Happy Easter! Here are a few recipes to help make the day special. Some of the recipes may be made in advance.

Happy Easter! Here are a few recipes to help make the day special. Some of the recipes may be made in advance.



Sweet Chili Cream Cheese Dip

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

½ cup sweet chili sauce

¼ cup orange marmalade

¼ cup apricot or peach jam

In a bowl mix together chili sauce, orange marmalade, and apricot jam, until well blended.

Place cream cheese block on a serving dish and top with chili sauce. Serve with your favorite crackers or chips.


Bourbon Glazed Baked Ham

1 fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham

3 garlic cloves, minced then smashed

½ cup apricot jam

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

Zest of one orange

¼ cup fresh orange juice

2-3 tablespoons bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ham in a heavy roasting pan.

In a bowl stir together garlic, apricot jam, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and bourbon, stir until smooth. Pour 2/3 of the glaze over the ham, reserving glaze for later basting. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until ham is fully heated through and the glaze is well browned. Add more glaze if desired during baking. Serve hot or at room temperature. If there is glaze left over, serve on the side.


Roasted Carrots

12 full size, sweet carrots, peeled, cut in half crosswise, and then cut into half lengthwise

3 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch of fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Foil line a rimmed baking pan, set aside.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise, if not leave them and just cut in half crosswise. Slice the carrots diagonally into 2 -inch long slices. The carrots will shrink as they cook so make sure they are a good size.

In a bowl or on the foil lined baking pan, toss together olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, and carrots. Spread carrots on foil lined baking sheet in one layer and roast in oven for 20 minutes.

Toss the cooked carrots with chopped parley.


Potato Gratin

This gratin may be made days ahead and then reheated in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

2 medium Vidalia or sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, also some for greasing pan

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups heavy cream, plus 2-tablespoons

2 ½ cups grated or shredded gruyere or white cheddar cheese, about 8-ounces

Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 10 x 15 x 2 – inch baking dish or 10-cup baking casserole dish.

Sauté the sliced onions in olive oil and butter on medium low for about 15-18 minutes, until tender.

Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them. In a large bowl mix together potatoes, 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of cheese, salt, and pepper. Fold in the sautéed onion and mix well.

Pour the potato mixture into the prepared baking dish. Press downwith the back of a spoon to smooth out the potatoes or layer them, if desired.

In a bowl stir together 2 -tablespoons cream and ½ cup shredded cheese. Sprinkle this on top of potatoes. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 ½ hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes before serving.


Spinach Pie

This is similar to the Greek dish.

2 large Vidalia or sweet onions

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

1 teaspoon each kosher slat and fresh ground black pepper

3 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

7 large eggs room temperature and beaten

Pinch of nutmeg, if desired

4 tablespoons flavored bread crumbs

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

½ pound feta cheese, crumbled into large pieces

½ cup pignoli or pine nuts (Optional)

¼ pound butter, melted

6 sheets prepared phyllo dough, defrosted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium skillet sauté on medium heat onion with olive oil about 10-15 minutes until tender. Add garlic and sauté for another 2- minutes. Stir in salt and pepper and allow to cool, set aside.

Squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid from the spinach as possible. Put the spinach into a bowl then stir together with onions, eggs, nutmeg (if desired), Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, feta cheese, and pignoli nuts.

Butter an ovenproof, nonstick, 6-inch sauté pan and line it with 6 stacked sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet with meted butter and letting the edges hang over the pan. Pour the spinach mixture into the middle of the phyllo and neatly fold the edges up and over the top to seal in the filling.

Brush the top well with melted butter. Bake for one hour, until the top is golden brown and the filling is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is frosted on just the tops of the layers. There is enough frosting to frost the sides if desired.

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/3 cups canola oil

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups plus 1-tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound fresh carrots, grated, do this by hand on a box grater for best results

1 cup raisins

1 small can crushed pineapple, well drained (Optional)

1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 9 x 2 – inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and grease and flour the paper.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat sugar, oil, and eggs on medium high speed for 2-minutes, until light yellow and thickened. Stir in vanilla.

In another bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer beat slowly and add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

In another bowl toss together carrots, crushed pineapple, raisins, nuts, and 1-tablespoon flour. Stir this mixture into the batter with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the 2-prepared pans and smooth the tops.

Bake for 10 minutes on 400 degrees, then lower to 350 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, turn out onto baking rack and cool completely.

Place one cake on a flat serving plate, rounded side down. Spread half the frosting on the top (not the sides). Place the second cake on top of the first cake, rounded side up. Frost just the top of the second cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8-once packages of cream cheese at room temperature

¾ pound butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 ½ pounds confectioners’ sugar, whisked to remove any lumps

In a bowl with an electric mixer blend together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. There will probably be extra frosting left over, refrigerate and use for another recipe, or if you prefer less frosting divide the recipe in half.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.