Spring & Easter

bunny buns 016I made hot cross buns last week. I used a recipe from a class I took years ago that focused on breads and rolls made with yeast dough. The sweet, egg- and butter-rich buns have mashed potatoes worked into the dough. I’ve got to believe it’s the potatoes that produce a soft, moist dough. Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition in many homes.

When I was doing some research on hot cross buns, Google directed me to JustHungry, a food blog I’d never visited. There I found some cute Hot Cross Easter Bunny Buns. Made of the same dough that the author used for her hot cross buns, they were shaped with chubby little faces and long bunny ears. Best of all, the author included step-by-step photo instructions, from rolling the dough, to creating the ears  and faces.

I knew I had to try making the little bunny buns myself. With one batch of dough, I was able to create 12 Breakfast Bunny Buns. Each one came out of the oven with its own charm. The ears were long and funny, some pointing straight up, some a little bent and some a bit uneven. Their little currant eyes made them simply irresistible.

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greencheesecake002Way back in March of 1990 I started making a cheesecake from a recipe that I clipped from an issue of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch. It's called Absolutely Sinful Chocolate Grasshopper Cheesecake. Its pale shade of green comes from the addition of green creme de menthe. I've always enjoyed serving it as a perfect dessert for a St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Over the years I've made little changes to the recipe. It was always sinful, but now it's mortally sinful.

Light and creamy with a hint of mint on a crunchy chocolate crust and smothered with a chocolate topping that stays soft even after chilling in the refrigerator, it's a little like Jello -- there's always room for it, even after a big meal. It's not too sweet and not nearly as rich as it sounds, making it a great go-along to a late-night cup of coffee.

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"It's not that Easter is really about excess, because it isn't. But we always think it's a lot of fun to have a lot of sides at Sunday dinner even if you just eat a little bit of each one...and since it's a 3-day weekend (or a 5-day weekend for some of us), we figured it was time to get cooking"

easter dinnerNora Ephron's Apricot Jello Mold

Sauteed Asparagus with Hazelnut Crumble

Brown Sugar Baked Beans

Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Hot Pepper

Jaime Oliver's Carrots

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

Cheese Grits

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Sage and Walnut Topping

Easy Macaroni & Cheese

The Grill's Creamed Spinach

eastercupcakes.jpgDear SOS: Whenever I get out to L.A., I have to stop at Auntie Em's Kitchen in Eagle Rock for a cupcake fix -- specifically, for a coconut cupcake with coconut cream cheese frosting. It's a miracle of a baked good. Do you think you could get the recipe for a Bostonite who's stuck on the East Coast dreaming of this confection?
-- Jenny Sawyer, Boston

Dear Jenny: This billowy coconut cupcake is pretty irresistible. The cake has a hint of almond and a light buttermilk tang. There's tender, shredded coconut baked into the cake too. And the frosting -- it's a cream cheese frosting with butter mixed in, airy and creamy both, finished with a sprinkling of more shredded coconut on top. This one's for you, Bostonites.

Get the recipe at L.A. Times...

 

 

lilies1Perennial bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and lilies bring about some of springtime’s best qualities - all making for exceptional cut flowers as well. Even wintertime’s brisk and chilly climate can provide glimpses of floral beauty with Hellebores heralding the coming spring and giving the gardener a glimpse of what is to come. When all things become new again, unthawing from winter’s chill, consider lilies for an accent and spark of year to year blooms for the home and garden.

Bulbaceous and herbaceous lilies alike make fantastic additions to the garden. Planting lily bulbs in the spring ensures sprays of flowers to perfume your garden and interiors as well. Asiatic or Oriental lilies found in florists and flower markets can easily be grown in your own garden. Just think how wonderful it can be to cut ‘Casa Blanca’ lilies direct from your own garden! Hundreds of varieties in numerous sizes, colors, bloom times, and aromas can fill the garden and then vases inside.

Start with a collection of a few of your favorite colors and scents or add to a successful assortment already growing in the garden. Lasting for nearly a week as a cut flower and dousing the garden with intoxicating perfumes, lilies spice up the air and atmosphere of the gardening lifestyle.

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