Baby & Toddler · Books · Holidays · kid-friendly · minted · Tips and Tricks

Our Easter Menu + Baby Easter Gift Ideas!

It’s Easter (and Passover) Week, and even though the weather won’t cooperate, we are still going to assume it’s Spring and will celebrate this quintessentially Spring holiday accordingly! Mark, as always, has to work on Easter, so once again I’m preparing a pared-down menu with help from family for a nice, low-key day. Here’s what we are making! Photos of babies in bonnets to follow shortly.

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One year ago. How time flies! My lil’ bunny!

Our Easter Menu

  • Glazed Ham
  • Warm buttered rolls
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cold Potato Salad
  • Applesauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Cheesecake, Coffee & Tea

This year Easter is so early that I really refused to buy any kind of special dress, not knowing whether she’d even be able to wear it (or fit into it, since she just finished a growth spurt from 12-18 month clothes into 18-24 and even 2T). Last year, though, her Nani in Florida had sent her this gorgeous dress that we paired with a darling white Easter bonnet with patent leather crib shoes for church:

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Where does the time even go!!!

I think Georgia is still a little bit young to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt or Easter-themed toys, but that won’t stop us from trying. I’m cajoling my brother into hiding eggs and I am fairly certain her Grammie will be showing up with some presents for our bunny!

If you need Easter gift inspiration, beyond candy, you’ve come to the right place.

the classic

something different

Hide & Squeak Eggs, $10.80 on amazon

something huggable

skip hop “hug & hide” lamb, $18, Amazon

a nightlight

$10.95, Land of Nod

a lovey

angel baby blankie, $13, amazon

a push toy

$19, amazon

a party in a box

easter egg hunt kit, $18, Land of Nod

treat bags

personalizable! pottery barn, on sale from $9.99 to $30
personalizable, via pottery barn, on sale from $9.99

munchies

a bit of seasonal decor

frameable bunny art from $22 via minted.com (in five colors)

Last but not least, one Easter craft idea for the family and three fun recipes:

Italian Easter Bread

Rice Krispy Treat Eggs

Easter Egg cake

neon dipped eggs by Joy Cho/Oh Joy! via Merrimentevents.com

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Recipes

Bowties with Ham, Peas & Ricotta

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I threw this together to use up the leftovers from our Christmas spiral ham. Any time you have leftover ham, just pick up a box of farfalle (aka bowtie) pasta, a bag of frozen peas and ricotta, and you’ve got a meal.

BOWTIE PASTA WITH HAM, PEAS & RICOTTA

Ingredients

  • Leftover spiral ham slices, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • 1 container of ricotta cheese, preferably low fat/part skim
  • Milk, cream or water to taste for loosening the sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: a dash of brown mustard

Directions

Set the pasta on to boil. Halfway through cooking, add in the entire bag of frozen peas.

Drain pasta and peas, reserving a bit of the cooking water. The starches will help make a sauce when you add the ricotta.

In the original pot over the lowest heat setting, add the ham pieces to the pasta and peas; add the entire container of ricotta. Stirring, add the reserved pasta water back in (1-2 cups should do it) plus a splash of any kind of milk, cream or water to loosen the sauce.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

I also added a squirt of brown mustard to the sauce to add a different flavor, and it really tasted good!

Makes great leftovers, just add a pat of butter and/or some water to re-loosen the sauce before microwaving.

This could be made vegetarian very easily by using Morningstar (or similar) “meats,” which I’ve tried and liked.

Just to be festive, I threw in half a cup of leftover eggnog to make this an extra creamy sauce. We ate it for dinner on New Year’s Day as a snowstorm starting swirling into New England. Cozy and delicious!

And now, my baby at 4.5 months 🙂

Recipes

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

This is a great one-dish comfort meal. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve started occasionally eating meat again. This recipe satisfied both Mark and I, and is a very filling option for chilly fall nights. Make it in a big casserole dish and go oven to table with it!

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This recipe comes courtesy of the Boston Globe.
I mentioned it in my fall flavors post a few weeks ago and finally got around to trying it. I used turkey kielbasa to be a little bit healthier, a mix of Cortland and Mackintosh apples because they were in season in New England when I made this, and packaged mashed potatoes from Ikea, which saved time and was super delicious.

