By the time April rolls around, the thought of a balmy 60 degree day here in the Northeast feels like a dream come true. This year has brought us more snow than we're used to in recent years, and consistently cold, but not quite frigid weather. Soups, pastas, braised meats, and roasted root vegetables received a lot of attention in my kitchen, with the addition of a ton of citrus in attempt to brighten things up.

I realized that many of the dishes I've been making have been just that- an attempt to brighten things up. Not just the weather, but my Covid-controlled mood. The recipes in this roundup are going to bring some freshness into your life. Enjoy!

Bright and Briney Chicken, Artichokes, and Roasted Peppers

Any dish with the words "bright and briny" in its name is automatically perfect for spring. This dish comes together in 1 pan, so you can easily transfer the whole thing from your stovetop to your backyard or patio in one trip, and that seems like an excellent plan.

I love using orange or yellow bell peppers to make roasted pepper recipes more interesting.

Pasta alla Primavera with Chicken Sausage

Pasta alla Primavera literally translates to "Pasta of the Spring" and is another one-pot meal, perfect for easy cleanup when you'd rather go for a walk after dinner than spend time washing dishes.

Herbs, white wine, and lemon give this pasta a healthy, springy attitude.

Peanut and Calabrian Chili Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps of any kind are perfect for having a few friends over for drinks outside. You have to feed them something, right? I think it's fun to serve something that allows people to eat with their hands rather than forks and knives. It makes for a more laidback atmosphere, one in which your friends can just chill with a glass of white wine and join the shrimp wrap party whenever they please.

The shrimp are so easy to make and are packed with sweet, spicy, vinegary flavors. 

Charred Salsa 3 Ways

Maybe you want to keep some fresh salsa in the refrigerator to snack on for the week, or use it as an appetizer for Taco Tuesday. Though these recipes call for charring the vegetables under the broiler, you can easily do the same, if not better, on a grill. If it's warm enough to eat salsa outside, it's warm enough to dust off that barbecue and start using it again.

Lemon Shrimp and Pea Risotto

Though I admittedly eat peas all year round in canned and frozen forms, I love cooking with fresh sugar snap and snow peas to crisp up creamy pasta and risotto dishes like this one.

Cut the sugar snaps on the bias, or at an angle, for a more interesting appearance.