When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A most egg-cellent Easter weekend (plus a recipe for a sweet nest and egg treat)

There is something really wonderful about a long holiday weekend.  The days seem to roll along at a much more leisurely pace than they do during a normal week when everyone has to rush around to be places at certain times, and it's so nice to have time to enjoy each other's company over special meals and fun activities.  The past few days at our house have been filled with pancake breakfasts, playing out in the yard, baking Easter treats, puttering in the gardens, reading, and biking, and there have been lots of smiles on everyone's faces.  Even our resident bunnies have been taking time to enjoy the sunshine with us (though I think I'll be having a little chat with the Easter Bunny tonight, to see if he can mention to his little friends that we'd rather they didn't mow down our spring flowers as fast as they appear, and would stick to just eating our grass instead!)

A lot of our fun this weekend has involved eggs in one way or another.  While Will can't eat real eggs, he does enjoy colouring them just as much as the rest of us do.  We prettied up a dozen and a half yesterday morning using natural dyes like we did last year, and we also tried a new approach with a few eggs -- we wrapped them in onion skins and secured them with rubber bands before boiling them in a pot of water.  This resulted in fiery swirled eggs that we thought resembled what dragon eggs might look like!  My two mad scientists loved the egg-citing experiment!

Easter merriment built this afternoon as we had an egg hunt out in our backyard, and the boys ran wildly looking for the 42 colourful plastic eggs I had hidden earlier in various nooks and crannies.

(It became pretty funny in the end when Noah and Will were having a hard time finding the last few eggs, and even I couldn't remember where I'd hidden them!  Eventually the boys and their keen eyes did uncover every last one, though!)  Because I don't like to overload the boys with candy any time of year, I filled the eggs with the 1000 little pieces of this jelly bean puzzle, which we are now working on building together as a family (and which should keep us busy for awhile!)

While we were on the theme of eggs, the boys and I rolled up our sleeves last evening and created these fun and delicious nest treats out of crispy rice cereal and shredded coconut.  The idea came from a macaroon nest recipe from Lexie's Kitchen, and a coconut crispy nest recipe from Go Dairy Free -- we combined elements of the two and ended up with these sweet, crunchy goodies.

Sweet and Crispy Nests with Jelly Bean Eggs

1/3 cup coconut butter (I used Artisana brand)
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups crispy rice cereal (I used gluten-free brown Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut (plus a few extra tablespoons for decorating)
5 squares of a dark chocolate bar (I used Endangered Species Supreme Dark Chocolate, 72% cocoa)
30 jelly beans (I used Surf Sweets brand -- they are gluten-free and contain no corn syrup or artificial colours or flavours)

In a large saucepan, melt coconut butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in maple syrup and vanilla until ingredients are well combined.  Stir in crispy rice cereal and 1/2 cup shredded coconut.  Mix well. 
Press cereal mixture into 10 lightly greased muffin cups. (I used grapeseed oil for greasing.)  Use your thumb to make an indentation in the centre of each "nest". 
Melt chocolate squares in a small saucepan over low heat.  Use a teaspoon to drizzle chocolate over each nest.  Sprinkle nests with remaining shredded coconut.
Arrange three jelly beans in the centre of each nest.
Place muffin tin in the refrigerator and chill until nests are set.  Carefully remove nests from muffin tins.  Store nests in an airtight container between servings.

These nests and eggs were a great project to do with Noah and Will, as the boys were able to do a lot of the steps themselves. Both of them were very pleased to eat something really yummy that they had made with their own hands.

Tomorrow we are all looking forward to seeing what the Easter Bunny will bring, to celebrating the real joy of Easter, and to sitting down to some more delicious foods:  hot cross buns, coloured eggs, and fruit salad for breakfast, and a roasted chicken with lemon and herbs, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips roasted with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and orange zest, roasted asparagus, and a fresh spring salad for dinner.  By the end of the weekend, I think we'll all be feeling full and content!

A very Happy Easter to all of you!  I hope your weekend has also been filled with family, good food, and fun!

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