Happy Easter!

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. We had a wonderful Easter, filled with too much candy, a thwarted stake-out, a dream fulfilled, and a delicious meal. On Saturday, my children declared that they were going to stage a stake-out to watch for the Easter Bunny. Izzie went on an all out search for the play tent that they hadn’t touched in three years. I almost didn’t have the heart to tell her I had donated it when I cleaned out the hall closet. After about half an hour of her searching, I got up the nerve to admit what I had done. She was not impressed. For many reasons. Not to be discouraged, she decided she would create a tent out of a tarp and some blankets. So, she got to work gathering her things. She and Nate packed a bag, snacks, got out blankets – they were totally prepared.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “there is no way you two are sleeping outside all night!” Mainly because I knew that would mean one of us would have to sleep out there with them. Now, before you go thinking that I’m a jerk of a parent, let’s get some details in order. It was going to go down to 35 degrees overnight. That’s cold. Additionally, though we live in suburbia, it is quite common to see fox, deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, etc. meandering about. I’m not up for that. Sorry. Maybe when it’s a little warmer, and we have a legitimate tent, with sides, we can reconsider. Here’s what their “tent” looked like:

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In my defense, I did try and reason / compromise with her. I let her know how cold it was going to be – she assured me that they had plenty of blankets. I suggested that they could fall asleep outside and that Craig and I would transfer them to their beds when we went to bed. Oh, no, she was not having that. Then, I tried putting my foot down. That was not received well, either. Finally, we came to an agreement. As long as we could eat breakfast in the ‘tent,’ they would sleep in their beds. Ok! Sounds like a plan! Peace was restored. The funniest piece of this was eavesdropping on her conversations with Nate, where they planned their next move and worked together against the great force of evil – Mom & Dad. I know, I know, these are not skills I should cultivate, but at 5 and 8, it’s still funny.

Anyway, they woke up Sunday morning, at the crack of dawn, in their own beds and looked out the window to the trail of eggs! (Please ignore the thistle – I’m going to get out to the garden soon. I promise.)

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They were super excited to find their baskets and Izzie was over the moon when she discovered the hair color chalk that she had been wishing for for weeks.

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Easter dinner is without a doubt, my favorite holiday meal. Typically, my father’s side of the family gathers at my cousins’ house for dinner. Like most of us, we all bring different dishes, but the menu is pretty much the same. Ham, pineapple soufflé, candied sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, corn pudding and a vegetable.

I was in charge of the vegetable. I couldn’t decide on one, so I brought two. Both make excellent additions to any meal. I made Ina’s Spinach Gratin and Smitten Kitchen’s Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions. I was looking for a recipe that didn’t use anything canned. No canned soup, no canned beans and zero canned fried onions. I was excited to find a recipe on a trusted blog. This did not disappoint!

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Those are real mushrooms!! There is nothing light about this dish, but nothing about it is processed, which made me happy. I didn’t take a ton of photos, because Smitten Kitchen has beautiful ones and great pointers for making this – please be sure to visit them and peruse further.

The spinach gratin has been a go-to recipe for years. It is creamy and cheesy and delicious. I love it. Period.

The real hero of my cooking day was my All-Clad Weeknight Pan that I got for Christmas:

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This pan is perfect for making casseroles, where you need to mix pasta or vegetables with a sauce – it is 4 quarts, so it can easily accommodate a pound of pasta along with your sauce. It transfers right to the oven, so there’s no real need for a casserole dish. Speaking of sauce, it is perfect for making sauce, because of it’s curved sides – it resembles a much larger saucier. There’s tons of surface area for sautéing, too. All around, it’s a great pan – I can highly recommend it! (P.S. I am not in cahoots with All-Clad or Crate and Barrel – I am simply a faithful believer and user of All-Clad and wanted to share the love.)

To those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope it was a wonderful day and that you enjoyed your meal as much as I did!

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