Easter 2014 Menu and a Visit from the Easter Beagle

Easter is almost here, which means it's time for me to dust off my copy of It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown so I can watch it with my son. After that we pack our suitcases and get ready for the long road trip back home to visit with friends and family. Unfortunately this year we've had a last minute change of plans, we'll still curl up on the couch and watch our traditional holiday movie, but we won't be making the trip home. This is only the second time I've found myself in charge of Easter, so I don't have a pre-planned menu to fall back on. We'll be having ham garnished with pineapple and maraschino cherries as well as some lighter side dishes full of fresh veggies. If you're still looking for something light and simple to help round out your holiday meal, make sure you check out the side dishes below and don't forget about our fabulous Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert.

Easter Side Dishes

Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

Honey Glazed Carrots

Classic Side Dishes 

Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and MushroomsSpicy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Dessert
Lemon Meringue Pie

Something Fun for the Easter Basket

Baby Bunny Chocolate Pretzels

Garlic Parmesan Green Beans

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who appreciates green beans. They're one of my favorite vegetables, so it always makes me sad when people turn their noses up at them. I know a surprising number of people who won't touch them with a ten foot pole, they automatically assume the only way to serve green beans is how we had them in grade school, mushy and tasteless. When I make these I like to leave them just a little bit crunchy, then add some olive oil, garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. When prepared this way you have a side dish worthy of a holiday meal, yet easy enough for a busy week night. With this recipe mushy and tasteless green beans are a thing of the past.

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Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh green beans
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced
½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Rinse green beans thoroughly in cold water and snap off ends. Make sure the green beans are fairly uniform in size so they cook evenly. I like to leave mine whole, but you can also snap the bean into smaller pieces.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add green beans, and cook for 4-5 minutes. This will leave the green beans fairly crunchy. If you want softer green beans boil them slightly longer, just make sure they don't turn mushy.
  • Drain green beans and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.
  • In a skillet over medium-low heat add olive oil, red pepper flakes, and minced garlic, cook for 2 - 3 minutes, but do not let garlic brown. 
  • Turn off heat, add green beans and sea salt, then stir well to coat beans. 
  • Top with freshly shredded parmesan cheese just before serving. 

Southern-Style Creamed Corn

Before you tell me that you don't like creamed corn I want you to consider something. Have you ever had creamed corn that didn't originate in a can? If not, stop complaining about how you don't like creamed corn, you've never had the real thing. The real thing tastes absolutely nothing like its canned counterpart.

Ok, I'm done with my mini-rant now.

But seriously, creamed corn really is an under appreciated dish because many people do associate it with the high fructose corn syrup laden canned variety they were served as a child. That stuff is just gross (please tell me I didn't just insult your favorite side-dish or childhood memory, or both.) The real thing will make you realize you've been missing out all along, so don't be afraid to give this recipe a try, I promise it really does taste wonderful.

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Southern Style Creamed Corn
makes approximately 12 servings

Ingredients

2 (16oz) bags of frozen sweet corn
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons white sugar
2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
2 Tablespoons salted butter
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons all-purpose white flour 

Optional:

If you are planning on making this dish for the holidays a little something red and green will really make this dish festive. Try dicing up a little red and green bell pepper, sauté it in the bacon drippings, then add it to the corn before cooking.

½ cup diced green bell pepper
½ cup diced red bell pepper

Directions

  • In a skillet melt bacon drippings over medium heat and add bell pepper. Sauté and set aside for later.
  • In a separate bowl combine cream, sugar, and flour then add to skillet. Stir in black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Continue to stir and let mixture thicken.
  • Add both bags of corn, butter, and bell pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add milk to thin as needed, then serve immediately or put in a crock-pot to keep warm.