February offers many opportunities for brightening winter's gloom with a party. Choose a theme, and then plan fun food items around the theme. Don't be afraid to combine ideas for maximum effect. A romantic Valentine bash or a fun-for-all celebration of Chocolate Lover's Month becomes a little more fun with related food items on the menu.
Serve anything heart-shaped at a Valentine's party. From appetizers to dessert, the theme builds. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut sliced cheese for appetizers. Have bowls of candy conversation hearts around the room. Add hearts of palm, drained and sliced, to the salad. Make "cloverleaf" rolls with three instead of four small balls of dough for heart-shaped dinner rolls. For a more casual affair, shape seasoned ground beef patties into heart shapes before grilling or pan-broiling. Serve a heart-shaped cake for dessert, or decorate a more traditional shape with frosting in heart shapes or heart-shaped candies. Unwrap chocolate kisses and use frosting to pipe on red lips and eyes to create Kissy-faces.
Limit the menu to Washington and Lincoln, or open up to the whole roster of American presidents to celebrate. Make a gelatin poke cake with white cake and cherry gelatin to celebrate Washington. Serve bar cookies cut long and narrow and frosted with chocolate frosting scored with a fork to resemble tree bark as homage to Lincoln's days as a rail-splitter. Pair up Irish potato salad for Kennedy with barbecued ribs for the two Bushes. Set out bowls of jelly beans for Reagan and peanuts for Carter.
Wait for the groundhog's prediction while munching on Winter Wrap Ups---wieners or cocktail sausages wrapped in dough and baked. Refrigerated biscuits, crescent rolls or pizza dough work well. Dip groundhog food---fresh vegetables-herb dip. Serve duplex cream cookies, the sandwiches with one chocolate side and one vanilla side as "Shadow Cookies."
Celebrating All Month Long
Honor those who contributed so much to America by planning a menu around their accomplishments. Any recipe containing peanuts owes something to George Washington Carver, a powerful symbol of Black History Month.
Set out bowls of roasted sunflower seeds in honor of National Bird Feeding Month.
Go all out for Chocolate Lovers Month. Dress up a plain chocolate cake by placing a paper doily on the top and sprinkling confectioner's sugar through it. The lacy design adds drama to a simple classic. For a variation on gelatin poke cake, replace the gelatin with chocolate pudding over a white or yellow cake. Chocolate hearts and other candies as well as cookies make appropriate treats to celebrate the occasion. Chase the winter chill with cups of frothy cocoa.