Easter Eats

Start with a brunch or pick a potluck

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Easter is less than two weeks away. This year the holiday is April 4, so now is the time to start planning the feast.

Whether you plan a brunch, a big meal or are toying with having a potluck this year, here are some recipes to help when making your menu.

Easy Easter Brunch

Hosting an Easter brunch is a great way to bring friends and family together. And it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Create a simple, yet special main dish such as a crustless quiche. With this easy recipe from Hillshire Farm, you simply combine flavorful beef smoked sausage with cheese and eggs for a mouth-watering dish. You can prepare the mixture ahead of time, cover the baking dish with foil and keep it in the fridge until just before the party. Remove the foil, bake as instructed and watch your guests enjoy. You can find other tempting smoked sausage and polska kielbasa Easter recipes at gomeat.com.

Crustless Quiche

Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 45 minutes; makes 12 servings

1, package Hillshire Farm Beef Smoked Sausage

8 eggs, lightly beaten

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (one and one-half)

1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard (one and one-half)

1/4 teaspoon salt (a quarter)

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (an eighth)

1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided (one and one-half)

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (half)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut sausage into 1/2 (half)-inch cubes; set aside.

Place eggs, cream, dry mustard, salt and black pepper in a large bowl; whisk until smooth.

Stir in sausage, 1 cup of cheese and green pepper. Pour egg mixture into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until eggs are set. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 (half) cup cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Hillshire Farm

Pick a potluck

You want to celebrate Easter with a bountiful brunch or dinner shared with family and friends. But this year, in this economy, many of us find our budgets squeezed pretty tight.

As the host, you can be responsible for the main dish — ham.

The experts at The Food Channel have a cost saving idea — You could go to one of those specialty ham stores and spend a bundle on a spiral-sliced ham or you can buy a wonderful bone-in ham at the supermarket or warehouse club store for a fraction of the price. Prepare the ham with an apricot glaze (recipe to follow) and you’ll create a feast your guests soon won’t forget.

Beverage Pairing

Pairing wine with a potluck is a real challenge — you can’t make an informed wine decision when you don’t know what your guests are bringing and haven’t tasted the dishes. So base your wine choice on the main dish we are recommending: the Apricot-Glazed Ham.

The main element that will give your wine a run for the money is the sweetness of the glaze. The apricot marmalade and brown sugar in the glaze can wreak havoc on a number of wines, so sticking with a wine that has a touch of sweetness, such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer is a good bet.

In addition, if your ham has some pronounced smokiness, these wines provide nice contrast — whereas a big, oaky Chardonnay could magnify the ham’s smokiness to undesirable levels, the suggestion of sweetness in the Riesling keeps the smoke in check. Similarly, an off-dry rose can also provide a spectacular match.

For guests who are looking for non-alcoholic options, a ginger ale will provide a nice compliment to the apricot glaze, as would a cola. The primary flavors in most colas are a mix of citrus and cinnamon, which make a nice match with apricot.

Baked Ham with Apricot Glaze

From The Kitchens of The Food Channel®

This caramelized brown sugar and apricot glazed ham is studded with whole cloves and will fill your kitchen with a wonderfully rich and spicy aroma.

Why try? – Feel good about serving your family an apricot glazed bone-in ham that’s fresh-from-the-oven and hand-carved instead of purchasing an expensive fully cooked, spiral-cut ham this season.

Foodie Byte: The apricot glaze adds a touch of sweetness that beautifully complements the rich ham flavor.

Preparation time: 20 minutes; cooking time: 4 hours; makes 16 servings

1, 10- to 12-pound uncooked, smoked, bone-in ham

8-1/2 (half) ounces apricot jam

1/2 (half) cup Dijon mustard

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

Zest of 1 orange

1/4 (quarter) cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Whole cloves

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Line sheet pan with foil. Place ham on foil fat side up. Wrap well with a second piece of foil and bake 3 hours. Remove from oven.

To prepare glaze, combine apricot jam, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest and orange juice; whisk to blend.

Unwrap ham and with a large sharp knife, trim away rind and all but 1/4 (quarter)-inch of fat. Score fat in diamond pattern, about 3/4 (three-quarters)-inches apart. Stud ham with whole cloves in decorative pattern.

Spoon glaze over ham and bake, uncovered, an additional hour; basting every 15 minutes.

Let rest on cutting board until ready to carve.

Potatoes are frequently a side dish of choice at holiday meals, but substituting whole grains can make the feast more heart-healthy.

Wild Rice Primavera

Preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 20 minutes; serves 6

1, 6-ounce box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice Original Recipe

3-1/2 (three and a half) cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth, divided

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 cup baby carrots, cut into small coins

1 cup zucchini, cut into half moons

1 cup yellow squash, cut into half moons

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup asparagus, diced

Empty the contents (rice and seasoning packet) of rice box into a saucepan along with 2-1/2 (two and a half) cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat the remaining cup of chicken broth over medium heat. Add garlic and Italian seasoning. Once steam begins to rise from the broth, add carrots, zucchini, squash and tomatoes and reduce heat slightly to medium-low, cover and heat for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the lid and add asparagus. Cover with lid and steam for another 2 minutes. Remove the lid and turn off the heat.

Once the rice has cooked for 20 minutes, pour the rice into the skillet with the vegetables and toss to combine.

Tip: Serve this heart-healthy recipe with ham for a special family meal.

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