Easter is one of those holidays that bring out the chef in many of us. Even people who almost never cook anything that takes more than 15 minutes, pull out all the stops for this holiday.
Maybe the arrival of spring puts us in the right frame of mind.
If you're looking to try something new or if you're getting ready for your first Easter meal tomorrow, here are some ideas for your last-minute menu, courtesy of OnMilwaukee.com staffers.
Molly Snyder Edler
Let me begin by saying I am a huge fan of the marshmallow Peep, but I have not (yet) tried this recipe. I am, however, absolutely enamored with the idea of a frozen Peep and I plan to make Peepsicles in the very near future. I will report back.
Peep lovers are usually divided into two camps: those who like them soft and gooey and those who like them stale and chewy. I side with the latter group, but according to the Peeps Web site (www.marshmallowpeeps.com) -- which is where I found this recipe -- many Peep enthusiasts prefer their Peeps frozen.
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut or 1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped
12 popsicle sticks
12 Peeps bunnies, any color
Directions: Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
Smooth out the coconut or nuts on a plate.
Insert one craft stick about halfway into the bottom section of one bunny (uh-oh; Peep abuse?) Dip into the chocolate, turning to coat completely. Holding the dipped bunny over the bowl of chocolate, use a knife to scrape the excess chocolate off the back and bottom of the bunny, letting it fall back into the bowl. Hold the bunny over the plate of coconut or nuts and sprinkle to cover all sides.
Place the bunny on the prepared baking sheet and repeat to dip the remaining bunnies. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Serve frozen. Makes 12 Peepsicles.
Pecan waffles with roasted pecan and banana syrup
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground lightly toasted pecans
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter plus 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups milk
Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray, for coating the waffle iron
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup cane syrup
4 medium bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
Directions: Preheat the waffle iron and preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Combine flour, pecans, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together. In another bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until pale yellow. Add vanilla extract, 1/2 cup melted butter and milk, and whisk together. Combine the egg and milk mixture with the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, about a minute. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Again, do not overmix.
Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the waffle iron with some vegetable oil. Pour enough batter into the iron to just barely cover the waffle grid. Close the waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions, or until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the remaining waffles.
In a saute pan, add the remaining 1/2 cup of butter and the pecan pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pecan pieces are light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the banana slices and cook until light golden and soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the syrup and bring to a simmer. Serve with the warm waffles.
Egg and sausage dish
Easter is a fantastic day for brunch. This dish is always a hit when the family gathers:
1 lb. cooked sausage
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cup milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 slices dry bread crumbs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 tbl. chopped onions
Directions: Mix all ingredients together, with bread crumbs on the bottom and others sprinkled in layers over the top. Spread in an 11"x7" Pyrex baking dish. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Baked cranberry and walnut French toast
Baguette cut into 15 to 20 1/2-inch slices
4 tbl. butter, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. fine salt
Directions: Line the bottom of a greased 8-inch baking dish with a single layer of bread slices, making sure they fit snugly. Brush bread layer with some of the butter, then sprinkle with half of the cranberries and walnuts. Top with a second layer of bread and brush with butter. Sprinkle over remaining cranberries and walnuts then top with a third layer of bread; brush with remaining butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Pour egg mixture over bread, making sure to soak the top layer completely. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
When ready to bake, let dish come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Uncover and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Spinach and cheese pie
Nothing says Easter quite like a piping hot, nicely browned spinach and cheese pie. Here's a simple recipe for one using pre-made pie crust.
1 refrigerated pie crust at room temperature
1 tsp. flour
3 tbl. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (be sure to get out as much water as possible to avoid a soggy pie)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 large eggs, beaten
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Unfold pie crust and flatten it out. Sprinkle flour over the top. Place, floured side down, in 9-inch glass or ceramic pie dish.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat and sauté onion until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper and sauté about 3 minutes.
In a bowl, mix cheeses, then eggs. Combine with spinach mixture and mix well. Add spread the mixture evenly in the crust.
Bake about 40 minutes until filling is set and the top is lightly browned.
If you want a closed pie, you can also lay a crust over the top, brush with an egg and crimp around the edge. Cut a few slits to allow steam to escape and bake until nicely browned.