Food for Thought – Another Holiday Dinner

Dear Friends,

Chances are, every Easter morning is the same at your house. There are the requisite candy stuffed Easter baskets happily half eaten by eager children before breakfast, a mad dash to get out the door for church without the telltale signs of chocolate bunnies on new outfits and of course, the grand finale of the day-Easter dinner-sometimes for a cast of thousands.

For many people, this holiday meal means generational favorites served each and every year. The same ham, the same potatoes and the same dessert.

But for those of you who want to try something new, are bored with the same old thing or have a delicious rebellious streak when it comes to tradition and cooking, these recipes are for you!

Love, Leanne

Easter Menu:

Easter Ham with Spicy Cranberry Relish
Green Beans Almondine
Rolls and Butter
Easy Party Potatoes
Minted Blueberry Fruit Salad
Very Easy Trifle

Grocery List:

Meat:
4 to 6 pounds boneless, fully cooked lean ham

Condiments:
1 5-oz. bottle prepared horseradish
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Honey
1 small jar raspberry preserves, seedless
Cream sherry optional

Produce:
6 handfuls green beans
5 pounds russet potatoes
Blueberries (you need 1 3/4 cups) or use frozen
1 pint raspberries or other berries optional
1 large peach or use frozen, sliced
1/2 large cantaloupe
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
1 bunch Mint
2 limes

Canned Goods:
1 15-oz. can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 8-1/4-oz. can crushed pineapple

Spices:
Nutmeg
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Paprika
Vanilla

Dairy/Dairy Case:
Butter
Sour cream (you need 1/2 pint)
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 pint whipping cream
Half and Half (you need 1 cup)
U.K. Members: Half and Half is half cream and half milk
Eggs (you need 4 yolks)

Dry Goods:
1 2-oz. package sliced almonds
White sugar (you need 1/2 cup)

Bakery:
Dinner rolls (or use frozen and bake)

Freezer:
2 Sara Lee pound cakes
Blueberries, sliced peaches, raspberries (if not using fresh)

Specialty items/equipment needed:
A “footed” trifle bowl or salad bowl with straight sides

Easter Ham with Spicy Cranberry Relish
Serves 12

4 -6 pounds boneless, fully cooked extra lean ham
1 15-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 8 1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple — drained
1 5-ounce bottle prepared cream style horseradish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place your ham in shallow baking pan. Bake uncovered for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Remove ham from the oven, let sit about 10 minutes, then slice thinly for serving.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in medium bowl. The horseradish is really strong and will clean out your sinuses in a New York second. You might want to start with half or even less, of the bottle and add it to taste. Transfer to serving bowl and chill until serving time. Serve the relish with the ham.

Green Beans Almondine
Serves 6

6 handfuls of green beans
1 tablespoon of butter (I use unsalted)
1 splash of olive oil
generous dash of nutmeg (or you can grate it fresh I have a grater and it’s awesome!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 2-oz. package of sliced almonds

When you go to the grocery store, count out by the handful, how many beans you will need. Give each adult one handful, and count one handful per two small children. Yes, use your hands, grab a handful of beans, plop it into a plastic bag and consider it a serving.

I know that doesn’t give you pounds. It’s the best way I know to give you a good idea of what to buy. Who cares if there isn’t a weight? (it’s probably close to 1 and a quarter pounds anyway, if you’re cooking for 6).

Here’s what you do with those beans:

Wash beans and string them (pull the string starting at the stem and pull to the bottom). Then snap them in half (or cut them or leave them whole if they’re thin and small). Steam them in a veggie steamer or boil them in a skillet half full of water. When they turn bright green, they’re finished. (they will still be a little undercooked). Strain them and set aside.

In a skillet, heat the butter and oil over a medium high heat and add the well-drained beans. Add the salt and pepper to taste, sliced almonds and saute them for about 2 to three minutes. Add a touch of nutmeg and saute another minute or so. Beans should be tender, but not mushy.

Rolls and Butter

BUY the rolls! Buy the rolls from a good bakery or the frozen dough kind are good. Make sure they’re of a good quality. And BUTTER, not margarine.

Easy Party Potatoes
Serves 12

5 pounds potatoes — mashed
1/2 pint sour cream*
1 8-ounce package cream cheese*
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons butter
Paprika for garnish.

*using low fat varieties of these products happily does not change the end result!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To the mashed potatoes, add everything and beat until fluffy (be careful not to go too far with the beating or you will develop glutinous, wallpaper paste textured potatoes).

Place potato mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes or so.

Garnish the top with paprika and serve.

Minted Blueberry Fruit Salad
Serves 4

1 3/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 large peach — pitted and sliced (or use frozen sliced peaches)
1/2 large cantaloupe — cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce — torn into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)

Mint Dressing
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl place Creamy Mint dressing. Stir in blueberries, peach and cantaloupe. Allow fruit to marinate for about 30 minutes. To serve: Place lettuce in a large serving bowl; top with marinated fruit and the dressing; toss gently and serve immediately.

To Make Mint Dressing:

In a small bowl or measuring cup combine all dressing ingredients until well blended, then follow directions on the rest of the recipe.

Really Easy Trifle
Serves 6, plus

My British father was quite the cook and made his English trifle in the traditional manner, floating entirely too much sherry and custard in the trifle bowl. I didn’t like it because it was soggy and boozy. So I came up with my own version using his ingredients, which not only preserved the integrity of the pound cake, but also gave those who didn’t want the sherry on it, options. Trust me, this is easy, fabulous and you are going to love it.

2 Sarah Lee frozen pound cakes, thawed and sliced
1 small jar raspberry preserves (I prefer the seedless)
1 pint of fresh raspberries (or whatever other kind of berry you can find fresh or skip)
1 pint real whipping cream (whipped NOT Cool Whip and not the stuff in a can)
1 recipe Creme Anglais (recipe is below)
1 pitcher of cream sherry (optional)
1 bunch mint leaves (for garnish)

In a footed trifle bowl (or use a salad bowl with straight sides), you are going to layer everything, starting with pound cake slices spread with a generous spoonful of raspberry preserves. Place the first layer on the bottom with jam side up.

Then a layer of whipped cream, then some berries, then more pound cake smeared with raspberry jam. Do it again. End with whipped cream on top. Garnish with any remaining berries and fresh mint leaves.

Serve with Creme Anglais on the side in a pitcher.

Creme Anglais (make this anytime. It will hold up for a few days in the fridge, no problem)

This is easy to make, but you must follow the directions exactly. You don’t want the half and half boiling! It will break and you will have scrambled eggs floating in your sauce. Not good.

1 cup Half-and-Half
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla, plus another 1/2 teaspoon
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine Half-and-Half, 1/4 cup of the sugar and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.

When cream mixture starts to just boil, remove it from the heat. Whisk a small amount of hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, then pour egg yolk mixture into remaining hot cream and whisk together until smooth.

Return it to the heat and cook over medium heat stirring until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon and is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter. To keep it from getting a skin on top, put plastic wrap directly on the surface. Stir in the last 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla just before putting the plastic wrap on.

Enjoy!
Love, Leanne

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