This is the first year since my kids have been in school that Easter has coincided with Spring Break. The big kids went back to school today, but when I went to drop Little Five off at preschool, I discovered when we got there that there’s no school on Easter Monday. April Fools’ Day on me. Guess I should have looked at that calendar that was stuck to the back of the “W” worksheet in his folder. So I dragged a reluctant five-year-old to the store and bought groceries. Luckily, it was a short list because we have plenty of nice food left from our Easter feast. I’m back at my post on the couch with a cup off coffee, surrounded by empty plastic Easter eggs. The sun is streaming in, and I’m very glad about it, despite the inconvenient spotlight on the dust lurking under the piano.
We had a beautiful Easter. The bunny filled the baskets (contents procured in one fell swoop at Aldi: kites, water bottles, a little bit of chocolate, Peeps, egg-shaped gumballs in a tiny carton), and we made it to church only two minutes late for 7:30 mass. We even got our regular pew. Go early and avoid the crowds is our motto. Dinner was relaxed, and the weather was nice enough for an extended walk to the park before dessert. After our guests left, I played Forbidden Island with Miss Seven and Mr. Ten, which I confess I enjoyed very much. It’s a cooperative role playing game where you work together to gather the treasure and escape the island before it sinks. Near the end, Miss Seven was quivering with the tension of whether we would all survive or not. Little Five was in charge of sound effects every time a piece of the board fell into the abyss. We escaped to play another day, in case you were wondering.
So here’s the rundown of last week’s meals and what’s on the agenda for this week.
Monday: Crockpot Sesame Honey Chicken, (courtesy of Jen, my meal exchange buddy!), rice, broccoli
This was really tasty, and the kids ate it all up without a fuss. It would be good as a lettuce wrap, a taco filling or on buns like pulled pork, too.
Tuesday: Passover Seder with friends (I brought the charoset)
Toasted walnuts, a little brown sugar and a drizzle of honey made this the best charoset I’ve ever made. Double the recipe if you have more than four people.
Wednesday: Baked Pasta Shells with Chicken
I was going to make gnocchi, but didn’t start dinner in time. Instead, I improvised a baked pasta with some shredded roast chicken I had in the freezer, a quick homemade white sauce with wine and mushrooms, and some peas and parmesan. It was good.
Thursday: Baked Potato Bar with Sloppy Joe Sauce, salad, carrots and dip
Baked potatoes with self-serve toppings are popular with the kids. Instead of frying bacon, I pulled some sloppy joe sauce out of the freezer, which made the potatoes seem more like a meal. My family liked it on their potatoes, and Mr. Ten’s friend had his on a bun, with a potato on the side. To compensate for those who didn’t eat an adequate amount of salad, the next morning I stuffed their blueberry smoothies with a lot of spinach.
Friday: Black Bean Burgers, Smoky Red Pepper Spread, sweet potato oven fries, kale and radish salad (Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
This meal felt both virtuous and very satisfying. It was colorful, and turned out to be a nice balance of flavors and textures. The burgers took some time, but I doubled the recipe to feed two families, and still had enough to freeze for a third meal. Next time I will keep a little of the bean liquid to make the burgers a bit more moist, but that’s my only complaint. They have great flavor. This recipe would work well as a freezer meal. Don’t skip the sauce: roasted red pepper (I used jarred) and feta in the food processor. (We thought it might make a good pasta sauce, too.) It was the third time we’ve made a version of that kale salad, and everyone we’ve served it to has asked for the recipe.
Saturday: We went out to dinner and the kids had pizza with the babysitter. That was good, too.
Sunday: Roast leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and anchovies (from Jamie Oliver), Risotto with mushrooms, green beans with almonds and mint, deviled eggs, Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake with berries
The lamb was perfect, and we have plenty of meat for several more lamb meals in the coming weeks. The risotto was also just right; I’ve always followed this recipe, but it’s most successful when you’re not feeling rushed or distracted. I had a glass of Prosecco and friends to talk to while I stirred the rice, and nobody was rushed for dinner because we had plenty of deviled eggs to snack on. The green beans are my new favorite version. I had fairly mature, fat beans, so I added about 1/2 cup of water to the pan, covered it, and let them steam until crisp tender. After a hike to the park and some heavy work on the playground, followed by an Easter egg hunt in the yard, we all recovered our appetites to do the lemon pound cake with sliced strawberries (and a cappuccino) some real justice. I baked it in my flower shaped pans, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Monday: Mexican Rice Casserole (swap from Jen), guacamole and chips
Tuesday: Chicken with Lemon, Cumin and Mint, farro, Greek salad (doubled, to swap with Jen)
Wednesday: Ali Baa-Baa Sandwiches, Greek salad
Thursday: Baked Potato Soup
Friday: Pasta and Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion