It’s a good thing holidays only come once a year, because every holiday comes with decadent array of goodies that are oh so bad for you. Grandma’s easter eggs are no exception. God, I love these things, but god are they bad for you. I suppose the coconut eggs are slightly better for you, but really, once you’re in this stratosphere of unhealthy food, does it really matter?

Coconut Mix

There’s not much I can say that I didn’t say yesterday. These things aren’t really complex; they are awesome in their simplicity. I prefer the coconut a bit. Make them, share them, enjoy them.

Coconut Easter Eggs

Grandma Bachetti’s Coconut Easter Eggs
1 bag sweetened shredded coconut
1 stick butter
5 tablespoons evaporated milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Mix the bag of coconut, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla in a stand mixer under low speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar to avoid the dust cloud effect. Scrape down the sides occasionally and continue mixing until well combined. Taking about two hand fulls, form an egg in your hands and set on a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. These will be a it wetter/stickier than the peanut butter eggs, but you shouldn’t have much trouble. If you do, add more powdered sugar.

Put your eggs in the fridge to chill while you prepare your ganache. When the ganache has cooled but still liquidy, pour over your eggs and let harden back in the fridge. Enjoy.

My grandmother was the glue on my father’s side of the family. Every so often for one reason or another the Bachetti’s would gather at her home in Front Royal; catching up with people we probably hadn’t seen since the last get-together. My grandmother would send letters, make phone calls… do what it took to keep the family together. As a boy I never recognized all the work she did behind the scenes. When she passed away we didn’t just lose her. We lost our family.

Lotta Peanu Butter

When you grow up you make your own family, your own tribe. You meet people, you build something, you foster a community, a support system, an ecosystem of love. These are made in part by your blood but also by others you meet in your life. When my grandmother passed away the “looser” family members in each person’s tribe started to slip away, and I’m sad to say no one took up the reigns. I don’t remember the last time I talked with my uncle.

Mixing Peanut Butter, Butter and Powdered Sugar

Eventually I learned that most relationships can’t survive without upkeep; not the ones that really matter at least. Without attention they wither and eventually die. Most don’t take much. A letter, a phone call, a photo over e-mail. We all have our ways one one of mine is of course food.

Grandma's Peanut Butter Eggs

Every Easter we would visit my grandmother and every Easter she’d have for us these delicious peanut butter and coconut eggs. Oh, how I loved them. A few years ago I took up her tradition, making them for my friends and family. The recipe is amazingly simple. If this Easter has you thinking about rekindling some past relationships, consider these as a possible method.

Grandma's Peanut Butter Eggs covered in chocolate

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Eggs – Makes approximately 8 eggs
2 lbs peanut butter
2 sticks butter; room temperature
5 tablespoons evaporated milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
4-5 cups powdered sugar

Mix the peanut butter, butter, milk and vanilla together in a stand mixer on low speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar (to avoid a sugar cloud), scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Don’t worry about over mixing, there’s no flour to over mix. The peanut butter should start pulling away from the bowl, but still stay together. Try balling it in your hands. If it sticks, you need more powdered sugar.

Grab approximately two handfuls and shape into an egg. Place on a wax covered baking pan. Let chill in the refrigerator while you make your ganache (grandma didn’t have a chocolate ganache recipe and honestly neither do I). Pour over your eggs after ganache has cooled but is still liquidy. Let harden in fridge and enjoy.

I started a new project at work this week and the change of pace has really been nice. In an attempt to hit the ground running and ramp up quickly I’ve been spending extra hours at the client site; which unfortunately leaves me a bit drained in the evenings. I’ve been without soup for lunch for far too long! Time to change that and introduce a new ingredient: wild rice.

Wild Rice

Wild rice is a great change from your classic white or brown you’re probably more use to cooking with. Not only is it great for you (great source of protein, lysine and dietary fiber. also low in fat), but it’s got a great earthy nutty flavor to it. It’s hard to describe; it tastes “thick.” When cooked the rice “blossoms,” as the inside breaks out of its darker skin. Because of its thickness, it can take longer to cook (45+ minutes) and takes more water (four cups of water to one cup of rice).

Mixture of Vegetables

I wanted something that that said “comfort food;” a label I don’t often give to the healthier soups. At the same time I wanted to preserve the wild rice’s presence instead of it serving as a filler. I decided on it’s major accompaniment to be red bell pepper and fire roasted tomatoes and was very pleased with the result. The moderate use heavy cream keeps it relatively healthy while making it indulgent. I’ve had to use sheer force of will to save it for lunch. The only thing I’d change is possibly adding another pepper. Either way, this earns a spot on my favorite soup list. Let us know what you think!

Creamy Red Bell Pepper Soup with Wild Rice

Creamy Red Bell Pepper Soup with Wild Rice
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup uncooked wild rice; rinsed and drained
1 yellow onion; diced
1 red bell pepper; diced
3 garlic cloves; minced
1 large carrot; diced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
8oz cauliflower; chopped into small florets
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 to 1 cup combination of heavy cream and stock

Cook the rice per the package’s instructions; probably in four cups of lightly salted water for 45 minutes. Rice should be chewy but not crunchy. Remember we’ll be cooking it longer with the rest of the ingredients.

In a large pot, sweat the onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves and carrot in oil for 10 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes along with the rice, cauliflower, stock and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes allowing everything to mingle well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Now here’s where your tastes come in. You have two questions: how creamy and how thick? Start with at least 1/4 cup heavy cream and taste. If you want thick and lightly creamy, you’re done. If you want creamier, add more cream. If you want less thick add more stock. Either way, mix together and enjoy.