The Easter gathering is at our house this year, and, wouldn't you know it, I'll be at a swim meet with the twelve-year-old on Friday and Saturday. This means two things: (1) the house will be a mess, and (2) much of the Easter menu must be prepared ahead of time. If the Easter menu is good enough, I'm hoping the extended family won't notice problem (1).
If you're hosting this year and thus responsible for more than one dish, I've got a little countdown for ya. Be sure to have people arrive late enough that you won't be harried. We're aiming for 2:30 p.m.
- Dinner rolls. I do the dough for these in the bread machine, and they're honestly less effort than getting them at the store. Just pull out the dough, rip it into 16 little balls, let rise while the oven preheats, and bake. If you aren't eating them that day, freeze them. Then, Easter morning, let them thaw on the counter and then give them a quick reheat in the oven where you're baking day-of foods.
- Rosemary cashews. For a little nibble while people wait. These are also super easy.
- Boil the eggs for deviled eggs (or for dyeing, if you still have to go through that rigmarole).
- Ranch dressing for crudites.
- Assign those dishes you don't specialize in to your guests. (I love my sister-in-law's green bean casserole and demand it of her whenever I get the chance.)
- Make your freezable dessert of choice. I did some brownies and we'll also bring out a frozen fruit pie from last summer.
- Whip up your favorite vinaigrette for the salad. I just leave mine in a jar on the windowsill, since it's only olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and a little mustard.
DAY OF FEAST:
- Throw the ham in the crock pot on low. Plan on 5-6 hours to heat through. You can pour on your glaze of choice in the last half-hour and turn it up to high. This will keep the oven free for the real stars of the day: scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole and roasted asparagus.
- Devil the eggs. No recipe for this. Just slice the eggs in half, scoop out the yolk, mix with mayo and mustard to taste, plop filling back in, and sprinkle with paprika. Some people add relish, but my kids would riot.
- Cut up the carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc. for the veggie tray.
- Toss your salad. I'll be doing spinach, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and feta with the made-ahead vinaigrette.
- Snap the woody ends off your asparagus and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet to roast later. The asparagus can be eaten at room temperature, so you can roast ahead, if more convenient.
- Thaw/bake your prepared desserts.
- About two hours supper time, work on your potatoes, the jewel in the crown. We like this recipe:
Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Garlic (from Cooking Light Magazine)
1 cup half-and-half, divided
1 Tbsp flour
4 ozs goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 garlic clove, minced
2.5 lbs peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine 2 tsp half-and-half with flour in large bowl, whisking till smooth. Add the remaining half-and-half, cheese, and next five ingredients (through garlic), whisking. Arrange half of the potato slices in a single layer in a greased 11x7" baking dish. Pour half of milk mixture over potatoes. Repeat layers. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
(Note: I have sometimes used a larger pan because everyone wants the browned bits the most. You just have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn at the edges!)
Happy Easter to all, and don't eat too many hollow chocolate bunnies!