Helping Hands in the Kitchen: Easter Menu

April 12, 2022

One of the signs of Spring is the Easter holiday season. During Easter, your family might gather for brunch or dinner. Here are some great recipes for any Spring special occasions!

This casserole is a favorite of my family. It’s easy, can be made the night before and baked the next morning, and it’s adaptable for whatever you and your guests enjoy as a special meal.

SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

Sausage casserole example

Ingredients

  • 3 cups frozen hash browns potatoes
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage, browned and drained
  • ½ cup ham cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 jar diced pimento peppers
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 10 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 cups half and half cream
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Butter a 9”x13” casserole dish.
  2. Layer the potatoes, salt, then sausage, peppers, onions, cheeses, and all other ingredients. The cheese rises to the top when baked.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, until lightly browned on top and casserole is set (when you stick a table knife into the center it should come out clean. If not, continue baking and check every 5-10 minutes.)

TIPS:

Fresh sliced mushrooms or any other vegetable you think would work for you and your guests are great additions. If you add heartier vegetables like green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower blanch them first so they have a head start on cooking.

This casserole is not just for breakfast or brunch. You can also prepare and refrigerate it the night before, and then about an hour before you want to eat, put it in the oven.

CREAM SCONES

These can be made in pie shape as shown or cut into squares or rounds. They are great served with jam, lemon curd, jelly, honey, or butter. This recipe makes about 12 scones.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup cold butter cut into small cubes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup whole milk

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Cut in the cold butter until crumbly (using forks or a pastry blender.)
  3. Place the egg in the measuring cup and fill with the milk (the egg is about ¼ cup.)
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir JUST ENOUGH to combine. Do NOT overmix (it will make a tough scone.)
  5. Place dough on a lightly floured board or counter and knead until the dough is no longer sticky and holds together. Too much kneading makes a tough scone, so only knead it until it is together and can be formed into a circle if you are making them pie shape.
  6. Form into 3 balls. For pie shape, roll each ball into a 6” circle. Keep the center a little higher than the edges. Cut into 4 pie-shaped scones. Dough should be about ¾” thick for any shape you make them.
  7. Place on a baking sheet. Either use parchment paper on the baking sheet or spray with a baking spray or lightly grease the pan to keep them from sticking.
  8. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  9. Bake in a preheated 400-degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.

TIPS:

Add a handful of fresh blueberries for a delicious-looking and tasting scone.

BAKED HAM

Sliced baked ham on a serving platter garnished with peaches

This is my “Go-To” ham recipe. I’ve tried many recipes but always come back to this one! Maybe it will be one of your favorites too. This serves 12-14 guests.

Ingredients

  • 1 fully cooked bone-in ham shank (12-14 pounds)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Whole cloves
  • 2-ounce can cola soft drink, divided
  • ¼ cup bourbon, divided (optional)
  • 6 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar, divided
  • Peaches for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If using a non-spiral cut ham, remove the skin and trim the fat so it is no more than ¼” thick. Make shallow cuts in fat 1” apart in a diamond pattern. If using a spiral cut ham, locate some areas to put the cloves.
  3. Grind pepper over the top of the ham. Insert the cloves in the centers of the cuts.
  4. Place ham into a roasting pan or a lightly greased 13”x9” pan and set aside.
  5. Combine the cola, bourbon (if using), and brown sugar and set aside.
  6. Bake the ham at 350 degrees F for 3-4 hours, basting with the cola mixture every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove ham from the oven and leave the oven on.
  8. The internal temperature should read 140 degrees F. Remember the ham is already cooked.
  9. Cover the ham with foil during the last hour of cooking if necessary. Don’t let it burn. The sugar on top could cause excessive browning.
  10. Let ham stand about 45 minutes to an hour before carving if not already sliced.

TIPS:

When I’m cooking for 1 or 2 people, I buy a portion of a boneless cooked ham or a smaller bone-in ham (so I’ll have the bone for making Bean Soup!)

