Spring has finally arrived. It is not because the robins are busy bouncing across my yard. It is not because I can finally put my long johns and insulated coveralls away. Every day, I see winter loosen its grip as rhubarb leaves push through the winter mulch, unfurling and stretching toward the warm sun. That means fresh asparagus and strawberries can’t be too far behind.
The sunny weather has helped to change my appetite away from stews and warm comfort foods to light and flavorful dishes. Three friends have shared their family favorites with me. Stacy shared a new family favorite recipe with me as we played Bingo the other day. It may seem like too much garlic, but it is well worth it. If you want a quick chicken dinner, Alice Nordmann shared one of her family favorites. Even though her recipe calls for chicken breasts, I may have to sneak in some chicken thighs for Mark. Over 30 years ago, our neighbor, Ruthann Britz, invited us over for dinner. Mark still drools when he remembers the hot dish and rhubarb dessert she served. I’ve made the hot dish for years but recently received the dessert recipe. It is still as good as we remember.
So, here are some springtime recipes to wake up your taste buds.

Creamy garlic chicken by Stacey
2 large chicken breasts
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon each of salt, garlic powder and onion powder
1/2 teaspoon each of pepper and paprika
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sauce
5 whole garlic cloves
5 minced garlic cloves
1 shallot, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon each of dried parsley and dried basil
1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano and dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
Slice chicken breast in half through the equator to create four fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness. Use a meat mallet or side of a can of beans. Pat dry. Whisk flour and chicken seasonings together in a shallow dish. Dredge each cutlet in mixture, shake off excess, then transfer to a dry surface. Melt two tablespoons butter and add 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and sear each side 4-5 minutes until golden and cooked to 160 degrees. If the drippings are starting to burn, turn down the heat. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate. Don’t wipe out the skillet. Reduce heat to medium, add a drizzle of oil if needed to chicken drippings. Add chopped shallot and all of the garlic. Sauté while scraping up the brown bits until shallots are softened and garlic is caramelized, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream. Mix chicken broth with cornstarch and add to skillet followed by Worcestershire, Dijon, bouillon and all the sauce seasonings. Bring sauce to a simmer while scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan; simmer until sauce thickens almost to desired consistency, stirring often. Whisk in Parmesan until melted followed by lemon juice.
Add chicken back to pan and spoon some sauce over the top. Gently simmer for 1 minute, allowing the chicken to soak in the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Add any chopped vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers or mushrooms and sauté them after you’ve cooked the garlic for a minute. Or, add 2 cups baby spinach to the sauce at the end of cooking; allowing it to wilt 1-2 minutes.

One dish chicken dinner by Alice Nordmann
1 (6-ounce) package Stove Top stuffing
1 2/3 cups water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream.
Toss contents of seasoning packet, stuffing mix and water. Set aside. Place chicken in 9-by-13 pan. Mix soup and sour cream. Pour over chicken. Spoon stuffing evenly over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until chicken is done. May drizzle melted butter over top.

Chop suey hot dish by
Ruthann Britz
2 pounds hamburger
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chop suey veggies, drained
1 can or more water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 can mushrooms
2 1/2 cups chow mein noodles
Brown meat with onion and celery. Drain. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into 9-by-13 pan. Bake 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Add extra noodles on top toward end of baking for some crunch.

Rhubarb tart by Ruthann Britz
Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
Dash salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup butter
Mix flour, sugar and salt together. Cut in butter till crumbly. Pat into 9-by-13 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.
Filling
3 cups finely cut rhubarb
4 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour, heaping
1/2 cup milk or cream
    Cook in sauce pan until thickened over medium heat. Pour onto baked crust while hot.
Topping
4 egg whites
8 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add sugar. Beat on high until peaks stand. Spoon over hot filling. Return to 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.
    As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.