The Easter of Dining Dangerously

Kathleen Rice Adams headerAm I the only one whose family traditions center around food? Pick a holiday—any holiday—and I guarantee my family spends most of the time preparing food, consuming food, and talking about food. It’s too bad the Olympic Games don’t include food sports, because we’d have a lock on every medal.

Much as Thanksgiving is Turkey Day, Christmas is Prime Rib Day, and July 4 is Hamburger Day, Easter is the day devoted to ham. One year, in a stark departure from tradition, an out-of-season prime rib roast sneaked onto the menu. Because the weather was nice and the men in the family had been pining to barbecue all winter, they decided the roast would be delicious cooked on a spit over charcoal. In another stark break with tradition, the women acquiesced.

Easter logo 2015aWe would live to rue the concession.

While the women slaved away in the kitchen to get the rest of the meal ready, the men… Well, heaven knows what they were doing, but they weren’t watching the roast. The next thing we knew, flames were licking around the closed top of the grill and the heretofore succulent beef had become a charred lump.

We regrouped, moved July’s tradition up by a couple of months, and ate hamburgers…with scalloped potatoes, green beans almondine, and homemade bread (in addition to hamburger buns). At least the men got to grill something.

No matter what other part of a holiday meal took a turn for the strange, the desserts have always been scrumptious (probably because baking seldom requires charcoal).

One of my favorite Easter desserts is lemon bites: a shortbread-like crust filled with tart, sticky goodness that forms a crackly surface as it bakes. This is the recipe my family has used for as long as I can remember.

Lemon Bites

Where is a food stylist when you really need one?

Lemon Bites

(Makes 16)

Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Filling

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. grated lemon peel (optional)

4 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 eggs

4-6 drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Powdered sugar for dusting the top after baking (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  1. Mix flour, butter or margarine, and powdered sugar. Press into bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of an ungreased 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 pan. Bake crust 20 minutes.
  1. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat granulated sugar, lemon peel (if using), lemon juice, baking powder, salt, eggs, and food coloring (if using) until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour onto crust. (No need to let crust cool.)
  1. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the center is firm when pressed lightly with a fingertip.
  1. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Notes:

Don’t double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 pan. The bigger pan requires a longer baking time, and the crust will burn on the bottom.

I used four drops of food coloring to attain the lemon color in the photo.

 

Kathleen Rice Adams
A Texan to the bone, award-winning author Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen's tales, even the good guys wear black hats.

Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel Prodigal Gun won the EPIC Award for Historical Romance and is the only western historical romance ever to final for a Peacemaker in a book-length category.

Visit her at the Hole in the Web Gang's hideout, KathleenRiceAdams.com. Or, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Her Amazon author page is here.

37 Comments

  1. Oh no. I can only imagine the disappointment when the roast got ruined. Food is pretty important to us too. But it varies on occasions. I have no idea what we are doing this Easter. It’s the first year we will be on out own. My mother is going out of town to visit a sister and my mother-in-law hasn’t said anything about us coming over. Maybe we’ll grill something if the weather is nice.

    1. Just don’t let the guys grill a roast, Janine. 😉

      1. I don’t think I would trust my husband with that. He’s pretty good with steaks and burgers.

  2. Hi Kathleen, what’s a holiday without food or, for that matter, a disaster or two? Hope your Easter dining is less dangerous this year. Have fun!

    1. Thanks, Margaret! We’re having leg of lamb this year, and I can’t wait to discover what horrible disaster will ensue with that. 😀

      Y’all have a wonderful Easter!

  3. Kathleen, I love your header!! Wow! That’s exceptional and makes me very envious. And you should be shot for tempting us with such luscious treats when you know I have to stay away from desserts. You made me laugh about the men and that prime rib. I can only imagine. We always had roast when I was growing up, but cooked inside. Mama would always put it on to cook before we headed to church. When we got back it was all done. I still remember the wonderful aroma that greeted us. Now that it’s just me, I usually make a sandwich and call it good. Loved the blog!

    1. Sorry, Linda. **looking sheepish**

      I always loved big holiday meals when my grandparents and parents were alive. Now that they’ve moved on, it’s not quite the same. People change, traditions change… Thank goodness we have our memories—even if some of them are bizarre. 😀

      Enjoy your Easter. It should be a day of rest and reflection. 🙂

  4. We use to be a very traditional family. We always at all our holiday meals, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter have Turkey and Ham.. A roast was reserved for New Years Day dinner. We had to have both Ham and Turkey because some like one or the other and some liked both. But now we have changed traditions. Since my mom is no longer with us, and she was the stickler for the tradition, we make up our own menus. One Christmas we had pizza and chicken wings. Then we had Ham and Scalloped potatoes. It’s not the food that makes the holiday. It’s the people. Happy Easter

    1. Kathleen, you are so right: It’s the people, not the food, that make the holiday.

      I like the way you’ve handled traditions! Flexibility is a skill I’ve yet to master, but I will one of these days. You’re my inspiration. 🙂

      Have a wonderful Easter!

