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can't buy 
me love
valentine's day on a budget 
by Patricia Virella
1 2 3 4

Love don't cost a thing -- except, it sometimes seems, on Valentine's Day. From the commercials touting how a diamond is forever, to the countless magazine articles on five fabulous ways to spend a heap on your honey, it’s hard to get away from the idea that the amount of money you drop tends to signify how much love you have for someone.  Don’t fall into the money pit.  There are many amazing ways to show your sweetie your love without robbing a bank to finance it.  The key to getting maximum romance out of a minimum of moolah? A little bit of time, a certain amount of creativity and a whole lot of thoughtfulness.

skip the restaurant!
You may think having a sit down dinner at a posh restaurant has romance written all over it.  It very well may, but you may also be spelling b-r-o-k-e.  An even sweeter alternative is to cook at home.  Make your honey’s favorite dinner and have it ready when he/she comes home.  Or get the evening’s celebrating started early by sharing kitchen duties, and prepping a romantic meal together.  Either way, use cost-effective ways to get your ingredients and with just a little bit of effort, you can easily get a fabulous meal on the table for a fraction of what it might have cost you to battle the restaurant crowds.

just desserts
Once you’ve gotten your main course together, have fun and let romance be your guide to delectably devilish desserts.  Chocolate is a favorite on Valentine’s Day and is easy to prepare in many ways.  Go for classics like chocolate-dipped strawberries (simply melt 8oz. bittersweet baking chocolate with 2 tablespoons butter in a bowl over simmering water. Dip in strawberries one at time.  If you’re not using long-stem strawberries, a toothpick makes dipping easier). Or try an easy and elegant Chocolate Mousse (right). 
The Easiest 
Chocolate Mousse

8oz. bittersweet baker's chocolate
¾ cup butter
(about a stick and a half)
1¾ cup heavy cream
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. honey
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
(imitation is fine)

Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water.  In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.  In a third bowl, combine eggs and honey and vanilla.  Whisk mixture until light and fluffy. Fold in heavy cream; once combined, fold in chocolate/butter mixture.  Refrigerate at least one hour.


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