I have a new employee who was born and raised in Hawaii. She married military and they moved to Savannah. She said to me today, “I’m really sad about missing Easter at home.” Easter is one of those holidays that we take the time to come together as a family.

I never spent an Easter at home until after my grandmother died. They were all spent with her. My sister, cousin and I were the only children, so all of the adults doted over us. Grandma always sent money to Mama to buy us new dresses, shoes and sometimes hats and gloves. She dressed us alike and some Easters, Mama even bought a dress that matched ours. Those were really special Easters.

After pictures (lots of pictures) we would hunt eggs. My favorite hunts were when Uncle Buster hid them in a patch of trees on a dirt road behind the neighbor’s house. He always put a silver dollar in one egg and we all looked frantically for the prize egg so we could get the silver dollar! If we were really sad that we didn’t win the prize, he would slip a silver dollar in our hand to make us feel better.

While we were busy hunting eggs, the lunch was being put on the table. It was a huge spread with ham, potato salad, peas and anything else Grandma thought we might like. I can’t tell you the memories that flood my mind of sitting at my grandmother’s dining room table. I also have a vivid memory of sitting at it the day she died. The life of the table seemed to die, too. There was food brought to the house, but it wasn’t Grandma’s and the table seemed to mourn with us.

I no longer long for eggs full of silver dollars. Now, I long to see those people who made my Easters so special each year. I long to see the smile of my daughter and, if possible, I want to eat one more of Grandma’s meals. Easter is no longer about anticipation of earthly satisfaction, but a promise of eternal satisfaction. A promise that my tears will cease and my heart will no longer search for answers. Easter is the celebration of what makes that possible.

I now celebrate the death and resurrection of my Savior, who not only lifted me from the depths of depravity, but also gave me hope of a life to come. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing egg hunting or barring cute little bunnies (Uncle Buster gave me a real bunny one Easter). I just think we need to express our gratitude with worship and teach our children that Christ is what Easter is about — not Peter Rabbit.

Spending time with family, egg hunting, attending church and cooking a meal can be challenging. I don’t know what your traditional Easter meal is, but I do know you should cook what makes it feel like Easter in your family. That doesn’t mean you have to miss church to do it, though. Most meals can be prepared in advance and either heated using the timer on your oven while you’re in church or reheated when you get home. Just send everyone outside to hide and hunt eggs while you finish up the meal, and they won’t be whining about lunch!

If you’re like my new employee and too far away to go home, then definitely call home and get recipes for your favorite dishes, but if you’re looking for something quick and easy to add to your meal, this week’s recipes will get you started. They’re pretty traditional — with a slight twist.

I wish you all a joyful Easter. Just don’t forget that He is Risen! And that, my dear reader, gives us reason to celebrate each breath, each day and — most importantly — at the graveside of those we love. Every day is Easter in heaven!

Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie’s Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to www.sophiesmarketplace.com.

 

Carrot Soufflé

When I told my staff I was going to share this recipe, they insisted I reveal the fact that I am a “carrot hater.” So I confess — I don’t like carrots. Not raw, not cooked, just not at all — until I had Carrot Souffle. My dear friend Susan served this at a dinner we were invited to in her home and, being a proper guest, I put a little bit on my plate. I was shocked that I liked it! It doesn’t really taste like carrots, so, if you’re a fellow carrot hater, try it — you’ll like it!

Ingredients:

1 ¾ pound carrots, peeled and chopped (or baby carrots)

1 stick butter

1 cup white sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the carrots until very tender. Drain and transfer to a blender. Add the butter to the hot carrots. Purée until smooth.

2. In a small bowl combine the flour, sugar and baking powder and add to carrots. In the same bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla together and add to carrots. Puree all ingredients until well mixed and smoothed.

3. Transfer carrot mixture to a buttered 2-quart baking dish. Bake 1 hour or until mixture is set.

 

Deviled Eggs

No Easter table would be complete without a tray of boiled eggs cut in half and filled with a tangy/sweet yolk mixture covered with paprika. Deviled Eggs recipes are usually family recipes and I personally don’t think you should change family recipes. I have replaced regular sweet relish with Wickles Relish, but other than that, I make my mama’s deviled eggs. That being said, I am giving you the basic recipe and a variation that will undoubtedly appeal to those who insist on having everything spicy.

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed

3 tablespoons Duke's mayonnaise

½ teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

1 ½ tablespoons sweet pickle relish (or Wickles Relish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika

Directions:

1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a small mixing bowl.

2. Mash yolks with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, relish, salt, and pepper; stir until well combined and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Spoon egg mixture into eggs and sprinkle with paprika.

Variation: For a deviled egg with a little heat and extra flavor, add 1 jalapeño pepper (seeded and diced) and 2 pieces of crumbled cooked bacon.

 

Mini Cream Cheese Pies with Lemon Curd

I just love individual desserts. Who doesn’t want their very own pie? I have included a recipe for Lemon Curd, but if you are short on time, Lemon Curd can be found at most grocery stores with the pie fillings. If you want to make your own, make it a day in advance to let it set.

Ingredients:

1 package of 6 mini graham cracker crusts

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup lemon juice

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Lemon Curd

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, until well combined. Add the eggs and yolks and beat for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and mix until blended. It will look lumpy.

2. In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it melts. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. (It’s ready when the mixture coats your spoon.) Don’t let it boil. Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

Cream Cheese Filling

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.

2. Add sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice to cream cheese and combine well.

3. Pour mixture into pie shells (there will be some left over) and chill for 1 hour minimum.

4. After the cream cheese is set, top with lemon curd. Keep pies refrigerated.

 

Bunny Biscuits

I found this on Pinterest and just couldn’t resist trying it! These are easy and your family will love the special touch. They would be great to have for breakfast before going to church. (Adapted from What2cook.net)

Ingredients:

1 can refrigerated biscuits

Slivered almonds and dried cranberries

Directions:

1. Use half of the biscuits as the faces. The other half of the biscuits will be the ears.

2. To make the ears, cut the biscuit in half and attach to the top of the heads, shaping them like bunny ears. Decorate the bunny faces with cranberry eyes and noses and slivered almonds for whiskers.

3. Bake according to the directions on the can.