JOPLIN, Mo. —
Easter is that surprise spring holiday.
I'm never sure when it's going to pop up, tempting me with its chocolate bunnies and pastel-colored confections.
If the shiny, foil-covered chocolate eggs littering the checkout lane were the only temptation, I might be able to stay strong. But no, it's a holiday. So, of course, there's at least one family meal to attend or hold. This year, let's keep it clean.
When planning your Easter meal or potluck dish, think spring. Use lots of color.
Visit the farmers market for spring greens and colorful veggies that aren't ready yet in your home garden. Try dishes focused around cabbage, spinach, lettuce and other cool-weather crops. Use fresh fruit with a yogurt-honey dip as dessert.
Because Easter is often a family gathering time, the meal easily morphs into a rich, comfort food laden extravaganza. If your Easter meal is just like Thanksgiving, with ham substituting for turkey, try lightening things up a bit. Bring that broccoli rice casserole, but use brown rice and extra broccoli. Make deviled eggs, but try them with plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
These are simple solutions that most folks won't notice. You'll have the satisfaction of knowing you pulled one over on 'em.
The Easter meal is tricky to prepare because it can come at any time of day. Whether you're having brunch, lunch or dinner, don't get so full that you can't run around with the kids afterward.
Try to stay mindful of your eating during the meal, because it's no fun hiding Easter eggs when you're in a food coma.
Broccoli rice casserole
4 cups (10 ounces) fresh broccoli florets and stems, chopped (stems should be very finely chopped)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup minced mushrooms
1 tablespoon flour
12-ounce can 2 percent or regular evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (Use any cheese you like here. I like to use smoked provolone or Gouda, if available.)
1 1/4 cup cooked brown rice
Steam or microwave (about 3 minutes on high) chopped broccoli and stems until tender but still bright green. Squeeze lemon over broccoli.
Melt butter in skillet. Add onions, garlic, celery and mushrooms and sautŽ until softened. Stir in flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and continue whisking until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 1/2 cup cheese and stir to melt.
Combine broccoli, rice and cheese sauce. Turn into 11/2 quart greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.
Adapted from salad-in-a-jar.com