Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking with Chef and Television Host, Ceci Carmichael on how to plan the perfect Easter festivities. From coloring eggs to planning an amazing meal, Ceci has it all and more!
Candace Rose: Easter morning can be very stressful, what are some tips on easing anxiety levels?
Ceci Carmichael: "Well, what I think happens to a lot of people is they wait till the last possible minute to get everything they need for their party. As simple as it sounds, plan ahead. Get as much done ahead of time as you can, starting like two weeks out. Start your lists, figure out what you want for your menu and then a week out start picking up stuff. If you say oh I need napkins, I need this, pick them up as you need them and I think that saving things until the last minute is one of the most stressful things ever. Ever. Bar none."
CR: What can we do to whip up a great Easter brunch without spending all morning in the kitchen?
CC: "Well, I think the key to cooking for me – I'm a chef, I can make complicated meals. I don't want to, I want to make them as simple as possible and there's a lot of great products out there that help you sort of simplify and streamline your menu. One of my favorites, my new favorites is Jimmy Dean Hearty Sausage Crumbles. They're fully cooked, ready to go for your recipes. They're ready in minutes and they were voted 2011 product of the year by 60,000 consumers, so I'm on the right track loving these things. Here I've got a recipe which is so easy to make, it's called a "sausage and egg brunch braid." It takes about 30 minutes, it looks like it takes about two hours. Basically it's just pizza dough, sausage crumbles, egg, peppers and put it in the oven for 30 minutes and you are done. It's a great appetizer for a brunch with salad- really delicious. Go to JimmyDean.com. If you want more recipes, that's a good one to know."
CR: Do you have any tips on egg coloring?
CC: "Yeah, I do. I don't know about you but that's one of my favorite parts about Easter and spring is decorating eggs. I think it's a great way to get everybody, the whole family involved and for me it's not Easter until you've your PAAS Easter egg decorating kits. I've been doing it since I was a kid with PAAS. They've actually been around for 130 years if you can imagine that. That's a long time. I don't know how they do it but every year they come up with new ideas and new kits. Really, how do they do it? This year they have a really great ones. They've got a basket buddy and a pirate princess and a wild wheels. So there's something for everybody – for little boys, girls, grownups. I really like this one myself. If you go to PAASEasterEggs.com you can get really good decorating ideas.These are available at major retailers across the country and everything you need is right in the box, so it's one stop shopping. It's really terrific. And also while on subject of your eggs, a lot of people; some people this has been a tradition for years, other people this is new to them. If you take Heinz All Natural White Vinegar, put it in your egg wash it really makes the colors pop. It makes it really, really vivid. I don't know how it works, it's fabulous though. If you put the vinegar in the water when you're boiling your eggs, it keeps them from cracking and makes it easier to peel at the end. If you go to HeinzVinegar.com you'll get a lot of good ideas and tips from there as well."
CR: How about meal ideas? Do you have any suggestions for the perfect Easter dinner?
CC: "Well, I think you know anything goes. Like I said this wonderful brunch bread is a great idea with a salad but you can have a variety of things, and again JimmyDean.com has great recipe ideas from everything from appetizers to salads to brunches to everything. Keep it simple and the key is to spend time with friends, not in the kitchen sweating and laboring over your dishes."
CR: How about spring entertaining ideas, what are your favorites?
CC: "Well, I think that Easter to me is a time of honoring old traditions and sort of making up new traditions, so for me on Easter day it's a good idea to collaborate with your family and friends and come up with some new ideas for games. You've got all these wonderful Easter eggs, you might as well put them to use – you know the old egg and spoon race, but there's also so many other things. I think last year my family, we had an egg fashion show. There's a lot of fun, new ideas you can do. Really it is about being with your family and enjoying yourself."
CR: Where can we go for more information?
CC: "Go to News2Know.com and (everything here) there's links to all these websites as well as other information."