Cooking with Love

Today's guest post comes from Audra Rogers, a wife and mom of two young boys, from rural Tennessee.  Audra shows us some lovely family-oriented Valentines, straight from the kitchen.  You can find Audra at her blog, Real Honest Mom, and on Twitter @RealHonestMom.

My love language is cooking from the heart, especially when it comes to my family. We cut out a lot of extra spending to get out of debt, and I learned to get creative with the things I already have at home.

The quickest way to a man's heart is still undoubtedly food!

You don't have to make everything from scratch or be a master chef to pull these off. In my book, less is more and simple is best.

For my husband's birthday one year, I made him this Meatball and Mashed Potato “Cake” and he loved it!

The meatballs are homemade (I made a large batch beforehand and froze them) and the mashed potatoes are real. I don't like to peel potatoes, but it was his birthday so what the heck.

There are green beans underneath the potatoes because veggies are important! And I made the little Happy Birthday note out of construction paper and a red marker.

I was nine months pregnant at the time. Believe me, I know I could've just tossed a value meal at him, but I wanted to do something special for his birthday. At that time it was defintely the thought that counted! And he appreciated that. He also had plenty of leftovers to take for lunch.

I also made this for him for Valentine's Day last year.

It is a flat iron steak, a baked potato, and a turkey bacon “bro-quet” on skewers that I cut down to size. I stuck the skewers in the baked potato and the I had the little sticky foam heart in our art supply box at home. 

We don't eat steak very often, so it was an extra special treat. And you can never go wrong with bacon!

I like to do fun things with breakfast foods for the kids too. I just did this once on a whim and the kids love it (they are 6 and 1)

I was trying to sway my oldest away from syrup by using fruit, and this is what I came up with. Bad bento, if you will!

Yes they are terrible, but the kids love it and I don't have problems getting them up in the morning to eat breakfast.

This is something I do in the morning pretty often now, it doesn't have to be a special occasion. I try to squeeze in as much quality time as I can.  

I also like to make the kids' birthday cakes myself. I found this idea for a Toy Story cake and it was a big hit.

It's a box cake mix made in a 13x9 pan, homemade baker's frosting (blue food coloring for part of it), and an easy gingerbread recipe for the headboard and footboard.

I used a table knife to lightly criss-cross lines into the frosting on the bedspread and used yellow star sprinkles at the points.

I drew a headboard and footboard pattern onto computer paper to cut out the gingerbread. It took me several tries to get the pattern right.  I also made extras in case they broke, since I had never worked with gingerbread before.

I got a small pack of Toy Story figures to go on top. He absolutely loved it!

I like to take the time to create something special when I can. I take note of upcoming occasions on the calendar when I do our budget, and adjust my grocery list ahead of time for what I'll need.

Store-bought gifts have their place, but sometimes all you can give is what you have at home, and it really is the thought that counts.

Please share any ideas you have to show the love!

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