Do you have awesome plans for Easter? I hope they are filled with family and fun!
Our Easter celebrations are pretty basic: Some egg dying, a little basket of gifts in the morning for the kiddos, dressing up for church, a big dinner after church followed by the essential Egg Hunt. Even the older kids still have fun with this, because we tailor it to each child.
Our Egg Hunt is individually geared to each child. We do this by first assigning a certain color egg to each kid. Green eggs for one boy, blue for another, etc. The Hubster usually hides the eggs. In the early days, most of the eggs were pretty easy to find, but as the kids have got older, we have made it trickier. Now, he has to write down where he hides the teenagers' eggs because if he didn't, we would never find them all. Sometime in mid summer we would end up finding an egg full of melted candy and ants. Yuk! This way, he can give out misleading hints when they are stumped and snicker at them while they try to figure it out. By color coding the eggs, we are able to have easy to find eggs for the 2 year old, and impossible to find eggs for the teens. Everyone gets an equal share, so there is not a greedy competitive dash to grab the most eggs. Everyone is happy. We also tend to put coins in a bunch of the eggs which keeps our teens hunting. Money is a big motivator.
I have to really think through our Easter Menu because we leave the house just after 8am and don't return until at least 2pm (on regular service days, we get home much later, often more like 5pm). When we get home, everyone is pretty much ravenous. Making them wait while I prepare an elaborate dinner doesn't sound like a good way to foster wonderful childhood memories. (I can just hear them reminiscing -- "Do you remember the year mom made us wait until 4 o'clock before she would let us eat? I had to chew on my shirt to keep from eating the raw ham...) I don't want that on my conscience, so whatever I fix must be quick. How does one create a wonderful holiday meal when one is not actually on the premises?
Now, I could do what half of America does and just head to the nearest restaurant, but have you seen the waiting list on Sunday holidays? Mother's Day is generally close to a two-hour wait around here. I might as well have gone home and made that elaborate dinner. I don't know what the Easter wait is like, because I avoid it like the plague.
Enter the Amazing Make-Ahead Dinner!
Yes, folks. I make everything ahead.
This is what I plan to make this year:
Glazed Smoked Ham
(I purchased a fully cooked smoked ham. I will glaze it with some preserves I made last summer and pop my ham in the crock pot. My crock pot has a "warm" setting. The low would cook it too much over such a long time, but the "warm" setting will gently and slowly heat the ham until we are ready for it.)
(I haven't decided on a recipe yet, but I will probably get one off allrecipes.com. I plan to make it on Saturday and chill it over night.)
(Again, these are fairly easy, made ahead and totally Easter.)
Fresh Salad Greens with Dried Berries and Mandarin Oranges
served with Raspberry Vinaigrette
(Super simple -- toss spring greens together. Top with dried berries like dried cranberries, blueberries and cherries. Drain a can of mandarin oranges and arrange on top. Sprinkle with walnuts or sunflower seeds and optional red onion slices. Serve with a store bought Raspberry Vinaigrette -- we like Paul Newman's because we can actually recognize the ingredients.)
Homemade Fresh Bread
(I have some of my bread recipes on this blog -- just click "recipes" on the side bar. I will make the bread Saturday afternoon and warm it in the oven for a few minutes on Sunday.)
Dessert: Spring Cake
This is a wonderfully moist chocolate cake from the book Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. But your favorite cake or dessert would work here as long as you could whip it up ahead of time. The fabulous thing about the Spring Cake is that it is a freezer dessert, so I can make it any time, pop it in the freezer and just thaw it for Sunday. I will make myself a yummy, slimming, no-sugar dessert, so I don't feel left out, but don't wreck my eating habits either. Most of them are so quick that I can easily whip it up on Sunday if I choose.
Lemonade and Iced Tea If you are from the south, no recipe is necessary for these staple drinks. If you are from somewhere else, I leave you to google your way through it.
That's it -- simple, fresh, wholesome food -- all made ahead for a quick Easter Dinner.
I plan to decorate the table before I go to bed on Saturday night, right after I pop some kind of breakfast into my other crock pot (I have two). That way, Sunday morning runs as smoothly as possible and I can focus on adjusting my ridiculous Easter hat.