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

Served over mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 TBSP grainy or French mustard, like Dijon or spicy brown
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for sauteing the onions

20131024-043654.jpgDirections

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your sliced ingredients.

In a flameproof casserole dish, such as this Le Creuset french oven I used, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and one apple. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until the onion starts to brown.

(Note: if using a cast iron pan such as Le Creuset, it is VERY important to start the heat on the low end. This type of cookware heats up very efficiently and you can’t cool the dish once it has gotten too hot.)

Stir in the sauerkraut, wine, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the sausage slices on top.

Bring to a boil then transfer to the oven (uncovered) and roast for 45 minutes, or until the sausages are pretty well browned.

If you are making the prepared mashed potatoes, place them in the oven a few minutes before the casserole dish as they require slightly longer to cook.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the remaining apple chunks.

Serve over the mashed potatoes with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer!

20131024-043633.jpgBy stirring in one apple before you roast the dish and another one right before serving, you create a sweet sauce that also has a touch of tartness. Otherwise, all the apples would turn to mush!

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To plate, spread a layer of the mashed potatoes on each dish and top with the kielbasa. You can obviously make mashed potatoes from scratch if you have more time than I did, and you could also serve over egg noodles or rice if that’s more your style.

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A little bit goes a long way. Yum!

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In other news, Georgia had her first Halloween a couple weeks ago! We went trick-or-treating with friends whose son was a bit more age appropriate for appreciating the holiday. Baby G’s age didn’t stop us from dressing her up, even if it meant Daddy had to carry her around in his arms all night. (We kept it to less than 10 houses and she still fell asleep).

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By the way, I feel like I owe a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog and has stuck by me through a challenging postpartum period (is there any other kind?) Even though I’ve only managed to post every other week (at best) since having Georgia, my readers have hung around, and the blog has had high traffic and plenty of new comments and visitors. In fact, I’ve recently started to get as many as 500 visitors a day, which is so much more than I ever thought would happen when I started OrganicGlory and hoped that anyone beside my mom would read it. My dream is to keep writing, trying new recipes, and sharing my life with you, and I’m honored that people I’ve never met have taken the time to visit my site and share it with others. That so many have stayed and shared some of themselves in return is truly amazing.

#blessed

Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Fun Brunch Ideas

Before the holidays, I had a brunch & jewelry party for a few of my friends and family. Not wanting to overwhelm people with food, I eventually scaled WAY back from my original menu, just serving some finger foods (chips & salsa, cheese & crackers) for those who get up early and would have already eaten breakfast, plus a mixture of brunch-y favorites for those in the crowd (read: people my age) who showed up HUNGRY. Even though I didn’t get to make everything I wanted to, I still had a couple hits, so I’m sharing them with you!

German Apple Pancake topped with a crust of cinnamon sugar. Mmm.

So what was on the menu?

  • Fresh fruit
  • Mimosas (both virgin and non)
  • Bagels with cream cheese & pumpkin butter
  • A vegetable quiche, courtesy of my mother-in-law
  • German apple pancake
  • Egg McMuffin casserole

What the heck is that last thing, you say? Glad you asked. It’s my new favorite for when you have to make a vegetarian-friendly breakfast dish for a morning potluck, or just want to have a grab-and-go option in your fridge for a busy work week. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here it is:

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Egg McMuffin Casserole

adapted from Plain Chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips (or, you know, real Canadian bacon)
  • 4-5 English muffins, split (Bays work well but Thomas’s are good too)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (the sliced kind is great too)
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • salt & pepper

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Directions

Spray or butter the bottom of a square baking dish.

Cube the English muffins, tearing by hand, and layer half of them in the bottom of the dish.

Layer half the bacon and half the cheese on top of the muffins. Repeat all three layers.

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Mix together the eggs, milk, salt & pepper and whisk briefly; pour over the casserole and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to one day.

Bake at 325 for 45 to 50 minutes.

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We like it topped with maple syrup. And, of course, Mark prefers it with Canadian bacon just like at McDonald’s, but he admits the veggie stuff tastes almost as good!

