Then I tried to make Polish Easter Bread, but I'm sad to report that it did not turn out well. The dough was WAY too soft, even when I kneaded an extra cup of flour into it. So I'm wondering if something was wrong with the recipe? Also, the heat from the oven cracked the eggshells and the colors bled, and it was just a big old mess. Oh well. Win some, lose some.
I also made a ham based on The Pioneer Woman's recipe, but with MUCH less brown sugar (one cup), and I used a bottle of root beer instead of Coke or Dr. Pepper. Also, I didn't pre-cook the glaze. I just whisked together the brown sugar, mustard, and apple cider vinegar, then glazed the ham with it right from the beginning, poured the root beer in the bottom of the pan, covered the whole thing with foil, and cooked it for two hours. Then I uncovered it and basted it with the glaze frequently until it was cooked through. Easy and DELISH!
Root Beer-Glazed Easter Ham
(Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
1 whole fully cooked bone-in ham (15-18 pounds--mine was about 10 lbs.)
whole cloves (I skipped these--the root beer has a similar spicy flavor)
3 cups brown sugar (I used only one cup)
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1 can Dr Pepper or Coke (or root beer!)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Score the surface of the ham in a diamond pattern about 1/8-inch deep. Place cloves in the middle of each diamond. Place the ham in a large roasting pan with a rack, tent it with foil, and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours---or longer, depending on the package directions. (Some hams may require 3 to 3 1/2 hours at a lower temp; just check the package.)
Heat the brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and soda in a small saucepan until bubbly. Cook until reduced and a bit thicker, about 15 minutes. (I didn't cook the glaze ahead of time. It turned out fine even with skipping this step!)
After about two hours of baking time, remove the foil and brush the glaze on the ham in 20 minutes intervals (put the ham back in the oven, uncovered, in between) until it's nice and glossy. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 15-20 minutes before carving.
To go with the ham, I made another classic PW recipe, the same Spanish-style green beans I made at Thanksgiving (a new favorite around here!), and to complete the motif, a recipe for Potatoes Romanoff from a reader posting to PW's Tasty Kitchen site. I'm not sure how these potatoes are much different from twice-baked, just without the skins, but who cares? They are YUMMY! The main thing I did differently was to nuke the potatoes in the microwave, and then I sliced them in half and grated the flesh. So much easier than peeling potatoes!
(Source: adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
2 large minced shallots
2 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese, divided (I used an aged Swiss)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups sour cream
Preheat oven to 425 F. Wrap potatoes in aluminum foil. Bake potatoes on a pan in the oven until done, about an hour. Remove foil and let potatoes cool to room temperature. Put potatoes on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. (I nuked mine, then grated them as soon as they were cool enough to handle.)
Grate the chilled potatoes including skins (I grated the flesh only.) You can use a large box grater or a food processor. Transfer grated potatoes to a bowl and sprinkle in the shallots, 1 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and pepper.
Use your hands to gently toss together. Then fold in sour cream.Transfer mixture to a 1 1/2 quart gratin dish, making sure that you don’t compress it. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. (I covered mine as I don't like browned cheese.)
Bake at 350 F until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Lastly, for dessert I made a poppyseed version--adding 1/4 cup of poppy seeds--of my favorite Austrian tea cake with a simple almond-flavored glaze on top. DELISH!
Vanilla Almond Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In a medium sized bowl mix all ingredients together until smooth. Add more milk for desired consistency. You may also use regular milk, but I must say that evaporated milk gives a WAY better taste!
Drizzle over desired desserts.