Last week, I spent some time on the first day of spring eating lunch among fresh flowers and planting a miniature herb garden. It was as picturesque as you might imagine and there are plenty of pretty pictures in this post just in case your imagination is taking the day off. 🙂 The team at Cornelius Nursery on Voss (in Houston) graciously hosted me and a group of other local ladies to get some fresh ideas about springtime cooking and entertaining. As y'all know, I love food and all things domestic so this post is collection of super fresh entertaining ideas with herbs & flowers based on some of my favorite recipes, gems from Cornelius Nursery, and answers to questions I've received from you wonderful readers. At the end of this post are instructions for how to enter to win a $50 gift card from Cornelius Nursery to help start your own garden or outdoor decor project.
Most of the menu for our spring garden lunch was made up of no-cook items (all recipes can be found here), which is perfect for warmer temperatures and outdoor entertaining.
We had a caprese pasta salad made with fresh basil, lavender-infused strawberries and watermelon topped with fresh mint, and a deconstructed wedge salad served with clean ranch dressing. I'm typically not a fan of ranch dressing at. all. and was fully prepared to eat mine dry but this dressing was absolutely delicious and I love that the recipe is made with Greek yogurt and fresh herbs.
For dessert, we ate Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream topped off with a warm berry thyme compote. Compote is such an easy go-to dessert option because you can top off just about anything with it--from ice cream, to a store bought pound cake. Here's my recipe for easy fresh fruit compotes. And, if the infused fruit fruit intrigues you, I encourage you to check out this mint margarita-infused watermelon for your next grown-up get together!
More fresh recipe ideas:
- Grilled Sesame Chicken with Arugula and Beets
- Fruit Salad wit Sweet Orange Mint Dressing
- Pesto Parmesan Meatballs
- Veggie Rose Tart with Rosemary and Chive
Cooking during warmer months should be light and simple. One easy way to incorporate fresh or dried herbs into your springtime dining is by mixing up a refreshing beverage. We tried the raspberry smash spritzer made with organic mint from Cornelius Nursery, which is a mocktail (I did have to go back to work afterward). Other great non-alcoholic options include this honey lavender lemonade, which can be made by the pitcher for crowds and frozen watermelon mint lemonade, which requires only five ingredients and is the ultimate in summer refreshment. And, since nothing beats H2O when hydration is the goal, you can't go wrong having infused water on hand for any gathering (examples here and here). Grapefruit and mint is one of my favorite combinations that is as delicious as it is easy.
Adult beverages can also be enhanced with herbs. These orange lavender mimosas are easily made with dried lavender and this hibiscus French 75 cocktail calls for jarred hibiscus flowers in syrup. If you have fresh herbs on hand, I recommend serving the cherry elderflower smash. You can also get herbaceous and floral flavors into your cocktail through liqueurs like elderflower and violet, which help form the palettes of the blushing bride cocktail and the blooming gin garden cocktail. Both are effervescent, beautiful, and--most importantly--delicious.
Fresh flowers are a no-brainer for decor. You can find fresh-cut flower arrangement inspo in this brunch tablescape and at-home spa night and a bunch of hacks to enjoy flowers on any budget here. If you want to try entertaining al fresco, consider some longer lasting options to beautify your outdoor space. Patio and garden dining is made even better by the presence of planted blooms, though, I guess that's technically called landscaping rather than decorating. 🙂 Blooming herbs like lavender provide dreamy fragrance AND help keep mosquitoes away. Here in Houston, that makes them almost worth their weight in gold! Lavender hedges are part of the vision for my backyard.
As far as the interior is concerned, a mini windowsill herb garden (basil, parsley, etc.) is part of my kitchen makeover plan for this year. It won't take up much space and will help ensure I always have fresh herbs on hand for cooking. You can keep them in a windowsill, on your countertop, balcony, or wherever they'll get natural light. Here are a few ideas that work for spaces of any size:
- Wooden planter labeled with chalk
- Mason jars labeled with chalk
- Coffee tins
- Tea tins
- Hanging pails in window
- Wall-mounted floating planters
- Mini terra cotta pots
If you're worried about keeping plants alive but still want some natural beauty and greenery, consider succulents. They'll pretty trendy right now and work for both everyday decor and special occasion elements like tablescapes and party favors.
Speaking of party favors, you can also add fresh flowers or herbs to your event activities. This DIY spring flower bar allows guests to create and take home their own custom flower arrangement or bouquet. Planting our own mini herb gardens at the Cornelius Nursery lunch was another interactive activity that helped spark conversation among the ladies present. You can use the unique planter ideas mentioned above to inexpensively recreate this for your own gathering!
To enter the giveaway for a $50 Cornelius Nursery gift card, you must be a Dash of Jazz subscriber local to the Houston or Dallas, Texas area and answer the following question in the comments below: How would you use this Cornelius Nursery gift card to get your home or garden ready for spring? If you aren't already subscribed to Dash of Jazz, enter your just email below.
You'll never receive any spam from me--promise! One winner will be chosen and contacted via email on Monday, April 2nd. As always, thanks for reading!