Heart-Shaped Meatloaf! St. Valentine's Day Dinner
Bake or buy a special cake!
For your special loved one or for St. Valentine's Day!
Valentine’s Day was a big deal when our kids were young. We spent the whole day on activities preparing for our special “Heart-Shaped-Dinner.” It started out as a joke when I watched a TV commercial where a new bride told her new husband "Next week, Hearth Shaped Meatloaf" = it was an ad for antacids.
Here are some tips for making a festive, fun family St. Valentine's Day Dinner, and hopefully you won't need tummy mints afterwards.
1. Place mats: Take a large sheet of red construction paper and cut it into a heart shape about 12” to 14” across the widest point. We made four. Cut sections from a paper doily to decorate the edges. We’ve found these in the dollar stores or in the wedding section of craft stores. Glue the lacy designs around the edges. Write each person’s name on their place mat.
You can also use Valentine's Day window signs or decorations for placemats. I have four heart-shaped cardboard window decorations that we used nearly every year.
Glue strips of crepe paper and made ruffled designs. Another year we glued alphabet pasta around the edge, but the kids were very young and it got confusing when it came time to eat. I once found heart-shaped pasta, which was fun, It was a tad expensive, but
2. Heart shaped napkins. I bought some large red paper table napkins on sale after Christmas (when I get a lot of Valentine’s Day stuff- red works for Valentine's Day just as well as Christmas!). Simple cut a half-heart shape out from the folded edge for the heart shape.
*Stock up on solid red napkins on sale from Christmas and you'll be set.
3. Centerpiece: I have an old white rosebud vase. One year we covered it with Elmer’s Glue and then rolled it in red glitter. (Soak it off later if you want). You can do as much or little in it’s creation as you like.
Take pipe cleaners or white soda straws. Make red crepe paper ’roses” by gathering 12” strip along one edge, winding it around the end of the straw and adding glue as you go. When the ’bud’ dries, gently pull the ruffles or ’petals” apart to make the rose. We made three or four.
Cut two 2” hearts out of pink or red construction paper and glue them together over the end of a straw and add glitter. We made three or four of these as well.
Fold a strip of green construction paper 12” long and about 4” wide in half - lengthwise. Cut a ¼” stem about 3” up from the bottom of the fold and then a gradually widening ½ leaf shape. Cut narrow strips all along the leaf shape on a diagonal inward and downward about ¾ of the way. When you open it, it should look like a palm of fern frond. Curl a couple long pipe cleaners around a pencil, silver are gold are nice if you have them in your craft box.
I have a few gold heart stickers that I’ve glued at the top (backs together) on long floral picks or twigs.
Arrange your centerpiece in a vase or even a red drinking glass, or made a shorter version and use a drinking mug - be creative.
If all of that just sounds too time consuming, buy red silk flowers at a craft shop and take it from there, or go all the way and use real flowers and just add the extra sparkly bits you make.
Centerpiece Placemat: Take a sheet of regular printer paper and have the kids decorated it. You can also use a paper doily, construction paper or even foam board. A flat piece of cardboard from one of those ‘Amazon’ delivery boxes also works well. I’ve purchase Valentine’s Day gift wrap the day after and have used that for covering my vases or place mats or as a table runner.
Buy a few Valentine’s Day Balloons. If you get the Mylar type, you can refill them year after year.
Set small red paper nut cups filled with candy hearts at each plate, or simply decorate the center of the table runner with sprinklings of your favorite small Valentine's Day candies and some large glittery heart shapes.
Use Valentine's Day cards for place cards, or simply draw a heart on the envelope (or use a sticker) and put one on each plate.
Hear Shaped Meatloaf (take two equal balls of raw meatloaf press together at one end and sort of mold it into a heart. Use your favorite recipe. When it is finished baking, let it sit for about 15 minutes and then carefully transfer to a decorative serving plate. We like catsup, so I make catsup designs on the meatloaf, as well as around the edge of the serving plate. A plain white plate works best.
Heart Shaped Jell-0 salad. Red Jell-O, celery stalk sliced thin, thick shreds of grated carrot, mini-marshmallows and Maraschino cherries. (This is more of a kid-friendly recipe) you can leave out the marshmallows and make it more ‘grown-up’ to suit your tastes.
Heart shaped Biscuits: Roll out the store-bought biscuits or make bread dough and cut heart shapes with a cookie cutter.
our daughter suugested 'red' mashed potatoes - she was very young. We used red food coloring but they still turned out pink. It was a little weird. The next year we jus served sliced beets.
For dessert I usually bake a white layer cake, spread seedless raspberry preserves between the layers and use white icing and place red cinnamon hearts around the edges. There are all kinds of ways you can decorate it. I inherited 2 heart-shaped cake pans from my grandmother, but I’m fairly certain they’re still available. But round is fine, or even a sheet cake decorated with candy ‘I Love Your’s” Do whatever is fun for you.
A big hit is also heart-shaped brownies, cut with cookie cutters - and as a bonus the 'cutter' gets to eat the bits they trim off!
Make a sort of ‘celebration’ drink using cranberry juice, the juice of ½ lemon and Sprite. It’s bubbly and festive and kids and adults like it. Place it in a punch bowl or just a large bowl of any kind and use your (very clean) soup ladle to serve it in style. Of course wine or pink champagne is fun for the adults.
Decorate with window clings, heart lights, candles, boxes covered in red foil for surprises. We have a stash of “valentine” stuffed animals that I’ve collected over the years. I keep it all in a large plastic tub. Most of them came from the Goodwill or garage sales.
It’s kind of funny as the kids took it all matter-of-factly until they got older and I figured they were too ‘grown up and cool” to do that anymore. Then my daughter called from college and asked about how to throw her own 'heart shaped' Valentine's dinner - so the tradition lives on!
Heart-shaped meatloaf dinner is great fun, and every age group from toddlers through Boomers and way beyond enjoy it.