Tag: valentines day

Cherry Pie Bars

Tart, red cherries and Valentine’s Day seem to be the perfect pair. Not only do cherries align with a Valentine’s Day color scheme, they even resemble little hearts when hanging from their stems.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day involves many different traditions, and enjoying decadent desserts is among them. Purchasing ready-made treats from a local bakery is one way to indulge in a sugary confection, but crafting a recipe at home is another way to show that special someone how much you care.

“Cherry Pie Bars” are not exactly a pie, but a pound cake with a cherry pie filling swirl. They can be made for many different occasions, but make for something sweet on Valentine’s Day. Whip up this recipe from “Butter, Flour, Sugar, Joy” (Sourcebooks) by Danielle Kartes.

Cherry Pie Bars

Yield: One 9-by-13-inch pan

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream sugar and butter on low. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat until just combined.

3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Spread a little over half the cake batter into the pan. Evenly spread the pie filling over the top, and spoon the rest of the cake batter over the pie filling. It’s fine if the cherries show through.

4. Bake 35 minutes or until the top has turned slightly golden. Do not overbake. Allow to cool and slice into squares.


Plan A Special Valentine’s Day

Couples have been commemorating their love for one another in February for quite some time. Couples may go about such celebrating in their own unique ways, but it’s not uncommon to focus on a night out on the town.

Valentine’s Day is a busy holiday for many businesses, but especially so at restaurants and other romantic venues. So it’s best to plan ahead to ensure a perfect evening. These tips can help you organize a Valentine’s experience to remember.

Tip #1: Reserve Early

The closer to Valentine’s Day, the more likely popular restaurants will be all booked up. If the goal is to dine at a particularly trendy spot – or anywhere but the most obscure establishment – be sure to make a reservation well in advance. Start planning the Valentine’s Day dinner in December so you won’t have to look far and wide to book a reservation. If a restaurant does not take reservations that far out, ask when they will start collecting names for Valentine’s Day and book the moment you can.

Tip #2: Secure Transportation

One way to make the night more romantic is to snuggle in the back seat of a vehicle and have someone else do the driving. This also is a safer option if you plan to pop a bottle of bubbly or sip some wine while celebrating. Hiring a limousine, luxury car, horse-drawn carriage, or something similar also will require advanced reservations. However, going the extra mile can make the night memorable.

Tip #3: Emulate A Scene From A Favorite Film

The person you love may adore a romantic movie, whether it’s a classic or more recent tear-jerker. When planning a romantic evening out, consider reenacting a movie scene with you and your special someone in the starring roles. For example, recall when Tom Hanks met Meg Ryan at the top of the Empire State Building in “Sleepless in Seattle.” Include a visit to the observation deck or roof as part of a whirlwind Valentine’s Day experience.

Tip #4: Attend A Live Music Performance

Music can touch the heart and soul. That makes an evening watching a band play or enjoying a musical on the stage even more memorable if it occurs on Valentine’s Day. Select an intimate venue to add to the romantic ambiance of the night.

Tip #5: Think Outside Tradition

While dinner and a movie are Valentine’s Day favorites, any activity done together can be memorable and romantic. Why not book a couple’s cooking class? Or enjoy a winter sport like skiing or ice skating? Or warm up after window shopping on Main Street by sipping hot cocoa and snuggling on the sofa under a blanket at a nearby B&B?

Romantic nights out on Valentine’s Day can be made even more special with some forethought and planning.

Cheesecake Makes a Decadent Valentine’s Day Treat

A cheesecake recipe can be useful on any special occasion, and especially so on Valentine’s Day. For many people, cheesecake is not cheesecake without the addition of ricotta cheese. While ricotta is included in savory dishes like lasagna or manicotti, it is at home in desserts like cheesecake as well. Ricotta means “recooked” in Italian, and its production involves reheating the whey left over from making other cheeses, like mozzarella. Its texture is like a creamy/grainy, thick sour cream.

Ricotta is included in this recipe for “Ricotta Cheesecake With Coffee and Chocolate” from “Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) by Nick Stellino, but it is not the only flavorful ingredient in this decadent dish. Coffee liqueur, chocolate and lemon zest add to the complex profile — which only get more pronounced if you prepare this cake a day in advance.

Ricotta Cheesecake With Coffee and Chocolate (Tortino al caffè e ciccolato)

Serves 8 to 10

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1⁄2 cup sugar

2 lbs. ricotta cheese, drained of excess liquid

8 eggs, separated

1/2 cup cream

1/4 cup espresso or extra strong coffee, cooled

1/4 cup coffee liqueur

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Make a graham cracker crust by mixing together the melted butter with the crumbs, and sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Mix together the ricotta, sugar, egg yolks, cream, espresso, coffee liqueur, lemon zest, and salt until creamy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture. Stir in the chocolate morsels and pour onto the prepared crumb crust.

