Love bites: A quick and easy Valentine’s Day meal


Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press

Julia Fickenscher

Valentine’s Day is a day to spend time with the people you love, whether that be with a significant other, your friends or your family.  Most people want to go out and celebrate the season of romance, but Valentine’s Day can quickly become a pricy event. It is surprisingly easy to create a romantic or fun atmosphere at home with a fancy meal that is much cheaper and more intimate than going out. If you want to impress your loved one and those you love, try out this easy three-course Valentine’s Day meal.

Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press.
Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press.


Appetizer: Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie

Baked Bries are one of the most elegant and easy desserts. You take a round of cheese, melt it in the oven, add some toppings, grab some crackers and get to dipping. How easy is that?


  • 1 round of Brie cheese
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 350℉. Slice the rind off the top of the Brie, then place in an oven-proof ramekin or bowl. Add one tablespoon of brown sugar and bake for 12 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey and the sugar has melted.

While waiting for the Brie to bake, make the cranberry pecan topping. In a small saucepan on medium heat, add the honey, maple syrup and remaining brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until “frothy” and thickened, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add in cranberries and pecans.

Top the Brie with the topping, add crackers and enjoy.



Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press.
Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press.



Main Dish: Homemade Heart-Shaped Pesto Pizza

Heart shaped pizzas are easy to make, yet add a perfect, romantic touch to a year-round tasty dish. Pesto is a unique sauce for pizza, and makes it seem much fancier than the simple red-sauce pepperoni concoction. Again, a really simple dish that looks complicated but takes little effort!


  • 1 package of pre-made pizza dough (Trader Joe’s works best)
  • ⅓ cup pesto sauce
  • 3.5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • ⅛ cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 ounces pre-cooked chicken pieces


Preheat the oven to 475℉. Spread your pizza dough on a nonstick pan and shape into a heart, patting down the center to make a more enhanced crust. Add pesto and distribute evenly. Scatter the cheese, chicken and sundried tomatoes, and arrange to your liking. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Slice into pieces however you’d like, and enjoy!





Dessert: No-Bake Mini Strawberry Cheesecake Cups

While this takes a bit more time, the perfect flavor and delicious result is well worth it. The fresh strawberries and tangy cheesecake blend perfectly with the buttery crust, making it a sweet way to finish off the night.


Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press.
Credit: Julia Fickenscher / The Foothill Dragon Press.

For the crust:

  • 1 cup graham crackers
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter

For the filling:

  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • a few drops of lemon juice

For the strawberry topping:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • ¼ cup honey


Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. In a food processor, combine graham crackers and sugar, and pulse until crumbled. Slowly add in butter until the crumbs stick together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Press an even amount of the mixture into the cupcake cases and press down firmly until compact.  

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar and whip until fluffy. Add whipping cream, vanilla bean paste and lemon juice and mix until well combined. Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, place and even amount of filling on top of each crust piece and smooth out with a knife. Place into the fridge to set.

While the cheesecakes are setting, make the strawberry topping. In a small saucepan, combine strawberries and honey over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a boil, mashing the strawberries with a rubber spatula along the way. Once the “sauce” is at your desired consistency (smooth but with a few strawberry lumps still intact), spoon desired amount over each cheesecake. Place back into the fridge to chill for one to two hours (or until chilled and set). Peel away liner and enjoy.


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