Heart-Filled Lunch for Valentine's Day
Here’s a lot of love for lunch. This Valentine’s, fill their lunch box, bento box or plate with all kinds of delicious hearts to fall in love with. All you need are a couple of cookie cutters, and you can turn a boring sandwich into a statement of love. Cucumbers are much more interesting with carrot hearts in the middle, and bright red dried strawberries add zing to a snack of Kix cereal.
TIP: Find heart cookie cutters or fondant cutters (either will work) in the craft store or online. You may find the tiny heart as part of a set of cutters, such as these from Wilton. You can find alphabet food cutters for bento boxes in specialty stores online and at Amazon. You may also find tiny heart cutters made specifically for vegetables at specialty stores selling bento supplies online.
To make the heart sandwich, prepare a sandwich using thin sandwich bread, and use a 3 1/2-inch heart cookie cutter (or any comparable size cutter to fit your bread) to cut out the heart shape. If desired, cut a tiny, 3/4-inch heart from the top piece of bread. Shown here is a ham sandwich, so the pink shows through the heart window.
For older kids, make a sandwich pick by placing two heart stickers back-to-back at the end of a 4-inch skewer or a toothpick.
To make the cucumber and carrot hearts, slice cucumbers ¼ inch thick, and use a tiny heart cutter (about ¾-inch) to cut a heart in the center. Slice a carrot the same thickness and use the same tiny heart cutter to cut out a heart shape. Insert the carrot heart into the center of the cucumber.
To make the cheese letters, cut out a message from a slice of American cheese using mini letter cutters.
To make the Kix and dried strawberry snack mix, mix together Kix cereal with dried strawberries. Find the recipe below.
Dried strawberries recipe:
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place a wire cooling rack on top. Lightly spray the rack with cooking spray and use a paper towel to spread the spray and remove any excess. Cut the top off of your strawberries, place flat side down on a cutting board and cut the strawberry into 3 slices (4 for larger strawberries).
Lay the strawberries on the wire rack. For the end pieces, make sure to lay the strawberries with the cut side up. If desired, sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Open the oven door to let air circulate. Close the door and bake for another 30 minutes. Flip the strawberries over, return to the oven and bake for another 1 to 2 hours, opening the door every 30 minutes to check on the strawberries. They will shrink considerably. Watch the berries and remove them from the oven when they are dry to the touch but before they begin to brown.
Meaghan Mountford, author of Sugarlicious: 50 Cute and Clever Treats for Every Occasion, has been creating crafty sweets for 15 years. She is especially fond of decorating cookies, marshmallows and putting sweets on sticks. See more on her blog, the decorated cookie.