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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Smash Bake Hearts: Everyday Romance and an Easy Dinner

With Valentines' Day just a couple of weeks away, I am launching into some love up recipes to inspire you for a date night in.

How do you feel about Valentines' Day?

At fifty-years-old, it has grown on me. Again.

When I was a kid, Valentines' Day was exhilarating. One year, in elementary school, I remember making all of my Valentines' cards with my mom, taping bubblegum to the cards on which I had painstakingly written - in bubblegum scented pink ink no less - 'Stuck on You!'

Then, in college, I worked as a florist for a couple of years. And my disdain for the holiday blossomed. I worked at a flower shop because I loved flowers - all those the scents, all those the textures - and I loved creating something beautiful that a fellow flower lover would enjoy.

But on February 14th, directly proportional to the proximity of dinner time, men would line up at our flower stand for a dozen long-stemmed red roses. It wasn't thoughtful. It wasn't creative. And it certainly wasn't authentic. It was obligatory.

"How about something a little less common?" I suggested one time, reaching for a bunch of fringed parrot tulips that were a sunny yellow bloom tipped in scarlet. The man nearly bit my head off in his impatience. "I just want the long-stem red roses and I'm already late for my damn dinner!" he bellowed.

How's that for romance? For years after college, I despised Valentines' Day.

I firmly believe that love and romance belong front and center all the time. Why is February 14th designated as a day for people to show their sweethearts that they are adored? What about the other 364 days?!?

I would rather get a bunch of handpicked wildflowers on a random day in April than a dozen red roses on a day when florists mark up their wares beyond the typical 300% markup. Thankfully all three of my boys know this and I find flowers from the garden in a mason jar on the table when their bushes are in bloom.

I know that I sound unapologetically unromantic. Is there a Valentines' equivalent of a Grinch? That would be me. Would have been me. But one of my boys loved Valentines' Day and spent weeks planning his cards for his friends; so, we make the cards together. Kinda like my mom did with me. I loved that and it helped to melt my iciness towards the holiday.

Valentines' Day 2004

I look at it this way: I love my Valentines (my Love and our two boys) 365 days of the year. Why would I refuse to celebrate that affection just because everyone else is celebrating on that same day?!

And, truth be told, I'm not unromantic. I love romance. I just don't reserve romance for February 14th. Jake and I take our romance to the redwoods, on a lake, to the snow, to the beach, and on the mountain bike trails. All. Year. Long.

Smash Bake Hearts

So, on a random evening - close to but not on Valentines' Day - I usually make some heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. The title of this post 'smash bake' is how R described my baking. "You know, Mom, you prefer things that are less precise. You 'smash bake'." I can cop to that. These are made even more simple for a weeknight dinner because I used premade pizza dough and a jarred tomato sauce. I often do homemade everything...but not every time.


  • two premade pizza dough balls (I divided them in half and made four 6" x 8" hearts)

  • jarred tomato sauce

  • shredded cheese

  • various toppings (we used Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and more mozzarella)

  • Also needed: baking sheets, baking stones, heart-shaped cutters, and knives if you want to freehand any toppings


Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Press dough into whatever shape you wish. Smear some tomato sauce on the dough. Add cheese and toppings.

Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

The crust should be firm and the cheese melted. Slice or serve whole. Repeat until all of your dough and toppings have been used.

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