Casual Spring Party
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Casual Spring Party

When the sun's warmth returns after a long, cold winter, it's time to come out of hibernation and celebrate.

Casual Planning

Fresh Tastes
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Arrange the flowers the night
before the party and refrigerate
them. Set the centerpieces on
the morning of the party.

Easter, Passover birthdays, and anniversaries -- plenty of legitimate occasions provide reasons to venerate spring. But we don't really need an excuse to party when flowers and trees are blooming and farmer's markets beckon us to revel in the season's beauty and bounty. With the return of winter-missed colors and flavors, choices are suddenly much broader. Baby vegetables, sugar snap peas, fresh herbs, and greens are an invitation to go with lighter fare. Tabletop ideas lean to the lighter side, too, now that the full bloom of spring flora is available. These simple, tasteful dishes may be served for any occasion and for any meal from brunch to supper. Whether served as a buffet or a sit-down meal, a selection of these dishes can enhance a casual yet elegant spring gathering.

Plan Ahead

  • Create a plan before getting your party under way. Make lists and timelines for shopping, cooking, and tabletop decoration or preparation.
  • Do whatever tasks you can in advance: Set the table, and if serving buffet style, lay out the cutlery, serving spoons, condiments and other necessities.
  • Consider a side table for drinks near where the guests will gather so you can offer drinks before the meal.
  • Make the most of seasonal produce and flowers. Plan according to what looks freshest in the market.
  • Keep spring tabletop design simple and inexpensive. If time is limited, use simple bouquets of mixed flowers from the garden. Inexpensive flowerpots can be painted in bright colors to hold equally vibrant flowers.

Centerpiece Creation

Spring Table Setting
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Live wheat grass is available
at health-food markets and
farmer's markets.

To make a centerpiece similar to the one pictured here for your Spring Casual get-together, follow these steps: 1. Paint terra-cotta flowerpots in desired colors with acrylic craft paint and a 1-1/2-inch brush (several coats may be required). 2. Spray paint pots with a clear coat polyurethane spray. Let dry thoroughly. 3. Place florist's foam in bottom of finished pots. Wet the foam. 4. Fill pots with fresh spring flowers. 5. Cut bamboo matting to desired width for table runner. 6. Cut wheat grass sod into pieces 1/2 inches narrower than the bamboo matting. 7. Piece together, and center wheat grass sod on mat. Place flower-filled pots on mats. Add candles set in terra-cotta saucers or on small decorative tiles.

Recipes

Easter Egg Potatoes
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Festive "Easter Egg" potatoes turn
ho-hum twice-baked potatoes on
their heads for a little fun.

Easter Egg Potatoes Try this recipe with Yukon Gold or even large purple potatoes. To make-ahead prepare potatoes through first baking and assembly and arranging in baking dish. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Reheat in a preheated 325 degrees F oven for 45 to 50 minutes.

 

Poached Salmon with Dilled Sour Cream Easier to fix than it looks, this elegant recipe can be made ahead: Poach the fish the evening before your celebration, wrap it well, and refrigerate till needed.

 

Lemon-Marinated Baby Vegetables Cook delicate baby vegetables only a few minutes, so they keep their vibrant colors and sweet flavor.

 

Caviar-Stuffed Deviled Eggs A teaspoon of salt in the cooking water helps keep the eggs from cracking. To easily peel hard-cooked eggs, gently tap each cooked egg on a clean hard surface, then roll the egg gently on the surface or between the palms of your hands. Peel off eggshell, starting at the large end.

 

Herbed Olive Spirals Experiment using pitted olives of different flavor types -- such as kalamata, oil-cured, nicoise, or Sicilian -- instead of pitted ripe olives.

 

Spinach and Fresh Fig Salad When choosing fresh figs, handle the fruit carefully. Look for unblemished fruits that are plump and feel soft and heavy in the hand. Be gentle; they bruise easily.

 

Easy Ice Cream Sandwiches If desired, stir fresh strawberries or peaches into the softened ice cream or frozen yogurt before assembling sandwiches.

 

Iced Ginger Tea Decorative plastic ice cubes avoid the dilution from plain ice cubes. Or, pour a portion of the tea into ice cube trays. Freeze and use when needed.

 
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