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Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Time to snap out of hibernation! There are plenty of reasons to get together as it gets warmer, so find your inspiration here.

Whether you’re planning an Easter extravaganza or a simple springtime gathering, you’ll find some delicious recipes and ideas to get you started. Help break the ice with some tasty beverages like the Lavender Collins Cocktail and Spring Moscow Mule Mocktail. Then serve up some satisfying dishes like Thai Spring Rolls, Lemon Chicken and Asparagus, Roasted Beet and Garlic Hummus, and Couscous Salad with Roasted Strawberries and Lemon-Basil Dressing. For a seasonally inspired finale, check out Peeps Fruit Punch-Flavored Hi-Hat Cupcakes.

And finally, be sure to check out 8 Ways to Welcome Spring, along with a few other springtime favorites to help you make way for a fresh new season!

Easter Egg Dying with Natural Food Dyes 

Easter Egg Dying with Natural Food Dyes 

Created by: Elisabeth McKnight, Bella the Blog

Making your own dye for Easter eggs keeps things natural and can create beautiful colors, but keep in mind that you must leave the eggs in natural dyes longer than the store-bought dye kits – maybe even overnight.

Start with hard-boiled eggs so you can eat them later and avoid the risk of cracking eggs while they're dying. These natural-dye eggs make a gorgeous table decor for an Easter brunch, too, or creating them can just be a fun activity for you and the kids. 

Natural Dye Color Options:
  • Yellow/ Orange: Yellow onion skins, turmeric, cumin
  • Pink/Red: Red onion skins, red beets, pomegranate juice, cranberries, cranberry juice
  • Purple: Grape juice, raspberries, blackberries
  • Blue: Red cabbage, blueberries
Directions:
  1. Add one cup of chopped fruits or one tablespoon of spice to one cup of water in a saucepan. 
  2. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the bits of fruit and then pour remaining liquid into a container deep enough to dye the eggs. 
  4. Place the eggs in the dye and leave for 3-12 hours for the desired coloring.

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Dried Cherry Granola Cups with Greek Yogurt and Berries

Dried Cherry Granola Cups with Greek Yogurt and Berries

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

For some people, breakfast is just a means to an end, a way to curb hunger pangs until lunchtime. It's not really a meal they enjoy.

For me, it’s a way of life and something I look forward to nearly every night when I go to bed – I love breakfast. I might even say that it’s my favorite meal of the day because it’s really what gets my mornings going. Without a solid breakfast, I find myself ravenous an hour into my day, unable to focus on anything but food. I find it utterly baffling when I meet someone – like my husband – who has practically no desire to eat breakfast and often skips it altogether. Isn't he hungry?

On weekdays, breakfast is usually simple. A piece of toast with peanut butter and bananas, a fried egg or a protein smoothie is typically all I need to satisfy me. But every once in a while, I put in a little extra effort and make something from scratch that will last all week long. Bottom of Form Case in point: granola.

Granola is one of those breakfast and snack items that a lot of people buy, which is a shame because it’s one of the simplest things in the world to make at home. Throw together some oats, your favorite additions, a little bit of fat and pop it into the oven – you’ve got yourself an easy, healthy breakfast that lasts all week. I just throw it over some Greek yogurt, drizzle it with honey and call it a day on weekdays, but I thought it would be fun to transform a classic granola recipe into miniature little bowls fit for entertaining. The effort and time is virtually the same, but the end result is a hundred times more adorable.

Quick-cooking oats, a little whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, walnuts and dried cherries are mixed together and then drizzled with a combination of coconut oil, butter, honey and vanilla. The mixture is tossed until combined, nestled into muffin tins and popped in the oven until slightly golden brown at the edges. I like to firmly press the granola into the bottom and sides of the tins again after baking, just to ensure everything is packed in there, then I let them cool for a couple of minutes to set up before popping them out of the tins to cool completely.

I filled them with plain Greek yogurt and fresh berries in this recipe, but the possibilities are really endless and limited only to your creativity and palate, so have fun with it!

15 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 12
Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups instant oats
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus ⅛ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 cups mixed berries
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously grease a standard sized muffin tin with coconut or canola oil spray.
  2. Stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts, dried cherries and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Warm the coconut oil, butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the oil and butter are melted. Remove from the stove and let cool for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients along with the vanilla. Stir until combined.
  5. Evenly divide the granola between the muffin cups and use your fingers or a spoon to firmly push the granola to the bottom and up the sides of the tins.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cups are just slightly golden brown. Let them cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then use a butter knife to gently work them out.
  7. Fill with Greek yogurt and top with berries.

