Hosting a spring party soon for the mother-to-be//bride-to-be or the graduate or for a special birthday/anniversary? Spring celebrations are a great time of year for gathering with family and friends.
The first flowers of the season make perfect centerpieces. Grocery stores and home improvement stores have bulbs, like crocus, tulips and daffodils, in pots and blooming and these can add a feeling of spring to your party area.
Take advantage of the spring produce in the market. Make dishes ahead of time, if you can. Set up the drinks/cocktails in a special area. Small bites are the easiest and most functional way to serve party foods. Even if you are going to serve a main course, keep the appetizers and desserts simple finger foods. Here are some easy recipes to get you started.
- 12 ounces Italian salami, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- One 14 -ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- Small wood or bamboo skewers
Thread 1 small or 1/2 of a large basil leaf onto a small wooden skewer. Add a piece of roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, artichoke and salami, arranging them in that order on the skewer so that it can stand up on the salami end. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.The skewers can be assembled ahead and refrigerated until serving time.
Crab Salad Rolls
- 1 cup olive oil mayonnaise
- 2 large celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds lump crab meat, picked over and lightly broken up
- 16 mini brioche or mini hamburger rolls, split
- 16 small Boston lettuce leaves
In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the celery and lemon juice and season with cayenne. Gently fold in the crab meat and season with salt. Fill the buns with the lettuce and the crab salad and arrange on a decorative tray. The crab salad can be refrigerated overnight. Fill the rolls just before serving.
Serve with crostini, flatbread or pita chips.
Makes 3 1/2 cups
- 1 1/2 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and very finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce, (marinara)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Place the diced eggplant in a steamer basket. Set the basket over 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and steam the eggplant until tender, about 12 minutes; drain well.
In a large skillet, combine the tomatoes with the garlic, oregano and paprika and simmer over moderate heat until thickened, 5 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and the eggplant and simmer, gently stirring a few times, until the eggplant is flavored with the sauce, no more than 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper; add the lemon zest and parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The compote can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 24 walnut or pecan halves
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup finely grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, salt and egg until combined. Add vanilla, zucchini and sour cream and stir until incorporated.
Sift flour, baking soda and cocoa powder into another bowl and stir until combined. Stir in chopped chocolate.
Spray two mini muffin pans or one 24 cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill each cup with 2 tablespoons batter and top with a walnut.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes.
Let muffins cool slightly in pans on wire racks before removing. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup ground toasted almonds
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons water
- One 4-serving-size package (Jello) instant pudding mix (vanilla or cheesecake flavored)
- 1 cup evaporated whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup strawberry preserves
- Sliced strawberries and toasted sliced almonds for garnish
For the tart shells:
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and ground almonds. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until pieces are pea-size.
In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Gradually stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
Gently knead just until smooth and form the dough into a ball. If necessary, cover and chill about 1 hour until dough is easy to handle.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the dough into 24 pieces.
Shape pieces into balls. Press dough evenly into the bottoms and up the sides of 24 ungreased 1-3/4-inch muffin cups.
Bake in the preheated oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix, evaporated milk, vanilla and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
Spoon 2 teaspoons of the filling into each tart shell. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.
Before serving, top each tart with a 1/2 teaspoon of the preserves and a strawberry slice and a few sliced almonds. Makes 24.
Yield: 20 cupcakes.
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
- 1 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. Beat in applesauce and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in another bowl and gradually beat into the sugar mixture until blended. Stir in carrots.
Fill 20 paper-lined muffin cups half full.
Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
In a small bowl, combine frosting ingredients and beat until smooth.
Frost cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate until serving time.