In place of the traditional steak and baked potato this Valentine’s Day, let’s have Kathy’s Southwest Crab Cakes.

These simple-to-prepare crab cakes can be made up in the morning and waiting in the refrigerator to heat when it’s time for dinner. Serve them with a good squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice and salsa. (If you insist on steak, make the crab cakes in a small size and serve them as an appetizer.)

Serve any colorful salad you like with the crab cakes. I hollowed out a few small tomatoes and filled them with guacamole. Use prepared guacamole if that’s what you have or make your own guacamole.

I served the tomatoes on a bed of steamed sweet peas which helps hold them upright. Serve alone or on a small bed of lettuce topped with a Garlic Mayo Dressing. The Garlic Mayo Dressing can also be used as a veggie dip.

Grill or steam asparagus and/or yellow squash as a side.

For dessert, Almond Cream Tart is tasty and impressive. I selected all strawberries for the topping, but you could design the top of the tart with a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries.

Right before serving, a quick zigzag of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup over each slice makes the dessert even fancier. To do that, squeeze a little of the chocolate syrup in a quart-size resealable plastic bag and snip just the very end off of one corner of the bag (less than 1? 8-inch), making a tiny hole. Zigzag chocolate over the top of the pie or make a chocolate design or hearts on the dessert plate.

Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at