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Peeps Fruit Punch-Flavored Hi-Hat Cupcakes

Peeps Fruit Punch-Flavored Hi-Hat Cupcakes

Created by: Greggy Soriano, Greggy’s Digest

Here’s a fun way to incorporate Peeps into your spring-themed dessert table: a moist cupcake, topped with a mountain of fruit punch-flavored Peeps frosting and dipped into pastel-colored chocolate.

25 minutes | Prep time: 1 hour | Serves: 22
Ingredients:
  • 1 box (16 oz.) Kroger Cake Mix, any variety
  • 2 jars (7 oz. each) Kroger Marshmallow Crème
  • 3 packages fruit punch-flavored Peeps
  • Pastel-colored chocolate, candy melts or almond bark for dipping
  • Cupcake liners
  • Plastic piping bag with a plain round tip, or a large zip-top plastic sandwich bag with one corner cut off

PeepsFruitPunchCupcakes2
Directions:
  1. Bake the cupcakes according to the directions on the box. Set them aside and allow them to cool.
  2. Melt one package of Peeps in the microwave in 30-second increments until they're nice and smooth. Don't overheat. Set other packages of Peeps to the side.
    PeepsFruitPunchCupcakes3
  3. Cool the melted Peeps with a little marshmallow crème. This is called tempering.
  4. Add the remaining marshmallow crème to the melted Peep mixture.
  5. Fill the piping bag with the Peep-flavored marshmallow crème.
    PeepsFruitPunchCupcakes4
  6. Pipe a small mound of marshmallow crème onto each cupcake.
  7. Place one marshmallow Peep on top of the marshmallow crème. Set in the refrigerator or freezer to cool.
    PeepsFruitPunchCupcakes5
  8. Melt the pastel-colored chocolate in the microwave in 10-second increments. Allow it to cool until it's no longer warm to the touch but is still melted.
  9. Dip the entire top of the marshmallow crème frosting and Peep into the melted chocolate.
    PeepsFruitPunchCupcakes6
  10. Allow the chocolate to set and serve!

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Lavender Collins Cocktail

Lavender Collins Cocktail

Created by: Hannah Hagler, Champagne Lifestyle

There’s something refreshing about a cocktail with a mix of floral and citrus flavors. This Lavender Collins Cocktail is the perfect mix of sweet (from a lavender-infused syrup) and tart (from lemon juice). The club soda topping gives it a nice sparkling twist.

2 minutes | Prep time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1
Ingredients:
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 oz. club soda
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh or dried lavender flowers
  • 2 cups sugar

LavenderCollinsCocktail2
Directions:
  1. Bring water and lavender to a boil in a saucepan, using a wooden spoon to stir in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved.
    LavenderCollinsCocktail5
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow syrup to cool. After it's cooled, strain the lavender from the syrup. The syrup will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
  4. Stir gin, lemon juice and syrup in a glass or in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and top with club soda.
    LavenderCollinsCocktail4
  5. Garnish with a lavender stalk and slice of lemon.

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Fusilli & Arugula Salad

Fusilli & Arugula Salad

Created by: Ashley Torres, Pursuit of Shoes

Springtime is here, and that means there are a lot of delicious and fresh veggies to go around. Try switching up your traditional green salad with pasta this season – you'll be surprised at what a little fusilli can do.

10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 10 oz. fusilli pasta
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3 Tbsp. capers
  • 1½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Remove from the heat, drain and place in a bowl to cool.
  2. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl: olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. When your pasta has cooled down completely, add the arugula, tomatoes, capers and basil. Keep cold until ready to serve.
  4. Drizzle your dressing over the pasta until it's coated.
  5.  
  6. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
  7.  
  8. Sprinkle the salad with Parmesan cheese for the final touch.
  9. Bon appétit!

It’s a great salad to share with guests or to serve your family. It’s quick, it tastes great and it can last in the fridge for up to two days. Enjoy!

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

8 Ways to Welcome Spring

8 Ways to Welcome Spring

I love making small changes to my home to welcome the coming seasons. Spring is one of my favorite seasons because it reminds me of flowers, fruit and sunshine. Below are some of my favorite ways to ring in the spring season.

