Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

Red Velvet Valentine Bars

Red Velvet Valentine Bars @ NancyC

You’ve probably heard of cookie exchanges…they happen quite a bit around Christmastime. We’ll, this year at work some of us had a little Valentine cookie exchange. I was kind of short on time, so I needed to make something fairly easy, but still wanted it to be very yummy. I’ve seen lots of recipes for cake mix bars and cookies lately, so I thought I’d come up with my own version of Red Velvet bars made with cake mix. After all, any Red Velvet recipe seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day and using cake mix makes it really easy!

These bars are actually more like brownies than cookies–with lots of M&M’s and semi-sweet mini chocolate chips added in! If you’re looking for a simple Valentine treat to make, with lots of yummy chocolate flavor, you still have a little time to try these out!

RED VELVET VALENTINE BARS by NancyC

Makes a 9×13″ pan 

  • 1 (16.5-ounce) box of Red Velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines®) Signature Red Velvet Cake Mix)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (11.4-ounce) bag Valentine M&M’s (about 1 2/3 cups), divided

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Mix cake mix, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla extract until blended–your batter will be fairly thick, but still stirable. Fold in the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup of the M&M’s, stirring to distribute evenly in batter (save the rest of the M&M’s for sprinkling on top).

Press batter evenly into your prepared 9×13″ pan and sprinkle with the remaining M&M’s, pressing them into the batter. Bake at 350˚F for 23 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (the toothpick may have a red tint to it when you pull it out). Cool completely, then cut into bars (if you lined your pan with parchment paper, lift the bars out of your pan with the parchment paper edges, and cut into bars).

These are very rich and chocolatey with all those M&M candies and chocolate chips in there! What kinds of goodies are you making for Valentine’s Day?

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Gift Wrap Ideas for Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is just a few days away…if you still need ideas for ways to wrap or package your Valentine gifts, treats, or candy, here are some fresh ideas!

Above, Valentine Present Toppers from Julep look really easy to make–see instructions and downloadable heart shapes here.

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Lots of great downloadable Valentine labels for jars, gift bags, and other containers are available here at World Label.

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Speaking of jars, here’s a pretty way to dress up a jar and put a gift inside…like a food gift or candle. From The Pleated Poppy.

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Also at World Label, special treat labels and stickers for coffee or hot cocoa cups, chocolate bars, and goody bags. See instructions and downloadable designs here.

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Check out these Candy Huggers…a fun way for kids to give Valentine Candy! See downloads and instructions here at Lia Griffith.

Hope these ideas give you some inspiration for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.

Chocolate Chip Cherry Granola

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I was wanting to make some granola this past weekend, but I was also wanting something chocolatey. So I decided to combine the two and I came up with this Chocolate Chip Cherry Granola. I thought it would be a great healthy snack to munch on and keep me from being tempted to eat too much Valentine candy! It’s sweetened with honey, sweetened coconut flakes, dried cherries, and those cute little mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. So it satisfies my sweet tooth, but it still has very healthy things in it like oats, almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds.

I love the combination of flavors in this granola and the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips are the perfect chocolate touch. If you want a healthy sweet to nibble on, too, you should try this out!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CHERRY GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 9 cups

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds, salted or unsalted
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 Tablespoons non-GMO canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cherries (or one 5-ounce package)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl or container, heat the honey for about 30 seconds so it’s thinner and easier to stir; then mix the honey, oil, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, sliced almonds, chopped pecans or walnuts, coconut, and sunflower seeds. Add in the honey, oil, and salt mixture and toss again, combining all ingredients well. Spread mixture on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and toss mixture for even baking. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes, until mixture is golden, and remove from oven.

Stir granola, then let it cool completely on pan (if the granola isn’t quite crunchy, it will get crunchier as it cools). When completely cool, add in the dried cherries and semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks. Or package in mini treat bags and give as a healthy Valentine’s Day treat!

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Not only is this granola a great healthy sweet snack, you can have it as a cereal for breakfast, too–although you may want to leave out the chocolate chips…or maybe not! 🙂

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

10 Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Here’s a roundup of 10 recipes that your Valentine–or Valentines–will love…some are healthy and some are not-so-healthy (but very yummy)!

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If you’re wanting something sweet for your Valentine breakfast, try these Strawberry Yogurt Muffins–the strawberries on top look like hearts, so they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Or if you’re wanting something healthy, try this Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal, made with dried cranberries and chopped pecans. You can substitute dried cherries for the cranberries if you want.

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Or make this Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Bake if you’re feeding a larger group.

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You can also use your dried cranberries (or cherries) in these Cranberry Almond Breakfast Scones for a mid-morning or afternoon Valentine snack!

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Since you may be eating lots of sweets on Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to include a healthy salad in your lunch or dinner menu–this Apple Pear Pecan Salad has dried cranberries in it too, but dried cherries would be yummy as well!

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Savory Strawberry Salsa makes a great appetizer with tortilla chips, and it’s also really good served over grilled chicken!

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Now you need some dessert ideas…Strawberry Cupcakes are just the thing!

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But lots of people prefer something chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting!

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If you want a healthier dessert, you could always make this Healthy Chocolate Shake

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But, hey, it’s Valentine’s Day–if you want to splurge, make these Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry Swirl Brownies!

Hope you get a chance to try out some of these treats! Do you have a favorite Valentine recipe?

Sweet, Simple Things

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I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

LAURA INGALLS WILDER

Wishing you a simply sweet Valentine’s Day!