Birds, Blooms and Brunch — Celebrate Easter with a make-ahead menu that can double-duty as brunch or lunch

By Cindy Coopwood and Cordelia Capps
Photography by Melanie Thortis

Between hunting for eggs, getting the kids dressed, and going to church—feeding family and friends on Easter can be a challenge. Whether your family gets together for Easter brunch, lunch, or if you end up eating all day on Easter Sunday—this collection of recipes for vibrant salads and make-ahead dishes will hit the spot. Best of all, these can all be served chilled or at room temperature. The beautiful tablescape is accented with yellow blooms, Wolfe birds, and colorful eggs and is a perfect backdrop for our spring menu—plus we’ll share several tips along the way if you are really crunched for time. Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POMEGRANATE-CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL WITH THYME


Nothing could be more simple—or beautiful!

Grenadine
chilled Champagne
fresh thyme sprigs

Place 1 sprig of thyme and ⅔ ounce Grenadine in each champagne glass. Top with champagne.  

 

LEMONY PICKLED SHRIMP


1 Vidalia or sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
¾ cup wine vinegar 
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup capers with the juice
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Several shakes of Tabasco sauce, to taste
1½ pounds peeled and cooked shrimp

In a large bowl combine the onions, lemon, vinegar, oil, capers, celery seeds, sugar, salt, and Tabasco. Add the shrimp and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve chilled. Keeps for at least a week.

 

CUCUMBER AND CHIVE SANDWICHES


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons Duke’s mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
salt & pepper to taste
2 to 3 petite English cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 loaf thin-sliced white bread, cut into rounds

Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise with a hand mixer in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in chives and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread bread rounds with cream cheese mixture and top with a cucumber slice. Garnish with extra snips of fresh chives.

 

UPRIGHT ARTICHOKE DEVILED EGGS


6 hard-boiled eggs
6 tablespoons Duke’s mayonnaise 
½ cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts 
4 teaspoons of mustard
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place eggs into a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Run cold water over the eggs for several seconds until they feel cool, then peel. Slice eggs in half and remove yolks putting them in a medium bowl. To make filling, smash yolks with a fork, and mix with remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Put mixture in a piping bag or ziploc and then fill the the egg whites with the yolk mixture.

Garnish with fresh herbs, capers or roasted red peppers.

 

SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE BISCUITS WITH HAM


2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
⅔ cup sour cream 
2 tablespoons softened butter
½ teaspoon garlic salt, optional
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives 
2 tablespoons milk or melted butter 
Extra melted butter
Ham slices

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In medium bowl, stir baking mix, sour cream, butter, garlic salt, and chives until soft dough forms. 

Place dough on surface sprinkled with baking mix. Shape into a ball; knead 10 times. Roll dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with biscuit cutter dipped in baking mix. Place rounds 2 inches apart on an undressed cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with butter.  While still warm, split biscuits then layer ham on bottom halves of biscuits and close with top halves. 

 

HERBED ORZO SALAD


12 ounces uncooked orzo 
2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 English cucumber, sliced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped fresh herbs to taste (basil, mint, parsley or oregano)
1 to 2 lemons, zested and juiced
¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt and coarse ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta in a large stockpot of generously salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta and rinse thoroughly in a strainer with cold water. When well-drained, pour pasta to a large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl.  Toss well to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, herbs and lemon to taste. 

Serve or cover and refrigerate.

 

GRAPEFRUIT AND AVOCADO SALAD


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 heads of butter lettuce, washed and torn
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 Hass avocados
2 large red grapefruits

In a small bowl slowly whisk olive oil into the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until the vinaigrette is emulsified. 

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh from the skin. Cut each half into thick slices. Peel grapefruits and slice off stem and bottom ends, then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments. 

Gently toss lettuce, onion, avocado and grapefruit together in a salad bowl. Just before serving, drizzle with dressing and toss again to distribute evenly. 

 

SAUTEÉD SUGAR SNAP PEAS


1½ pounds fresh sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar snap peas, salt and pepper and saute, tossing occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are crisp tender. Adjust seasonings.

Place peas in a serving bowl, garnish with lemon peel and serve. 

 

COCONUT CAKE WITH LEMON CURD


Pick up a ready-made coconut cake at your local grocer or bake-shop and top with lemon curd and fresh lemon slices for garnish. Serve each piece with an extra dollop of lemon curd for a perfect springtime dessert!

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