Delight them throughout the day with these irresistible sweet and savory ideas.

By Lynn Andriani
January 22, 2021
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Credit: Jenny Huang

When it comes to making themed foods for holidays, Valentine's Day brims with options, many of them so easy you don't even need a recipe. Color is one speedy way to make breakfast, lunch, or snacks feel worthy of the holiday, and there's no shortage of red and pink foods to add some pizzazz to your dishes—strawberries, raspberries, and grapefruit, to cranberries, pomegranates, red velvet cake, and pink lemonade are all guaranteed to wow.

And with a heart-shaped cookie cutter or some fancy knife skills, you can turn just about anything into a heart. Cookies are just the beginning; a sturdy metal cutter can also transform sandwiches, slices of pizza, or brownies into heart shapes. Want to take your V-Day menu a step further? We've got some suitable ideas that kids can make or help make.

Kick off the day with frozen strawberry milk pops, seen above—they're simply store-bought strawberry milk (or leftovers from a homemade strawberry smoothie) poured into heart-shaped ice molds, and frozen until solid. Pop the hearts out of the molds, and plunk them in glasses of milk for a berry sweet start to the day.

For a lunch or dinner treat, try heart-shaped croutons, which work equally well atop caesar salad or creamy tomato soup. To make them, kids can use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes from bread slices; brush each with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and bake (with supervision) until golden brown.

Loads of sweet options abound for Valentine's Day, but if you're looking for something straightforward and kid-friendly, we love S'mores Bars, which have all of the toasty vibes minus the campfire. They're essentially puffed-rice-cereal bars with a few clutch additions (hello, marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers); what makes them worthy of February 14 are their shapes (hearts, of course). Heart-Glazed Cornmeal Cookies, too, are an uncomplicated (and delicious) way to share the love. The trick—it's easy enough for a school-aged kid to quickly master, we promise—is to press a heart-shaped cookie cutter into each round just deeply enough so it makes an impression. Once the cookies are out of the oven, you then spread each heart with pink glaze.

Finally, there's hot chocolate, which is a classic way to warm up on a cold winter day. The Valentine's Day twist here is in the marshmallows: cut one (mini, regular, jumbo—any size works) in half horizontally to make two circles. Snip the tops and pinch the bottoms, and you've got the perfect shape to show your love.

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