  1. Display fresh lemons and limes in an apothecary jar: This is such an easy way to add some springtime to your home, and since you will likely eventually use the lemons and limes for something - it's not wasteful.
  2. Start your own herb garden: I am not one to have a green thumb, but this spring I am trying to start my own herb garden. I have mine by my sink and love the smell of fresh mint and basil while in the kitchen.
    wayswelcomespring4
  3. Make a floral cocktail: My favorite floral cocktail is the lavender Collins. Not only is it a super tasty cocktail, it's very appropriate for spring as well!
    wayswelcomespring1
  4. Light a fruity candle: I tie smells to feelings, so whenever I smell a really fruity candle (think pomegranate, mango, etc.) it transports me to a tropical island.
  5. Create a fresh flower centerpiece: I love fresh-cut flowers, but they can wilt fast! I've invested in a potted lavender plant, which now resides on my dining room table. It's unique, smells like springtime and can last much longer than cut flowers!
  6. Put fresh berries and basil in ice cubes to spruce up your standard water: This is such an easy way to add some flair, and it's pretty for guests!
    wayswelcomespring3
  7. Make a chilled soup: My favorite chilled soup is an avocado soup. I blend mine and chill it for an hour, which makes for an easy and quick lunch or snack.
  8. Add some life & color to your patio. Whether it be with colorful patio furniture or accessories, adding bright colors to your outdoor area will really bring some springy cheer.
    wayswelcomespring2

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Breakfast Enchiladas

Breakfast Enchiladas

Created by: Ashley Torres, Pursuit of Shoes

Who doesn’t love enchiladas? The melted cheese mixed with the flavors of the sauce and meat are delicious. Combine this with breakfast, the best meal of the day, and you’ve got the perfect idea!

25 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Yields: 8-10 enchiladas
Ingredients:
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cans (10 oz. each)of green enchilada sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 10 small links breakfast sausage
  • 12 eggs, whisked
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed & drained)
  • 3 cups shredded cheese – pepper jack, cheddar and Monterey Jack
  • ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 8-10 large flour tortillas
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Spread ⅓ cup of sauce on the pan and set it aside.
  4. Dice the sausage links and cook them in the oil until they're golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Cook the eggs for about 7 minutes or until scrambled. Set them aside.
  6. Add sauce to a large plate. Lay your first tortilla on the plate, coating it with the sauce. In the middle of the tortilla, add eggs, sausage, black beans, cilantro, onions and cheese. Tightly roll the enchilada and place it in the baking dish. Repeat these steps with the rest of the tortillas. The tighter you roll them, the more you’ll fit in the dish.
  7. Once all of the enchiladas are rolled and placed in the baking dish, spread about ½ cup of sauce over them; sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese.
  8. Place the dish in the oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Let the enchiladas cool for a few minutes; then top the melted deliciousness with fresh cilantro, onions and avocado (you can also add some black beans if any remain).
  10. If you want to get fancy, add sour cream to the top.
  11. The only thing left is to enjoy!

All the flavors come together and make for a great breakfast for you and your guests. The best part is that if you have leftovers, the enchiladas taste even better reheated. Breakfast to dinner enchiladas? Why not!

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Spring Moscow Mule Mocktails

Spring Moscow Mule Mocktails

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

The classic Moscow Mule recipe is a vodka-based cocktail with the unusual addition of ginger beer, topped with a wedge of lime. This version substitutes club soda in place of vodka for non-drinkers to enjoy!

0 minutes | Prep time: 5 min | Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups ginger beer
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 4 tsp. maraschino cherry juice
  • 4 sprigs mint
  • 4 slices lime
  • 4 maraschino cherries
Directions:
  1. Divide all liquids equally between four copper mugs and stir.
  2. Garnish each with a sprig of mint and put a slice of lime and a cherry on the rim of each mug. Serve and enjoy. Cheers!

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Lemon Chicken and Asparagus

Lemon Chicken and Asparagus

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

When the seasons change, I like to have a few go-to recipes in my back pocket that incorporate seasonal produce. I love fresh asparagus in the spring – it gives a bright pop of green to any dish.

With the help of the handful of lemons left on my tree, these chicken thighs go from dull to delicious, especially when you add the honey butter sauce over the top (cue yumminess!). As an added perk, this one-skillet meal really helps save time feeding the family.

30 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 6
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Stir together the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, lemon pepper and basil in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to coat the chicken in the mixture, covering both sides of each piece.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter at medium-high heat in an oven-safe skillet. Place the chicken pieces skin side-down and sear each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add the asparagus and stir. Immediately add the chicken pieces on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the internal chicken temperature reads 175° F on a meat thermometer.
  6. Prepare the sauce in a small saucepan while the chicken is cooking. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter very gently, then add the juice of ½ lemon and the honey. Quickly transfer to a serving dish to be poured over the cooked chicken.