  5. my husband would love those,he loves lemons,,,i enjoyed all the holiday meals as a kid growing up,,never realized how much work it detailed until the gaunlet was passed by my mom that it was my turn to host from now on,,and im just wating on the day i can pass it to my daughter,it takes days of preparation to feed a big crowd,,im ready for my rest ,,but my daughter isnt ready to take over yet,,lol,,i wasnt given a choice

    1. Vickie, I noticed that same thing: Holidays were a lot easier when Mom, my aunts, and my grandmothers were in charge. Things got downright exhausting right quick when the baton fell to me. 😀

      Have a wonderful Easter, sweetie!

  6. Easter has never been a big thing in my family, no special Easter foods, or such. But there have always been chocolate eggs.

    1. All right. Now you’ve done it. You mentioned the C word. I love lemon, but I love chocolate even more. And those little multicolored eggs with a hard shell and marshmallow inside? Gotta have those.

      Don’t eat all the chocolate eggs! Save some for me! 🙂

  7. This sounds really good. I will have to try it.

    1. Quilt Lady, the lemon bites are delicious. Do give them a try! 🙂

  8. Kathleen, oh, these lemon barts have been a family favorite for decades–we’ve always had a lemon tree. And if you are running out of time…Krusteaz has a boxed version that turns out almost exactly right. Easter menu is presenting a bit of a challenge right now, most of us are going meatless in some day….thanks for the great post, and Easter blessings to you and yours! xo

    1. I didn’t know Krusteaz made a lemon bar mix! I enjoy baking, but there are times I need something fast. Thanks for the tip!

      I know you’ll get the menu figured out, Tanya. I have faith in you. 🙂

      Easter blessings to you, as well, honey.

      1. These are good, but they stick easily. Taste good, though.

  9. Hi Kathleen! I love these lemon bars!! They are a favorite in my family–even more so than something chocolate if you can believe that!

    A few years back I went vegetarian for Thanksgiving with my family. We had vegetarian lasagna instead of Turkey. It was kind of a “meh” meal for the rustlers in my group. I think it was the recipe I used because I have actually eaten great vegetarian lasagna. The meal was kind of a bust though–and my sons requested that I do it differently after that… LOL

    1. I’m so glad to run into a bunch of other folks who love lemon bars! I can’t tell you how many times people have looked at me funny when I’ve taken them to one shindig or another. As soon as they taste one, though, they’re hooked. 😀

      I hear you about rustlers. The men in my family are pure carnivores. I’m not a big meat eater — not for health reasons, but because I honestly prefer vegetables. Except fish and seafood. I love those.

      I have a great recipe for spinach-mushroom lasagna that is quick, easy, and versatile. You can substitute all kinds of veggies. If you’d like me to send you a copy, please let me know!

  10. Our family too has certain things that HAVE to make it to the table for certain holidays. I think it’s kind of neat to have those kids of traditions.

    1. It is neat, isn’t it? I’ve always wondered how some traditions got started, but handing traditions down through the generations is a lot like passing along great-grandmother’s wedding gown. 🙂

  11. I love these, too. We always called them lemon bars and we made our instead of powdered sugar on top, we’d mix that sugar with some lemon juice and sugar. Yum …

    1. Ooh! I’ll bet that lemon glaze would be good on these, Karen. As far as I’m concerned, one can’t have too much lemon. 🙂

  12. I am so glad to have this recipe for the lemon bars. I have it somewhere…but WHERE? LOL Thanks, Kathleen. I remember, growing up how we’d all get together at my grandparents’ houses. I was really lucky, because I was the only grandchild that had grandparents at each end of the small town, so we could walk from my mom’s parents’ house down an old 2-lane highway that ran through the middle of town to my dad’s parents’ house. All my cousins were welcome at both places, since all my mom’s and dad’s siblings had grown up together and gone to school together, and even some of my cousins went to school together too. I had an uncle that coached basketball and so cousins on both sides of my family had him for a coach and teacher.

    We never really had a traditional meat for any particular holiday–but what we had was usually turkey and/or ham. With TONS of side dishes! LOL And lots of fun with all my cousins–Mom was the eldest of 11 kids, and I had a LOT of cousins. I’ve often wondered how my grandmother must have felt each holiday, knowing we were ALL descending on her house for dinner.

