Easter Bunny Cakes

Each Easter we make a bunny cake. It’s a tradition that started when I was a child. Sure, there were many years a bunny cake didn’t get made, such as when I was single, but once I had kids the tradition got started up again.

My favorite cake recipe to use when making our Easter bunny cake is this orange cake and we frost it with vanilla frosting. All the kids (yes, even my older kids!) have fun decorating the bunny with sprinkles and candies.

Here are some of the bunny cakes from the past few years:

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Here are the photos to show how easy it is to make this bunny out of two round cakes.

Leave one of the round cakes as is, and cut the other as shown in this photo.

Leave one of the round cakes as is, and cut the other as shown in this photo.

Place the cake pieces as shown (you'll need a large platter or cookie sheet).

Place the cake pieces as shown (you’ll need a large platter or cookie sheet).

If you make one of these adorable bunny cakes, send me a picture … I’d love to see your bunny creation!

scalloped potatoes with ham

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

From my previous post you know that I use the ham bone from my Easter ham to make bean soup.  Now this recipe will show you what I do with all the leftover ham.

This dish is pure comfort food for me. It’s one of my most favorite meals from childhood. Problem is that for years, each time I made it, I would do it differently (that’s because I’d call my mom the day after Easter each and every year and she would give me suggestions on how to make this dish, but I never wrote it down and would alter her recipe in the attempt to make it better or easier or quicker or whatever, and therefore it didn’t always turn out well nor exactly how I remembered it). So after years of making scalloped potatoes in various ways, I’ve finally found the way to make it that reminds me of my mom’s delicious after-Easter scalloped potatoes with ham, and I’ve written it down and now I only call my mom the day after Easter to ask how her Easter was, instead of bothering her for the recipe.

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Scalloped Potatoes With Ham

Heat oven to 350F.

Butter a deep casserole dish.

Clean and slice 6-8 potatoes. I use medium size white potatoes.

Cut leftover ham into small cubes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour.

When a nice paste is formed (takes about 1-2 minutes) lower heat and whisk in 2 cups whole milk.

Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add a small shake of nutmeg.

Allow to heat through over low heat, stirring often.

scalloped potatoes with ham (1)

In the buttered casserole dish, layer half the potato slices, then cover with all the ham.

scalloped potatoes with ham (2)

Distribute about 1 cup shredded cheese over the potatoes and ham. (I use a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar.)

scalloped potatoes with ham (3)

Layer the remaining potatoes on top.

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Pour heated white sauce over all.

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Add 1 more cup of the cheese.

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If the white sauce doesn’t cover all the potatoes, add extra milk to the casserole dish until the potatoes are completely covered. You may find you’ll need to add a cup or two of extra milk. (*Note: I could have added the extra milk before adding the cheese.)

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Crush Ritz crackers on top. (No picture for this step … oops.)

Place casserole dish on a large baking sheet (to catch any liquid that bubbles over the edge of the casserole dish) and bake uncovered for about an hour. Depending on how deep your casserole dish is, you may need to bake for a bit longer than 1 hour. When a fork can go through the potatoes without much resistance it’s ready for the next step.

Raise oven temperature to 375F and bake for an additional 15 – 30 minutes, until it is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

This is the hardest part: Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers are terrific (if you manage to have any leftovers).

*Note: There isn’t a picture of a serving of this, because I am very impatient and couldn’t bother with taking photos before diving in. Sorry!

 

*Edited on 4/23/13 to increase baking time and to note the use of the baking sheet under the casserole dish.

bunny cake — 2013

bunny cake 2013

Each Easter we make a bunny cake that the kids decorate.

Sometimes I use golden yellow cake, other times orange cake. This year I made the orange cake and my daughter made white frosting using the basic ingredients of softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. She’s been baking long enough to know how to make this frosting without a recipe.

Here’s our bunny cake from this year, 2013. You can see some others we’ve made in past years in the original bunny cake post, here.

2013 bunny cake (step 1)

2013 bunny cake (step 2)

bunny cake (step 3)

whole wheat dinner rolls

whole wheat dinner rolls

Happy Easter!

For our Easter meal today I cooked a ham and served it with orange mustard sauce, asparagus, sweet potatoes and sliced baked potatoes. Dessert will be a bunny cake.

I posted a slightly different version of these rolls last year. You can find that recipe here.  These are done the same, though the ingredients are slightly different. Delicious with the ham and veggies!

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Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Put ingredients into the bread machine in the following order:

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dry milk

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

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Set the bread machine to the DOUGH cycle.

When complete, remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Heat oven to 350F.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces.

Put a small amount of butter into each compartment of a 12-count muffin tin.

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Place one piece of dough into each compartment.

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Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm area for about 15 minutes. (The top of the oven was warm, so I put mine there.)

Remove the towel and bake at 350F for about 15-20 minutes.

whole wheat rolls (2)

whole wheat dinner roll

choco-hoto-pots

choco hoto pots (2)

This is Nigella Lawson’s recipe, featured on Oprah back in 2005. This recipe has become a family favorite in my immediate family and with all the extended relatives as well.