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Roasted Beet and Garlic Hummus

Roasted Beet and Garlic Hummus

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

For those of us who love slathering just about anything with hummus, this version is otherworldly… a supercharged vitamin and protein-packed dip of your dreams.

45 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 people
Ingredients:
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Simple Truth Organic® Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed  
  • 2 small beets
  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Simple Truth Organic® Tahini
  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ⅛ tsp. red pepper, optional
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. feta cheese crumbles
  • 3 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Wash the beets and pat them dry. Chop them into ¼”-1/2” slices and place on a large strip of foil. Fold the foil over the beets, creating a packet. 
  3. Slice the top off a bulb of garlic, drizzle it with olive oil and add it to the foil wrap. Place the packet of beets and garlic on a baking sheet and roast 40-45 minutes or until juices are seeping out of the beets. Remove the packet from the oven and allow the beets and garlic to cool.
  4. Add all the ingredients except the oil to a food processor. Process until smooth. While the food processor is running, drizzle the olive oil slowly through the top spout and continue to process until it's creamy. You may have to stop the food processor a few times and scrape the sides to get everything to blend together.
  5. Sprinkle feta cheese and pumpkin seeds over the top of the hummus. Serve with fresh raw vegetables, chips or crackers.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Couscous Salad with Roasted Strawberries and Lemon-Basil Dressing

Couscous Salad with Roasted Strawberries and Lemon-Basil Dressing

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

One of the best parts about coming out of winter into springtime is all the spring produce – namely, fresh, vibrant, tangy, sweet berries. While I am all about a sweet fresh berry fruit salad, berry smoothies, berry muffins, baked oatmeal with berries, etc., etc., I can also get on board with a sweet and savory side dish.

Pearl couscous is one of my favorite side dishes to prepare for friends. Tossing in seasonal healthy ingredients to turn it into a salad-served-cold is one of my gathering go-tos. To prepare this roasted strawberry couscous salad, I simply cook dry couscous, roast raw strawberries and toss them in a bowl with slivered almonds, green onion and feta cheese. To add extra pizazz, I add a simple dressing with basil, lemon, and honey.

Roasting strawberries is easy. Simply add them to a casserole dish with some balsamic vinegar (if desired) and roast at 375° F for 15-20 minutes. What results is a flavor-infused fruit that can be added to all sorts of sweet or savory dishes.

All flavors and ingredients considered, this couscous salad is a healthy flavor-packed side dish that doesn't require much effort or prep time to make. If you need to prepare the recipe in parts, you can make several portions ahead of time. For instance, you can cook the couscous and/or roast the strawberries ahead of time, as well as preparing the dressing in advance. When ready to serve, simply toss it all together!

20 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup RiceSelect Pearl Couscous
  • 1½ cups fresh strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp. Kroger Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Kroger Slivered Almonds
  • ⅓ cup Private Selection™ Feta Cheese

CouscousSaladRoastedStrawberries2
Lemon-Basil Dressing:
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt, to taste
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Wash the strawberries, pat them dry and chop them into quarters. Add strawberries and balsamic vinegar to a small casserole dish and stir. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until juice is seeping out and the strawberries are soft, yet still have shape. While strawberries are roasting, prepare the couscous.
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  3. Add 1½ cups of water to a saucepan and bring to a full boil. Add the uncooked couscous and a sprinkle of salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until water has been absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir and set aside until ready to use.
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  4. Add all of the ingredients for the dressing to a small blender and blend until completely smooth. 
  5. Add the cooked couscous, roasted strawberries, slivered almonds, green onion and feta cheese to a serving dish. Toss in the dressing and serve.

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Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cream Sauce and Bacon

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cream Sauce and Bacon

Created by: Cathy Pollack, Noble Pig

Roasting asparagus will intensify its woodsy flavor and make each stalk succulent and flavorful. If you haven't tried this method before, this is your chance to experience something really outstanding. 

20 minutes | Prep time:  20 minutes | Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 2 bunches asparagus, fibrous ends removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1½ cups whole milk, slightly warmed on the stove, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. Place on a large, rimmed foil-lined baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, ⅛ cup warmed milk and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
  5. Whisk this mixture into the remaining warmed milk.
  6. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk for 1 minute, to help remove the flour taste. Turn down the heat if it starts to brown.
  7. Slowly add the egg mixture, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, lemon zest and cayenne. Add salt to taste.
  9. Drizzle sauce over asparagus and sprinkle with bacon crumbles. Serve.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Coconut Overload Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Coconut Overload Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Created by: Cathy Pollack, Noble Pig

Cupcakes are not just for children (grownups love them too!), especially when they're soft, sweet and full of flavor. While cake mix versions are convenient, adults are often looking for something with a little more complexity, originality, substance and charm. However, I will say even the older crowd loves a really good frosting. 