If you are making this for the week, it will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Reheat a square for 1 minute in the microwave and take it to go!

If I had a larger crowd than 10, or more time/ambition, here are some fun things I would have liked to serve:

Courtesy of Healthy Slow Cooking.

Slow Cooker Gingerbread Latte

Courtesy of Simply Scratch.

Crispy Garlicky Mustard Roasted Red Skin Potatoes

Courtesy of Healthy Slow Cooking.

Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Oatmeal

Let me know if you ever get a chance to try these! Happy Brunching.

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Three Ideas for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving & Black Friday and that you’re getting geared up for Cyber Monday (I know I am!) I meant to post this last year, but then forgot to do it and eventually it was too late. As I’ve mentioned before, I love making homemade cranberry sauce, and I always make sure there’s plenty extra. But what if you just have TOO much left over? Here are a couple fun things to do with extra cranberry jelly.

Photo Courtesy of Inspired2Cook (http://www.inspired2cook.com/2011/12/17/leftover-cranberry-sauce-vinaigrette/).

First up, a salad dressing by Inspired2Cook:

Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette

Adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine. Makes about 1 cup.

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce

Whisk shallot, mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil into leftover cranberry sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

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Next up, a smoothie, courtesy of Hillbilly Housewife:

Cranberry Smoothie

  • 1 can or 16 oz. of cranberry sauce
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen unsweetened peach slices, partially thawed
  • 1 container (6 oz) vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Blend together until smooth. Serve cold.

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Finally, scones, courtesy of Gourmandia:

Cranberry Oat Scones

  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 2 C all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tsp (=1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ C butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 C plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla OR orange extract
  • 2/3 C cranberry sauce (the thicker the better)

Preheat the oven to 425F. In the large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add the butter/margarine and cut it into the flour mixture. As long as you’ve washed them well, you can use your hands to do the cutting, but a fork will work just fine. In the small mixing bowl, combine the egg, the plain yogurt, the vanilla/orange extract, and the cranberry sauce. Mix with the fork until well-blended. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients to them. Blend lightly with the fork until you have a soft dough. Scoop out quarter-cup-sized balls of dough and place them on the greased cookie sheet or into the cups of the greased muffin tin. (You can also drop all of the dough into a greased cake or loaf pan and use the dough to make a thick cake or dessert loaf. Bake your scones in the oven for abut 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. NOTE: If you are doing the loaf/cake version, you will need to cook it for a good half-hour.

Serve hot with butter, and enjoy.

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Recipes

Fresh Caesar Salad

I love to make Caesar Salad from scratch. Whip up some dressing, chop some romaine & toast some day-old bread into garlicky croutons. So much more satisfying than bottled dressing or salad mix from a bag. Here’s my easy recipe. Make it fully vegetarian by omitting the anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce. Or, enjoy as is, with a zesty bite to it.

Ingredients

  • 3 heads of romaine
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated roughly on a large microplane
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • juice of 1 organic lemon
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (or spicy brown)
  • a couple squirts of anchovy paste

Directions

Make the dressing: Mix the oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce & anchovy paste (if using). Whisk briefly in a bowl.

Coarsely chop, rinse and spin the salad dry (or run under cold water and pat dry with paper towels).

Place the freshly grated cheese in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Add the romaine, pour the dressing on the top, and toss to combine.

To make croutons, simply tear up or cut day-old bread (I actually like to use English Muffins that are about to go stale, or have already turned a bit in that direction).

In a small saucepan, mix a little bit of olive oil and butter with salt and garlic powder (or just use garlic salt). You can also add in some dried parsley flakes if you have them hanging around. Mix over low heat until the seasonings are dissolved and the liquids are melted.

Take off heat, and in a bowl combine with the bread chunks. Toss to coat, then spread on a lined baking sheet for 15 minutes at 300. Stir, then let cook for another 10 or 15 minutes until nice and brown.

Top salad with croutons and serve!

If you aren’t using the croutons the same day, they’ll keep fine for a little bit in a plastic bag.

I served this on Easter Sunday and have made it for Mother’s Day, too. It’s very light and refreshing in the spring! I hope you enjoy.