By Sherrie Norris
Valentine’s Day is huge in the retail world. A recent consumer report indicates average spending in the U.S. for that day alone tops $13 billion, with the average person spending $130.97. The top three gifts are cards, candy and dinner, with 85 percent of cards purchased by women. The report further stated that annual revenue from jewelry store sales for Valentine’s Day is $2.2 billion, with over $400 million in flower sales, alone. Roses, 196 million of which are produced for Valentine’s Day, is the bloom of choice, of course, and yes, 73 percent of those are purchased by men.
Something we need to all keep in mind, however, is the fact that it’s not always the money we spend on others that makes the difference. It’s usually the gifts from the heart that have the greatest impact – and a few treats from the kitchen never hurt.
Here’s wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day spent with those you love the most.
Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup peanut butter
2 cups Bisquick
1 tsp. vanilla
About 36 heart-shaped milk chocolate candies
Heat oven to 375°. In large bowl, stir milk and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in Bisquick mix and vanilla. Shape dough into 1¼ -inch balls. Roll tops in sugar. Place sugar-side, two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies just begin to brown. Immediately press chocolate heart into top of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.
Valentine’s Day Dessert
1 (18 oz.) pkg. refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1cup powdered sugar
1 (21 oz.) can cherry or strawberry pie filling
1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Preheat oven to 350.
Roll cookie dough to ¼-inch thick, form into a heart shape and place a prepared cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until cookie is lightly browned.
In large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar. Spread mixture on cooled cookie. Cover with pie filling and then whipped topping.
Crispy Chocolate Heart Cookies
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
¼ cup light-colored corn syrup
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
3 cups crisp rice cereal
½ tsp. butter or margarine
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; grease paper with ½ tsp. butter or margarine. Set aside.
Mix chocolate, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in a heavy medium saucepan, cooking over low heat and stirring constantly until melted.
Or, place chocolate pieces, corn syrup, and ½ tsp. butter or margarine in a 1½ -quart microwave-safe casserole. Microwave, uncovered on high for 1 minute or until chocolate and butter are melted, stirring once.
Add cereal to chocolate mixture, stir until evenly coated. Pat cereal onto prepared cookie sheet.
Chill about 20 minutes or until slightly firm, then cut mixture with heart-shaped cookie cutter. Decorate with frosting, if you like. Chill until firm; wrap each heart in plastic wrap. Return to fridge until serving time.
Makes 8 or 9 three-inch hearts.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
1 (12 oz.) pkg. milk chocolate chips
2 Tbs. shortening
1 lb. fresh strawberries with leaves
Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.
In a double boiler, (a saucepan in a frying pan of hot water works for me!) melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding strawberries with toothpicks through stem area, dip a little more than halfway into the chocolate mixture, letting extra chocolate drip back into pan before placing berries on waxed paper to set. For a fancier look, drizzle a little melted white chocolate over the milk chocolate covered berries.
Secret Kiss Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 pkg. Hershey Kisses, foil removed
Sifted powdered sugar
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla with 1 Tbsp. water. Stir in flour and pecans; mix well. Shape dough around Hershey kisses, forming small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15- 20 minutes. Cool on rack; roll lightly in powdered sugar. Makes about 60 cookies.
Prepare a brownie mix or homemade brownie recipe. Pour into a greased heart-shaped pan or into a large round pizza pan. Allow to cool after baked. (Cut out heart shape if in pizza pan, if desired.) With white icing or whipped cream, form an outline of a heart in the middle of the brownie. Place cherries, chopped strawberries or a red fruit pie filling inside the heart.
Refrigerate if using whipped topping.