Side dishes for Easter

By Susan McClanahan

Easter is just one week away and most people are well underway with planning their Easter meal. A few things are standard that are offered each year, but it always is fun to introduce a few new items to the meal.

I have gathered a few recipes that may or may not be new to you, but just might offer the extra side dish you were missing to your menu.

Hot Pineapple Casserole

* 1 cup water

* 1 cup sugar

* 3 tablespoons pineapple gelatin mix

* 3 tablespoons corn starch

* 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits or chunks, in 100 percent juice, not heavy syrup

* 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

* 1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed

* 1/2 stick butter, melted

* 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium pot over medium heat, whisk together water, sugar, 3 tablespoons pineapple gelatin mix, and 3 tablespoons corn starch until thoroughly combined and you get all the lumps out. Turn heat up to high and let mixture to come to a boil and thicken. Continue to whisk. Once thickened, take off heat. Drain pineapple chunks thoroughly, setting aside 1/2 cup of the juice. Add drained pineapple chunks to pot and stir.

While pineapple mixture is cooling, begin making topping. In a large plastic zip-top bag, finely crush Ritz crackers. Add crushed crackers, melted butter and 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice into a medium bowl and stir until combined. Add shredded cheese to cooled pineapple mixture and pour into baking dish. Spread Ritz cracker topping over pineapple mixture. Bake in oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Lemon and Garlic New Potatoes

* 1 pound small red potatoes

* 2 tablespoons olive oil

* 2 garlic cloves, minced

* 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

* 2 tablespoons lemon juice

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* Lemon zest, optional, as garnish when serving

Scrub potatoes; place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender; drain.

In the same pan, cook potatoes in oil over medium-high heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until browned. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top with small amount of lemon zest, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Broccoli Apple Salad

* 4 cups small diced broccoli florets

* 2 small Gala apples, cored and diced

* 1 cup walnuts

* 1 cup matchstick carrots, roughly chopped

* 1/2 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries, or combination of both

* 1/4 cup chopped red onion

For the dressing:

* 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

* 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise (full fat)

* 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

* 3 tablespoons honey

* Salt

For the dressing:

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey and season with salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon). Chill until ready to use.

For the salad:

In a salad bowl toss together broccoli, apples, walnuts, carrots, raisins or cranberries and red onion. Pour in dressing and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately.

Roasted Lemon Parmesan Garlic Asparagus

* 1 pound asparagus

* 2 tablespoons olive oil

* 2 garlic cloves, minced

* 3 tablespoons Parmesan

* Juice of one lemon

* Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, arrange the asparagus in a single layer. Toss in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp on the outside and tender in the center. Toss in the garlic, Parmesan and lemon juice. Add more if desired. Serve immediately.

Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Deviled Eggs

* 12 hard-boiled eggs, shelled

* 1/3 cup instant potato flakes

* 1/3 cup mayonnaise

* 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* Pinch cayenne pepper

* 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

* 2 tablespoons chives, minced

* 3/4 cup cooked shrimp, peeled and chopped

* 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Cut cooked eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Mash together 8 yolks in medium bowl, reserving remaining yolks for another use. Stir in potato flakes and all other ingredients through chives. Fold in shrimp and crumbled bacon. Spoon approximately 1 heaping tablespoon of yolk mixture into each egg white half. Garnish with additional chives and bacon, if desired.

Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

* 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise

* 1/4 cup mayonnaise (more or less, to desired consistency)

* 2 tablespoons jarred diced pimentos, drained

* 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

* 2 heaping tablespoons cooked bacon pieces

* Dash of Tabasco sauce

* Salt and pepper, to taste

* Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

* Paprika, for garnish

Remove yolks from eggs and place in a medium bowl. Mash yolks with a fork until crumbly. Add mayonnaise, pimentos, cheese, bacon pieces and Tabasco sauce and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon mixture into egg whites, or place mixture into a piping bag (or zip-top bag with the corner tip cut off) and squeeze into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and chopped fresh chives.

Browned Butter Glazed Carrots

* 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick slices

* 1/4 cup unsalted butter

* 1/3 cup light brown sugar

* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

* 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

* Kosher salt

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown. It will smell nutty and begin to foam. Scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and immediately pour into the slow cooker.

Add carrots, salt, brown sugar and thyme. Season with salt and toss to combine.

Cook on high for 3 hours, or until tender.

Have a great week and, until next time, happy cooking.