Easter Baking to Celebrate Spring

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Though the Christmas season is my favorite time of year, Easter takes a close second place in the holiday hierarchy because it’s filled with so much joy, from uplifting songs at church to green buds on the trees. As Christ arose from death, the world is waking up: I can hear birds chirping in the morning while I get ready for work. The weather no longer requires a coat and scarf and gloves and hat and double socks. All of that makes me want to celebrate—and how better to express my delight than with some Easter baking?

This year mom made all the dinner dishes while I tackled the desserts: brownies, a fruit & yogurt tart, a lemony cheesecake, and a banana cream pie. I spent all day in the kitchen on the Saturday before Easter, and it was wonderful! Todd helped with the baking, and together we listened to several Disney soundtracks, including my top two favorites, Moana and Pocahontas. I probably annoyed Todd with my…let’s just say overly enthusiastic…singing (to the same song three times in a row), but he barely complained. And he even decorated a super cute Easter egg for me later that night. He’s too good for me!!

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Cute egg Todd made for me: the two of us holding hands in a hot air balloon with a rabbit on it.

I considered providing all of the dessert recipes here, but then thought that might be information overload, so instead I’ll just share my thoughts on each; if anyone is interested in the recipes, let me know and I can write up a separate post for that particular one.

The brownies were the first of my four projects. I followed the “signature” recipe from Butter & Chocolate by Sheila G. Mains, the creator of the popular Brownie Brittle snack. You know that debate between cocoa powder or chocolate chips? This recipe solves it by using both—resulting in decadent, fudgy, delicious brownies. I stacked my two heart-shaped brownie cakes and slathered store-bought dark chocolate frosting over them.

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Next up was the fruit tart: the puff pastry exterior only required thawing and baking, and I topped the cooked dough with a mixture of Siggi’s plain and Chobani vanilla yogurt. Then I layered on some fruit and drizzled honey over it, and voila! Done! So easy it only took two sentences to explain. Plus it was relatively healthy, and the tart flavors of the yogurt helped balance out the sweetness of the other three desserts.

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The cheesecake required a bit more effort: I had to first make the lemon curd glaze and leave it to cool in the fridge for four hours. While it cooled, I made the cheesecake itself, using a copycat recipe of the Cheesecake Factory’s vanilla bean cheesecake. I refuse to go through the effort of a water bath (plus I don’t like how soft it can leave the cheesecake), so mine cracked a bit, but since I planned to cover it anyway, I didn’t worry too much. Once it cooled, I topped it with the lemon glaze and fresh blueberries. Oh, and a carrot cake Hershey’s kiss to represent Jesus on the cross haha.

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The banana cream pie took the most work, but it was also most worth it. I’d never made this particular dessert before, and it was a bit of a learning curve when it came to whisking the custard to just the right consistency. I layered the banana-vanilla custard with fresh bananas in a crust made of crushed pretzels, peanuts, and peanut butter, with a bittersweet chocolate bottom. Then I made a super easy whipped topping and finished it off with a garnish of chocolate shavings. I was really proud of the finished pie, and I was glad to hear on Easter that everyone liked it!

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What did you make for Easter? What’s your favorite part of the holiday?

 

An Easter Run and Recipe

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Of all the Christian holidays, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is the most joyous. The songs at mass are uplifting and glorifying. We share treats and dinners with family and friends. Even nature seems to feel the spirit: little tulip stalks pop up from the dirt, the sun makes us squint in every selfie. And we take joy in the little things, the memories we create: a good run, a broccoli soufflé cooling on the stove…

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And So Lent Begins. Only 39 Days until Easter.

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Yesterday morning I took a little detour on my mile-long walk to work and stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Despite being dwarfed by the skyscrapers that surround it, the cathedral cuts a majestic figure, all towering Neo-Gothic spires and stained glass. It takes up an entire city block on its own; more than 3,000 people can find solace in its pews. Once inside, I joined a quick-moving line of city dwellers and tourists, all marveling at the intricate statues and prayer stations along the walls. Then it was my turn—a smiling priest dipped his thumb in dark ash, from palm fronds blessed last Palm Sunday, and rubbed it on my forehead in the shape of a cross. Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. It was Ash Wednesday, and Lent had officially begun.

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Happy Easter! (Or Passover, or Anything Else)

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Easter EggsYesterday, Todd’s sister invited me and my parents to a delicious seder meal at her house to celebrate Passover. We had a great time with his family! When we got home, we dyed our Easter eggs to get ready for our own Easter celebration today, which includes eating our dyed eggs for breakfast, going to mass to honor Jesus’s resurrection, eating a ham, and finally opening the platter of struffoli (honey balls) that we bought! Maybe next year I’ll try to make my own. For now, I just want to wish everyone a happy Easter, Passover, or anything else you might celebrate. I’m so thankful for all of you.

A Promise of Patience

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There’s no doubt that I had a great weekend. Todd and I sampled delicious small plates at The Stanton Social; I jogged 5.5 miles at an average pace of 11.5 minutes per mile, my longest run so far; and we walked with a friend along part of The High Line in Manhattan. As good as it was, this upcoming weekend promises to give last weekend a run for its money. I might get dinner with two close friends on Friday, I’ll spend Saturday with Todd, and Easter Sunday will be filled with family and laughter and irresistible desserts. But as the end of Lent approaches, I think it’s important to evaluate the progress I’ve made on my Lenten promise to give up impatience.

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