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Dining In: Bright day in the dreariness of winter


Valentine’s Day is often called a Hallmark holiday because of all the cards that are sold, but it doesn’t have to be. While the card companies may promote it, it’s still a bright day amid the dreariness of winter when you can tell your favorite people that you care.

You can always make your own card, as well as treats for your sweets, and you don’t have to be a chef to do it.

Since the holiday falls on a Thursday this year, going out for a big splurge may not be in the cards. But you can make dinner and it doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be a favorite dish you have made before, dressed up with a bottle of champagne or favorite wine and a dessert of chocolate covered strawberries or simple chocolates.

To say, “I thought of you,” homemade cookies, truffles, brownies, cupcakes or even a homeade pie can be enough. XO crisped rice treats (see recipe below) is something easy to make with the kids, as are cookies, brownies and simple chocolate truffles. Think about what your Valentine likes best and go from there.

This very pink recipe from is a little more work than simple chocolate truffles, which are usually rolled in cocoa, but it’s very pretty.

Strawberry Truffles

Makes about 30 truffles

2 2/3 cups white chocolate chips,


¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter,

cut into ¼-inch pieces,


½ cup plus 2 tablespoons

strawberry preserves

1 cup pink

sanding sugar

1. Stir the softened butter and strawberry preserves into the melted chocolate until combined. Cover in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to scoop, about 1 hour.

2. Scoop flat tablespoons of the truffle mixture and, using your hands, roll the truffles into balls. Place on a baking sheet and chill again until firm.

3. Put the sanding sugar on a dinner plate. Roll out the chilled truffles in the sugar.

Note: You can swap out the white chocolate chips with bittersweet chocolate chips for dark chocolate strawberry truffles.

This low-fat recipe from is one that almost anyone can make.

XO Rice Krispies Treats

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 package (10 ounces, about 40)

regular marshmallows or 4

cups miniature marshmal

lows or 1 jar (7 ounces)

marshmallow crème.

6 cups of crisped rice cereal (such

as Kellogg’s Rice Krispies)

Valentine-themed cookie cutters

(XO cookie cutters)

food coloring

wax paper

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, stir until completely melted, add food coloring and then remove from heat.

2. Add crisped rice cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Cover a flat surface with wax paper. Using buttered spatula or wax paper transport mixture to surface and flatten out. Create designs using cookie cutters.

4. Place XO shapes onto a tray covered with wax paper and pop into the fridge to cool.

5. Place in desired packaging and give to friends and loved ones as gifts. Best if served the same day.