Oranges Color Her Company Menu

"What an outstanding Orange Day!" the relatives exclaimed when I set out my tangy theme buffet. Our colorful gathering was inspired by a visit from my husband Jim's orange-loving grandmother.

Living in Michigan and spending winters in Florida, she doesn't get out here to Massachusetts very often. When she and Jim's parents did visit us, I welcomed them with a meal featuring her favorite fruit.

Orange Meal Photo

My orangy menu included Citrus Grove Punch, Mandarin Chicken, Sunny Layered Salad and Orange Chip Cheesecake.

A sweet-tart blend, Citrus Grove Punch teams orange juice with grapefruit and lime juices. Sparkling bubbles from the ginger ale give each sip a festive tingle. Our daughters—Juliana and Abigail—enjoyed it right along with the grown-ups.

Mandarin Chicken was gobbled up readily by our guests. Sweet orange sections and fresh mushrooms dress up this pleasant chicken and rice dish. Since the rice cooks in orange juice instead of water, the fruity flavor comes through delightfully.

Everyone loved my Sunny Layered Salad. It's a different combination of ingredients than you usually see in a layered salad and has a light, sweet dressing. I enjoy collecting recipes, then adapting them. That's how this novel salad and many other new dishes have been concocted in my kitchen.

Another of my creations is Orange Chip Cheesecake. It's the one dessert I make most often for guests. Always a hit, the cheesecake owes its elegant flavor to the orange-chocolate blend. A purchased chocolate crumb or graham cracker crust gets you off to a quick start when making this rich, creamy treat. Or you can make a crust from scratch if you prefer.

I gave the table a sunny look with a bright fruit-print cloth that included a motif of sliced oranges. For a centerpiece, I filled a basket to the brim with oranges and tucked in sprigs of flowers.

Jim's grandmother was thrilled with my theme meal—and so was I! I plan to use it again when we have company.

I hope my orange-inspired recipes tempt you to plan a similar party. It's fruitful fun—and won't put a big squeeze on your time!

Citrus Grove Punch

Mandarin Chicken

Sunny Layered Salad

Orange Chip Cheesecake