1. Pretty, pastel colors such as pale pink, green, yellow and blue. All the colors that remind us of Spring and new beginnings.
2. Little girls in dresses and curls, and little boys in their Sunday best with their shiny little shoes. This is before they go splashing through the mud puddles, not after.
3. Chocolate covered smiles on Easter morning.
4. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.
5. Fluffy bunnies, fluffy chicks, fluffy lambs, and fluffy marshmallow eggs covered in chocolate.
7. Pie! I don’t know why, but we always have pie. Coconut Cream Pie.
8. Decorating Easter eggs with the kids. My own children are now “too old and too cool” to decorate eggs, so I have to adopt my friend’s kids for the day to come over and decorate eggs with me. I don’t want to do it by myself because that’s just weird.
9. Easter paska bread with kielbassa and horseradish.
10. Easter macaroni and cheese.
Here’s the deal with Easter macaroni and cheese. I thought it was a Ukrainian dish passed down from “the old country”. Apparently I was mistaken, since none of my friends that are Ukrainian, Polish, or Russian had ever heard of it. And now that I’ve done a little family research, I realize that a lot of my extended family has never heard of it either. What? We’ve been eating it for thousands of years! Well, not thousands but, decades for sure. My Grandma made Easter macaroni and cheese every Easter while we were young. Then my mom and my aunts continued to make it after my Grandma had passed away. And now I will try and make sure the tradition continues, at least for my branch of the family tree. Hopefully, my cousins will pick the the rest of the slack.
Since my understanding of Easter macaroni and cheese being an ancient European recipe is completely wrong, I’ve come up with my own theory. When Grandma and Grandpa lived on the farm, it was hard to get into town (not to mention expensive) to get groceries and ready to eat foods. Therefore, with five children, a bunch of farm hands and other relatives to feed, Grandma had to be creative in her cooking, especially in the winter and spring before the garden was ready. She used what was on hand to make meals, and it had to be able to feed lots of hard-working people for very little money. On the farm, there was always fresh eggs, milk and cream, flour, and cheese, so my theory is that she came up with this version of macaroni and cheese for all the reasons listed above. Of course, Grandma made her noodles from scratch, but my mom and aunts adopted the egg noodle alternative. And I don’t have time to make noodles from scratch. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
This is not what most people would consider a traditional macaroni and cheese recipe. It looks different, it’s cooked differently, and it tastes different. However, it is similar in the way that it is NOT healthy, it is NOT calorie wise, it is NOT for the faint of heart. Which is probably the reason that we only make it once a year, at Easter time. Thus it became known in our family as Easter macaroni.
It is distinct. It is full of fat and calories and love and goodness. It is delightfully delicious. It is an Easter tradition, and it is one that I think our family would dearly miss were it not continued.
I’ve had to scale this recipe way down because Grandma’s recipe would feed a small nation and was originally made in large roasting pans and included quarts of cream. That’s right, I said QUARTS! It is best made a day or two before you plan to serve it so it has time to set.
Easter Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 packages egg noodles (340 g or 8 cups each) cooked al dente
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- 5 large eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 2 cups old cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove top. Add 2 packages of egg noodles and cook until al dente. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Line a large casserole dish with aluminum foil. I use a 2-1/2 quart French White casserole dish. A small roaster works as well. Add enough egg noodles to loosely fill the casserole dish almost to the top. You may be able to fit all the egg noodles, but my casserole dish fit only 1-1/2 packages.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs, whipping cream, milk, salt, and dry mustard. Pour the entire mixture over the egg noodles. Add the old cheddar cheese cubes to the casserole dish and stir gently so some of the cheese gets incorporated throughout, as well as to the bottom of the dish. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil before baking.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, removing the lid for the last 20 minutes of baking. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove the macaroni and cheese from the casserole dish by grabbing the edges of the aluminum foil and pulling the entire casserole out. Peel the aluminum foil from the bottom and sides and use a sharp knife to slice 1″ thick pieces. Cut each slice into pieces that are about 3″ long.
Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add slices of macaroni and cheese to the frying pan and cook until lightly browned on each side and heated through. Lightly salt to taste.