Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Dinner

I can't remember an Easter dinner that I cooked before today's. It could be because I have never made a huge effort for Easter dinner or it could be because it wasn't terribly memorable. Either way, this one is noteworthy because of its ease of preparation and taste. If you are looking for an Easter meal, try this one. You will hear lots of yummy noises from the table and they won't be drowned out by your "dogs barking".

Balsamic Glazed Ham
Dairy Free Scalloped Potatoes
Sauteed Asparagus
Deviled Eggs
Frozen Steamed Veggies in sauce
Dairy Light Banana Pudding

Our church service is from 10:30 until 11:30 so by the time we get home, it is nearly lunch time and no time to put together this giant meal. So, there is a bit of a game plan. After breakfast, I prepare the glaze and pour it over the ham and cut and prepare the potatoes for the oven. If I had thought about it, I probably would have gone ahead and made the deviled eggs too but that was a last-minute addition so I did it when the ham was cooling.

I bought a ready-to-eat spiral sliced ham from the store last Sunday and it was on sale - bonus! I followed a Betty Crocker recipe for the ham and it was easy (3 ingredients). Clearly, it was unnecessary but I like to add my little touch to ready-to-eat items anyway.

1/2 C Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C Dijon Mustard

Combine in a small bowl and pour over ham. I had the ham in a large roasting pan and covered the whole thing with aluminium* foil to be ready for the 325 degree oven for 90 minutes when we got home from church.

Scalloped Potatoes:
My son is lactose intolerant so I have a trick for dairy free scalloped potatoes.

5 small white potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings
salt and pepper to taste
2 T olive oil
2 T All Purpose Flour
5 slices Soy Cheese
3/4 C Soy Milk

Grease a small casserole dish and place one layer of potato slices, overlapping each other slightly, into the dish. Cover with a light layer of onion rings and salt and pepper to taste. Tear or cut one slice of soy cheese into 5 strips and place the strips on top of the onions. Repeat until you have it filled to your liking (about 1/4in from the top is where I stopped which meant that I used 3 slices of cheese) and leave the top layer as potatoes and onions - no cheese.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the flour. Whisk until combined and allow to cook while whisking for about 30 seconds. Add the soy milk and bring to a slow boil. Once it is boiling, add the remaining 2 slices of cheese. Stir together until the cheese melts and pour this cheese sauce over top of the potatoes.

Since this was going in with the ham, I covered it with aluminium foil and set it aside. It went in with the ham, covered, and I uncovered it about 15 minutes before the ham was due out. It still wasn't brown enough for my taste so I turned the broiler on and finished it off.

Sauteed Asparagus:
To trim asparagus for cooking, gently try to break it off at the end with one hand in the center and one hand near the bottom. It will break at the natural point where the woody part begins. As a tip, if you have a lot to do and it all came from the same bunch from the store, it is safe to say that they all will break at about the same point. You can break the first one and then line them all up with the first one to cut at the same place.

Heat a skillet to medium high with a drizzle of olive oil. Place the asparagus into the pan and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and toss around every couple of minutes. Asparagus has a lot of sugar in it so it will brown and burn quickly. It is done when it turns bright green with some browning but is not limp.

Deviled Eggs:

We are but a family of 4 and our children are under 5 so I only used 3 of our Dyed Easter Eggs for our Deviled Eggs.

For 6 Deviled Eggs:

3 Hard Boiled Eggs - use fresh eggs and add salt to the water to help the shells release
2 T Mayonnaise
1 t Pickle Relish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and slice eggs in half, longways. Separate the yolks into a small bowl and place the whites onto a pretty plate - or a plain old saucer like I did. Add the mayonnaise, relish, and s&p to the yolks. Mash the yolks and stir until smooth. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the wells in the egg whites. If you desire, sprinkle with paprika or top with chopped chives before serving.

Frozen Veggies in Sauce Steamed -
I buy these a lot in many varieties and today I just looked in my freezer for one that had a different color than what I have already on the menu.

Gherkins - literally, I opened a jar and put them on the kids' plates.

Dairy-Free Banana Pudding turns into dairy-light banana pudding with cookies that have dairy.

So, my son is lactose intolerant. He does not have a dairy allergy; therefore, he can have products that have some milk in them but he can't have cows milk, yogurt, or cheese.

I called a friend with experience to ask if she had ever made pudding with soy milk. She said, "Yes, but it never sets." Bugger! I didn't plan to make a dessert today but my bananas are on their way out and I really wanted to fill the time this ham is cooking...So, here is how it went down.

I looked in my pantry and found that I have the powder for Bird's Custard which is basically cornflour and flavorings so it is on the "okay" list for my dairy restrictions. So, I followed the instructions but added a little soy milk to a bowl with 1 and 1/2 banana and, once again, used my immersion blender to puree it and added that into the custard.

I covered my 9x13 dish with vanilla sandwich cookies because that is what I had. They aren't dairy-free but any cookie will do. I used 15 cookies for the bottom(3 rows of 5) and poured the custard on top of the cookies and cut 7 more cookies in half to line the sides (5 halves on each side and 2 halves on each end). I sliced another banana to cover the top. It set up almost immediately and when we ate it it was still warm and, incidentally, delicious. My oldest son took one bite, got down from his seat, wrapped his arms around me and said, "Thank you, mama." Need I say more?

*My husband is British and we became educated on the proper spelling and pronunciation of aluminium. I am trying to help this lost cause by using the proper IUPAC spelling

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