Easter dinner generally isn't the sort of meal we try to rush. The whole point is to savor the meal, not sprint through it the way we do most weeknights.
But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the easy, time-saving trick here and there. In this case, I've applied the same technique to both the appetizer and the dessert. It's an approach that frees me up to focus on the rest of the meal — the all-important glazed ham, the roasted vegetables, perhaps a cocktail (or three).
The trick begins with purchased frozen phyllo pastry cups (also called "fillo shells"). You'll find them in the grocer's freezer section alongside the puff pastry (and often near the frozen fruit). These tiny cups (each holds about 1 tablespoon or so of fillings and they usually come 15 to a box) come fully cooked and thaw in minutes. All you need to do is fill them and eat them (though you may need to bake them depending on your filling).
For the appetizer, we don't even need a recipe. All I do is transform the classic Easter quiche into bite-size treats.
To do this, heat the oven to 400 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, then arrange the phyllo cups on it. Fill each cup with a small amount (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) of fillings. Chopped cooked meats, chopped vegetables and shredded cheese are great choices.
In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk 1 egg, a splash of water, milk or cream, and a bit of salt and pepper. Carefully pour about 1 teaspoon of the egg mixture over the fillings in each cup. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the egg is puffed and the fillings are lightly browned. That's it. The quiche cups can be served warm or room temperature.
For the dessert, I went with a ridiculously easy and delicious no-cook option — creamy lemon-berry tartlets. These are so simple you even could delegate this part of the meal to the kids.
Creamy lemon-berry tartlets Assuming these tartlets won't be consumed immediately, you don't even need to let them thaw before filling them. Just proceed with the recipe and by the time they are eaten they will be perfect. You'll usually find jarred lemon curd in with the jams and jellies. Start to finish: 15 minutes Makes 15 tartlets 1/2 cup creme fraiche 2 tablespoons purchased lemon curd Pinch cinnamon 15 frozen baked phyllo cups 1 cup fresh berries Powdered sugar, to sprinkle In a small bowl, whisk together the creme fraiche, lemon curd and cinnamon until slightly thickened. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each phyllo cup. The filling should be lightly mounded in the cups, but not overflowing. Top each cup with several berries, then arrange the cups on a serving platter. Spoon powdered sugar into a mesh strainer, then hold it over the filled cups and gently tap to dust with sugar.
Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories; 35 calories from fat (70 percent of total calories); 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 1 g protein; 25 mg sodium.
Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.