Valentine’s Day is a great occasion for cooking with the kids. Mine love the whimsical, heart-shaped treats we concoct in the kitchen. Almost anything—from cookies to scones to pizzas—can be made into St. Valentine’s symbol. But, the most fun is learning about food preparation together. Food is a great means of family bonding. The following recipes will tempt the tummy as well as make fun memories to cherish.
Heart-shaped Maple-Oat Scones
Makes 8 scones
Start the day off right! The whole grains in these delicious and healthy scones will take the edge off all the sugar the kids will consume later in the day. Prepare these the night before with your child’s help. Pop them in the oven before the family awakes so that the sweet aroma welcomes them in the morning. Serve with hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. What a great way to say, “I love you!”
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon maple extract
- White, pink, or red sugar
Measure flours, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. (Adults only should handle metal blade.) Secure lid and pulse briefly to mix. Add butter pieces and process until coarse crumbs are formed. Pour crumb mixture into a large mixing bowl. (If you do not have a food processor, the same effect can be achieved in a mixing bowl with a pastry blender, fork, or two table knives held together.) In processor bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, and maple extract. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry crumb mixture and stir quickly, just until dough forms. Overmixing will result in tough scones. Empty dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead three or four times with floury hands. Dough will be sticky. Shape dough into a large, flat round. Cut into eight wedges. As you separate the wedges, indent the rounded side so that it forms the top of a narrow heart. The point of the wedge will form the point of the heart. Place the eight hearts equally spaced on an ungreased baking sheet. When ready to bake, sprinkle heavily with colored sugars and bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.
Chocolate-Caramel Party Mix
Include a decorated treat bag filled with this yummy mix in your child’s lunch or make it together for a fun afterschool snack or for gifts. This treat can be customized for any season by changing the color of the candied chocolates. Pink and red are a fun combo for Valentine’s Day.
- 2 cups caramel corn with peanuts, such as Crunch ‘n Munch
- 3 cup chocolate Chex cereal
- 1 cup candy-coated chocolates, such as M&Ms
- 2 cup pretzel twists
Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Store in airtight container.
Mi Amore Pizzas
These individual heart-shaped Italian pies will be a big hit at your sweetheart supper! Make sure that each child gets to make his own.
- Non-stick cooking spray, such as Pam
- Corn meal for sprinkling
- 1 pound frozen bread dough, thawed according to package directions
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 pound grated mozzarella cheese
- Your favorite toppings, such as sliced pepperoni, cooked and crumbled sausage, sliced olives, sliced mushrooms, pineapple chunks, Canadian bacon, etc.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with corn meal to dust the pans lightly. On lightly floured surface, divide bread dough into four equal pieces. Using rolling pin, flatten each dough portion into a thin disk. With your hands, reshape disk into a heart shape. Place two dough hearts on each baking sheet. In small mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir to mix well. Divide sauce amongst four hearts, spreading to edges with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle a small handful of cheese over sauce on each heart. Layer the toppings of your choice. Add more cheese according to taste. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until crust is crisp and cheese melted and lightly browned. Rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking to ensure even baking.
Helpful Tips for Cooking with Kids:
- Make sure everyone washes his hands before touching any food.
- Tie back loose hair.
- Have each child wear an apron or smock of some kind. It’s much easier to wipe messy hands on yourself than to hunt down a paper towel.
- Allow kids to express their creativity. Perhaps he wants to make a happy face pizza with only two pepperoni slices for eyes, an olive nose, and a bell pepper smile. It’s okay if it’s not covered in pepperoni like you like it. Just make sure you make yours your way!
- Consider prepping the chopped ingredients beforehand or have an older child help with this process. Little ones don’t need to do everything in order to feel like they are participating.
- Remember that a messy kitchen is all a part of the process. Flour may fly a little. But, teach kids to clean as they go. Teach good habits now and you will reap the benefits for years to come.
Jessica Fisher is a wife, mother of six, and a freelance writer. She and her little chefs enjoy cooking all sorts of messes in the kitchen. Jessica regularly writes about fun, frugality, and the pursuit of a clean house at Life As Mom, and she shares delicious ways to "act your wage" at Good (Cheap) Eats.