4 Tips to Enjoy Spring Showers

Bunnies, lambs and calves. Tulips and daffodils. Brightly colored umbrellas.

These images readily come to mind when thinking about spring in the Upper Midwest. It’s also the season for hosting everything from bridal and baby showers to a Mother’s Day brunches and high school graduation parties.

Spring is an especially busy time for those of us who also are racing against the clock to get their gardens and fields planted. So how can you plan a spring event that is a fun celebration rather than a stressful occasion?

Preparation is key to hosting a successful meal or party. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to not stress over the small stuff. I’ve also learned to “get my ask in order.”

People are usually glad to help… if I just ask them. One time I heard Rachael Ray say she gives her guests jobs because it makes them feel at home. What a fresh perspective! Now I’ll ask a friend or family member to fill water glasses. They can feel at home, and I don’t have to stress about something like not having the filled water glasses on the table before guests arrive. Win-win.

Below is the “checklist” I’m using for a baby shower that I’ll soon be hosting:

  1. Issue invitations. Although I’ve mailed or texted invitations to everyone, I’ll follow up the week of the event with a personal phone call to those who have not yet responded.
  2. Choose a color scheme and theme. Coordinate decorations including tablecloths, table service, centerpieces, balloons and/or banners. (While I’d love to throw a Pinterest-inspired party, I’m not going to set myself up for disappointment! My spring shower-themed party will be festive, but my table isn’t going to look like one you’d see in Better Homes & Gardens)
  3. Take stock before you shop. Get creative and make the most of what you have. Use candle sticks and vases that you already own. Save money by purchasing a bunch of carnations, daisies or tulips rather than the pre-made arrangement in a vase.
  4. Develop a menu. I tend to favor buffets because they allow people to pick and choose what suits their tastes. Here’s the menu I’m planning for a baby shower next week:

To be honest, I love looking through cookbooks and sifting through recipes online. This menu might change based on what catches my eye or what fresh ingredients are available in my local grocery store. I love to cook and bake with fresh fruits and vegetables. I noticed that the rhubarb in my garden is growing rapidly, and I’ve already harvested enough asparagus for one meal. I could bake Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins or make Rhubarb Sauce to top traditional French toast. I’m also tempted to make a Ham & Asparagus Frittata.

Did you know that April is also National Soyfoods Month? May is National Asparagus Month. To celebrate these fresh foods, today we’re sharing with you a recipe from The Soyfood Council.

Chicken Marsala

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup soy flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 (6 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup soybean oil for frying

Marsala Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soybean oil
  • 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • ½ cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup soft silken tofu
  • Salt, ground black pepper, and granulated garlic

Combine the rice and soy flours in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk the eggs together. Dip the chicken breasts first in the egg to coat, then dredge in the flour mixture to coat, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté on both sides until well-browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Serve chicken breasts immediately with warm Marsala sauce.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until soft and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the Marsala (be careful as the wine may flare up) and simmer until nearly evaporated. Whisk in the soy milk, sugar, broth and tofu. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced by half. Season with salt, pepper and garlic; keep warm while preparing the chicken.

Nutrition per serving: 1,235 Calories, 55g Total Fat, 310mg Cholesterol, 414mg Sodium, 94g Carbohydrate, 14g Fiber, 85g Protein

Recipe & photo from The Soyfoods Council