Family Get-Together Menu

In my house, dinner ideas are tough. This is especially true when I am preparing meals for members of our extended family. I have a few go-to favorites, but they certainly do not fill a menu. After hours of internet searches and one test meal, I settled on the menu for Easter this year. Here is what I made (with some commentary), and I hope it is helpful the next time you find yourself planning a big family meal–holiday or otherwise.

Pineapple, Orange, and Honey Glazed Ham

When I decided to make ham as my main dish for Easter, I had only ever baked one ham in my life. Finally settling on this one, I felt my lack of experience with baking a ham required that I follow the recipe exactly. I decided to have a “test run” of my menu the weekend before Easter. The recipe says the ham needs to spend two and a half hours in the oven at 325 degrees. The practice ham burned after only an hour and forty-five minutes. My husband’s grandmother suggested baking the next one at 225 degrees for five hours. I followed her temperature advice, and the ham only needed four hours in the oven. Of course, exact baking times vary from oven to oven. The glaze, unlike the ham, was easy to make by simply following the recipe. Over all, the ham was a success.

Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs, and I never turn down an excuse to make them. Still, I have only made them a handful of times, and I decided to try out a different recipe this time around. I skipped the garnish. The eggs were good, and I definitely recommend using a recipe with pickle relish over one without–or at least adding diced pickles to a recipe.

Green Bean Casserole

I have made green bean casserole several times, and it is so easy that I feel I do not need a recipe anymore. I love this dish, and it tends to be a hit at my family gatherings. Some of my family members dislike mushrooms, so I skipped them. I also added some shredded cheese and fried onions before baking it initially, and I still added some to the top at the end.

Sweet Potatoes

This is another dish I have made before. However, for the first time, I used a recipe that called for fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned. This make the sweet potatoes take longer to make, but it is a healthier option. Of course, any dish topped with marshmallows is not going to be remarkably healthy no matter what recipe a person follows. The most important thing to remember when using fresh sweet potatoes for this casserole is to boil them until they are soft and easy to mash. I used very large sweet potatoes, and they took closer to half an hour to boil (compared to the recipe’s fifteen minute suggestion).

Twice Baked Potatoes

I am confident in my twice-baked-potato-making skills, so I did not use a recipe at all. In fact, I did not even measure my ingredients. However, I have found a recipe to share. Personally, I just use sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon. As my husband says, it is pretty difficult to mess up a twice baked potato.

Roasted Asparagus

This barely qualifies as a recipe at all. It is so simple that I am embarrassed to admit I needed it, but I had never made asparagus before. It is very easy, and I think anyone who likes asparagus would approve.

Dinner Rolls

The dinner rolls were a real learning experience for me. I had never made bread before. In fact, I had never made anything with yeast. The most important thing about making them is activating the yeast. I made two failed batches before I got it right. If you have never activated yeast before, follow the recipe to the letter! I did not initially notice that it said to heat the water, milk, sugar, and salt on medium heat because I did not read it very carefully. I heated the mixture to a boil, and my yeast did not activate. However, when I managed to figure that step out, the rolls turned out very well, and they are the menu item that got the most complements.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Of course, no big family dinner would complete without dessert. My cheesecake turned out quite well. However, the graham cracker crush did not come out of the pan with the rest of the cheesecake. Another minor issue I had with the cheesecake was that it is easy to over mix it. I did this, and the cheesecake cracked while cooling. Luckily this did not affect the flavor, and the cracks were along lines that make perfect guides for cutting it to serve.

Tangy Honey Glazed Ham 
Traditional Southern Deviled Eggs 
Green Bean Casserole 
Sweet Potato Casserole II 
Twice Baked Potatoes 
Roasted Asparagus 
Unbelievable Rolls 
Strawberry Cheesecake