These Coconut Overload Cupcakes will most definitely be the perfect ending to your springtime get-together or Easter feast. After one bite, coconut fans might have a hard time sharing. This recipe is loaded with coconut flavor and has a nice texture and crumb. Coconut milk, coconut extract, coconut rum and shredded coconut make this an over-the-top coconut lover's dream.

 

Baking from scratch does take a little more time, but the results are so worth the effort. The looks on everyone's face will be priceless when they take their first bite of these light and airy cupcakes. It's hard to imagine anything else tasting so good.

25 minutes | Prep time: 30 minutes | Serves: 12
Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut rum
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, plus more to top the cupcakes
  • Colorful candy for garnish (optional)
Cupcake Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a regular-sized muffin tin by lining it with cupcake papers.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a pourable measuring cup, combine egg whites, coconut milk, coconut rum and coconut extract.
  4. In a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter until light and airy, about 4 minutes on medium speed.
  5. Alternately add dry and wet ingredients (starting and ending with dry) in three additions.
  6. Mix in coconut until fully combined. Be careful not to over-mix batter.
  7. Fill each prepared muffin tin ⅔ full with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Leave in the pan to cool about 5 minutes before removing and cooling completely.
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (not nonfat), room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Frosting Directions:
  1. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add coconut extract and powdered sugar and beat to blend.
  3. Spread frosting on each cupcake and top with shredded coconut.
  4. Garnish each cupcake with seasonal candy of your choice.

Tip: Keep the cupcakes refrigerated until ready to serve.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

When I need to satisfy my sweet tooth without the guilt, I make a creamy smoothie inspired by one of my favorite desserts. Lately, my guilty pleasure has been a slice of cheesecake drenched in strawberry topping.

The problem is, cheesecake isn't exactly good for you, or low in fat or calories. My solution? This lower guilt Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie that tastes just like the delicious sweet treat it's fashioned after.

Creamy low-fat yogurt, sweet frozen strawberries, reduced-fat cream cheese and graham crackers are blended into this satisfying smoothie. I added some chia seeds to sneak in a little nutrient-packed punch too. Trust me when I tell you that it tastes just like a slice of cheesecake topped with strawberries. Who says you can't have your cheesecake and maintain that waistline too?

0 minutes | Prep time: 10 minutes | Serves: 1
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Simple Truth Organic® Frozen Strawberries, chopped
  • 1 oz. Kroger 33% Less Fat Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
  • ⅔ cup Simple Truth Organic® Low-Fat Yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • ½ cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 graham crackers, crumbled

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Directions:
  1. Place all the ingredients except for 1 tablespoon crumbled crackers into your blender.
  2.  StrawberryCheesecakeSmoothie2
  3. Puree until smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with the reserved graham cracker crumbs. Add a frozen strawberry, if desired, and enjoy!
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A Healthier Easter for Your Kids

A Healthier Easter for Your Kids

Created by: By: Molly Hembree, RDN, LD - Dietitian

Make this Easter both entertaining and health conscious for you and your family by following some of these helpful tips.

  1. Get Creative: Find inspiration for meal and snacks in common Easter season imagery, like baby chicks, bunnies, lambs and flowers. For instance, plastic eggs can hold a small serving of trail mix. Dairy or nondairy yogurt with granola and vegetables stuck on top looks like produce in a garden. Bake veggie pizzas and cut into carrot-shaped slices, arranging toppings to have peeled carrots and orange bell pepper layered at the “root” and broccoli layered at the “stem.”
  2. Make Small Substitutions: Remember, it’s not necessary to overhaul diets in order to be healthful. You can swap out oil for applesauce in some baking recipes, white flour can often be replaced with whole wheat flour, and spices and herbs can be used to add flavor instead of other unhealthy ingredients. You can also try using lean meats or meat alternatives, seasoning them at home to control any added sodium or calories. Here’s one more delicious and healthy idea: try using pureed avocado in place of mayonnaise for deviled eggs.
  3. Focus on Family and Fun Rather Than Food: This holiday is a time to welcome spring and get together with those you love. Although enjoying delicious food is a positive experience, you should also reconnect with some of your favorite people and experience the outdoors as the weather gets warmer. Spring is traditionally a time of rebirth and awakening, so take advantage of that mentality and try a new activity for yourself, like a local Zumba or kickboxing class, a hobby like gardening or knitting, or just planning regular downtime with the kids each day. Even playing a board game, doing a puzzle or going for an evening walk can be a great way to relax and reconnect.
  4. Make it Hands-On: Get the whole family in the kitchen this spring! Children are more likely to appreciate and enjoy cooking when they take part in the process. Food preparation can be a way to redistribute all their energy and build good eating habits. Try having your child pick out a recipe to make, work together to find interesting ways to use unique ingredients, or team up as a family to make Easter brunch.
  5. Take Advantage of What’s in Season: Seek out some natural sweets! March through May yields a harvest of some favorite fruits, like honeydew melons, mangoes, oranges, strawberries and pineapples. Instead of candy, try serving these fresh fruits as a special treat along with a light whipped dairy or nondairy cream for dipping. Or, cut them up and mix them all together in a fruit salad.

