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Ideas for a food-filled Valentine's Day

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 4:00 p.m. MST

Seventy million Americans celebrated Valentine’s Day in a restaurant last year, according to National Restaurant Association statistics.

“From over 30 years of experience with Valentine’s Day,” said Magleby’s employee Richard Parkinson, “we’ve discovered that it’s best to keep things simple.”

Parkinson said the Springville location averages about 200 customers on a regular day. On Valentine’s Day that number soars to between 800 and 1,000.

Magleby’s customers can expect to find the standard favorites on the Valentine’s Day menu, including the fresh halibut and famous chocolate cake. (Although the restaurant does not share its recipes, Parkinson did say that one of the secrets to creating the trademark cake is butter. No shortening, margarine or other form of fat is used in the cake or frosting.)

And nationally, close to 63 percent of restaurants feature a special Valentine’s Day menu or add-on service. Locally, Thanksgiving Point in Lehi celebrates Valentine’s Day with a dinner and dance — a tradition begun in 2003. Along with dinner, the evening's price includes a live band, a candy station and a photo booth.

“A lot of our guests come every year,” said event planner Veronica Huebsch, “so I feel like our dinner dance has become a tradition for most couples who attend.”

The dinner menu features a double entre of grilled New York Steak with herb butter and pan-seared chicken breast with Marsala cream, served with buttered spaghetti squash, baby carrots and Yukon gold mashed potatoes. (For other restaurants with Valentine's Day dining options, see "Valentine's Day Dining" on C2.)

For those who would prefer chocolate for dinner, The Sweet Tooth Fairy has variety of cupcakes, truffles and cakebites. The Utah-based company owned by Megan Brown is offering a special sugar cookie kit in February.

“There’s nothing quite as nostalgic as a sugar cookie,” Brown said in a recent interview. She said frosting sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day is a childhood memory she wants to create for her four children.

For those who would like the tradition without the mess, “we’re selling Valentine Sugar Cookie kits,” Brown said, “so you can celebrate the artist within you and make fun and lasting memories with those you love.”

Homemade food traditions will also highlight Valentine’s Day for the Meredith and Nathan Simpson family of Alpine.

Valentine’s Day will begin with breakfast. Meredith said her three young daughters will love the menu she plans to serve: pink heart-shaped pancakes smothered with buttermilk syrup, whipped cream and sprinkles. A raspberry or strawberry (think pink) yogurt smoothie will top it off.

Before the couple married, Meredith turned her parents’ basement family room into a “CafÉ Love” — complete with a small round candlelit table for two and walls featuring photos of her and her husband-to-be.

The menu featured a delivered heart-shaped pizza along with a 7-layer bean dip and chips. Meredith said they will celebrate the memory by including a heart-shaped pizza in this year’s Valentine’s Day dinner menu.

Thanksgiving Poing Executive Chef Jason Merryweather shared this recipe that is also on the Valentine's dinner menu.

SEASONAL MIXED GREENS WITH ORANGE POMEGRANATE VINAIGRETTE

Vinaigrette

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

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