With Easter just a few weeks away, now is the time to make your plans and figure out how you’ll celebrate. The spring holiday falls on Sunday, April 20 this year, and for many people, a great Easter means a terrific meal with family. While eating at home is certainly traditional, Easter is actually a very popular day for dining out. The National Restaurant Association estimates that approximately 33 million Americans will eat breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner at a restaurant on Easter.
When you think about it, eating out on Easter makes a lot of sense. No one family member has any pressure to host, cook a large meal, and clean up before and after. And at one of the highly popular Easter buffets, everyone is sure to get exactly what they want. However, those who are more traditional in their religious celebrations make take umbrage at the idea of observing such a solemn day in a crowded eatery with strangers. Ultimately, how you celebrate Easter is a personal choice for you and your family to make.
While there are lots of pros to eating your Easter meal at a restaurant, the traditional at-home Easter brunch or dinner also has some distinct advantages. When cooking at home, you can make exactly what you want, and you can tailor a meal to family members who are vegetarian, have food allergies, or dislike certain foods. Also, restaurant food can often be fairly ordinary, as restaurants need to cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. When you’re preparing the holiday meal, there’s some freedom to experiment with new flavors for a more original, memorable occasion.
An Easter meal at home can also mean a lot more enjoyment for the youngest members of the family. You can plan holiday-themed activities for them, like egg hunts and simple crafts. This will keep them happy and entertained during the times when you’re away from the table. And, cooking a big Easter brunch or dinner is always an opportunity to involve kids in the meal preparation. Smaller children can help to measure, mix, and stir. Older children can, with supervision, be taught to chop ingredients using a sturdy wooden cutting board, like those from cuttingboardusa.com, and a knife that is the right size for a smaller hand. These are great ways to teach kids cooking skills and have them take some ownership in the food that everyone will enjoy.
Fortunately, preparing Easter dinner (or brunch) doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether you’re planning a formal sit-down meal with all the trimmings or a casual buffet, here are some tips to make your holiday meal worry-free:
Do your shopping a few days before Easter. Any earlier and you run the risk of spoilage; any later and you run the risk of the store being out of the things you want.
If you know you need a special or specific item, like a spiral cut ham or turkey in a specific size, it’s a good idea to order it a week or two in advance. Specify that you’d like to pick it up a day or two before Easter.
Get out plates, silverware, glasses, serving platters a day or two before. Set the table on Saturday afternoon if you’re having a formal sit-down Easter meal.
Chop ingredients ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator to save time while you’re cooking. A good knife and a sturdy walnut or maple cutting board are all you need to slice and dice.
Cook or bake items ahead of time as well. While a turkey or ham is often best right out of the oven, things like side dishes, appetizers, and desserts can all be made a day or two in advance. If you’re hosting breakfast or brunch, consider making a few quiches the day before; simply reheat to serve.
If you’ve got a big piece of meat or a turkey to carve, using a large wood cutting board with a groove to catch juices will help protect surfaces from getting messy and save you clean-up time. On cuttingboardsusa.com, you’ll find a great selection.
It’s likely that you’ll have leftovers after your Easter meal, but you can send only so many homes with your guests. However, with a bit of creativity and inspiration, Easter leftovers can be reworked into delicious, new, unique meals for a few days. Whether you’ve got eggs, meat, or bread hanging around on Easter Monday, here are some suggestions for some tasty new twists:
Leftover meat and hard boiled eggs can be used in sandwiches and paired with more ethnic condiments and spices for a new flavor. For example, leftover lamb can be paired with tzatziki sauce and served in pitas for a fabulous Middle Eastern-inspired lunch, or garam masala can be added to egg salad for some Indian flavor.
A turkey frame or bone-in ham can be turned into a hearty soup to stave off any spring chill. Chop up some veggies and herbs on a solid wood cutting board from cuttingboardsusa.com, add a can of beans, and you’ve got a well-balanced meal in a bowl.
Leftover ham is perfect in egg dishes like omelets, frittatas, and stratas, or even as a pizza topping.
When you’re spending Easter with family, it’s a special occasion whether you’re out at a restaurant or in your very own dining room. Dining out allows for a lot more freedom and flexibility, but for many, nothing beats a home-cooked Easter brunch or dinner. These folks know that the planning can be easy, the kids will be happy, and you can have some creative and delicious fun with the leftovers.