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Celebrate Spring’s Special Occasions with Simple, Memorable Dishes

Despite this week’s cool snap, the calendar confirms it’s spring, and that means it’s time to celebrate the special occasions occurring now until summer. Mother’s Day, high school and college graduations, and bridal showers are just some of the reasons to celebrate the special people in your life. And it’s a good time overall to put away the heavy stockpots and skillets you used to make winter’s heavy comfort foods like chili, soup, stew, and red beans and rice. Instead of filling, think “light, refreshing, and delicious!”

If you’re contemplating hosting a special spring celebration but are worried about the time involved in preparing food for guests, consider mixing quality prepared baked goods from a reputable bakery or supermarket whose products you trust. A brunch or afternoon party table filled with layer cakes, cupcakes, sliced fruit breads, and plates of sliced fruit is more than adequate. As long as everything is served on nice platters (throw away those unsightly cardboard from the bakery) nobody has to know who prepared the food.

Whichever route you chose – homemade or store-bought – the number one rule to remember is to relax, have fun, and enjoy the moment. After all, the recipient of and guests attending your spring celebration will treasure the memories of the special event long after thoughts about the food have faded.

Following are three of my favorite springtime recipes that will make your event special while allowing you to enjoy your guests.

Springtime Lemonade Cake

1 box Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix

1/2 of a 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate

1 can sweetened condensed milk

8 ounce container of Cool-Whip

Garnish: one lemon, thinly sliced

Prepare cake using ingredients according to package directions and bake in two 8-inch cake pans. Cool and cut each layer in half.

For frosting, combine milk and Cool Whip; add lemonade (to taste) until the right consistency is achieved (some may be left over). Frost and stack each layer, then cover entire cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with sugared lemon slices. Refrigerate before serving.

Favorite Strawberry Pie

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1-8-ounce container whipped topping

2 cups (or more) chopped strawberries

1 shortbread pie crust

Mix cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar in mixer; add whipped topping and strawberries, and mix well by hand. Pour into crust and garnish with strawberries. Chill for several hours or freeze slightly before serving.

Peabody Hotel's Vanilla Muffins

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat sugar and eggs together. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Put liners in muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

Source: Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee

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