Download the 2016 Easter Candy Allergen Guide

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Lemon-Salmon Salad with Orzo and Pea Pods

Lemon-Salmon Salad with Orzo and Pea Pods

Fresh Atlantic salmon adds perfect protein to this orzo-spinach salad. Radishes bring color and zip, and raisins bring a touch of sweetness.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. skinless salmon filet
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 package (16 oz.) orzo pasta
  • 2 cups snow peas, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • ¼ cup shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup golden raisins
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 425F. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place salmon on baking sheet; drizzle with the 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with the ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until fish reaches internal temperature of 145°F and flakes easily with fork. Cool completely. Break into pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 4 quarts salted water in large stockpot. Cook orzo as directed on package to desired doneness, adding pea pods during last 30 seconds of cooking. Drain pasta and pea pods; rinse in cold water.
  3. In 2-cup measure, whisk shallot, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, the ¾ teaspoon salt and the ½ teaspoon pepper. Gradually whisk in the ½ cup olive oil.
  4. In large bowl, toss orzo, pea pods, spinach, radishes and raisins with vinaigrette until coated. Add salmon and toss gently to combine.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Salmon Sushi Bowls

Salmon Sushi Bowls

Created by: Meghan McMorrow, Fox and Briar

A delicious DIY sushi idea you can try for lunch or dinner.

Salmon Sushi Bowls
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds wild caught salmon from Kroger Easy for You! Seafood, with lemon slices, cilantro and butter sealed in the pouch.
  • 1 Avocado, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 4 green onion, sliced
  • 4 sheets nori, cut into strips (I used Kroger Roasted Seaweed Snack)
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
  • Sushi Rice (see recipe below)
  • Sriracha Aioli (see recipe below)
  • Soy Ginger Dressing (see recipe below)
Sushi Rice
  • 2 cups short grain white sushi rice, such as Cal-Rose
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
Soy Ginger Dressing
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger root
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
Sriracha Aioli
  • 1/2 cup high quality mayonnaise
  • 1-2 Tbsp. sriracha (to desired spiciness)
Directions:
  1. Bake salmon according to package instructions, or if not using packet roast on a baking sheet at 425°f for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Prepare Sushi Rice.  Rinse the rice until water runs clear.  Add to water in a medium pan, stirring a few times until water comes to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until water has evaporated.  Allow rice to cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt.  Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Pour vinegar mixture over the rice and stir until combined.
  4. Prepare the sriracha aioli by stirring together the mayonnaise and sriracha, set aside.
  5. Prepare the soy ginger dressing by stirring together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.  Whisk until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.
  6. To assemble Salmon Sushi Bowls, add sushi rice to the bowl.  Top with a portion of salmon*, avocado, cucumber slices, green onion slices, and a few pieces of nori.  Drizzle with sriracha aioli and soy ginger dressing.  Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.
Notes:
  • If buying wild salmon, be sure to watch out for small bones.  I usually try to remove them before serving if possible.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Buggy Bottle Caps

Buggy Bottle Caps

Teach younger generations about upcycling while also encouraging their creativity with these sweet little critter crafts!

Things You'll Need:
  • Newsprint
  • Rinsed and dried bottle caps
  • Desired colors of spray paint
  • Desired colors of acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Permanent markers (optional)
  • Craft wire (paper clips work as well, though they’re a bit more awkward to bend)
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Hot glue gun
  • Small craft magnets (optional)
Directions:
  1. Working over newsprint, spray paint bottle cap tops as desired; dry thoroughly. Use paintbrush to add designs and features of your bug with the acrylic paint. Set aside to dry.
  2. Add further details to dried bottle caps with permanent markers, if desired.
  3. Cut legs for your bug from the wire. Snipping with the wire cutter, cut approximate 10-centimeter lengths for each pair of legs.
  4. Lay one length of wire over back of a bottle cap, with center roughly aligned with center of cap. Push wire down with your thumb. With your other hand, push the wire back out over the cap to the top, still holding the center with your thumb. Use needle nose pliers to bend the wire down on each side, forming an upside-down “V.” Now use the pliers to bend the small tip out at the end, about 1 centimeter from the end.
  5. Secure legs to the underside of the bottle cap with hot glue. If you’d like, glue a magnet to back as well. Enjoy your cute crafts, knowing that something that could have ended up in the trash has been put to a better use!

