NORTHWOODS COOKS: Easy recipes for Easter

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Traditional Easter hot cross buns
According to Wikipedia, the pagan Saxons would mark buns with a cross at the beginning of spring in honor of the goddess Eostre, which could be related to the origin of the name Easter. The cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter, the four quarters of the moon and the four seasons. The contemporary hot cross bun dates back to 1361. Thomas Rodcliffe, a monk at St Albans Abbey in England, marked buns with a cross to be distributed to the poor on Good Friday beginning in 1361 and called them Albans Buns.
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Easter is Sunday, April 9. Here are a few recipes for Easter dinner that are easy to prepare.

Hot Cross Buns

1 pkg. (8 count) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1 tsp. ground cinnamon


1 tsp. packed brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins, divided

1 egg, lightly beaten

5 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently stretch each biscuit into a 4-inch circle. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon mixture and 1 tablespoon raisins over half of each biscuit. Fold over plain biscuit half onto raisin half. Fold again, pinching edges to seal. Gently shape into a ball. Repeat with remaining biscuits. Place buns in a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan, evenly spacing them apart. Brush bun tops with beaten egg.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove buns onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Mix confectioners’ sugar and water in a small bowl. Spoon into a small resealable plastic bag. Cut a small piece from one of the bottom corners of the bag. Close the bag tightly then pipe the shape of a cross on top of each bun.


Slow Cooker Ham

2 cups packed brown sugar

8-lb. cured bone-in picnic ham

6-oz. of pineapple juice or crushed pineapple and ground cloves (optional)

Spread about 1-1/2 cups of brown sugar on the bottom of a slow cooker. Place ham on the brown sugar with the flat side facing down; you might have to trim it a little to make it fit. Use your hands to rub the remaining brown sugar onto the ham. Add a 6-ounce can of pineapple juice or crushed pineapple and a few pinches of ground cloves if desired.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. If using a spiral-cut ham, cut the cooking time to 4 hours as a spiral-cut will dry out faster.

Muffin Tin Potatoes Gratin


cooking spray

2 Tbsp. butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and ground black pepper to taste


2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray or grease with butter. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir garlic in the melted butter until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour to garlic mixture; cook and stir until mixture is smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes.

Slowly pour milk into the flour-butter mixture while continuously stirring with a whisk until the sauce is smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir Parmesan cheese into sauce until cheese melts from the heat of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the potatoes among the 12 prepared muffin cups and spoon cheese sauce over potatoes. Bake until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

Strawberry Pie

1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled

9-inch pie crust, baked

1 cup white sugar


3 Tbsp. cornstarch

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Arrange half of the strawberries in a baked pastry shell. Place remaining strawberries in a medium saucepan.

Add sugar to the strawberries in the saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour cooked strawberry mixture over berries in pastry shell. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 3 hours. Before serving, whip cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Serve each slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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