Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I adore holidays. I was going to say especially ones where the kids have some magic like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus but I also really love holidays that bring people together like Thanksgiving and the 4th. So, yeah, just about every holiday is awesome as far as I’m concerned. So we’ve been doing it up with the kids with crafts and baking and celebrating with friends. With just two more sleeps to go, the littlest ones are hyped for the hunt and since Wee One #1 is turning 13 this year instead of subjecting him to the standard-issue egg hunt, we are doing up a treasure hunt for him where he’ll find things along the way with clues for what’s next and then at the end his basket of mostly non-sugary items. I can hardly wait.
The other exciting news is that we are moving to a bigger place on Monday – within the same complex! So we get the upgrade of more space and a yard and a bigger kitchen, and we don’t have to lose the pool or this amazing location where all the essentials (and so much fun) are a short walk away. I’m packing up soooome things, since everyone keeps reminding me that I can literally just walk all of our stuff over to the new place in just a few hours. I also don’t want to turn the place upside down before Easter, but a little chaos is pretty natural for the 5 of us.
After posting all of our Easter fun this week, it occurred to me that some people may like to make actual Easter bread for their families this weekend, not sweet bread stuffed with cheese and made to look like bunnies and not Greek Easter bread, but you know, standard old school straight up Easter bread. Like your granny probably made, in a braid, with dyed eggs on top.
Standard Easter Bread – I’ve been using this recipe forever
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 pkg)
2/3 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons butter
4 or 5 whole, dyed eggs (they don’t need to be hard boiled first since they’ll cook in the oven with the bread)
2 tablespoons butter (to brush over dough before baking)
Pretty standard bread dough. Mix 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast. Then warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan and mix this in with the flour mixture.
Let it set for about 10 minutes, then add the eggs and another 1/2 cup of the flour and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Slowly add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Now turn out the dough and knead it for about 8 minutes.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and put the dough in. I usually use the same bowl I mixed it in. Cover it with a damp cloth in a warm place and let it rise for about an hour. It should be double the size.
Punch down the dough and divide into three pieces. Let them rest 10 minutes.
Roll out each piece into about a 36″ strip and loosely braid them, then join the ends. Or don’t, some people make it a ring and some don’t. Delish, either way. My recipe card says ‘lay eggs’! Haha, place the eggs around the braid, brush with butter and bake for about 50 minutes at 350.
This is a quick and fun activity for the littles in the days before Easter that doesn’t require too much prep for them to do it all themselves. When Wee One #3 does something entirely on her own, she’s the happiest kid in. the. world.
The prep took me maybe half an hour the night before and it entertained both girls for way longer than it should have – almost an hour. That’s like, daaaaays in preschooler time! Of course they got glue all over the table and a little on themselves, but they also made 5 of these little Easter chicks each and they’re currently hanging in the living room window to decorate our patio! Cute!
yellow paper plates
yellow wings (either teardrop shapes cut from construction paper or craft feathers)
orange construction paper legs (accordion long strips of paper)
orange construction paper feet
small orange diamonds for beaks
glue (most fun for littles is a fresh bottle of white glue)
googley eyes (or you can lose them the night before like I did, and suggest they use markers)
I made one myself after I had prepped all the pieces so they’d have a finished product to go by, but I told them if they wanted the accordion legs to be arms, that’s their call. They ended up making them as I had because they decided that was ‘the cutest way’.
I’m sure you can figure it out, but they found it helpful to glue the feet to the legs and then glue the legs to the body.
Are these Eastery? I’m not sure that rainbows = Easter, but my littles seem to think so, so I embraced it and we whipped up these little treats yesterday. This recipe makes A LOT of cookies, so my neighbors will be getting an extra visit this week!
Rainbow Cookies via Pint Sized Baker
3 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups room temp butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Jello! I used grape, blue raspberry, orange and strawberry (you can use whatever flavors you want)
It starts out as a pretty standard cookie. You know, cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and vanilla. Stir the baking powder into the flour and slowly add that to the butter mixture.
Then the magic happens! Divide the dough into as many pieces as you have Jello flavors. I only had four flavors when my littles wanted to make this right now with a whole lotta urgency, so I had four big pieces.
Sprinkle about two tablespoons of Jello powder per piece. I found using a spoon in a big bowl helped mix it in faster. Some flavors will need more than two tablespoons – with the grape I ended up using a little Wilton food coloring to kick it up to actual purple (instead of this wimpy lavender color it was giving me). I scooped out 1/2 tablespoon balls and dropped them in a bowl of their matching Jello powder before flattening them with a Hello Kitty shot glass. You could use any drinking glass I guess.
Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes! The kids loved them and they smelled amazing.
These little bunny buns are the cutest food I’ve made in a very long time. So so cute. I will admit right now – some of them look like cats. But you can tell they’re all at least trying to be bunnies. It’s actually a very basic and entirely painless process. Essentially, you mix it all together, leave it alone for a bit, then roll it around, a couple of snips and pokes later, and you’re done! Easy!
