This Easter weekend was sweet, just the bit of fun and family-time we've been needing here. Our dinner at my in-laws' home was Saturday evening. I had worked Friday night so was going on no sleep by the time Mike and I arrived at his parents' house Saturday afternoon, but his mom had a bed ready for me--(Is there anything more inviting to a weary traveler than a cozy bed with a soft old comforter prettily folded across the foot of it?! Saturday afternoon, at least, I thought not. "Close the window blinds if you want to," my mother-in-law said as I headed upstairs, and ohhh, bliss! It felt like The Best Nap Ever)--and even those two hours of sleep in it were enough to revive me for the day ahead. By the time I got up, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend had already arrived, and soon, we were all visiting and cooking.
I had volunteered to make macaroni and cheese and a couple desserts, Mike arrived with snack mix and pink beet-pickled eggs, my brother-in-law's girlfriend made green bean casserole (love! ♥) and brought a giant chocolate fruit/nut egg and graham crackers to go with a dessert dip, and my mother-in-law baked the ham, a beef roast, potatoes and gravy, rolls, and this amazing tossed salad (minus the curry powder that's called for in the recipe). Oh my goodness, I finished my first serving of salad and refilled my bowl twice more, and I would have happily eaten even more of it. The recipe sounds so simple, and the dressing sounds like it would be too sweet or just not flavorful enough--just mayonnaise with sugar?!--but all the salad ingredients go so well with that simple dressing, this has become one of my new favorite foods. ♥ I ate another bowl of it for lunch yesterday afternoon after Mike and I helped sort and clean his parents' basement. Love, love, love.
Since I'd known I'd be going on almost no sleep Saturday, I just made a couple quick and easy desserts: Chocolate-covered jumbo bunny-shaped marshmallows topped with mini chocolate chips, Easter sugar pearls, and chopped nuts, and Easter bark-type candies/layered bars. The jumbo bunny marshmallow had no discernible shape by the time the melted chocolate and toppings covered them, so I'll probably just neatly pipe chocolate onto them next time, then add the toppings, but everyone seemed to love the Easter bark, and for something that only took about five minutes to make, that was especially sweet. There are countless photos of Easter bark online, and they're all gorgeous. The layers of pastels and the textures of all the different ingredients people use: Just gorgeous. For these, I mixed a bag's worth of melted white chocolate chips with about three cups of mini Easter bunny marshmallows, some broken-up pretzel sticks, more of the Easter pearl candies, some chopped-up pastel chocolate-covered egg candies, a splash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of salt, spooned it all into a 13" x 9" pan, added a bunch of mini marshmallow bunnies to the top, chilled it in the freezer for about twenty minutes, then cut/broke it into pieces right before we got on the road Saturday morning. The pretzels and salt cut the sweetness just enough, the milk chocolate candy eggs cut some of the strength of the white chocolate chips, and it was just textured enough to be interesting and was certainly pretty enough to satisfy me. It would likely look neater spooned into pretty cupcake papers, and I have seen photos of the bark cut out with cookie cutters, as well, but the rougher cuts suited me, and doing it this way was so fast and easy Saturday morning. Mike's mom made Rice Krispie treats with Easter egg and grass sprinkles on top too, so there was no shortage of charming desserts. And charming desserts always tickle me, so seeing everyone make up little paper plates of pastel bars and candies and marshmallows and crackers and dip made me happy.
Sometimes a holiday is just what you need, with all its inherent family silliness and childlike fun, and indeed, this weekend with all its pastel prettiness did our hearts good. There was a shared crying jag over my father-in-law's absence at the table while we said grace Saturday, but as I pointed out, he would have loved it that we had all gotten together instead of skipping or ignoring the holiday this year. Life goes on, and we will continue to show up for it, indulging in naps and tears when needed and sharing Rice Krispie treats and chocolate-covered eggs along the way, as well. ♥