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Tulip Solo

Tulip Solo

If there’s one sure sign of spring, it’s tulips. Poking through the barren ground, they brighten often drab end-of-winter surroundings with their beautiful, vibrant and springy hues.

Whether you grow tulips yourself or find these perennials at the florist or in the floral department of the grocery store, you’ll want to bring their beauty into your home when spring finally arrives.

Arranging a bouquet of colorful tulips in a water-filled vase is the usual display for these harbingers of spring, but you can also add a touch of elegance by placing single flowers in wine glasses (stemmed and stemless) throughout your home. Clustering multiple glasses in one spot makes the display even more powerful.

To create your solo tulip display, cut tulip stems on a diagonal to a length that fits your glasses – you’ll likely need only an inch or so of stem. Fill wine glasses nearly full with water, then swirl in a small amount of plant food or sugar to dissolve. Place one tulip stem in each glass and place glasses on tables, shelves and other surfaces – wherever you want to add that touch of spring. Depending on the shape of your glass, the tulip flower might stand upright or float on its side. Either way, your single blooms will serve as sweet and lovely reminders that spring is finally here!

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Refrigerator Magnet Planters

Refrigerator Magnet Planters

Why toss the wine corks when you can instead transform them into adorable miniature planters, complete with live greenery? Making these cute refrigerator magnets is simple and quick and you likely have most of what you need on hand already.

Things You'll Need:
  • Craft knife or other small, sharp knife
  • Wine corks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Small craft magnets
  • Potting soil (just a small amount)
  • Succulent plants cuttings (These plants thrive in low-moisture conditions; examples include Jade and Aloe Vera.)
Directions:
  1. Using knife, gently cut ½” circle out of bottom of cork; dig down about one-half of the way to the other end, hollowing out room for plant and a small amount of soil.
  2. Glue magnet to what will be the back end of the cork “planter”; let dry.
  3. Fill cork holes with just enough soil to reach the top. Stick one succulent plant in the hole; gently pack the soil down to support the succulent cutting.
  4. Attach magnet to your refrigerator and enjoy your new indoor plants! Spritzing the soil with water every few days or so will help the plants root and grow, eventually giving you a cutting to plant in a larger pot.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring Cleaning Checklist

While spring cleaning traditionally involves more than just a quick vacuum and wiping down of the bathroom mirror, it also doesn’t have to be a month-long cleaning marathon.

Focusing on the basics—no matter which room you clean—will make your house sparkle without overwhelming you with chores. Print out the following checklist, grab a few cleaning essentials and say hello to spring!

Multiple rooms
  • Vacuum carpeted floors, rugs, upholstered furniture and any ceiling corners that collect cobwebs.
  • Sweep and mop non-carpeted floors.
  • Clean windows, both sides if possible.
  • Clean all mirrors.
  • Wipe down air vents and light switches.
  • Dust light fixtures.
  • Wipe down fingerprints and smudges on walls.
  • Empty closets and re-organize; only put back items you are using or know you will use again.
  • Wipe down stair handrails.
Bedrooms
  • Turn mattresses.
  • Remove everything from under the bed, then clean and sweep or vacuum. Organize and cull under-bed items and replace only what you’re keeping.
Bathrooms
  • Clean countertops, tub and shower, toilet.
  • Empty medicine cabinet and wipe down shelves. Toss anything you don't need anymore.
Kitchen
  • Clean stove – inside and out.
  • Thorough refrigerator clean-out: Remove, wash and replace shelves. Toss any questionable food or anything you haven’t used in a while.
  • Wipe down countertops and kitchen appliances, large and small. Everything from the dishwasher to the toaster will shine.
Living Room/Office/Utility Room
  • Spot clean couches and chairs if needed.
  • Dust desks and other surfaces.
  • Wipe down washer and dryer (inside and outside). Remember to run your rag underneath, too.
  • Clean dryer vent.

Download Checklist

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart

A simple and elegant showcase of fresh spring asparagus.

