Besides being the holiest time of year for Christians, Easter also just might be the most adorable holiday ever. With all the bunnies, chicks, and colorful eggs, it is hard to imagine anything cuter. As a result, I find it’s the perfect time of year to get creative in the name of making the holiday more festive.
Last year, however, I was so deflated that I almost missed the opportunity. In 2015, we buried my grandfather a week before Easter, which cast a sadness over the holiday. My heart simply wasn’t interested. But the day before we celebrated, my then 3-year-old son asked about the Easter Bunny. And it was enough to make me think that we needed to go all out at the holiday table. It is what my grandfather, who was most committed to living the sweet life, would have wanted. So, I kicked into high gear and my determination resulted in the images above. I literally pulled these details together in one day. Here’s how:
- Deviled Chicks – Make a small pin hole in the bottom of eggs you’re planning to hard boil to prevent cracking. Add a bit of vinegar to the water, too. Gently boil the eggs. Cool the boiled eggs. Clean them. First, cut the top of the egg (instead of cutting it in half as you normally would. I used an espresso spoon to carefully remove the yolks. Make your usual deviled eggs. In a pinch, I often just combine egg yolk, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, lemon, and mayonnaise. Some people like paprika on top, and if you fall into that category, include it in the mix from the start, so it blends and does not influence the look of your chicks. Finally, simply use a cake decorating bag (or a Ziploc bag with a hole in the corner) to pipe the devilish part of this dish into the bottoms of the eggs. Top each one with the other piece of egg white. Use carrots, cut into tiny triangles, for the nose and peppercorns or capers for the eyes. Some people add more (slightly larger) carrot triangles for feet under the egg, but I didn’t. I just placed the chicks on a bed of spinach.
- A Happy Bouquet – To say my family was feeling drained and down last year on Easter would be an understatement. We needed something on the table to put a smile on our face (besides the food, which is always a good bet). And I had lots and lots of plastic eggs from the dollar store. Since the Easter Bunny could not possibly fill them all for the hunt, I decided to put them to good use. I placed a small cup inside one of my best crystal bowls. I put some tape under the cup to hold it in place because I had to move the centerpiece from my home to my brother’s home, where we celebrated. I then purchased an affordable and colorful bouquet from the supermarket and arranged the bouquet in a way that was pleasing to me before placing it in the vase. I then put the plastic eggs around the bowl to cover the cup inside the bowl. Voila!
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries – I often make chocolate covered strawberries. They are pretty simple. You wash and dry the strawberries, melt chocolate chips in the microwave (at 30-second intervals), then dip and coat the strawberry with chocolate, place it on parchment paper, and place it in the fridge to set. Then, pick out your favorite little dish. Use some of the leftover melted chocolate on the bottom of your purchased chocolate bunny and stick it in the center of the dish. Let it set and add the strawberries around it. Couldn’t be simpler and what a wow effect!
Fresh eggs – straight from the chicken – are one of the perks of staying on the island of Ischia, which is off the coast of Naples in Italy. The eggs in the supermarket aren’t much different than the fresh eggs in the photos above. None of them are refrigerated, which takes some getting used to for me, l’Americana. I read somewhere that Americans must refrigerate pasteurized eggs because they wash off all the shell’s natural protection. I have no idea if that’s accurate, but I know Italian eggs are sold off the shelf and kept in a bowl on the table in people’s kitchens and American eggs are not.
I must admit that, unless I’m planning on using the eggs that same day, I still put mine in the fridge. It’s the American in me. Italians are also fanatics about the soft boiled egg. When I write soft, I mean soft. They basically hold the egg in boiling water for a minute and then gently tap off the top of the shell before digging into what seems like raw egg. They love this stuff so much, in fact, that they offer it up to children as young as 6 months old. They would only do this with the freshest of eggs.