Bake the cake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until just set in the middle. The cake will still seem wobbly, but will be lightly browned and cracked around the edges. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 6 hours or overnight before running a sharp knife along the edge of the cake and removing the pan. Cut into wedges to serve. Garnish with shaved chocolate and strawberries, if desired.

Tips for Buying Jewelry This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is rife with tradition. Couples may have their own unique traditions, but others, like Valentine’s Day date nights, are widely popular.

One Valentine’s Day tradition many couples embrace is the exchange of gifts. Shoppers might not need much advice when purchasing heart-shaped boxes of chocolates or flowers for their sweethearts. However, when shopping for jewelry, Valentine’s Day celebrants may feel as though they’re in over their heads. The following tips, courtesy of the Better Business Bureau®, can help shoppers as they navigate the potentially confusing process of buying jewelry.


The BBB notes that diamonds’ value is based on color, cut, clarity, and carat. Often referred to as the “4 Cs,” this criteria refers to the grade of the color (color), the way the diamond is finished (cut), how flawless the diamond is (clarity), and its weight (carat). When shopping for diamonds, the BBB advises asking jewelers if they have the most up-to-date testing equipment, which makes it easier for them to distinguish between diamonds and lab-created gemstones. That’s important, as lab-created gemstones resemble diamonds and may not be detectable if jewelers are using testing equipment designed to identify cubic zirconia.

Colored gemstones

Colored gemstones are very popular, and the BBB notes that various new stone treatments have been developed to improve their appearance and durability. However, the BBB also notes that such treatments may adversely affect the value of the gem and necessitate special care in order to maintain the gem’s appearance. When shopping for colored gemstones, ask the jeweler if an item has been treated and if there’s any special maintenance required. Imitation or assembled stones may look like natural stones, so shoppers should ask if a stone is natural, synthetic or imitation before purchasing anything.


When used alone, the word gold implies an item is all gold or 24 karat gold. But the BBB notes that gold is naturally soft and, as a result, is typically mixed with other metals to improve its hardness and durability. The karat-quality marking indicates what proportion of gold is mixed with other metals. For example, the most common mark for gold jewelry is 18K of 750, which signifies an item is 75 percent gold. Lower-karat gold jewelry may include copper, silver, zinc, or other metals. Consumers should ask about these alloys and determine if the item’s ultimate recipient is allergic to certain metals or if he or she has a high acid content in their bodies. People with high acid content in their bodies may have their jewelry turn black as a result.

Buying jewelry can be intimidating. However, jewelry buyers can work with their jewelers to find a beautiful piece their sweethearts will be proud to wear this Valentine’s Day.

More information on buying jewelry can be found at www.bbb.org.

Top Gifts for Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show the ones you love just how much you care about them. This is achieved through various gestures, including giving heartfelt gifts. Research from Business Insider found that 51 percent of Americans now celebrate Valentine’s Day. While a recent poll from Insights West found that although many Canadians view Valentine’s Day as overly commercial, 75 percent still plan on celebrating it. People are still spending big bucks on making Valentine’s Day special. The National Retail Federation indicates Americans spent more than $20.7 billion on the holiday in 2019 and forecasters predict similar spending in 2020.

Every Valentine’s Day, certain gifts emerge as the most popular. While certain gifts are common, there are ways to make them seem fresh and exciting. Here are some ideas for Valentine’s Day gifting.


The National Retail Federation estimates that people spend around $2 billion on flowers for gifts. While roses are much sought after, thinking outside the bouquet can produce unique results. Choose different blooms, perhaps a loved one’s favorite flower or something regional. Potted plants also will last longer than cut flowers, giving them more staying power. Skip bouquets in favor of table centerpieces, which can be eye-catching.


Gifting jewelry can be tricky because it is such a personal gift that must tie into a sweetheart’s style. It may be tempting to go with something large and flashy or full of diamonds, but a better option is to take inventory of what your loved one wears on a daily basis and try to mimic the size and scope in your gift. Other thoughtful jewelry gifts include understated pendant necklaces or bracelets engraved with key dates or the names of their children. Colored gemstones in lieu of diamonds also may be a striking choice.


Dinner and a movie is a classic date night, but on Valentine’s Day restaurants and theaters may be overcrowded and only offer limited menus. An alternative can be to arrange for a gourmet meal to be delivered and wrap up a new streaming movie/TV device already primed with a subscription to his or her favorite streaming service. Then all you need to do is snuggle on the sofa for a romantic night in.

