Besides Christmas, Easter is the holiday my kids look forward to most. I’m not surprised, especially considering they spend the entire weekend in a chocolate coma.

Like a lot of families, we do a huge Easter egg hunt every year and inside the plastic eggs are different types of chocolate. They also find baskets hidden in the trees full of goodies for them.

As for me, I’m much happier in the kitchen than in a coma, chocolate or otherwise, and I use Easter as an opportunity to make a big family turkey dinner. The only difference is the sides I put out, because Christmas is more festive Christmas foods and on Easter I can focus on spring.

We’ve got daffodils blooming and early spring conditions right now, so I’m going to throw open the windows, let the sunshine in, and make a few of my favourite Easter goodies.

Here’s some yummy sides and treats you need to try this Easter.

Scalloped Potatoes

Every Christmas I do whipped potatoes with our turkey. I’ll put the potatoes in my KitchenAid mixer and whip them for a few minutes until they’re fluffy, and I agree with my kids, they’re so good, but at Easter I branch out a bit. I’m still required by family rule to do potatoes, but I usually use this Scalloped potato recipe instead of mashed. One of the reasons it’s so good is because of the Gruyère cheese. Photo and recipe from myrecipes.com.

Ingredients: Salt and pepper

4 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère (about 5 1/2 oz.)

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 cups heavy cream

3 bay leaves

 

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook, removing when not quite tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and set aside until potatoes are cool enough to handle.

In a small skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a large baking sheet with foil. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and place it on lined baking sheet. Add Gruyère, Cheddar, Parmesan, thyme, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper to onion mixture and stir until well combined.

Peel and slice potatoes 1/4-inch thick. Arrange 1/3 of potatoes in baking dish, overlapping where necessary, and sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat layering twice, finishing with cheese. Pour cream over all potatoes and press bay leaves on top. Bake until cream is mostly absorbed and top is golden brown and bubbling, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

 

Marmalade glazed carrots

Christmas is for creamed peas or sweet potatoes, but Easter is all about carrots. For a quick side I love steamed carrots cooked up in the pressure cooker or steamer. All you have to do is add butter and chives and you’re good to go. If you want to put in a bit more effort, you have to try Marmalade glazed carrots. The nutmeg/marmalade combo makes the flavour of the carrots pop. Photo and recipe from myrecipes.com.

Ingredients: 1 pound baby carrots, peeled or scrubbed, or rinsed baby-cut carrots

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/4 cup orange marmalade

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

 

 Directions

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat, combine 3/4 cup water and carrots. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Shake pan occasionally until carrots are tender when pierced, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Return carrots to pan over high heat. Add butter, orange marmalade, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir often until marmalade mixture clings to carrots, 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

 

Paska bread

I’m not Polish, but I have a tradition every year at Easter. I make Paska a week before Easter and I adorn it in sprinkles and icing sugar. This Polish egg bread is better than homemade cinnamon buns, and it’s fun to let the kids do the sprinkles. Photo and recipe from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients:6 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

12 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons butter, melted

 

Directions

Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl until slightly frothy.

In the meantime, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in the warm milk; allow to cool to lukewarm. Once cooled, add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture along with 4 cups of flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Cover and put in a dark, warm place until the mixture is bubbly and doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Stir in the beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup butter, salt, and lemon peel. Stir well to blend. Begin adding the remaining flour a cup at a time to form a very soft dough.

Knead the dough on a floured board until soft and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. Punch dough down, and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into three parts (see Cook’s Note). Shape into slightly rounded loaves, and place on greased baking sheets. Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water; brush onto loaves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bake in preheated oven until loaves are deep brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Once they are done, brush the tops with melted butter for a soft crust.

Easter Bunny Rolls

These buns are so fun to make, you’ll want to bake them up every year. At the same time they’re so cute, you won’t want to eat them. Photo and recipe from epicurious.com.

Ingredients: 1 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

a 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

2 large egg yolks

4 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

Glaze

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

12 dried currants, halved

 

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat milk with honey, stirring, over low heat just until lukewarm and remove pan from heat. Stir in yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add butter and yolks, whisking until combined well.

Transfer milk mixture to bowl of a standing electric mixer (or to a large bowl, if kneading by hand). Add flour and salt gradually to milk mixture, stirring until incorporated. With dough hook, knead dough until smooth, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, dough may be kneaded by hand on a lightly floured surface until smooth, 10 to 15 minutes.)

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat with oil. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in refrigerator overnight, or until doubled in bulk. (Alternatively, dough may be allowed to rise in a warm place about 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.)

Grease 2 baking sheets. Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces. Form each piece into an egg shape and transfer pieces to prepared baking sheets. Form a bunny tail on each piece by holding scissors, points down, perpendicular to baking sheet and making a 1/2-inch-long snip at base of wide end. Form 2 bunny ears on each piece by making a narrow 2-inch-long snip on each side, starting near wide end and cutting toward narrow end. Form eyes on each piece by making 2 holes in narrow end with a wooden pick and pressing a currant half firmly into each hole with pick.

Brush half of warm glaze on rolls and let rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap, in a warm place 45 minutes or less, or until doubled, in bulk (rising will take longer if dough is cold).

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat remaining glaze over low heat just until warm and brush rolls. Bake rolls in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets in oven halfway through baking, 20 minutes, or until golden, and transfer to racks to cool.

Serve rolls warm or at room temperature.

In a small saucepan, heat glaze ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. Remove pan from heat and keep glaze warm, covered.

 

These are just a few of the goodies I make every Easter, and looking at the recipes makes me excited to try them again next week. Kick your own Easter prep off on the right foot with these kitchen gadgets.

 

 
I love this stand mixer scraping beater. You’ll never have to scrape the sides of the bowl again.

Make your Paska bread in these handy Pop Out pans

Free up space on your cooktop by having an electric skillet handy

By , Editor Appliances and Home & Lifestyle

From blenders to laptop computers, I like to take everything I write and put a personal spin on it. As a Vancouver freelancer for 5 years, I’ve written for the Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Province, Chicken Soup for the Soul (grab your hanky, that one is a tear jerker), and on too many websites to list. My personal website is at survivemag.com and if you like Twitter, come find me and chat at @kidswap.


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