BY TARA BURKE
This Easter I was really looking forward to some time at home. Not only is it starting to be that really hectic time in college where all of your research papers, presentations and homework starts piling up, but if you’re a senior (like me) you are probably dealing with a whole array of other issues. I don’t know whether I should spend more time contemplating my severe college-life nostalgia or the impending uncertainty of my future. As you can see I needed a break, some good food, and time to celebrate my faith with my family! Easter is one of my favorite holidays and this year’s celebrations were even more special because Cailin and I were in charge of both brunch and dinner. The first thing we did was plan our menu, so here it is:
BRUNCH: Bread Pudding
DINNER: Ham, Ratatouille, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Carrots, Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
DESSERT: Cadbury Creme Egg Brownies
Cailin and I had been wanting to make bread pudding after we fell upon an episode of the Barefoot Contessa making breakfast bread pudding. Cailin had never tried it before and had been wanting to try it ever since, so we thought Easter brunch would be the best time to make it. I had tried a dessert caramel version of bread pudding at a restaurant before and although the first few bites were divinely delicious the rest just seemed soggy and mushy. Thus, the hunt for the perfect bread pudding recipe commenced! Of course, I turned to the Pioneer Women’s blog and looked up a bread pudding recipe. She too confessed to not having a taste for the sometimes mushy texture of bread pudding and had a recipe that used sourdough bread instead of more traditional bread pudding breads like Challah. Sourdough bread is able to hold its structure better and give a better balance of gooey and crispy textures. We gave the recipe a shot and it couldn’t have turned out any better. Our whole family wanted seconds and we were all fighting over the last piece.
Please excuse my sock pjs!
An easy way to finely chop pecans is to use a meat tenderizer.
The next things we tackled were the ratatouille and Cadbury Creme Eggs brownies. Almost all the credit for the ratatouille goes to Cailin. Again, we were inspired to make the dish after we watched it being made on tv, only this time the chef was a tiny mouse. Yes, the movie Ratatouille and our travels in Nice, France had us vying to make the intricate vegetable dish. We picked up fresh zucchini, yellow squash, a small eggplant, yellow and red bell peppers, minced garlic, an onion and tomato puree at the grocery store to make the dish. Cailin and my Mom chopped all of the vegetables into the thinnest slices possible. They then spread about two cups of tomato puree on the bottom of a 13X9 baking pan with half of a diced onion and threw in some minced garlic. Then the best part came, layering the vegetables! We made the oval overlapped pattern typical of ratatouille by interchanging the yellow and green colors of the squash and zucchini.
All the while, I was in charge of dying the Easter eggs. We found an Easter egg dying kit laying around from last year but quickly found out that the dye wasn’t sticking to the eggs. So we had to improvise. Ultimately, we ended up painting some designs on with food coloring and a paint brush and using makeup sponges to make cool dye designs. We ended up loving the designs and had a lot more fun doing it.
For the brownies we kept it really simple. We started cooking on the later side and using a box batter made the process much shorter. All we did was stick 9 whole Cadbury Creme Eggs into the batter, which we baked in a 9X9 baking dish. We loved them, but they were really sweet. You may need an extra sweet tooth for this dessert!
The roasted carrots were also super simple. All I did was toss them in some olive oil, salt and pepper and popped them in the oven. We baked the sweet potatoes and heated up our very convenient pre-cooked and sliced ham. While the food was all still hot I made the biscuits. I tend to be drawn to recipes with 5 or less ingredients. The easier the better. All you need to make these biscuits are Bisquick, milk, shredded cheddar cheese, butter and garlic powder. First you mix two cups of Bisquick with two and a half cups of milk and half a cup of shredded cheese. Then spoon the batter onto a baking sheet to make perfectly imperfect drop biscuits. Before you take the biscuits off the baking sheet give them a good brush with melted garlic butter.
There it is! A simple and delicious Easter brunch and dinner that anyone can make!