Easter mornings, based on my experience, are about on a par with Christmas mornings. You have the same level of busy, accompanied by plenty of excitement. Sometimes, in fact, you get more than you ever have bargained for.
One year, after bathing the boys, bundling them into bed and waiting until they were both sound asleep, we let the Easter Bunny gallop around, hiding goodies throughout the house.
Early Easter morning, to our shock, horror and awe, we discovered that our beloved and incredible, otherwise marvelous and wonderful English springer spaniel, Snuffy, had tracked the bunny's trail hither, thither and yon, devouring everything edible in his path.
The year Keegan, our first grandson, was old enough to toddle, we raced around the house, hiding eggs everywhere. Armed with a lightweight egg-gathering bucket, he gleefully found every single one.
It was such great good fun, in fact, that the Keegster thought he really should repeat the performance.
Obviously, this called for Uncle Murray to immediately blaze around, rehiding each and every (somewhat already smashed) egg again. Needless to say, there were no eggs waiting to be used up that Easter.
Time sped on, along came second grandson Conner, and then we had two little egg-gatherers. We decided, for some seemingly good reason that later totally escaped us, it would be a real hot idea to hide the eggs (big, bright plastic ones filled with good stuff) in our woods.
We woke up to snow that Easter morning but, hey, no problema -- it wasn't very deep, and the eggs were almost blindingly bright.
Naturally, between the time we plowed our way out there and nested the eggs on the snow, and the great hunt eventually got under way, the weather went blizzardish on us, and the little fellas had an unforgettably exhilarating experience trying to uncover them all.
And let's not forget, amid all the excitement of Easter mornings like these, that something sturdy on the breakfast table always has to be factored in.
It's a busy, busy, busy time, which no doubt explains why I'm extremely partial to, and fancy above all other contenders, dishes that can be assembled and refrigerated the day before.
Working on the theory that I'm not the only one who wants to make a head start on holiday mornings, I've come up with two new do-ahead dishes for us to try.
Both are taken from that terrific cookbook I mentioned in the Dec. 7, 2005, Forum column, "A Purr-fectly Wonderful Cookbook," a fundraiser for the Peninsula Friends of Animals.
Neither of the recipes makes a huge amount but if you're planning on feeding a mob, you can always double them and make two pans instead of just the one.
Now all you have to do is decide which of these to fix:
The GDA omelet (The great do-ahead omelet)
1/2 loaf French bread, broken in pieces
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cooked chopped ham or bacon
1-2 small cans chopped green chilies (optional)
2 cups shredded cheese (any kind), divided
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 green onions with tops, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread bread over the bottom and drizzle with the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with ham or bacon, then sprinkle evenly with chilies. Sprinkle 11/2 cups of the cheese over the top.
In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, milk, wine, green onions, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper; pour evenly over top of mixture in the pan.
Tightly cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Bake, covered, at 325 degrees for l hour. Uncover pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and continue baking another 10 minutes, uncovered.
Makes six servings.
Dallas today, New Orleans tomorrow breakfast and brunch dish
3 cups cubed cooked ham
3 cups cubed French bread, crusts removed before cubing and measuring
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 can (6 ounces) ripe olives, drained and sliced
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh fruit salad (optional)
In large bowl, combine ham cubes, bread cubes, mushrooms, cheese and olives; toss to mix. Place a third of this mixture in an even layer in a buttered 9-by-12-inch baking pan.
Mix together the flour and mustard; sprinkle a third over the mixture in the pan, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Repeat these layers twice.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour over the contents of the pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, uncover the pan and bake at 350 degrees for l hour. If desired, serve with fresh fruit salad.
Makes four servings.
The next Forum will appear in Friday's Time Out.
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