Easter meals give you the opportunity to show off your cooking skills as well as your decorating skills. Meals can be simple and light, or you can go all out and complete the meal with decorations and wonderful place settings.
Ham and/or lamb are traditional fare for Easter meals. Side dishes and desserts can be based on your own traditions, family favorites and/or nutritional needs of your family and guests.
Planning ahead can make things much easier. Write down the dishes you plan to serve and make a list for the grocery store, completing your shopping several days ahead of time. Decide if you’re going to set an elaborate table complete with centerpiece and other decorations or if you’re going to keep things simple. This alleviates any last-minute stress.
Smoked baked ham is an easy dish to make. Simply decide how big of a ham you’ll need, usually 12 – 18 pounds will serve plenty of guests and leave leftovers as well. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the ham in a shallow baking pan. At this point, you can choose to score the ham with cloves or not. This is a personal preference and is optional. Pour some pineapple over the ham, usually about 2.5 to 3 cups, and place it in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes per pounds. Remove the ham after it has baked for 1/5 hours. Pat onto the ham one pound of brown sugar, patting plenty on the top of the ham. Then, pour dark corn syrup slowly over the ham, being careful not to wash the brown sugar off the ham. Place the ham back in the oven to complete it’s allotted baking time, being sure to baste the ham every 10 to 15 minutes. When baking time is complete, remove the ham but continue basting until ham has cooled a bit – this will give the ham a nice glaze. The juice that you’ll find in the bottom of the baking pan can be used over sweet potatoes if they are part of your menu. Some guests may prefer to spoon out a bit of the juice and add it to their portion of ham.
You’ll also enjoy serving baked ham with apples. It’s simple and an Easter favorite. You’ll start with about 5 to 6 pounds of pre-cooked ham, placing it in a medium sized baking dish. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. Mix together ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of ginger, and a one pound can of apple slices. After ham has baked for 40 minutes, pour the mixture over the ham. Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, basting often. You may slightly adjust the amount of brown sugar, depending on if you like your ham less sweet or more sweet.
If you prefer an orange glaze for your ham, prepare a 5-pound ham by baking it at 375 degrees, allotting 30 minutes baking time for each pound. Mix together 1 cup of honey, a teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ cup of orange juice and a teaspoon of ginger. Baste the ham with the mixture during the last 45 minutes of baking.
Remember, you can always bake a non-glazed ham and offer your guests several different warmed glazes in small serving dishes. Your guests can choose their own glazes and it offers more of a variety.
Lamb is another Easter traditional food, but many believe it to be complicated to prepare. While some lamb dishes are indeed elaborate, they don’t need to be. Grilled lamb is simple to prepare and very tasty. You’ll need four lamb chops (increase this number according to family size/guest list). In a mixing bowl, mix together ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger, 1.5 teaspoon tarragon, and ½ cup brown sugar. Rub this mixture over both sides of chops and refrigerate for about 1 to 1.5 hours. Heat your grill to high and brush on a bit of oil on the grate so the chops won’t stick. Grill each chop for about 5 minutes on each side.
Side dishes can be a variety based on what your family and guests like. I always suggest deviled eggs – they seem to be a favorite. Mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans or peas and corn, pasta dishes – the possibilities are limitless.
Desserts can be decorated Easter cakes or something as simple and fun as Jello Jigglers.
Decorating your table is also a possibility. Stenciling the names of family and guests onto colored Easter eggs and placing them on the table is always a hit.