Celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring on March 21st with a Spring-Thyme Luncheon. It’s the perfect way to rejuvenate spirits and celebrate friendships with the beauty of herbs especially thyme. It’s also the perfect time to invite some new friends so you can get to know each other better – you could even make it a hands on luncheon where everyone pitches in and you visit while cooking!
It is time to replace the drab color of fall and winter with beautiful pastels and decorations that remind you of new beginnings. I like to use lots of baskets in spring for centerpieces to serving pieces and favors. You can make a Spring Basket arrangement by lining a basket with plastic wrap, cutting & soaking floral foam to fit inside and then sticking lots of pastel fresh flowers like tulips and daffodils along with some budded branches into the foam. You can even add a few sprigs of thyme to the arrangement, plus save some to add to your napkins! Remember to keep your centerpieces low enough so your guests can see one another. For favors, tiny baskets can be simply filled with candy, nuts or mints or a small thyme plant.
The luncheon can be served at the table or buffet-style depending on the number of guests beginning with soup and ending with dessert. Here is a menu which includes some recipes which use thyme as an ingredient to carry out the theme:
CROCKPOT FRENCH ONION SOUP
1 quart beef broth
3 yellow onions, sliced thin
1 leek, sliced
3 green onions, sliced
1 red onion, sliced thin
1Tbs olive oil
1Tbs fresh or 1tsp dried thyme
1Tbs Worcestershire sauce
Sauté all onions & leeks in butter and oil for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Add flour and sugar and blend well. Cook 10 minutes longer. Add broth and all other ingredients to crock pot and cook for about 6 hours. Just before serving, ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with snipped chives.
SPRING GREENS SOUP
6 chopped green onions
2Tbs olive oil
2 potatoes, diced
2 c vegetable broth
2 c fresh spinach
1 c watercress
1 c lettuce
1/4c snipped chives
Melt butter with oil and sauté onions until soft then add potatoes and cook 2 minutes. Add 1c broth, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Wash all greens and chop. Place potato mixture into a food processor, add greens including chives and puree. Return to pan, add remaining broth and simmer several minutes until greens are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve garnished with additional chives.
MINI HERB QUICHES
1pkg Grands butterflake rolls
1/2c shredded Cheddar cheese
1c chopped zucchini & roasted tomato
2Tbs caramelized red onion
1c light cream
1/4tsp each parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil
Grease muffin tins. Separate each roll in half and press into tins for shell. Combine zucchini, tomato and onion then divide between shells. Combine eggs, cream and herbs, fill shells, then top with cheese. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 mins. or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Roasted tomatoes: Cut Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with thyme and sea salt and bake at 350 degrees until soft.
THYME & MUSHROOM QUICHE
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
1 1/4c grated Swiss cheese
1 1/2c mushrooms
2Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1c half and half
Sauté mushrooms in butter, then drain and cool. Combine the eggs, half and half, grated cheese, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in the mushrooms and pour into the crust. Bake at 350°F for about 35 minutes, or until the top is just set. Serve warm or cold.
SPRING WILDFLOWER SALAD
2c mixed baby greens
2c nasturtium blossoms and leaves
1/2 cup violet petals
1/4c arugula flowers and leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Toss together greens, nasturtium blossoms, violet petals, and mint then add half of the following vinaigrette and toss to combine. Taste and add more vinaigrette as needed. Serve immediately.
Vinaigrette: Whisk together the juice of a large lemon, 1Tbs honey, 1/4c olive oil and salt & pepper until well combined.
SIMPLE SPRING SALAD
10oz of mixed salad greens with spinach
2c sugar snap peas
1/4c dried cherries
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2c walnuts, almonds or pecans
Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Serve with blue cheese dressing on the side.
LEMON THYME BARS
Combine 2c flour, 2/3c powdered sugar, 2 1/2tsp lemon thyme and 1/2tsp salt then cut in 1c butter until mixture is coarse and lumpy. Set aside 1c of mixture and pat the remaining crumbs into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 mins.
Combine 1 1/4c sugar, 3Tbs flour, 3/4tsp ginger and 1/2tsp baking powder, and then add 2tsp lemon zest, 1/2c lemon juice and 3 beaten eggs and blend well. Pour lemon filling over warm baked crust, sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins. Cool completely.
Mix together 3/4c powdered sugar and 3-4tsp lemon juice and drizzle over cooled bars.
LEMON THYME SHORTBREAD
1tsp lemon zest
1/4c confectioner’s sugar
4tsp fresh lemon thyme
1 1/3c flour
Cream butter & sugar, and then add flour, zest and thyme to form soft dough. Chill. Roll out dough and cut out diamonds. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 mins – do not overbake. Sprinkle with extra powdered sugar while hot.
LEMON THYME CUPCAKES
Combine 1c vanilla yogurt, 1/2c half and half, 2Tbs lemon thyme and 1tsp lemon zest and then combine with 1 yellow cake mix until just mixed. Pour into lined muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins.
Combine 3Tbs sugar with 3Tbs lemon juice and 1tsp lemon thyme and stir well to dissolve the sugar. When the cakes are done, brush them with the lemon glaze and cool.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
I Corinthians 10:31