Try some new fare on your Easter feasters

Perhaps it’s the promise of spring around the corner that has cooks looking for new ways to spice up Easter meals. Less traditional and hopefully less snowbound than Thanksgiving gatherings, Easter get-togethers can benefit from fresh approaches.

Some offer time savings so the gang can head out for the afternoon. Others offer make-ahead -- and make-outside -- tips for a lavish dinner that just looks like you slaved over a hot stove all day. 

The crowning touch -- a cake with delicately graduated rose-colored layers inside.

Hosting a brunch? Or just looking for something you can whip up after church or for the late risers? Choose from two easy-to-make, quick-to-cook recipes. Whether it’s the extra bite added to maple-glazed bacon or the sweet spice in “pancake sandwiches,” they’re sure to please all ages in the brunch bunch -- especially the cook.

Easter dinner with all the fixings more your style? Take the ham out of the oven and off your to-do list by assigning a grillmeister to the main course.

That leaves the oven free for roasted potatoes with the tang of bacon and goat cheese. As a side dish -- or a welcome fresh twist on ham leftovers -- ham and peas take on a new taste with mint and tarragon.

And then there’s the showstopper: a creamy-white-frosted cake with a pastel surprise.

Brunch recipes draw on pantry staples

The ingredients for an easy Easter brunch may be in your pantry right now. These easy-to-assemble, quick-bake recipes use staples like pancake mix, syrup and frozen hash browns in unexpected ways. Recipe creators at Hungry Jack predict these will please all ages and become favorites for any weekend.

Spicy Candied Bacon

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 slices

1/2 pound extra-thick cut bacon, about 6 slices
1/4 cup pancake syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon cracked black pepper

Heat oven to 375˚ F. Line a 15 x 10-inch baking pan with foil. Lay bacon slices on foil.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until bacon edges begin to curl. Remove from oven. Tilt pan to drain. Pat bacon with paper towel. Combine syrup, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and pepper in small bowl. Drizzle evenly over bacon slices.
Bake 5 minutes or until evenly browned. Remove to wire rack. Cool 5 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Candied Bacon Breakfast Sandwich: Layer fried egg on English muffin. Top with shredded cheese, Spicy Candied Bacon and a dash of hot sauce or ketchup. Top with other half of English muffin.

Pancake Breakfast Sandwich

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

For pancakes:
no-stick cooking spray
3/4 cup Hungry Jack Complete Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup pancake syrup
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/4 teaspoon salt
4  3-inch round sausage patties*

Coat griddle or skillet with no-stick cooking spray. Heat griddle or skillet on medium heat (350˚ F).
Whisk pancake mix, water and syrup in medium bowl. Stir in cheese, potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cook sausage patties as directed on package.
Pour 2 tablespoons batter on griddle, spreading batter to make a 3-inch circle or by using 3-inch pancake molds, coated with no-stick cooking spray. Repeat to make 7 more pancakes. Cook 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn. Cook second side 2 minutes.

For eggs:
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup diced red pepper
4  large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in large skillet. Add red pepper. Cook and stir about 1 minute.
Whisk eggs and salt in small bowl. Pour into skillet with peppers. Cook slightly, then shape into four 3-inch circles about the same size as the pancakes and sausage.

Place one pancake on plate. Top with cooked sausage patty, egg and another pancake to make breakfast sandwich. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 3 more sandwiches.

* If using pre-made sausage patties, flatten slightly into 3-inch rounds, if necessary.

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