April 7, 2014

Add a rainbow of colors to your Easter tablescape by serving your family fresh and colorful fruit salad.

After the much anticipated Easter-egg hunt, families across the United States will sit down to a dinner filled with Easter staples such as ham, potatoes, vegetables, and rolls. Round out your meal with a sweet fruit salad all ages will enjoy.

Easter Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is always full of flavor, but this one is made with a dressing that will have your family wondering what makes it extra tasty. The dressing's secret ingredient is almond extract. It adds something a little something extra to this super simple salad.

1 (21 oz) can pineapple chunks

1 (21 oz) can peach pie filling (if too sweet for you, use sliced peaches, drained)

1 (8 oz) can mandarin oranges

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

2 cups seedless grapes (or strawberries)

2 bananas, sliced (optional)

Drain pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and almond extract. In a large bowl, combine all fruit (except bananas), pour over dressing, cover and chill. Right before serving add sliced bananas.

Fluffy Strawberry Salad

When I saw this recipe by Jamie Cooks it Up, I knew it would be something my boys would like. I checked by asking Carsten, 3, if he liked each one of the ingredients. He answered "yes" to each one.

The pink salad is exactly what it's called - fluffy and it makes more than plenty to share at your Easter dinner.

This salad can also be made into a Fluffy Orange Salad by trading the strawberry Jell-O for orange Jell-O, omitting the fresh strawberries and adding mandarin oranges.

1 (6 oz) box strawberry or raspberry Jell-O

1 cup boiling water

1 cup crushed ice (or 1 cup cold water)

1 (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple

4 cups mini marshmallows

1 (12 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed

1 (16 oz) container strawberries

Pour the package of strawberry or raspberry Jell-O into a medium sized bowl. Heat one cup of water in the microwave until it boils, about 2 minutes. Pour it over the top of the Jell-O. Stir it well, until all of the Jell-O granules have dissolved.

Pour 1 cup of crushed ice into the bowl. If you don't have crushed ice easily accessible then use 1 cup cold water. It will take a little bit longer to set up.

Stir the ice (or cold water) around until the ice has melted. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or until the Jell-O is slightly set up. It should be as thick as pudding, but will still work well if the Jell-O is totally set up.

While the Jell-O is setting up pour the crushed pineapple and its juices into a large mixing bowl. Pour the vanilla pudding over the top of the pineapple and stir to combine. Add the mini marshmallows and the thawed Cool Whip. Stir it all together with a wooden spoon.

Stir the Jell-O and add it to the Cool Whip/marshmallow mixture and stir to combine. Wash the strawberries, cut off the green tops and slice the berries. Add them to the big mixing bowl and fold them into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. You can make this recipe up to 24 hours in advance. Top with additional strawberries, if desired.

Yields: 15 generous servings

Lime Gelatin Salad

If you're looking to add something green to your Easter table, try adding a creamy, lime salad.

1 cup boiling water

1 (6 oz) package lime flavored Jell-O

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In a large bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over the gelatin mix. Stir until dissolved then stir in 1/2 cup pineapple juice. Refrigerate until thickened but not set, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place crushed pineapple and remaining juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, blend softened cream cheese and lime gelatin until smooth. Mix in the cooled pineapple. In a medium bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Fold into gelatin mixture. Fold in chopped nuts. Pour into a pretty crystal bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until set.

Blueberry Banana Salad

This fruit salad couldn't be any easier. It can be prepared right before Easter dinner or made in advance, but hold off on adding the bananas until serving time. Pastel marshmallows add a special spring touch.

2 cups sliced firm bananas

1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 cup miniature marshmallows (use pastel, if desired)

2 tablespoons flaked coconut

1/2 cup sour cream

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, blueberries, oranges, marshmallows and coconut. Gently fold in the sour cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield: 6 servings

Fruit Soup

My colleague Karen Whittlesey, a special-education teacher at my school, brought fruit soup for our Christmas luncheon. I'd never heard of or had fruit soup before, but I savored every bite of it. I was especially glad when there were leftovers the next day.

Karen and her identical twin sister, Sharon, grew up eating fruit soup at special occasions. When they asked their mother what she'd like to have at Christmastime, their family's fruit soup was requested.

The soup is cold, tangy and refreshing and looks especially pretty in served in clear glass bowls.

6 tablespoons tapioca

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups cold water

12 oz can frozen orange juice concentrate

2 fresh oranges, peeled and cut into small chunks

16 oz fresh or frozen strawberries

2 or more bananas, sliced

1 can peaches (drain juice into 4-cup measuring cup)

2 or 3 apples, diced (with skin looks prettier)

Mix together first 3 ingredients and let stand 5 minutes. In a sauce pan cook for 6-9 minutes until clear and thick. Cool for 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, along with juice from peaches and enough water to make 3 cups of total liquid. Cover and chill overnight in refrigerator. Before serving, add bananas. Serve cool.

Yield: about 20 servings