The dough itself is just a little sweet, so you could also play that up with a desserty filling like cream or chocolate or jam or something. It’s not too sweet to interfere with savory fillings though, so I went with Monterey Jack because Wee One #3 was helping and it’s her favorite. 3 of the 20 or so that I made leaked in the oven. My kids and carbs are best buddies though so they were happy to eat the deformed ones.
I will use this dough again for sure. It has great potential for some kind of cinnamon bun situation! Or pizza pockets!
Sweet Bunny Buns via Kit Frazier
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup warm water
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 oz active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dissolve 2 tablespoons sugar in warm milk and water. Add yeast and set aside 10 minutes.
Stir in the rest of the sugar, salt and 2 cups flour.
Mix until the dough holds together and isn’t sticky, add more flour if you need to. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, cover and allow to double, about 1 hour.
After you punch it down and roll it out, roll a long log, cut into 18 pieces (you may get more or less depending on how big you make the pieces), and roll each piece into an oval shape. I filled mine with small pieces of cheese.
Use kitchen scissors to make small snips in the front of each oval, and use a knitting needle to poke some eyes (or I suppose you could use a toothpick or something, but the original recipe used a knitting needle too). The instructions I wrote to myself on the index card for this recipe were ‘Cut ears. Poke eyes’
If you use cheese (or whatever) as a filling, make sure you pinch the dough closed securely! It’s so not fun to make treats like these and see the filling running out of the buns in the oven! Also, bake them seam side down!
Before you pop them in the oven, brush them with an egg wash (1 egg and a bit of water). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
I know that traditionally, Easter is very pastely, but I’m not a huge fan of pastels when it comes to Easter eggs (or anything really). A general rule for dying eggs is to just use water and your food coloring of choice if you want light eggs, add a little lemon juice for slightly brighter eggs and add a bit of vinegar for bright eggs. I knew I was going to go the vinegar route and I had a whole lotta food coloring. Still, those tiny food coloring jars from the grocery store are only going to get the eggs so bright, you need to amp up the food coloring to get them really, really, bright. So I used Wilton Food Coloring. Normally this gel food coloring is reserved for fondant and buttercream but you know, mega watt Easter eggs were top priority for me lol.
hard boiled eggs (le duh)
Wilton food coloring
3/4 cup hot water (per egg)
1 tablespoon white vinegar (per egg)
When I cooked these eggs, the oven was still hot from baking, so I just filled a couple of muffin tins with eggs and cooked them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes. Then I left them in there for a while longer after I turned the oven off. Then I let them soak in a big bowl of cold water for another 30 minutes before I started dying them.
The hands on part of the process is pretty minimal, and the longer you leave the eggs dying, the brighter they’ll be!
Once your eggs are cooked and cooled, pour 3/4 cup of hot water in each cup. Use a toothpick (because a little bit is really all you need with this stuff) to dissolve the food coloring paste in the water. Now add the 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to each cup and mix. Now plunk your eggs in – one to a cup! I made 2 dozen so the counter was littered with cups and I left them there for a day and a night! The littles insisted on checking on them every time they walked by, and it was neat to see the colors get deeper. These eggs were made for the potluck last weekend and since there were so many babies and small toddlers there I didn’t embellish them any further, but when I make these again this weekend for my littles, I’ll dress them up a lot more.
Whatever you do with them, the crazy bright colors feel festive and are a great canvas for further decorating.
This is a pretty neat idea I bookmarked a couple of years ago on Say Yes to Hoboken. It’s very simple but very cute and can be used in Easter hunts, baskets or the as the original site suggested, as place settings! I made them for an Easter potluck my mommy group put on. I’ll post pictures of all of that
insanity fun tonight!
First tap the top off your eggs and empty them, (refrigerate for baking or scrambling later). Then rinse them and let dry overnight (or longer).
Once they’re dry, fill them with whatever treats you want! I filled half with jellybeans for the kids and half with stickers for the toddlers.
Using a paintbrush, tissue paper and a whole lotta glue, attack these little guys until they are covered. Then let them dry for about a day! Voila!
I love, love, love Greek Easter bread (technically it’s called Tsoureki). My mother is Greek so any time we celebrated something a second time because of the Eastern Orthodox calendar we just called it Greek Christmas or Greek Easter or whatever food we were eating that was slightly different because of the Mediterranean influence we’d toss the word Greek in front of it and my sister and I would happily partake in whatever it was. Now that I’m older and have been ribbed by my friends for years that it’s actually Eastern Orthodox Christmas and Eastern Orthodox Easter we were celebrating two weeks after the western version and that it’s more like Mediterranean chicken and pilaf – not just for Greeks – but I don’t care. I still use ‘Greek’ instead of ‘Eastern Orthodox’ and I can’t help it.
