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A special home-cooked Valentine meal

It seems like we have just recently put away the holly and it’s time to take out the hearts — It’s time to celebrate Valentine’s Day. What better way is there to celebrate the most romantic holiday of the year than with a home cooked dinner? The whole point of a Valentine’s dinner is to make it stand out from the other nights of the week. Playing soft music, having a roaring romantic fire in the fireplace, soft lighting and a tasty menu will all create a memorable Feb. 14 for your sweetheart.

■ Mixed Greens With Raspberry Vinegar Toss

1 1/2 heads Romaine lettuce, bite size pieces

1/2 cup raspberry vinegar

1/3 cup shallots, chopped

3/4 cup olive oil

Blend vinegar and shallots in blender. Gradually add oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over lettuce right before serving. You may add pieces of crisp, fried bacon and fresh sliced mushrooms to salad.

■ Browned Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce

2 pounds pork tenderloin

1 can low-fat chicken broth

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup dried cherries

1 tablespoon butter

Roast tenderloin at 375 degrees until done, about 3/4 to 1 hour. Remove roast from roaster and pour drippings into a saucepan. Add chicken broth and cook over medium low heat until reduced for about half hour. Add the balsamic vinegar and dried cherries. Continue cooking until mixture is reduced to about two-thirds cup. Right before serving, whisk in one tablespoon butter. Pour sauce and cherries over sliced pork tenderloin and serve immediately.

■ Stuffed Mushrooms

1 - 16 ounce package fresh whole mushrooms, cleaned

8 ounces cream cheese

8 slices bacon

4 green onions, chopped

2 splashes Worcestershire Sauce

Couple drops Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Lemon juice, optional

Pull out mushroom stems and set aside. Spray mushrooms with spray oil. Chop stems and green onion. Mix with cream cheese. Cook bacon in the microwave until almost done, not crispy. Add drained bacon and remaining ingredients to cream cheese/onion mixture. Stuff each mushroom with mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

GARY’S TIP: Marshmallows can be used for candle holders on top of your special dessert.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness.