CRUSHING Valentine’s Day

Take in the sweet, sumptuous flavors and colors of Valentine’s Day. We have ideas for a rose-and tulip-tinted party your gal pals will be crushing on. It’s packed with pretty entertaining ideas and an easy, but eye-popping, menu to match. From dreamy flower-topped gift boxes to “cleaner” cocktails, skinnier dips, veggie-filled tacos, and petite pies, this Invite will have you in the mood to celebrate.

Roasted Shallot and Fennel Dip

OK, this is my cleaner take on onion dip. I prefer the sweetness of shallots over onions and like to combine the shallots with fennel. I use tangy Greek yogurt for this dip, which is lower in calories. Serve with baked wonton chips (see recipe below) and sugar snap pea pods.

  • 4 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, outer layer removed, then cored and sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sliced shallots and fennel on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes until the shallots and fennel begin to caramelize.
  2. Pulse the shallots, fennel, and zest in a food processor until well blended. Fold mixture into 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Shallot and Fennel Dip

Baked Wonton Chips

  • 1 package of wonton wrappers
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place wonton wrappers in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Very lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Slice each wrapper into 2 triangles. Bake for approximately 5 minutes until the chips are golden brown.


Skinny Margarita

Skinny Margarita

  • Ice 
  • 1 1/2 ounces Silver tequila
  • Juice of 1/2 a fresh lime
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • Garnishes:
  • Sliced strawberry
  • Seeded jalapeno slices
  • Lime slices

Fill a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, and agave, and shake well. Quickly add fresh ice to your glass, then top with the floral ice cube. Pour, garnish and enjoy.

Make a Mini Bar

Set out a lacquered white tray, stemless glassware, and individual cocktail shakers, then invite guests to shake and pour their own custom cocktails. Top off the glass with beautiful fresh floral ice cubes and garnishes. Cheers!


Portobello Mushroom Tacos and Pickled Purple Cabbage

Portabello Mushroom Tacos

The mushrooms make for a lighter twist on the typical taco — and they are meat-free. Simply slice mushrooms, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and grill them off on the stovetop. Top with pickled cabbage, and the crunch is — well, perfection.

Pickled Purple Cabbage

  • 1 purple cabbage
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small whole garlic clove
  1. Rinse half of a purple cabbage, and medium chop the leaves. Place chopped cabbage in a lidded glass jar. Top with cider vinegar, wine vinegar, water, honey, coriander, salt, and a garlic clove.
  2. Shake the lidded jar to mix the contents. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, giving the jar a shake every now and then.
  3. Drain off liquid, and discard garlic before serving.
  4. Tip: This pickled cabbage is amazing on pork sandwiches, avocado toast, and in scrambled eggs.

More Taco Topping Ideas:

  • Freshly made guacamole with plenty of fresh lime juice
  • Roasted red onion (Slice onion, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes.)
  • Minced, seeded jalapeño
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh basil

Envelope Napkin FoldEnvelope Napkin Fold

  1. Fold your napkin into a 10-inch-by-10-inch square.
  2. Rotate the square so there is a point on top.
  3. Fold in the two side points so they touch.
  4. Fold up the bottom point and tuck it inside the side points, forming a pouch.


Strawberry Hand Pies

Strawberry Hand Pies

Pate Brisee Dough

Makes approximately 28 mini pies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to ½ cup ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • White sparkling sugar

TIP: To save time, purchase pre-made pie crust dough.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all ingredients except the water in a food processor, and pulse until just combined. With the machine running, add the water, a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough in half, and pat into two disks. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. Roll out one of the dough disks, on a floured surface, to 1/8-inch thick. Use a 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter to cut out dough rounds. Use a ¾-inch heart jelly cutter to make the decorative cutouts.
  2. Next, place 2 teaspoons of the strawberry filling (see recipe) in the center of the bottom round. Top with the heart cutout round of dough, and crimp the edges closed with a fork. Lightly brush with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with white sparkling sugar. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven for 4 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 5 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles and oozes slightly. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat above steps with the second dough disk.

Strawberry filling

  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and medium chopped
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest of half an orange

Toss the sugar and cornstarch together. Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan, and cook for approximately 10 minutes until the ingredients are combined and the mixture thickens. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.



Curated Gift Boxes

We love the idea of treating the gals to these lovely, round “hat boxes.” Fill the boxes with their favorite things like, Champagne truffles and Champagne gummy bears, small cans of Champagne, flavored olive oils, scented soaps, and small hand-tied bouquets.



Monica Hart

See Monica Hart’s design, recipe, and entertaining ideas in every issue of 425 magazine, and at

Credits: Hat boxes and white tray by The Container Store at The Bellevue Collection; gift box candy by Lolli and Pops, The Bellevue Collection; recipe ingredients by Metropolitan Market Kirkland; blouse by Intermix, The Bellevue Collection; hair by Seven salon, The Bellevue Collection; glassware from Party Crush by Monica Hart


is a 425 contributor.
Find Out First
Learn about Eastside food,
fashion, home design, and more.
no thanks