I sincerely thank both Nigella and Oprah for introducing me to this luscious, delicious, decadent dessert.

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I wasn’t one of those people that watched Oprah every day. No, that would be my mom. She was a devoted fan, and at least once a week she’d call me right at 4pm to ask if I was watching, because she thought I’d enjoy the topic of the day. Unfortunately, 4pm was not a time that I could sit of the sofa and tune in to any TV show. With children in elementary and middle school during those years, 4pm was the start of crazy time: bus stop pickups, after-school snacks, homework, preparing dinner, handling arguments, serving dinner, household and sibling crisis management. TV did not play a part in that time frame (and this was before we had the technology to record shows at the press of a button to watch later at our convenience, and I had not idea how to program my VCR to record, so those options were not available).

But every once in a while I did watch Oprah, either because school was not in session, or if the older kids had after-school activities and my normal routine was put on hold. It was one of those rare days that I turned on Oprah and was intrigued to see Nigella Lawson as her guest. I don’t remember what other recipes she demonstrated during the show, though I vividly remember the Choco-Hoto-Pots. Hot melty gooey chocolate — hard to forget. And easy to make! Definitely something I could pull off. And that I did, for almost every major holiday meal from that point forward. New Years Eve? Choco-Hoto-Pots! Christmas dinner? Choco-Hoto-Pots! Easter dessert? Choco-Hoto-Pots! Company for dinner? Choco-Hoto-Pots, of course!

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In the recipe below I’ve added an option of dark chocolate chips for the white chocolate, because the last time we made this I was out of white chocolate and my daughter put in dark chocolate chips instead. It was delicious … possibly even better than with the white chocolate. From now on I may always make it with the dark chocolate … extra decadent!

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Choco-Hoto-Pots

butter for ramekins

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, or shaved white chocolate (melts very nicely), or dark chocolate chips or shavings

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Heat oven to 400F.

Place a baking sheet in the oven to get hot.

Butter four 2/3-cup ramekins; set aside.

Using a microwave-safe bowl, melt together the semi-sweet chocolate and the butter. This takes about 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar and flour.

Add cooled chocolate mixture, and mix until blended.

Fold in white (or dark) chocolate.

Divide mixture evenly among ramekins and place on the hot baking sheet.

Bake until tops are shiny and cracked and chocolate beneath is hot and gooey; about 20 minutes.

Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve either plain, or dusted with powdered sugar, or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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dinner rolls

My family likes bread. We do. A lot. And especially when the bread is warm, right out of the oven … oh my … it’s heavenly.

Here’s our favorite recipe that my daughter makes often. In the recipe below it lists both regular flour and whole wheat flour, and we’ve always made them this way, but last week, on Thanksgiving, she thought we were out of wheat flour because I had put it in the wrong cabinet, so the rolls were made all with unbleached white flour. Either way, they taste wonderful!

*Note: The original recipe came from the cookbook that accompanied our bread machine. It listed the brown sugar, though we use honey 99.9% of the time. In the original instructions they say to put the rolls onto a greased cookie sheet, which works well, but we prefer the uniform shape we get by using the muffin tins.

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Dinner Rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 80 degrees F)

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup honey (or brown sugar)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons dry milk

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

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In the bread machine, place all the ingredients in the order listed above.

Set the machine to the dough cycle and start.

When completed, remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.

Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into 18 pieces.

Shape the pieces into balls or twists or blobs or whatever.

Place each piece into greased muffin tins.

Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes (they should double in size).

Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until golden.

bean soup

*To see my most recent bean soup recipe, please click here.

 

For our Easter meal I serve ham. Each year, sometime in the week after Easter, I make bean soup. That’s because serving a ham at Easter results in a ham bone that must be made into soup or my mother will cut me out of her will (she’s got a thing about making soup from bones).

*Note: There aren’t many measurements in the recipe below, and I’ve found that is typical for many soup recipes. In my opinion, the quantities of individual ingredients just don’t matter when making soup. For the items that do have quantities listed, those are there based on what I used while making this soup today, but please know they can be adjusted as you’d like.

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Bean Soup

The night before you plan to make this soup, soak 2 cups (a 16 ounce bag) of dried navy beans in a large bowl with cold water. Other types of beans can be used, if desired.

The next morning, remove any shells. Drain.

In a large stock pot, place the beans and the ham bone and all remaining ham (I leave it in large chunks at this time).

Add cold water to come well above the ham bone.

To the pot also add 1 onion, chopped, and lots of celery, chopped. Also, as many garlic cloves as you like, chopped.

Season with lots of black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Also add about 1 tablespoon dried mustard, if desired.

Simmer for hours, stirring every once in a while.

After it’s been simmering for at least 3 hours, take out the ham bone and large chunks of ham. Cut all ham into bite size pieces and return them to the soup pot.

At this time add some shaved cabbage and chopped carrots. Also, peel and cube 2 sweet potatoes (or white potatoes) and add them to the pot.

Cover and continue to simmer for a few more hours.

This soup is fine the day you make it, but I find the flavor is even better the next day. And it freezes well too.