Chocolates and candy

Roughly $1.8 billion is spent on candy each Valentine’s Day, says the National Retail Federation. A box of chocolates certainly can fit the bill, but other options abound. Perhaps a sweetheart has a favorite candy that recalls his or her childhood or prefers a chocolate maker from his or her hometown. Purchase those items to add a bit of nostalgia. Make the holiday magical by setting up a candy bar right at home, where your sweetheart can pick and choose from candies displayed in eye-catching bowls and canisters. Another novel idea is to use candy molds to make your own sweet treats.

Thoughtful Valentine’s Day gifts can make the day even more special for sweethearts.

Countdown to Valentine’s Day with Week-Long Fun

Millions of people eagerly await the arrival of the shortest month of the year for the opportunity to show their spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, companions, and many other special people in their lives how much they are loved.

Even though Valentine’s Day is just one day a year, that doesn’t mean it should be the only time one expresses his or her love for a special someone. With this in mind, individuals can count down the days to Valentine’s Day with these daily events that precede the day of love.

February 7:

Rose Day Celebrate love with a vase filled with roses. Red symbolizes love, and many other colors represent heartfelt emotions. The flowers will add to home decor and ambiance.

February 8: Proposal Day

Couples ready to tie the knot can use this day as an opportunity to propose. Those already engaged or married can spend Proposal Day celebrating the events that led up to their own engagement or betrothal, and toast how their relationships have evolved.

February 9: Chocolate Day

Lavish a loved one with all the decadent treats they enjoy. These can include store-purchased chocolates, chocolate fudge sundaes or warm brownies fresh out of the oven.

February 10: Teddy Day

This day can be interpreted in different ways. Couples adding spice to their relationships can celebrate Teddy Day with the lingerie of the same name. Those looking for a more G-rated experience can gift each other with an adorable stuffed bear. Make-your-own stuffed animal retailers at nearby malls are a place to turn for customizable teddy bears.

February 11: Promise Day

Promise Day provides an opportunity to make promises to each other that are specific to couples’ relationships. These can include being more patient, traveling more or spending more time together.

February 12: Hug Day

On this day the world celebrates the uplifting and comforting power of hugs, which can be powerful expressions of love. February 13: Kiss Day Couples can pucker up and spend a few extra moments showing their affection with some kisses. The lips are quite sensitive to touch, and kissing is one of the more renowned expressions of intimacy.

Show love all week long leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Night Out Planning Pointers

Many couples go out for a night on the town in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Romance typically prevails on such nights, but there’s more to planning Valentine’s Day dates than just roses and chocolate. The following are a few tips to make sure this year’s Valentine’s Day date night goes off without a hitch.

· Make a dinner reservation. Restaurants fill up on Valentine’s Day, so make a reservation no matter how frequently you may patronize the place you want to go to. Nothing derails a dinner date more quickly than being told there are no tables available.

· Cancel the reservation if you must. If plans change and you cannot make it, be respectful of the restaurant and call to cancel your reservation. No-shows cost restaurants substantial amounts of money, especially on popular dining out nights like Valentine’s Day.

· Arrange for transportation. If you plan to open a bottle of wine or make a champagne toast while out on the town, arrange for a car service to pick you up after dinner or use public transportation. Drinking and driving is dangerous, and local law enforcement may even have checkpoints set up to protect residents from drivers who might have celebrated a bit too much.

· Bring cash. Few restaurants remain cash-only, but bring cash with you anyway just in case your card won’t swipe correctly. You don’t want to embarrass your date by leaving the restaurant to go get some cash, so prepare for this in advance.

· Review the menu. If you or your date has special dietary needs, peruse a restaurant’s menu before making a reservation so you know there’s something for both of you. If Valentine’s Day is a first date, ask your date in advance if he or she has any food allergies or dietary restrictions.


Make the Most of Valentine’s Night Out

Chocolates and flowers may be staples of Valentine‘s Day, but many couples take it one step further and dine out on February 14.

According to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association’sValentine‘s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, 34.6 percent of respondents indicated that dining out would be part of their Valentine‘s Day agenda.

A romantic dinner is an ideal capper for a day geared around love and affection. But Valentine‘s Day is a busy night for many restaurants, so it pays to heed the following advice to ensure this special night is memorable for all the right reasons.

roses· Make reservations well in advance. Dining out is especially popular on Valentine‘s Day, so call several weeks in advance to secure your spot. Also, do not underestimate the draw of all types of restaurants on Valentine‘s Day. People who were not able to get a table at their first choices may trickle into chain restaurants or smaller establishments in search of an easy meal. If you think your lesser-known haunt will not be packed, think again. Always play it safe by making a reservation early.

· Expect some crowding. Restaurants tend to add extra tables onValentine‘s Day, when they expect an influx of customers. Dining rooms may be more packed than usual, and you may not have a choice of where you will be seated. Even a reservation does not guarantee you won’t have to wait for a table. Be patient upon arriving at the restaurant, and consider wait time when factoring in childcare.