    Cheryl

    1. Oh, your poor grandmother. The woman had a difficult enough time with 11 kids of her own, and then all those kids grew up and brought all their kids… That woman was a saint. A saint!

      My uncle was the high school football coach in a small Texas town. Then he became the high school principal while my cousins (his kids) were in high school. That must have been awkward. I’ll bet things were similar with your uncle. 😀

      I don’t know how the schedule of certain meats for certain holidays arose, because Momma and Daddy both came from ranching families. Ham and beef I can understand, because they raised both … but turkey? They must’ve hunted those. Thankfully, by the time I came along they bought the holiday turkeys. I can’t imagine anything much tougher than wild fowl. Ugh.

  13. Death of a Prime Rib. Ouch! Those things cost a fortune! One of the reasons I’ve never made one is how bad I’d feel if I, The Burn Queen of the Universe, destroyed such an expensive piece of meat.
    The lemon bars look like ones my mom makes and are just about my favorite!

    Thanks! Your post made me really HUNGRY!

    1. Mary, you cannot be the Burn Queen of the Universe. I think Cheryl already snagged that title. 😉

      Prime rib was an indulgence at Christmas. I still don’t know how that one sneaked onto an Easter menu, but I’ll tell you a secret: I was just as glad the men goofed. Then whenever I burned something, all I had to do was lift an eyebrow and male jaws snapped shut. 😀

      1. Yes, thank you, I did snag that title, Kathleen. My smoke detector goes off a LOT when I cook around here…for some odd reason…

        1. I finally RIPPED MY SMOKE ALARM OFF THE CEILING. I decided I’d rather die than listen to that shrieking monster at every meal.

          That was years ago and we haven’t burned the house down yet. Just filled it with smoke! 🙂

          1. Okay, I stand corrected. Maybe you ARE the Burn Queen of the Universe! 😀

  14. Thank you so much for the Lemon Bites recipe. I love these but have never made them. I am left to hope someone brings them.
    For us, Easter was also a day for ham. My aunt always made her macaroni salad and cream cheese and olive stuffed celery. Dessert was never an issue. We had all that candy to eat.

    1. You’re welcome for the recipe, Patricia! Enjoy. 🙂

      Anything with cream cheese gets my vote for delicious. 😀

  15. Hi Kathleen. We always have lots of good food. Not so hard on anyone tho for everyone brings certain things. Usually Turkey and dressing and also Ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I enjoy that anytime. We have candied yams(one of my favorites), Green bean Casserole, mashed Potatoes, and whatever else some might bring. And, always, lots and lots of desserts. Always popular things. I hardly cook anymore. Almost forgot how sine being alone so long. I know there will be a chocolate fudge birthday cake since they will be celebrating my 80th birthday on Easter. My birthday is the 7th. Hoping my son makes some of his delicious ham for me. He is a great cook. two of my son-in-laws were too. I lived in another state when my grandchildren were growing up, so was seldom with them on Holidays. My mom always had roast on Sundays for she also put it in the oven before leaving to church and was ready when we got home. Loved smelling it when we got home. Wishing all of you a Very happy Easter as we celebrate the risen Christ. GOD bless you all. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    1. Maxie, it’s so good to “see” you! And happy birthday again. In eighty years, I’ll bet you’ve collected a whole slew of holiday stories.

      All that food you listed has made me hungry. Now I’m craving Thanksgiving food in the middle of Spring — dressing with giblet gravy. YUM!

      Have a wonderful birthday and a joyous Easter, my dear. God bless you and yours. 🙂

  16. As a pastor’s wife for 20 years we also had ‘set’ menu items for every holiday. As a missionary’s wife for the last 10 years and a very different income, we now feast on whatever we can afford. We haven’t been home for a holiday meal this whole time (sniff sniff, or with our kids) but this Easter, we will at least be in the states! But will celebrate on Monday instead. We’re flying out of Nicaragua on Aprils 1 (ewww) but will be in Mexico on Easter, at our church in the dump. Anyways… we have Italian Sausage from home in OK so we’re having Lasagna with the sauce cooking several hours! I can’t wait…haven’t cooked in 2 months! Sure will miss the ham though but hopefully friends will have some for us before we head back in May!

    1. Did I understand you correctly, Melody — you haven’t been home in ten years? Sounds like you will have a very blessed Easter this year indeed! The lasagna sounds wonderful, and I’ll bet someone will rustle up some ham for you while you’re home. 🙂

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