Ingredients:
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, softened
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. On a lightly floured surface roll puff pastry out to 10”x14” rectangle. Transfer to prepared pan. Prick with a fork leaving a ½” border around edges. Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together goat cheese, cream cheese, thyme and garlic; set aside.
  4. Remove puff pastry from oven and gently press down the center that was pricked with the fork. Dollop cheese mixture evenly across the pastry. Top with asparagus spears; season with salt and pepper. Return to the oven and bake 18-20 minutes, until asparagus is tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Steak Fries with Feta Dill Dip

Steak Fries with Feta Dill Dip

Oven roasted hand-cut fries served up with whipped feta dill dip makes a great appetizer or side dish.

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 lbs. red potatoes, washed
 
  • 8 oz. feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 450°F. In a large bowl mix together oil, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic.
  2. Cut each potato into 12 wedges; toss in oil mixture. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes; flip potatoes and continuing baking 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor blend together feta, cream, oil, dill and lemon until creamy.
  4. Serve fries with feta dip.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Easy no bake vanilla cheesecake filling in fresh juicy strawberries is a great snack or lighter dessert.

Ingredients:
  • 40 large strawberries
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Directions:
  1. Cut the stem off strawberries. Using melon baller carefully scoop out center of each strawberry; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl place cream cheese, condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Beat with a hand mixer on medium-high until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag. Fill each strawberry with cheese mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Refrigerate leftovers.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Blueberry Lemon Oatmeal Cookies

Blueberry Lemon Oatmeal Cookies

A hint of lemon and fresh plump blueberries are a welcome change in a classic chewy oatmeal cookie.

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup blueberries, washed
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add butter, sugars, egg, vanilla and lemon zest; beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Mix until just combined. Fold in blueberries.
  3. Using a 1½ tablespoon cookie scoop divide dough onto prepared baking pans; flatten slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on the bottom. Let stand on pans for 1-2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Frozen PB and Grapes

Frozen PB and Grapes

Take frozen grapes to the next level with a dip in peanut butter yogurt for a healthy treat with a creamy twist.

Ingredients:
  • 60 toothpicks
  • 60 each large red grapes, washed
  • ½ cup vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter powder
Directions:
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place a toothpick in each grape; place on pan and put in freezer for 20 minutes.
  2. Mix yogurt and peanut butter together in a bowl.
  3. Dip each grape ¾ of the way into the yogurt mixture; return to pan. Freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to food storage bag; keep frozen.
Tip:

Stick toothpick in the grape on the opposite side of the grape for best hold and stability.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Eggs and Toast Muffin Cups

Eggs and Toast Muffin Cups

How do you make eggs and toast for a crowd? Try a muffin cup. Buttery toast is the perfect crust for loaded scrambled eggs.

Ingredients:
  • 12 slices white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed off
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 4 oz. ham, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. half and half
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seed and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped chives
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with no-stick spray.
  2. Slightly flatten each slice of bread with a rolling pin; brush both sides with melted butter. Fit each slice into muffin cup, pressing down and overlapping edges slightly as needed. Bake 5-7 minutes to dry slightly.
  3. Evenly divide ham, cheese, and spinach between toast cups. In a large measuring cup whisk together eggs, half and half and salt. Slowly pour egg mixture into toast cup allowing to settle around other ingredients. Return to the oven and bake 14-17 minutes until eggs are set.
  4. Remove toast cups from pan, garnish with chopped tomato and chives.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Pineapple Agua Fresca

Pineapple Agua Fresca

When is water more than water? When it is blended with fresh pineapple and a hint of honey.

Ingredients:
  • 1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into large pieces
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 4 cups of water, divided
Directions:
  1. Add pineapple, lime juice, honey and 1 cup of water to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large pitcher; discard solids. Add remaining water. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Pour over ice. Garnish with pineapple, lime or mint as desired.
Tip:

Turn this into a cocktail by adding coconut rum, tequila or vodka to taste.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

Seared Halibut with Pesto

Seared Halibut with Pesto

Created by: Leigh Ann Hieronymus

Fresh pesto is a snap to make, and in this recipe meaty halibut is seared and finished in the oven.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • ½ cup Italian parsley leaves, packed
  • shallot, chopped
  • clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 halibut fillets, about 6 oz. each
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. For pesto, in a food processor, pulse together basil, parsley, shallot, garlic, walnuts, pine nuts, ⅔ cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet on high heat for 2 minutes. Place fish directly on pan. Sear approximately 1-2 minutes and turn. (It will smoke and cook very fast - be careful not to overcook.) Place in oven and cook for about 5 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 140°F.
  4. Serve with pesto.

View Party Plan: Springtime Celebration

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