had been simmering all day on the stove top and not whipped up at warp speed in a blender -- the secret is “fire-roasted” canned tomatoes and Instantly Herbs. Makes one delicious Quick Homemade Pizza Sauce! Top your premade crust with the sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and use a cookie cutter to top your pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni slices. Adventurous eaters can pile on additional vegetables and toppings to their hearts’ desire.
The quickest way to get kids to develop affection for vegetables is to offer a rainbow array --- and keep it fun. My Veggie Lover’s Salad uses lettuce as a base for carrots, tomatoes, radishes and other garden goodness! Break out the cookie cutter again to make heart shapes in the cucumbers. Offering a variety of healthy dressings with different favor profiles, like Organic Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette and Lite Honey Dijon Vinaigrette, makes eating salad a real treat.
Finally, add a sweet ending to the night with a no-recipe dessert featuring the most iconic Valentine’s Day food pairing of all time -- chocolate and strawberries. Pick big juicy berries (or the fruit of your choice) to dip into Litehouse Chocolate Dip. Each individual-sized cup of chocolate dip only has 100 calories yet tastes so rich and decadent. Enjoy!