· Be flexible with the menu. Price-fixed menus are commonplace on nights when there will be a large turnover of customers in a short amount of time. These menus allow restaurants to stock up on the necessary ingredients and cook en masse. Diners may find that price-fixed menus offer a limited selection, and their favorite dishes may not be available. But knowing this in advance can reduce feelings of disappointment. Rest assured there should be several options that appeal to different palates.

· Be patient with servers. Valentine‘s Day is a busy night for staff at the restaurant, particularly servers who must be the liaison between the kitchen staff and diners. The sheer volume of customers can test the skills of even the most veteran servers. Many Valentine‘s Day diners do not eat out regularly and will need extra guidance. Servers may be called on to snap photos of couples with cell phones or linger at certain tables. Use idle time at your table to engage in romantic conversation and plan the rest of the evening.

· Consider your budget. Diners can expect to pay a premium for dining out on Valentine‘s Day. Select a lower-priced restaurant if your budget is on the smaller side.

· Be on time. Being respectful of your reservation will not only benefit you, but also it is a courtesy to fellow diners who will be sitting at your table later in the evening. While you may want to linger over dessert, try not to linger too long.

· Promptly store leftovers. If you take a doggie bag home from dinner, stash it in the refrigerator as soon as possible to prevent foodborne illnesses. If you will be going out dancing or to a movie after dinner, it may be best to skip the doggie bag altogether.

Valentine‘s Day is a busy night for dining out. Patience, courtesy and flexibility are traits that can keep your evening moving along smoothly.


Romantic Movies for Valentine’s Day

Couples celebrate Valentine’s Day in many different ways. For some the idea of dinner out followed by a stroll arm-in-arm seems the epitome of romance, while others may want to go out dancing or engage in a favorite hobby.

Valentine’s Day also can be a romantic endeavor if a couple chooses to spend time at one with each other watching a romantic movie. The following are a handful of love-inspired movies that can add a special something to Valentine’s Day festivities.

· The Notebook: Author Nicholas Sparks has a way of taking the everyday experiences in a person’s life and making them relatable and heartbreaking in a pluck-at-your-heartstrings sort of way. His novel “The Notebook” won the hearts of many and seemed a natural to be adapted to film. Starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, the movie illustrates how love can last through the years and even survive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

· The Proposal: In order to remain in the country, a demanding New York-based book editor (Sandra Bullock) asks her brow-beaten assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her. Their tumultuous relationship involves a trip to Alaska to meet his family.

· An Affair to Remember: Romantic melodramatic master Cary Grant falls in love with Deborah Kerr aboard a cruise ship while they are traveling with other people. They agree to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months if they have ended their relationships and are ready to commit to each other. Grant makes it to the rendezvous spot, but an injured Kerr never shows as Grant assumes she has rejected the proposal.

· Say Anything: In pursuit of a woman he believes is out of his social league, Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) creates hope for the underdog in us all. The movie inspired teens to raise their boom box radios over their heads and blast romantic tunes to illustrate their love.

· The Wedding Singer: This quirky movie about a wedding singer who falls for a banquet waitress highlights the importance of loving each other for what makes you unique.

· Once: Attraction between the main characters comes by way of creative musical collaboration. Music proves to be an aphrodisiac, making the film and the song “Falling Slowly” from its score so popular. This romantic tale helped take the film from the big screen to the Broadway stage.

· West Side Story: “West Side Story” is yet another homage to “Romeo and Juliet.” But the film made Shakespeare’s tragic love story relatable to audiences of the 1960s.

· My Best Friend’s Wedding: Julianne (Julia Roberts) is called on to be the “best man” for her friend’s (Dermot Mulroney) wedding. Only when the wedding planning is underway does Julianne realize she is in love with her friend and needs to get him to fall for her instead.

· Never Been Kissed: A reporter goes undercover at a high school to discover something controversial and ends up being the subject of her story when she falls in love with her English teacher.

· Harold and Maude: A man in his twenties and a much older woman begin a romantic relationship and challenge social norms along the way.

· Annie Hall: Winner of four Academy Awards, “Annie Hall” follows a comedian who is trying to maintain his relationship with a woman.

· Bridget Jones’ Diary: A modern adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” the movie tells the tale of a self-conscious woman who finds love in a man that seems to be her polar opposite.

· Ten Things I Hate About You: Filmmakers reinvented “The Taming of the Shrew” in this teen comedy starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger.

· Casablanca: No romantic movie list would be complete without this wartime drama. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are in top form in this movie of chance meetings.

· The Princess Bride: Girl meets boy, girl detests boy, girl truly loves boy, and then girl loses boy. This fairy tale shares the purity of true love and happily ever after.