Elegant Easter eats


Here are some great recipes for your Easter feast! Whether your family serves ham or lamb, these dishes pair with either. Make a moist carrot cake with decadent cream cheese frosting a day in advance. I also have scalloped potatoes with bacon and a garlic, herb and cheese infusion. For a super-quick appetizer, you can’t go wrong with my smoked salmon dip (can also make this in advance). It received rave reviews and was on the table in about 7 minutes. And for a quick side, try my roasted brussels sprouts with mint, cashews and a spreadable garlic cheese. The mint is a pop of unexpected flavor that makes this dish. Happy Easter!

Smoked Salmon Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Smoked Salmon Dip

1/2 cup smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced celery
1 1/2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon dried dill
Dash of pepper
Crackers or French bread for serving

Make sure everything is finely minced.

Stir all ingredients together until well combined. Dust the top with a little extra dill. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve. Serve with crackers or pieces of French bread.

Scalloped Potatoes

5 cups thinly sliced potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter dish
2 3/4 cups half and half
1/2 cup garlic and herb soft cheese, like Boursin or Allouette
1/3 cup real bacon pieces
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2  cups shredded cheddar cheese

Note: You want potatoes to be very thin and uniform in size so it’s best to use a mandolin or the side blade on a cheese grater. If potatoes are uneven, some will be done and others will not.

Heat oven to 375.

Butter a 10-inch baking dish. Place one layer of sliced potatoes in the dish and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add one-third of the parmesan and one-third of the cheddar. Then sprinkle half the bacon pieces on top. Repeat this process one more time.

On the stove, heat the butter, half and half and garlic cheese until bubbles start to form around the edge. Stir and remove. Pour this over the potatoes. Add remaining potatoes, salt and pepper, bacon and parmesan cheese. Do not add the rest of the cheddar.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Then remove foil, add remaining cheddar and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mint, Cashews and Garlic Cheese

6 cups fresh brussels sprouts, halved

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mint, Cashews and Garlic Cheese

Half a red onion, thinly sliced
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cashew halves
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 1/2 tablespoons sliced mint
1/2 cup garlic and herb cheese spread, such as Alouette or Boursin
Good quality balsamic vinegar for serving

Note: These brussels sprouts are crispy which I like. If you don’t like crispy ones, use ¼ cup olive oil instead of cooking spray to prep the vegetable. All other directions remain the same.

Heat oven to 400.

Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pile sliced brussels sprouts in the middle pan. Coat them with cooking spray. Turn and spray again. Spread out the vegetables and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add onion to the top and spray onion with cooking spray.

Bake for 25 minutes or until desired tenderness. Remove and place on a platter. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over brussels sprouts, trying to evenly distribute them. Drop the cheese in small pieces all over the platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar (optional). Serve.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 cups shredded carrots
1 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup applesauce
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


12  ounces cream cheese (1 1/2 packages), softened
1   stick of unsalted butter, softened
3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
3-5  tablespoons milk or water (until desired consistency)
1/3  cup chopped pecans
1/2  cup shredded coconut
Fresh shredded carrot for garnish

For the cake:

Heat oven to 350.

In a very large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients through the cinnamon until thoroughly combined.

Then add the wet ingredients (everything except the nuts) and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Then stir in the nuts until well combined.

Grease three 8-inch cake pans. Divide batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely. If the cakes baked unevenly, use a serrated knife to flatten the cake so it’s not lopsided when you ice it. Then freeze the cakes to make them easier to frost.

For the frosting:

Leave the butter and cream cheese on the counter for several hours to soften. First beat together butter and cream cheese. Then add in half the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat again and add in remaining sugar, vanilla and milk or water. You can add more milk if the frosting is too thick for your liking.

Remove cakes from freezer and ice each one, stacking each on top of the other. When cake is iced, add chopped pecans, coconut and shredded carrot to the top (carrot optional). Leave cake on the counter for 2 hours to thaw, or if you make this a day in advance, refrigerate it until the next day. The cake will thaw in the fridge.

You will want to cover the cake so it doesn’t dry out if it’s going to be refrigerated overnight. If you don’t have a cake cover, barely insert 8-10 toothpick around the cake so they stick out around it. Use foil to loosely cover so it doesn’t stick to the icing and pull it all off. Just be sure to remove the toothpicks before serving!