Al Fresco Dining
Dust off those picnic baskets, uncover the patio furniture and fire up the grill. If you've been cooped up in your kitchen all winter, it's a safe bet you're ready to get out and enjoy a lovely afternoon. For the perfect al fresco meal, grill up some Mediterranean Lamb Chop or Pepper and Maple Salmon, and don't forget the potato salad.
Mix and match these colorful sides and desserts as you see fit:
It's easy to transform a farm-fresh bunch of asparagus into the perfect side dish. The secret? Keep the recipe simple and let the veggie shine through, as with this recipe for Lemony Roasted Asparagus.Avocados
The creamy avocado is at its peak in the spring. Use this to your advantage and pick up a few newly ripened ones at your nearest market to whip up the perfect bowl of guacamole. Serve as a zesty appetizer or as topping at your next Taco Tuesday.Carrots
These bright orange root veggies aren't just for the Easter bunny. Young spring carrots are sure to be a crunch above the rest, so show off that first vibrant pick of the season with a dish of Cinnamon and Honey Carrots.
Tender greens abound this time of year, and it doesn't take much more than the right pick of spring mix and a tempting dressing to make a truly delightful salad. Classic but never boring, this balsamic vinaigrette is a super-easy and flavorful way to prep the perfect spring salad without overwhelming delicate greens.
Or opt for a more exotic flair when you blend up this flavorful vinaigrette with in-season mangoes and a touch of curry. Mix in the dressing, salad fixings of your choice and croutons for a healthy start to a meal, or add some sliced chicken or salmon to make it into a main dish.
Spring SipsEven if you haven't started on that long list of seasonal chores, you and your family and friends will definitely enjoy a refreshing batch of these cool drinks. When life gives you lemons, kick them up a notch with this Ginger Cinnamon Lemonade. Or opt for a less conventional garden party punch bowl with a quirky but delicious Rhubarb Punch.
DessertsA berry in hand is worth two on the bush, but a berry in the pie is the most valuable of them all. Berry-centric desserts are not only juicy and delicious, but also dole out a nice burst of antioxidants with every bite. A Triple Berry Fruit Crisp, Fresh Berry Shortcakes, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie or Strawberry Lemonade Pie will keep your post-meal indulgences light while still satisfying your sweet tooth.
Anne Delatte is a freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys covering food, drink, and culture in South Louisiana and beyond and has written for area publications and national sites including Apartments.com and Marriott Travel. Anne lives and writes in New Orleans.