This year, Greek Easter falls an entire month after western Easter but I’m baking up some Tsoureki anyway – because why not? I made this before we left Canada and one of my (painfully honest) Greek aunts said it was good, which is the equivalent of angels singing and clouds parting after two days in the kitchen trying to get it right. All it takes is the right recipe – and a little patience.
Tsoureki via Thea Rika
8 cups all purpose flour (plus more for counter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk
3 envelopes dry yeast
1 2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 2/3 cup sugar
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon mahlab
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
sesame seeds or chopped almonds for sprinkling
1 red egg (optional)
It’s not that far from making sweet rolls, really.
Sift the flour and the salt, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (not too hot or it’ll kill the yeast), after a few minutes add 1/2 cup flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Now let it sit till it foams up. I usually cover it too.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the rest of the sugar, the orange zest, lemon zest and mahlab. Remove from heat and stir in the beaten eggs.
Using a large bowl, combine your yeast mixture with your warmish egg and butter mixture and very slowly add in the flour. Cover it and let it rise for two hours.
Now is the fun part! Sprinkle your counter with flour, punch down the dough and knead it. Separate it into four balls and let them rest for 10 minutes. Roll the pieces into long strips, about 12″ long. Braid the dough, tuck it into a loaf pan and place your eggs in the braid. Let it rise again, this time for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 350.
Before you pop it in the oven, brush an egg wash over it (just water and an egg whisked together) and sprinkle with sesame seeds or almonds (or not). Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
I found these little cuties over at Mollie Makes and I’m set on making one for each wee person coming to our Easter potluck! The bigger kids will get bunnies with button eyes and the babies will get bunnies with embroidered eyes. I’m still working on them and some other little treats for the baskets, I’ll post the finished product when it’s ready but I had to share this pattern! Even if you don’t feel that you knit very well you can pull these little guys together.
Their construction is pretty simple. You knit one ear and place it on a safety pin to keep the stitches live. Then knit the second ear and just knit the first ear onto the same needle as the second. Then the base of the bunny is knitted after that so it’s all one piece, no seaming! Hooray, I totally hate seaming (and you probably do too)!
These bunnies are deliciously wonky and I adore them this way. There are so many patterns for less wonky creatures but I think there’s something about the silliness of this pattern that makes me happier than it probably should.
This is for sure one of the more random holiday crafts I’ve tried my hand at, but when I saw one I knew I had to see it for myself. I decided to try it now because Peeps were on sale at Big Lots and this is not an edible craft once it’s been put together!
I have seen so many different versions of this project online I think we all gather our supplies, sit down with a tutorial and then we each attack it differently! That’s what happened at our house anyway and it worked out pretty well I think.
-lots and lots and lots of peeps in different colors (chicks or bunnies, your choice)
-small flower pot
-eleventy billion toothpicks
-at least one bag of jellybeans
-spray adhesive helped me a whole lot
The only rules to follow really are to cut your florists’ block to fit your flower pot, poke your dowels in there and poke the styrofoam ball on top. Fill the flower pot with jellybeans to cover the florists’ block and away you go with the peeps! I found it helpful to spray a little spray adhesive on the back of each peep and on the toothpick so the toothpick would stick to the peep and the peep would stick to the styrofoam ball (and later to other peeps). I know the marshmallow holds on to the toothpicks anyway, but after a while gravity takes hold and really pulls those suckers down.
This tree is not really the kind of deco that kicks around from year to year. Since the jellybeans are loose it’s not really storage friendly, and since it takes some serious black magic for this thing to stay together without glue on it, it’s not like you can eat it when Easter hits.
I do however have a fun Easter morning deco that is edible but you’ll have to wait till we are a whole lot closer to Easter for that little gem.
I. Love. Easter.
I know, I know. I love Valentine’s Day and Halloween and Christmas too. So what? I love to bake for my littles and their buddies and craft like a kid and any excuse for a party of small people makes me incredibly happy. My goal this year is to find the time to blog about it all!
My husband found some pastel candy corn while out running errands and knew I’d be able to use them for ‘something cute’. He was right, naturally!
Technically, cake pops are made by mashing frosting into cake and shaping into balls before poking sticks in the ends and dipping in melted chocolate. Lately, I have been using my Babycakes Cake Pop Maker and then poking a stick in and dipping in chocolate. This time around though, I felt that it called for ‘traditional’ cake pops and I went with mashing frosting into cake for the right texture.
The pastel candy corn of course ended up being used as their cute little ears. I used individual sprinkles and my serious kitchen tweezers for the eyes and little butterfly sprinkles for their noses. You can really use whatever you want as decoration for the bunnies as long as you get a basic bunny shape. If you’re feeling especially adventurous you can always make some cake pops and invite the kids to decorate them with you!
We were passing them out to school friends so we wrapped them up. I think I will make another batch to spread some Easter joy in our neighborhood!