My fear that I’m turning into a grown-up continued to increase this past weekend when, for the first time in my life, I chose to not spend a major holiday with my parents. For a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, the cost of train tickets, the fact that I had just been home, and the impossibility of spending Sunday at home, getting back to Chicago at a decent hour, and making it to work the next day, I chose to stay in the city for Easter.
This past week has been absolute madness for me–I turned my laptop off before bed last Monday and didn’t have the chance to turn it back on until Sunday–and the weekend was no exception. Even though I was away from my family for Easter, I still wanted to celebrate with my family’s traditional food, but I couldn’t possibly justify making a huge Easter dinner for myself. I have a friend I’ve wanted to cook for for quite some time, and Easter seemed like the perfect opportunity to make that happen.
However, I didn’t just want to impress my friend with my cooking — I also wanted to impress them with my apartment. That meant nearly every second of free time I had on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday was spent scrubbing every surface, washing every linen, and sweeping every square inch of floor in my place. I haven’t deep cleaned my apartment since I hosted cookie decorating back in December, so it was long overdue for a good sprucing up.
Complete with flowers!
When I wasn’t cooking or cleaning this weekend, I was running or dancing. Saturday’s weather was perfect and I had a five miler on my calendar, so I knocked that out before tackling the rest of my Saturday to-do list. It was fabulous. My last 5+ run was the Title 9K back in October, so it’s been quite some time since I’ve had a nice, long run, and I really missed it.
I always have one dance class on Saturday afternoons, but I’ve got extra class credits on my account and another class only offered on Saturdays caught my eye, so I ended up taking two dance classes on Saturday. Fortunately neither one of them was *too* cardio heavy, so I wasn’t completely killing myself, but the timing is a bit frustrating. I can only take those classes on Saturdays, and I can also only long run on Saturdays…problematic for sure. Guess it’s a good thing Fridays are my rest days?
I had no intention of running more than five miles on Saturday, but when a particular boy, who may or may not be cute, and who may or may not dance hip hop with me, called and asked if I wanted to go for a run…well, who was I to turn that down? So I accidentally did a two-a-day on both the dance and running fronts on Saturday and tossed what ended up turning into a 5K onto my miles for the day. I mean, you know. The last time I ran that many miles in one day was my half marathon, which was six and a half months ago. Whatever. Needless to say, as soon as I got out of the shower post-second run on Saturday, my compression sleeves and shorts immediately went on and did not come off until I left for church on Sunday morning.
I also more than made up for all that activity on Sunday, which was filled with all sorts of good eats. After not eating sweets for Lent (more on that later this week, if I have time to write about it), I dove right back into the world of sugar on Easter, and it was glorious. Up first: Pineapple Coconut Oil Banana Bread.
I haven’t done any baking in months, so it was wonderful to get back in the kitchen and whip something up for Sunday morning breakfast. Growing up, we always had some sort of pastry with Sunday breakfast, but I haven’t continued that tradition for myself now that I live on my own. Having something sweet with meal was a nice way of incorporating home into my breakfast, and the bread is pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself. Highly recommended for pineapple fans!
Right before I left for church, I tossed a small (2 lbs., I think? Maybe 3) ham in the crock pot with 1/3 c. maple syrup and somewhere between 3/4 c. and 1 c. of pineapple juice. Most of the crock pot ham recipes I found online required a huge crock pot, which I definitely don’t have. I wasn’t sure how to properly alter any of those large recipes to fit a smaller crock pot and smaller ham, so I did a test run of that maple syrup/pineapple juice mix with a fully cooked brown sugar glazed ham earlier in the week and was happy enough with the results, so I did it again on Sunday. I had the crock pot on low for about 3.5 hours and then turned it off but kept the cover on until it was time to eat. When I did my test run earlier in the week, I found the ham got a little dry when I left it alone for 4.5 hours in the crock pot, which is why I turned the crock pot off after 3.5 hours (though I did turn it back on for maybe 10-15 minutes at a time before leaving it off for another 20ish while I waited for the rest of the food to cook). I also regularly basted the ham with the maple syrup/pineapple juice combination in an attempt to keep it from drying out, and I think I was pretty successful.
When I wasn’t basting the ham, I was busy assembling my family’s scalloped potatoes. My mom has never made scalloped potatoes with cheese, and while I’m certainly not opposed to cheesy potatoes, I was looking to recreate my family’s usual Easter dinner, so I kept cheese out of my potatoes as well.
These potatoes are one of those no-one-in-the-family-has-ever-written-it-down sort of numbers, which was just thrilling to me. I think there’s something so wonderful about old family recipes, and I’m glad I now have my family’s method for making scalloped potatoes in my mental recipe arsenal.
Originally I planned on making a green bean vegetable side dish, but after unexpectedly finding myself grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s with my friend earlier in the week and discovering that green beans aren’t their favorite vegetable, I had to rethink things. My aunt often makes Dilled Corn and Peas at family gatherings, so since I was going for a family-inspiried dinner anyway, I figured I’d make that in place of the beans.
It’s a super simple dish to put together and I thought it turned out well.
The star of the show, though, was definitely dessert.
As you may recall, I stressed and stressed about what dessert I wanted to make for Easter. After much Googling, Pinteresting, and a really embarrassing amount of time spent weighing the pros and cons of nearly every non-bunny Easter dessert I could find, I finally settled on Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars.
(I recommend popping over to Sally’s Baking Addiction if you want to see real photography of these beauties, or if you’re just in the mood to drool over the greatest looking desserts known to Blogland).
I’m happy to report that these bars went over swimmingly. I know lemon can be tricky, because not everyone loves it, but my friend raved and raved about them, which thrilled me. I really, really wanted to impress my friend with the whole Easter experience and spent a lot of last week stressing hardcore about it, so it was a huge relief to have everything work out so well. Even with all the stress that went into planning, it easily ended up being one of the best Easters I’ve ever had, and I’m so glad I opted to stay in the city.
How was your Easter?
What’s your go-to dish when you’re trying to impress someone?