While I can’t bring myself to swallow liquid yolk, I still get giddy when one of my chicken-keeping relatives – usually my cousin – brings over a batch of these babies. They tend to have more acid, so they are great for whipping egg whites (say for waffles or meringue) and they make for fluffier, tastier eggs. My son’s favorite way for me to cook them is semi-poached, when you lightly boil them in chicken broth with just a splash of vinegar to keep the whites together (see center photo). Grab a hunk of crusty Italian bread and dip into that creamy yolk and you’ll be one bite away from Heaven.
And for a moment I contemplate getting a chicken coup for my place in New Jersey. Then, I think of the feathers, the many, many feathers…and the noise…and the pecking…and the poop…and I decide ultra pasteurized American eggs straight from the fridge ain’t so bad either.
Di Meglio uses the written word to help families create memories and stick together. You can follow her on Facebook at Francesca’s Newlyweds Nest and on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.
The Bergen County Zoo, part of Van Saun Park in Paramus, has always been among my favorite places. As a kid, my mom would gather up our cousins and take us all there for a visit with the animals and a picnic. We would buy a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (back then, it wasn’t called KFC) and eat and frolic in the playground before strolling through the adorable zoo and taking a train ride. Now, it’s a joy to take my son and niece and nephew (and other young family members) for some good old-fashioned fun.
That’s why I was among the first to register for the zoo’s Easter Egg Hunt, which happened on Saturday. To my shock and delight, the entire event was free. There was an egg hunt (5 eggs per child), face painting, pictures with the Easter Bunny, story time with a live bunny, frog origami making, and cookies and juice at no charge, not even an admissions fee. Even though there were some big lines to participate in these activities, the kids had a blast. Baby Boy played with the plastic, jumping bunnies he found in his Easter eggs while he waited to have a duck painted on his arm. And he happily devoured an oatmeal raisin cookie while taking a walk through the zoo. Running buffalo, a friendly horse, and a nesting goose were among the highlights. Afterward, we headed to the picnic area, where I hid more eggs that I had filled at home, and we ate homemade everything – chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, string bean and potato salad, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the shape of bunnies. Jumping in the pile of leaves near our picnic table was a bonus that this mamma didn’t see comin’. You can check out the animals we encountered below. And consider heading to the local zoo yourself.
We’ve been celebrating Easter for three weeks now. First, on the day after my niece Maria’s first birthday, we threw our annual Easter party, where we dye eggs and decorate cookies with our little cousins. (To join the party, visit the “Easter Party 2011” photo album.) One week later, we celebrated Easter on Palm Sunday to celebrate with my husband before he returned to Italy for what is already a very long spring and summer. Finally, we celebrated Easter over the last few days. This last weekend of fun included a visit with the Easter bunny, a hop through Zia’s house to find eggs filled with treats, and all the cannoli and strawberries you could eat. Or at least that’s how Maria celebrated. You can see her experiencing the holiday in the “Easter Weekend 2011” photo album. And a happy Pasquetta (Easter Monday) to all!
A fine mist of pink food coloring spray is all around me, and I just scraped the last of the vomit green icing off my plastic dining room table cover. That’s how I know Easter is upon us. Every year, we invite over the gang of kids in my family for an Easter bash that defeats all others. We decorate cookies, dye eggs, hunt for plastic eggs filled with treasure, and get downright giddy. This year, we all wore bunny ears and never stopped hoppin’. You can join in the fun by visiting the “Easter Bash 2010” photo album.
It was the first Easter party that I hosted without my mom (who is still in Florida and still awaiting the arrival of her first granddaughter there). Mamma’s cookies (she usually makes them from scratch, while I used a tube of sugar cookie dough) were missed, as was her smile. But I think we pulled off a good time nonetheless. No one seemed to eat much (or I cooked too much, depends on who you talk to), and my husband got the adults started with cocktails and finished with Bailey’s and ice cream, so it definitely was a partttttaayyy.
My cousin Fran and my hubby Antonio graciously cleaned and put all the food away while I helped the kids with their projects and snapped photos of them. Miesha graciously cleared the kid’s table between projects, so they could get down to business with a clean slate. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming. I really needed a little break from the everyday and a little fun with the gang.