Party Planning: Spring Egg Hunt

…dotted and photographed by Meghann*

After a sleepy, dormant winter — even one like the mild one we’ve had here in New England — I’m beyond ready to celebrate the fresh “new-ness” that spring inevitably brings.

Starting in February, I start yearning for warm sunny days, outdoor parties with friends and the sweet release that comes from knowing that one’s children will be playing in the grass instead of one’s — ahem — jewelry box. By mid-March I’m practically frantic for a good ole’-fashioned good time. And so this year, the Van Dorn clan is starting an annual tradition: the Spring Egg Hunt.

I’m not going to lie, I L-O-V-E to plan a party…and I definitely may tend to go a wee bit overboard  (case in point, this is the loot that I’ve scrounged up so far from various sources … and this doesn’t even include the chocolate-covered plastic egg-stuffing yumminess) but I’m having so much fun with it that I sort of decided to let myself run with it this year. I mean, this is an annual thing right? So these items a investments to be reused for years to come? Right? Right … that’s what I thought too.

We’re hosting this little pre-Easter shindig next weekend; we’ll be hosting about 30 people all told  for a Sunday Brunch n’ Hunt. I’m working on the menu at the moment but here’s what I’m thinking:

Menu

I am by no means a gourmet but I do have a soft spot for quiches and stratas so I’m going to try a little of both…with some yummy  (and relatively healthy) sweets as well. So here’s what I’m thinking:

Food:

Hearty:

Sweet: 

Drink:

For the adults: 

  • Mimosas,
  • Bloody Marys
  • Coffee
  • Assorted juices

For the Kids: 

  • Milk
  • Assorted juice boxes

I’ll check back in after the event with photos and recipe reviews but if anyone out there has a fabulous recipe or idea that they want to share, please do! In the meantime, enjoy this insanely gorgeous weather (which will be ending shortly before the party begins. Of course.)

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Spinach & Cheese Strata

From www.smittenkitchen.com (as adapted from Gourmet February, 2003)

Serves:  6 to 8

Time:  20 active minutes plus 45-55 minutes baking.

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Top with one-third of bread cubes,one-third of spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 **********

Cheese, Onion, Ham & Mushroom Quiche

Adapted from cooks.com

Serves:  6 to 8

Time:  10 active minutes plus 45-55 minutes baking.

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. milk (per egg)
  • 1 1/2 c. grated cheese
  • 1 ham steak, finely diced and sauteed briefly with onions and mushrooms
  • 1/4 c. sauteed onion
  • 10 lg. sauteed mushrooms, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 deep dish pie shell

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Beat eggs in milk. Add cheese, bacon, onion, mushrooms, salt and pepper, then mix well with wooden spoon. Pour into uncooked pie shell.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
 **********

Yogurt Cake or Gâteau au Yaourt

Adapted from Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. I’m hoping my little guy will help me make this a la française…but I’m not holding my breath.

Makes:  1 loaf

Time:  15 active minutes plus 40 minutes baking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (6oz) containers of plain yogurt (keep containers for measuring the other ingredients)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 containers sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 container of vegetable oil
  • 4 containers flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Crème fraîche (optional)
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F
  • Coat a loaf pan or 9″ round cake pan with cooking spray or oil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stir until just combined.
  • Scoop it all into your baking pan, bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden and the cake springs up when touched (or when a toothpick inserted is pulled out clean). Let it cool on a rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar (optional) and serve with the Crème fraîche (optional).
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Banana Bread Bites

Courtesy of my friend Taice Perrotti; a true gourmet…

Makes:  1 loaf

Time:  20 active minutes plus one hour baking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 bananas – mashed
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.
Coat a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and then coat all sides and bottom of pan with flour.
Beat together eggs and sugar on medium speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes – until pale yellow and creamy.
Reduce speed to low and add in oil, mix until incorporated.
Add in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for another minute.
Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt) and fold them into the wet ingredients.Fold in the walnuts (optional).
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


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