Easter dinner menu planning in the time of coronavirus…
Easter is coming up in just a few weeks. It is a big holiday in my house. My grown kiddos come home, I bake up a storm, we go to church, them come home and eat and visit. This year, of course, things will be different. Our church is live streaming services. My high schooler is now doing online learning through her high school and her dance studio is using FB Live to hold classes while she uses a kitchen chair as her barre and flannel sheets in the yard as her dance floor. Another kiddo is home from college, doing classes online for the last half of her last semester as a Senior. Her commencement has been canceled and she is meeting up with friends over Zoom, FaceTime, and Google. My oldest is full on adulting, working remotely from his apartment and FaceTiming his mom now and then (smart boy… he knows I miss that sweet face!) Strange times, no?
For this Easter, this one where it will most likely be just those of us in the house, I thought I had better get a plan in place. Currently I am only going to the store every two weeks to minimize contact with others, so this really needs to be planned out. The days leading to Easter are typically a really busy time in the stores as well, and I definitely do not want to be out in that or contribute to the traffic in the stores.
Fortunately, before everything shut down, I did already purchase dairy free chocolate bunnies and peeps (I use them for decorations. Those bright pink bunnies and yellow chicken are so ridiculously colored and nostalgic!). As they seem to disappear fast (I am a peep purist and only want the yellow birds and pink bunnies), I always buy them as soon as they hit the stores. My husband picked up a really nice spiral ham on our last shopping trip which I popped in the freezer for Easter, so that is set. A few days ago Amazon delivered jelly beans and I found an egg coloring kit in the cupboard we didn’t have the time to use last year. Score!
My dinner plans are shaping up to be much more simple and streamlined than usual, but instead of being disappointed to not have all the frills, I am just grateful to have the time to be together, and to be relatively healthy and safe during this time. We’ll have the time to actually reflect on the meaning of the season instead of rushing to get all the fancy bits made. That is something I for one am looking forward to!
For Easter this year we are having:
- Spiral-cut Ham with Apricot Brown Sugar Glaze: for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking time, glaze ham with a mixture of 1/2 cup apricot preserves (I like one that is fruit juice sweetened, if possible), 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons ground mustard mixed together.
- Orange Cinnamon Rolls – I made these this past week using my Cinnamon Roll recipe as a base by not adding cinnamon to the brown sugar in the filling and spreading 6-8 tablespoons orange marmalade in the filling step right before sprinkling on the brown sugar. I froze them on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap before they had a chance to raise. The night before Easter, I’ll pop them into an oiled 9 x 13 pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight, baking in the morning. For the topping I’ll use orange juice instead of water for the glaze. Yum!
- Dairy Free Scalloped Potatoes – I’ll be assembling this this next week and popping them into the freezer (see the recipe instructions for that)
- Roasted Frozen Vegetables – simply take whatever frozen veggies you have on hand and roast. I am planning on using a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and maybe mixing with an Italian blend that had yellow squash and broad beans in it (I am looking for the color and flavor blend) and adding a chopped red onion to the mix. Put the veggies on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer, toss with a couple tablespoons olive oil and about a 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Roast in a preheated 400F oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring around every 10 minutes until the veggies are cooked through and the edges start to caramelize and brown.
- Decorated Hard Boiled eggs – we will make during the end of the week before Easter as a family activity.
- For sweets will have Easter Story Cookies, and tea breads baked into mini loaves and sliced. I am going to be making a one batter recipe that can be made into three mini loaves with very different flavors (Apple Cinnamon Streusel, Coconut Pistachio, and Blueberry Lemon). I have all the ingredients in the house to make the tea breads and they can be baked and frozen ahead. I’m also planning to make Hot Cross Buns on the day we decorate Easter eggs.
I want it to feel special and like a holiday, but not being to go out and get flowers or cute napkins or the other things I normally do means it is time to get creative…
Last year I wove my kids Easter baskets from brown paper grocery sacks and they turned out so cute (an my eco girl loved them!), so that is happening again. I can use paper run through the shredder then lightly crumpled, fabric netting from my craft room or large homemade pompoms as filling. This year we are all home and have three weeks for some fun crafts to do together as a family. I picked 3 that really caught my eye, only required paper, a few things we have laying around the house, and a little time. This weekend we are making these simple origami butterflies out of the colored pages of newsprint, wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper to hang in the windows by our dining table. Second are these lovely origami flowers to help our table bloom. I like the idea of using old piano music that we have laying around from when the kids first took lessons. I think I’ll put them with some of my smaller house plants and scattered jelly beans to decorate the table. Finally are these cute origami bunny baskets from Gathering Beauty. I think her blog is going to be one of my new happy places! How cute would these be filled with jelly beans at each plate? I have some plain paper that we can decorate with colored pencils and markers to personalize them if we want. A bonus craft we might make, are these adorable pom pom branches, both colorful and with white puffs. So fun! We have more than enough yarn to make the pom poms. I am thinking of using a tiny pickle fork as my form to make really small poms. Cuteness overload!
Have you started Eater planning yet? Easter Story Cookies and Hot Cross Buns definitely made my list of things I wanted to make this year for our mini quarantine meal. What are the food traditions you’ll be holding dear this year?