Easter Appetizer and Sides

Easter is holiday that I always struggle with as far as a meal is concerned.  I don’t know if it’s because I did not grow up having any “traditional” Easter meal.  May be because I associate Easter with brunches?  I’m certainly always wanting to go out for a brunch.  Heck, I would even settle for a local diner breakfast.  I just don’t get very excited about cooking for Easter.

Since my mother-in-law passed away, Easter like every other holiday meals has fallen to my lap.  For the past few years, we have also qualified for one of those free items.  You know your choice of free turkey, ham or frozen lasagna?  Since I don’t eat roasted turkey outside of Thanksgiving and the frozen lasagna has fallen into the “no thank you even if it’s free” category, we have settled on the free ham.  I think we pay a little extra for the pre-sliced spiral ham and while I’m not a big ham fan, I find it acceptable.

So, I guess the ham has by default become part of our traditional Easter meal.  We have had it for the last three Easters.  But all other accompanying dishes?  It’s all a toss up.  I couldn’t even tell you what I made last year.

This year, I tried to come up with a menu that perhaps I could follow from year to year.  The result was an “eh” for me.  Everything tasted fine, but I felt like I was missing something, a splash of color in middle of bland canvas of dairy items.  Thus, I write the following recipes with mixed feelings.  I probably would make some these again, but probably never again together in one meal.  You will see that the common ingredient was cheese, butter, mayonnaise and sour cream and it was just too much dairy for me.  All the recipes are adapted from Simply Recipes.

Cheesy Bread Recipe

Time: 15 mins prep, 5 mins cooking

Serving size: 6 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese*
  • 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz shredded Monterrey Jack
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped green onion (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened to the point of being slightly melted
  • 1 to 2 loaves of French or Italian bread (I used Ciabatta), depending on the size of the loaves and how much you spread you put on the bread

Directions:

  •  In a large bowl, mix together the cheeses and the green onion. Stir in the mayonnaise and sour cream. In a separate small bowl blend the butter and garlic until smooth. Add the butter mixture to the cheese mixture.
  • Preheat broiler. Slice loaf of bread in half horizontally, lay crust side down. Spread cheese mixture over the bread. Place under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  •  Remove from broiler and let sit for 5 minutes until cool enough to handle. Slice the bread with a bread knife.  Serve immediately.

* The original recipe called for a lot more cheese (1.5 lb in total).  I found the proportion I used to be enough for my one French bread with left-over spread for another half a loaf.

**I served this as an appetizer.  It was really good.  Once the bread cooled down completely and the cheese hardened, I popped the slices in the toaster oven for a few minutes and it was as good as new.

Deviled Eggs Recipe

Time: 5 mins prep, 25 mins cooking

Serving size: 24 deviled eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp minced shallot (to taste)
  • 1 squeeze from fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • paprika

Directions:

  •  First hard boil the eggs.  I usually just put eggs in cold water and let it boil about 15 – 18 minutes.  Drain and run cold water, changing water to keep it cool.  The following is the direction to hard boil eggs from Simply Recipes:
    • Fill up a large saucepan half-way with water and gently add the eggs. Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water (this will help contain egg whites from leaking out if any of the shells crack while cooking). Add a pinch of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Let sit covered for 12-15 minutes. Drain hot water from pan and run cold water over the eggs. (At this point if you crack the egg shells while the eggs are cooling, it will make it easier to peel the shells.) Let sit in the cool water a few minutes, changing the water if necessary to keep it cool.
  • Peel the eggs. Using a sharp knife, slice each egg in half, lengthwise. Gently remove the yolk halves and place in a small mixing bowl. Arrange the egg white halves on a serving platter.
  • Using a fork, mash up the yolks and add mustard, mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spoon egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves. Sprinkle with paprika

 

Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe

Time: 15 mins prep, 1.5 – 2 hrs cooking

Serving size: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 large russet potatoes, about a pound each
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, Monterrey Jack or mixture*
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion or chives
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Scrub the potatoes clean under running water with a brush. Poke each potato in several places with the tines of a fork so that when the potatoes are cooking they don’t explode.  Rub the potatoes all over with a little olive oil. Place directly on the middle or top rack of the oven (I placed aluminum on the rack to avoid any liquid from burning the bottom of the oven).  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. They should give a little when pressed.
  • Cook the bacon strips in a frying pan on medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Let cool. Crumble. 
  • Alternatively, you can use already cooked bacon.  Just follow the directions on the box.
  • Allow the potatoes to cool to touch. Slice the top third lengthwise off the potato. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides, forming a potato “canoe”, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato on the skin.
  • Alternatively you can slice the potatoes in half, lengthwise. In this case you may want to bake an extra potato so that you will have more potato filling to mound into the potato boats.
  • Place the scooped out potato insides, sour cream, milk, and butter into a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher. If you want a creamy texture, beat with an electric beater until desired consistency. Note, do not over-beat potatoes, they can turn glue-y.
  • Mix in the crumbled bacon and scallion/chives with the potatoes. Reserve some of the extras to sprinkle on the tops of the potatoes. Spoon fillings into the potato shells. Sprinkle with extra toppings and cheese.
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Place potatoes on a roasting pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through.

*I reserved some of the cheese mixture from Cheesy Bread and used it to top the potatoes.

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