Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Dinner and Love Overflowing...

Monday evening, I was blessed to be able to go out for a leisurely dinner date with my handsome Valentine.  We had a gift card I had been saving for our meal, and the kids were thrilled to spend the evening with one of their favorite sweeties from the youth group!

Earlier that day Madi and Jimmy had given me the gifts they had picked out together.  

This candle, since they know I love me some Red Velvet Cake...

And this beautiful picture for our home, with Joshua 24:15 on it. 

What a special surprise that was!

Tuesday morning the kids went to school with Valentines in hand.  I spent the morning in Pre-K helping serve up a special breakfast, and the afternoon in 1st grade for a cupcake buffet and Valentine exchange!

It was quite a day!  In between the parties, I baked Glazed Tea Cake for a special dessert.  I made this recipe at Christmas with peppermint extract and crushed candy canes and it was so delicious!  This time I stuck with the traditional almond extract and garnished each cake with a cherry heart.  The flavor to this cake is simple, and it would be lovely served at a shower or special occasion.  I found the recipe in my Cooking With Grace cookbook that is one of my absolute favorites.

Glazed Tea Cake

Heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour an 18x12 inch pan.  In bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp baking powder. Set aside.

In small saucepan combine 2 sticks butter and 1 cup water.  Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.

Add to flour mixture, stirring to combine.  Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp almond extract.  

Pour in prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes (cake will be light in color).

Let cake cool, then prepare glaze.

For glaze: In medium saucepan, combine 1 stick butter and 1/4 cup milk.  Bring to boil stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 tsp almond extract and 3 cups powdered sugar.  Spread over tea cake.  Cut into squares, garnish if desired, and serve.

(I added a drop of red food coloring to make the glaze light pink.)

After school I taught my piano and vocal lessons, and then served my family up a Valentine's dinner at home!!  This was more affordable than going out, and kept us from having to fight the crowds and stay out too late on what had already been a very busy school day.

I mixed china and crystal with paper goods found at Walmart!

Everyone got a serving of grapes in these darling Candy Heart cups...

More fresh strawberries were served in small, heart shaped bowls...

Since the heart shaped breadsticks worked so well at Saturday's breakfast, I decided to make them again!  

We had steamed broccoli and kid-friendly green beans...

And heart shaped pasta that my friend Laurie sent me in my fun package!  This was perfect for our main course since I needed to get dinner ready in a hurry after an afternoon full of lessons.

I used a jar of alfredo sauce with a little tomato paste mixed in to give it a pink tint...

And it was both adorable and tasty!

We sipped on sparkling grape juice in crystal goblets...

And just before I served up dinner, my mom gave me this special gift.  We had spied this a month or so ago when we were out for lunch.  It is a vase within a chalkboard - just imagine the possibilities! How thoughtful of her to remember this, it was the perfect Valentine treat!  Madi wrote a message for me and it adorned our Valentine table.

I truly enjoy Valentine's Day!  Celebrating those you love is a good thing to do all year long, and this holiday comes with lots of inspiration and fun ideas to do just that!

I love my husband. My kids.  My parents.  My friends.  My family. My church family.  And above all, I love God who has blessed me with such wonderful people to love, and is the ultimate giver of love.  He gave us Jesus!  And there is no greater love than the love He showed to us on the cross.  My love for my Savior fills my heart and just has to overflow! He is my reason to live and love well.

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