Happy Valentine’s Day

Since Ben was out of town and I did not see spending a lot of money on the boys for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make it something they would remember in spite of their father’s absence. Ben took Kyle out and bought my gifts last Saturday. I had already opened my gifts on Sunday before he left town. They were practical and useful. They were things that I needed for the kitchen. They might have seemed frivolous expenses, but when you need those items they are welcomed gladly.

Anyway, I wanted to make it about the experience. I also wanted to make it fun. I, however, did not have a lot of fun. Valentine’s Day fell on Thursday this year and Thursdays for me are horribly crazy days, especially when Ben is out of town. Thursday are Cub Scout days and they are also Karate days.

I wanted to make heart shape pizza bake. However, I had made this chicken bake thing earlier in the week and used up the last of the mozzarella cheese. Pizza bake was not going to be an option. What was I going to do. I had this heart shaped pan that I had picked up last year on clearance on the after Valentine’s Day sales and I needed to use it. It was perfect for something. I did not have time to make a cake or decorated so it was going to have to make something.

Here was the problem…

I already had the dough rising in the mixer bowl. Yes, see I did not remember that I had already consumed all the mozzarella cheese in the house until after I had already started the dough for the pizza bake. Fortunately, I made a bread based dough and not a true pizza dough. I had my options still available to me because this dough was going to rise more than pizza dough would. The picture is very indicative of the amount of rising. It rose beautifully when I went off to the school to pick up Lance from school. What was I going to do, however? That was still the problem at hand.

Upon arriving home from the school and standing in the kitchen, literally scratching my head with the clock ticking away the time, I was not sure what I was going to do. I knew I needed to find the other heart shaped pan because a red sauce was not going to cut it for me at any rate. I did find it. It took a ladder and digging through the wasted space of a cabinet above the refrigerator, but I found it. Now I had both heart shaped pans and well risen bread dough. What was I going to do with it.

This is what was staring at me on the counter. Cinnamon sugar mixture. I had brown sugar. I had cinnamon sugar mixture already to go. I had the bread dough. I had two children at home. I looked at Andrew who asked, “What is for dinner?” Right question. I responded with, “I was going to make heart shaped pizza bake, but I do not have any cheese. I am thinking monkey bread. Who needs protein when they can have monkey bread for dinner, right?” I then proceed to bend over and pull two packages of bacon out of the freezer, one regular bacon and one chicken bacon. Yes, folks there will be protein for dinner but we are having heart shaped monkey bread for Valentine’s Day.

I have decided that I am totally in love with this new pan that I found on clearance. I cannot remember how much I paid for it, but it was worth whatever I paid for it. I am sure it was pennies on the dollar if I bought it. It was nice and deep and it was very nice. I am thinking that I need to go find another one of these. I will have to look and see if Wilton still makes them because I am certainly going to need another one if they do.

This was my older pan and it was just half the depth. While it was not as nice, it works for certain tasks. It certainly is not as nice for making monkey bread. It certainly is not as nice for making caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan.

One heart shaped monkey bread out of the pan. A little dark due to the over cooking of the brown sugar and the caramelizing that took place. It was not burnt by any stretch of the imagination. I am sure that it did not help that I started with dark brown sugar. It did help make sure that all of the bread dough actually cooked with it being thinner, but it did not help with all of the gooey goodness.

Another close-up of the pan that I am raving about buying. I really like the weight of this pan. The size and depth is just good. It is about 2″ deep and just a good size. I really like it.

A second heart shaped monkey bread. Again, this was a bit dark on the bottom with the caramelizing of the brown sugar. I am sure it is also affected by my oven and how it is not cooking evenly these days. The kids gobbled it up anyway.

Now, I could not let the fun stop with the heart shape and the monkey bread. Heart shaped bacon any one? How about heart shaped chicken bacon? Yes, I took the time to shape all of those slices of bacon after I defrosted them without cooking them. Talent.

Let me just say that cooking chicken bacon without burning it takes talent all by itself. Cooking it in the oven while it is shaped like hearts is an all new ball game. It was actually quite good baked. I might have to try that again. This time I think I will try it without the heart shaping.

While I do not consume pork products, I still let my children have the guilty indulgence. Here is their heart shaped pig slices complete with grease.

Amazingly, the bacon cooked up nicely. Unfortunately, I did get theirs a bit crispier than I had planned on. Oh well, they ate it anyway.

I even managed to get nearly poached eggs in the microwave egg poacher. Closest I have come yet. Of course, I popped one of the yokes getting it out of the cooker. Kyle ate them anyway. He was just impressed that I had tried to poach them and the yolks were not cooked all the way solid.

Lance was the one that complained about the eggs. I did not take the time to scramble up the white and yolk before cooking the second batch of eggs. He wanted scrambled eggs. That is how he prefers his. He ate an egg anyway, but he did complain about it. I am just grateful for a microwave and a microwave egg cooker that makes it easier.

Here is the spread with our heart shaped monkey bread and our heart shaped bacon(s). Too bad I do not have something to make the eggs heart shaped really easy.

Here is why I went to all the work…They were delighted to sit down and consume the hearts. I love you boys.

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