We’re smack in the middle of winter, and very likely the weather is miserable where you are. Add to that the days are still short and the dark is long.
If you’re dreaming of backyard barbecues and pool parties, go ahead and plan one—a party that is. And plan it for NOW! Who says you can’t have a party in the middle of February?
There are 33 days between now and the first day of spring. There’s still time to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, Lent, St. Patrick’s Day, or the beginning of daylight savings time. Whatever your reason for celebrating, we’ve got some fun and different recipes to help you get the party started.
Even your menu can be part of the celebration, as these recipes pay homage to National Snack Food Month and Chocolate Lover’s Month (February) or National Nutrition Month and National Sauce Month (March). Enjoy!
(These recipes are from Everyday Starters: Dip It and Sip It!, my newest eBooklet. Priced at only $3.99, this digital download is chock-full of more than 60 appetizer, dip and beverage recipes.)
Sweet Dill Pickles
- 2 32-ounce jars whole dill pickles
- 4 cups white sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
Drain pickles and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Place pickles in a medium bowl with 2 cups sugar. Stir, cover and allow to stand at room temperature 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
After pickles and sugar mixture are ready, in a medium saucepan, mix together the remaining sugar, vinegar, water and pickling spice. Bring to a boil. Pour over the pickles. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
Transfer the pickles to sterile jars and store in the refrigerator. Serve chilled. Yield: 8 cups.
Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
Preheat oven to 275 F. Combine butter, salt, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce and pumpkin seeds. Mix thoroughly and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. This makes a delicious snack right out of the oven or cooled.
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 1-ounce package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 15-ounce package mini pretzels
In a small bowl mix together cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, garlic salt, dressing mix and vegetable oil. Place pretzels in a large, sealable plastic bag. Pour in mixture and shake well. Allow pretzels to marinate in the mixture approximately two hours before serving. Shake occasionally to maintain coating.
- 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup chopped green onions
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound loaf round, crusty Italian bread
Squeeze spinach to remove all of the liquid. In a large mixing bowl, combine spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, green onions, parsley, lemon juice and salts. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate overnight. Just before serving cut a circle out of the top of the bread and scoop out the inside. Tear the bread into pieces for dipping. Spoon the dip into the center of the bread bowl and serve accompanied by the pieces of bread for dipping.
Chocolate Dipping Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, cocoa and flour. Stir in water, a little at a time, to make a smooth paste. Stir in milk and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool completely at room temperature, stirring often to prevent a skin from forming. Store in refrigerator after cooling. Serve with sliced fruit or pieces of cake for dipping.
- 1 32-fluid ounce bottle apple juice, chilled
- 1 12-fluid ounce can frozen cranberry juice concentrate
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 liters ginger ale
- 1 apple (optional)
In a large punch bowl, combine apple juice, cranberry juice concentrate and orange juice. Stir until dissolved, then slowly pour in the ginger ale. Thinly slice the apple vertically, forming whole apple slices. Float apple slices on top of punch. Servings: 12.
Note: Champagne can be used instead of ginger ale for an adult punch.
- 4 cups hot, strong coffee (dark roast brewed at double strength or espresso is best)
- 1 cup sugar
- Whipped cream, sweetened to taste
Dissolve sugar in hot coffee and cool to room temperature. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch pan and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until solid, 6 to 8 hours, stirring every 20 to 40 minutes. Serve in chilled glasses and top with whipped cream. Servings: 6.
Question: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever celebrated? Tell us here.
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