May 16, 2014

Easter 2014

[Our lives were busy and exciting from mid-April into May.  Beaver, who had been on sabbatical, decided to accept a job offer from a company in another state, Captain Morgan and Princess announced that they were expecting their first child, and sons Chuck and Jack came home on leave from being overseas with the Army. It was all a real big hoot and we had so much to celebrate, and that's why I've been spending this last week in rehab.  Just kidding. Sort of.]

Original Easter cupcakes creation by talented daughter-in-law

Jack surprised some of us (Chuck, Beaver and I were the only ones in on the secret) by coming home from the Middle East a day early.  To our joy, the whole family was once again in the same place, just in time for Easter dinner.  I made most of the dishes ahead of time. Princess baked dessert and family friends brought a traditional Italian pasta dish and Easter bread.  It was a no-fuss celebration and one of the best Easters I've had in recent years.

Easter Menu:
Cavatelli in tomato sauce
Spiral sliced honey ham
Tuscan Beans*
Vegetable Fritters*
Yogurt Sauce*
Lemon Rice*
Italian bread
Easter bread
Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans*
Lemon Blueberry Easter cupcakes

*Recipes below

Tuscan Beans


1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto, cut into strips
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained (do not rinse)
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 3 minutes.

Add the beans and sage; cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the salt and pepper.

Vegetable Fritters With Yogurt Sauce


2/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon peach or mango fruit spread
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 zucchini
1 small carrot
1 garlic clove, chopped
6 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons canola oil


To make sauce, stir together yogurt fruit spread, and curry powder in small bowl.  Set aside.  

In food processor fitted with shredding blade, shred zucchini and carrot.  Transfer to clean kitchen towel and roll up; squeeze to remove excess liquid.  Transfer to large bowl.

Fit food processor with chopping blade.  Add onion and garlic, and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer to bowl with vegetables.  Add egg substitute, flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir together to make batter.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet, making 6 fritters.  Cook turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to plate and keep warm.

Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and batter to make total of 12 fritters.  Serve with yogurt sauce.

Lemony Barley With Basil

note:  I used white rice instead of barley


1 1/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan.  Stir in barley.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender, 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and summer squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add barley, peas, lemon zest, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until peas are heated through, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Spinach Salad With Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans


1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
1 cup quartered fresh strawberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Honey Dressing
3 to 4 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used feta)
Honeyed Pecans


Whisk together 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.  Add 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Microwave 1/4 cup honey in a bowl at HIGH 20 seconds.  Stir in 1 cup pecan halves.  Coat a parchment paper-lined jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; spread pecans in a single layer on pan.  Combine 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of ground red pepper; sprinkle over pecans.  Bake 15 minutes or until toasted, stirring after 8 minutes.  Cool completely; break into pieces.


Toss together spinach, strawberries, onion and blueberries and 1/3 cup dressing.  Sprinkle with bacon, cheese, and pecans.  Serve with remaining dressing.

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