Easter will soon be here and perhaps you are making plans for hosting an Easter celebration. This is a special time to come together and enjoy quality time with family and friends. Show off your culinary skill with these recipes your guests are sure to enjoy.
Perhaps you will be taking part in an Easter breakfast at church, but if not, you can begin Easter morning with an easy-to-prepare breakfast casserole that can be assembled the day before and refrigerated overnight. Serve it with fresh fruit and if desired, muffins, and you have a delicious start to the day.
Hash Brown Potato Casserole
6 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded pepper Jack or cheddar cheese (8oz.)
2 cups chopped cooked ham, cooked breakfast sausage, or Canadian bacon
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½ cup sliced green onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange hash brown potatoes in dish. Sprinkle with cheese, ham and green onions. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over hash brown mixture. Bake uncovered, 45 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. If you like, sprinkle with additional sliced green onions. To make ahead: Prepare as directed through assembling the dish. Chill, covered, up to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake straight from the fridge, uncovered, about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Source: “One-Pan Dinners, Healthy No-Fuss Meals,” 4/22/22.
A traditional St. Patrick’s day meal
Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
You can bake these muffins the day before and have them ready to enjoy with the Hash Brown Potato Casserole.
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Heat oven to 400 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix yogurt, lemon zest, 1/3 cup lemon juice and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to combine, then half of the yogurt mixture, scraping the bowl and beaters as necessary. Repeat with the remaining flour and yogurt mixture, then fold in poppy seeds. Using a ¼-cup measure ice cream scoop, scoop out a rounded portion of batter into each muffin cup. In small bowl, stir together the turbinado sugar and 2 teaspoons water. Immediately stir in the almonds, then top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon sugared almonds, mounding in the middle. Bake, rotating the pan half-way through until muffins are golden brown, about 16 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool completely. Source: “Good Housekeeping,” April 2022.
This year how about enjoying lamb for Easter dinner? Eating lamb for Easter has been a long-standing tradition for many. There is something about lamb that invokes spring. I visited with Marie LeFeldt, whose family has been raising sheep in Lavina for many years, to ask her their favorite way to prepare lamb. Her response was grilled lamb chops. However if you would like to prepare a lamb roast for Easter dinner, the simplest way would be to chop several cloves of garlic, chop sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and mix that with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread the mixture over the roast and place it in a roasting pan with cut-up onions surrounding the roast. Roast at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees, about 1½ hours to 1 hour and 45 minutes for a 5–6 pound roast. Let roast sit for 15 minutes before carving. The temperature will raise more as it rests.
Take advantage of citrus fruits
Spice Market Carrot Cake
The traditional carrot cake now takes on a Moroccan twist with the addition of apricots, honey and ras el hanout to flavor the cake. Ginger and orange pep up the cream cheese frosting. Ras el hanout is a combination of spices used to create a savory flavor in Moroccan dishes. It means “head of the shop,” which indicates it is a mixture of the best spices in the store. The blend of spices, including cinnamon and coriander, pairs just as successfully with carrots and apricots when used in this cake. Make up some of the blend and try it to get this unique flavor. You can also use it to flavor stews, meats and vegetables.
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ras el hanout* (recipe follows)
4 eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup chopped dried apricots or pitted dates
Ginger-Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Chopped pistachio nuts (opt.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottoms of three 8- or 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour paper. In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, ras el hanout, baking soda and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. In another bowl combine eggs, carrots, oil and honey. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until combined. Stir in apricots. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans; remove paper. Cool cakes on wire racks. Make the Ginger-Orange Cream Cheese Frosting. Frost the top of each cake with frosting, stacking each layer as you go. Frost the sides of the cake. Decorate the top and sides of the cake with finely shredded carrots and pistachio nuts.
*Ras el hanout
Stir together 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground turmeric and ½ teaspoon each ground black pepper, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, and ground allspice.
*Ginger-Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Remove 2 teaspoons zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from 1 orange. In a large bowl combine 1 (8 oz.) pkg. softened cream cheese, ¾ cup softened butter, the orange juice, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Beat with a mixer on low until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in an additional 1 to 1½ cups sifted powdered sugar to make a spreadable frosting. Stir in orange zest. Source: “Better Homes & Gardens,” March 2022.
Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.