Aunt B will be visiting with her two boys for Easter. I have my parents in town too. That means I need to prepare food for a group, which is actually something I like to do. I am not sure why cooking for a large group is so much more appealing to me than the daily cooking for my own small(er) family, but it is (see previous post). One idea I have for Easter brunch is Hash Brown Casserole. It is easy to assemble ahead, and it includes melted cheese, which automatically gives the recipe bonus points.
There are many variations of this casserole available, but I am sharing the recipe I use. I like to serve this casserole with ham or scrambled eggs. I also think it works well with steak or hamburgers later in the day.
- 1 2-lb package frozen, diced hash brown potatoes– thawed (the cubes)
- 1/2 c. melted butter
- 1 10-oz. can Campbell’s cream of celery soup (could replace with cream of chicken)
- 8-oz. sour cream
- 1/2 c. chopped green onions
- 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (+ a little extra to sprinkle on the top before baking)
- 1 t. salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
- Spread in a 9×11 casserole dish.
- Sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese on top.
- Cover in foil and bake for ~35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or so until the top is slightly golden and edges are bubbly.
After the novelty of the petal bag sewing project wore off, I launched into the next crafty activity– Ukrainian Easter Eggs. I haven’t made them for a few years because on top of the incredible time suck to complete just one egg, they require a lot of counter space, and they are not that kid friendly. The egg dying process involves hot wax and fire, and until this year, I didn’t really want to supervise Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars trying to make the eggs. I could have told them that they could not participate in the great Ukrainian egg decorating project and given them inferior PAAS dyes as a consolation but that would be cruel.
Ukrainian Easter Eggs are decorated using layers of beeswax and dyes. It takes a steady hand and a lot of patience. Sewing Sister can freehand hers, but I have to sketch guidelines with pencil to get better results. It can take several hours to make one egg, but the results are worth it (in this obsessive RoomMom’s opinion).
- Ukrainian Dye Set (I order a complete set of 17 from the Ukrainian Gift Shop)
- glass jars with wide mouths and lids for dyes (I use Mason jars)
- distilled water
- distilled white vinegar
- 1 fine delrin kistka
- 1 medium delrin kistka
- 1 heavy delrin kistka (optional)
- 1 cake of pure beeswax
- regular candle in a candle holder
- mechanical pencil with fine point
- paper towel
- Ukrainian Design Book (or search online)
- white extra large eggs
- Mix dyes according to dye packet instructions with boiled distilled water. You really need to order the Ukrainian egg dyes. The colors are much more vibrant than anything you find with the regular Easter supplies at WalMart or the grocery store, and they are made for adding one color over another. You want tall containers with lids like a wide mouth pint Mason jar. Let dyes cool overnight, and keep lids on the dyes when you are not using them.
- Bring eggs that you will be decorating to room temperature. The eggs are uncooked and NOT blown out. Wipe the egg gently with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar. This helps the dye coat the egg more evenly.
- Draw guidelines on your egg lightly with a fine mechanical pencil. I always use patterns from the Ukrainian design books I have, and it shows me how to divide the egg. Most eggs start with a basic division into 8 sections. Pencil in any other tricky parts of the design. Pencil mistakes can be erased by wiping the egg with a piece of paper towel moistened with white vinegar.
- Any areas of the egg that will stay white get covered with wax first.
- Light the candle and let it burn while you work. Gently hold your kistka (the drawing tool) in the side of the candle flame. Do not hold the point of the kistka in the flame. Once the kistka is hot, dig the back of the “well” in the beeswax to fill. Begin tracing the first lines in the pattern with the kistka. Stop every few strokes to reheat the little tool in the flame and fill with more beeswax as necessary. It will be a little like writing with an ink pen that needs to be dipped in ink.
- After covering all of the white parts of the design with wax, dip the egg in the lightest color (usually yellow). After several minutes (even up to 30 minutes), remove the egg from the dye, dry, and begin the next section of the design in the next lightest color.
- Repeat until the design is finished. Dip in the final color, which will be the background of the egg. With Ukrainian eggs, the last color is often royal blue or black.
- Remove the egg from the dye, dry completely by rolling and patting with paper towel.
- Carefully hold the egg near the flame of the candle and wait for the beeswax to begin to melt. When the wax looks glassy and melted, wipe the wax away with paper towel. Continue to clear small sections of wax until all wax has been removed from the egg. Adjust your piece of paper towel, so you are always wiping with a clean portion of the paper towel.
- After the egg is finished, you can drain it. I never do. The eggs are actually stronger if you leave them whole. Over time, the eggs dry out on their own if you keep them on a shelf out of drafts and movement. Do beware; if an egg cracks before it has completely dried out, you will come home to one stinky mess!
- Do not retrace lines. You may think that beeswax is not covering the egg, but it is. When you retrace lines, it creates duplicate, sketchy looking lines and will not look as tidy when complete.
- This process can be frustrating for kids (and beginners).