Ham makes delicious sandwiches, casseroles, and just for snacking. It’s also great made into a ham salad.

AU GRATIN SCALLOPED POTATOES

Scalloped potatoes baked example

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk or half and half cream
  • ½ medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (pressed)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper (white or black)
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 pounds)
  • 8 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese (can be substituted for different cheese)
  • ¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (can be substituted for different cheese)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; whisk in the flour until smooth.
  2. Cook 1 minute to cut the taste of flour, whisk or stir constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk or cream and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick and bubbly.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Lightly grease 13”x9” baking dish. Layer half the potatoes, garlic, and onions.
  6. Spoon half of the sauce over the top and half the Gruyere cheese.
  7. Layer on the shredded Parmesan cheese.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, onions, and sauce.
  9. Sprinkle the last of the Parmesan cheese.
  10. Cover potatoes in foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  11. Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, the potatoes need to be tender when stuck with a fork. And must be golden!

HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  •  package (2 ¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus some for flouring
  • ½ teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup raisins

GLAZE: 1 egg white and splash of milk

FROSTING: 1 egg white, a splash of milk, and powdered sugar as needed for consistency to make the cross on top.

Instructions

  1. Combine milk, oil, and ½ c. sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until warm but not boiling. Turn off heat and let cool until warm but not hot – about 30 minutes – to 110-130 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture. Add 4 c. flour and stir to combine.  It will be very sticky. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 1 hour.
  3. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining ½ c flour. Stir until combined. 
  4. Combine the rest of the sugar with spices in a separate bowl.
  5. Lightly flour board or counter. Turn dough onto it. Flatten slightly.
  6. Sprinkle 1/3 of sugar/spice mixture over it. Sprinkle on 1/3 raisins.
  7. Fold dough over onto itself and flatten again. Repeat twice more.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Pinch off golf ball size dough and, with floured hands, roll into balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
  9. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  10. Preheat over 400 degrees F.
  11. For the glaze, mix egg white and a splash of milk. Brush onto balls of dough (for a sheen.)
  12. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Allow cooling on rack.
  13. Make icing – egg white with powdered sugar to make thick icing – add a splash of milk as needed.
  14. When buns are completely cooled, add icing in a little baggie with the corner cut off or piping bag with a small tip and make crosses on top of the hot cross buns!

BUNNY CAKE

Bunny cake example

Now, I don’t know where I got the ears. My mother had them at her bakery, but I’ve been making these for many years. You can make the ears with almost any paper that is heavy, food-safe, and can be stuck in icing. Jellybeans are used for the eyes and nose and toothpicks for the whiskers.

I like to use a white boxed cake mix. Make per directions. You could use canned coconut milk in place of the water and add a little coconut flavoring. It makes a little more decadent cake. If you use a little more oil than it asks for it makes a nice, moist cake!

Bake in a 9” or 8” round cake pan and bake a couple of cupcakes (for the tail and head.)

I like to make a 7-minute frosting or a boiled icing, but you could use whipped cream.

FROSTING:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Place egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar in the bowl over ½” hot water simmering and let it “cook” until no longer grainy – about 2-3 minutes at least.
  2. Put in mixer bowl and whisk until light, fluffy, and a meringue that holds shape. About 5-7 minutes at least.
  3. Add vanilla and whisk until combined only.

Now we are ready to frost the cake!

ASSEMBLY:

  1. Take one cake round and cut it in half.
  2. Use a spatula and put frosting between the 2 layers and place on a plate or cake board standing up (this is the bunny’s body).
  3. Use a cupcake for the tail and the head. Using a knife, cut a small section from the backside for the tail, and on the front cut a small section out for the cupcake head.  Then use the pieces of cake you just cut to put on the sides of the bunny’s body for his legs!
  4. Use the frosting all over. Make sure all the cake is frosted. Then cover with sweetened shredded coconut. Add the eyes, nose, and ears.

Bon Appétit!

With lots of love,

Granni K

To download these recipes, click here.

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