Kellan, 6, and Carsten, 3, sons of Jane Lawson, have a pleasant visit with the Easter Bunny.
Kellan, 6, and Carsten, 3, sons of Jane Lawson, have a pleasant visit with the Easter Bunny.
April 14, 2014

Celebrate spring with an array of easy recipes that will add plenty of color and flavor to your Easter meal. These recipes won't take your time away from what's truly important: dyeing Easter eggs, filling baskets with jelly beans and spending time with your loved ones.

Cheesy Hawaiian Dip

Michelle Qualley, a fifth-grade teacher at my school, shared a dip similar to this one at a staff luncheon. If your family can't wait for the Easter ham, serve an appetizer that will tide them over until dinner time.

1 bread bowl (optional)

1 lb (16 oz) Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (can also use white Velveeta Queso Blanco)

1 can (10 oz) Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained

1/3 cup red onion, finely diced

1 pkg (8 oz) smoked ham, chopped or torn into small pieces

1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained

Mix Velveeta, tomatoes and onions in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until Velveeta is completely melted, stirring after 3 minutes. Stir in ham and pineapple.

Remove center of bread bowl. Pour into bread bowl or serving dish. Dip can also be kept warm in a small crock pot.

Serve with reserved bread pieces, tortilla chips and assorted fresh vegetable dippers.

Spiral-Sliced Ham with Pepper Jelly Glaze

Pork Be Inspired has a no fail way to add a shiny and tasty glaze to your ham. Hot pepper jelly will have your family asking for second helpings.

6 lb fully cooked bone-in ham, half ham, spiral-sliced

1 (8-oz) jar hot pepper jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ham in shallow pan and heat in oven, uncovered, for 1 1/4 hours (about 15-18 minutes per pound) until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 140 degrees.

The last 15 minutes, pour the pepper jelly over ham, spreading evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes more, basting occasionally.

Serves 8

Asparagus Vinaigrette

Nothing says spring like fresh asparagus. The tangy vinaigrette, bread crumbs and cherry tomatoes make this bright green vegetable even more enticing.

2 lbs asparagus, fresh, trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons bread crumbs, toasted

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Steam asparagus spears until tender, drain and place on serving platter. In small jar with tight-fitting lid, shake together oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper.

When ready to serve (asparagus can be served warm or at room temperature), pour vinaigrette evenly over asparagus, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and garnish with cherry tomato halves.

Serves 6

Baby New Potatoes With Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Baby new potatoes are a nice way to change up a traditional side dish. The creamy parmesan sauce is simple to make and big on flavor (the secret is the pinch of nutmeg).

18 small new potatoes, unpeeled and cut in half

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cover potatoes with water, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cover to keep warm.

In saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter, whisk in flour, then milk, stirring constantly until thick. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the cheese. Pour sauce over potatoes and stir to coat.

Old-Fashioned Bunny Cake

Kids of all ages will have loads of fun creating a very special bunny cake that tastes as good as it looks.

1 box vanilla cake mix

2 large eggs

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup milk

white frosting

thin licorice (red or black)

M&M's, jelly beans or gum drops

flaked coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom and halfway up sides of baking pans. Combine eggs, butter and milk in medium sized mixing bowl. Add mix and whisk until smooth. Distribute batter equally between two 9-inch round cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cakes have slightly browned on top. Cool completely.

Cut two ears out of either side of one of the circular cakes, making the center into a bow tie. If desired, make a bow tie pattern out of wax paper.

On a large platter or cardboard covered with aluminum foil, assemble the pieces placing the ears on top of the face with bow tie below. Use frosting to attach pieces. Cover face, ears and bow tie with frosting. Sprinkle with flaked coconut, if desired.

Decorate to make a bunny face. Use pink frosting or pink candy for the center of the ears, licorice for whiskers and colorful candies for the eyes, nose and bow tie.