Happy Easter

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Another beautiful Easter has already come and gone. My mom and our son joined us this year…I only had to cook for 4 people! I’m used to cooking for a crowd on special occasions at our house. It felt a little odd to not have to cook for days in advance, but it was such a nice, relaxing, visit. We were even blessed with a sunny day! Something we haven’t had in a long, long, time.

As we sat at the table gabbing and eating and eating and eating…I was thanking God for how blessed I am. Truly, truly, blessed in so many ways, they are innumerable. I love those quiet moments in your head where you can stop in the middle of the busyness to really take a look around and soak it all in. I hope you all were able to spend this day with some of the people you love.

I thought it was funny that it took me 43 years to realize that I don’t need to do Easter Baskets with that crazy grass that you end up finding in your house for the next two months…this year, I just did gift bags with tissue and it worked just as well. Silly how we stick to certain traditions even though there are parts of them we don’t like (like plastic colored grass). It’s a tradition yes, but we can change it up any way we like and make our own traditions, right?

Kurobuta Ham  (Japanese Black Hog)

This is the second time we’ve purchased a Kurobuta Ham to serve on Easter. Have you ever had one?  They are delicious, they’ve been dubbed the “Kobe beef” of pork. I’ve never had Kobe beef, so I’ll have to take their word for it and honestly, I can’t think of one reason to argue.

I wanted to prepare it the Bartolini Kitchen’s way…however, there were only two of us at the table that care for fennel. So I’ll have to wait until I’m cooking for a bigger crowd to try John’s roast pork with fennel.

I like to slather mine with Dijon mustard and then pack it with brown sugar. They are fully cooked so all you need to do is bring it to room temperature, heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook it for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer is almost at 150 degrees. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Twice Baked Potatoes

8 Russet Potatoes

Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Garlic Powder

Fresh Herbs Of Your Choice (I used a mixture of dried herbs for the outside of the potatoes)

Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese, about 3/4 Cup

Sheep’s Milk Cheese, about 1/4 Cup crumbled

Vegan Parmesan, about 1/8 Cup

Fresh Rosemary & Thyme, snipped

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Almond Milk, about 1/2 cup

Place each potato on a square of foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, and herbs. Roll up in tin foil and bake at 350 degrees until done. Allow to cool.

Slice each potato in half. I only stuffed 6 and used the innards from the remaining potatoes to add to the filling. I always make 2 extra potatoes to add to the filling.

With a small spoon carefully spoon out the potato filling into a medium bowl. Leave enough potato in the skins so that the potato will stand on its own without collapsing in on itself. Place the skins in a baking dish.

Add the cheeses, rosemary, thyme, salt, and ground pepper to the potatoes. Mash by hand until combined.

Warm the almond milk and add slowly while mashing. Mash them to the texture you like. I prefer mine with a little body.

Fill each shell and bake at about 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until tops are starting to brown.

 I also served steamed, organic carrots and sautéed organic green beans with garlic and wine along with the ham and twice baked potatoes. And it wouldn’t be Easter without deviled eggs as a little pre-dinner snack.

Lavender scented candles set the mood for a relaxing meal.

 Mud Pie (Layered Ice Cream Pie)

3 Pints of Dairy Free Ice Cream

(I prefer Luna & Larry’s Coconut Milk Ice Cream – I used Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge, Dark Chocolate, and Naked Coconut)

2 Boxes of Dairy Free & Gluten Free Dark Chocolate – Chocolate Chunk Cookies (I prefer Pamela’s)

Organic Crunchy Peanut  Butter

1 Ounce of Dairy Free Chocolate, chopped

2 Ounces of Dairy Free Chocolate, melted

Sprinkles

Since I wasn’t having to cook for a crowd this year I hemmed and hawed over all of my dessert choices. In the past when we’ve had larger groups, I’ve made several types of cookies, pies, or cakes. I finally settled on this because it was out of the ordinary – well, out of my “ordinary” for Easter, and I knew my husband and son would love it.

This pie is a bit of a project not because it’s hard, but because it takes time. You need to freeze each layer, which means you either need a long morning or a long afternoon to complete it. I made it yesterday morning, so I wasn’t pressed for time today. You should also be forewarned about the cost. If you’re making this gluten-free and dairy free…it’s not cheap. As you may already know, a pint of dairy free ice cream is about $5.99, this takes three. Then it takes two boxes of dairy free and gluten-free cookies, also expensive. Then there’s organic peanut butter, chopped chocolate… I save this recipe for special holidays and birthdays.

Believe me, it’s worth it.

First, line a spring form pan with plastic wrap.

Next, place the cookies in a food processor and pulse until ground.

Turn the food processor on and drizzle the melted butter in until the mixture begins to come together.

 Spoon the cookie mixture into the spring form pan and with a piece of plastic wrap, press the cookies into the pan, scooting about an inch up the sides. Make sure it is firmly pressed.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to set. Remove one pint of ice cream, remove the lid, and allow it to sit on the counter to soften for 45 minutes.

Scoop the ice cream in a bowl and stir. Spread onto the frozen cookie crust.

Cover and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.

Remove from freezer and spread with 1/2 jar of crunchy peanut butter. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove another pint of ice cream and repeat the same process as above.

On this layer (the third layer) chop one ounce of chocolate and sprinkle over the top of the second pint of ice cream that you’ve spread over the frozen peanut butter. Cover with plastic and freeze for 45 minutes. Remove the last pint of ice cream and repeat the process.

 Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 2 ounces of chocolate. Drizzle over the top of the last layer and lightly cover with sprinkles.

Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. Will keep in the freezer for up to 5 days.

From my family to yours – Happy Easter and many, many, spring blessings to you!