When I was a kid, I loved Easter. We were not religious and didn't really play up a magical bunny, but it was fun to have a special celebration in Spring. I would join my friend's family and we would go out to Folsom Lake and picnic, fly kites, and swim if the water wasn't too cold. It was the best.
I was never much for an Easter ham, but I do like to make Deviled Potatoes in place of deviled eggs this time of year, and we eat things that are fresh and light like fruit and fresh salad, or a cold pasta salad as the weather gets warmer and warmer.
I got some great craft eggs to decorate this year, that the kids decoupage and colored with markers, and in the past we've painted wooden eggs (that have since gone missing, but are ideally reused each year). We also, of course, use typical plastic eggs filled with candies, stickers, temporary tattoos, and small toys. Eggs are a symbol of new life and as gardeners and nature-lovers, this symbol doesn't need to be tied up with animal exploitation.
In the Basket
This year's basket is so fun, so I decided to share what I've done with it, rather than a whole, "You could do all these things" I'm just focusing on what I did. I hope this gives you some ideas!
My kids go through shoes faster than they go through candy, so this was my first order of business. To make sure they don't have leather, look for ALL MAN MADE MATERIALS on the label. I found these Eddie Bauer candles inexpensively priced and perfect for Spring fun (and heat).
My kids 5 and 7, and they have been asking about evolution a lot lately, so I found this beautiful book calledOur Family Tree that has gorgeous pictures and makes the information accessible to younger kids. It fits in perfectly with the way we celebrate Easter as a time for new life and growth. Obviously, some people are celebrating Easter as a faith-based holiday, or may be including books about Passover in their Easter baskets- this is just what we've got going on. If you don't already have it, Ruby Roth's Help Yourself kids cookbook would be adorable in an Easter basket!
I love getting melt and pour soap and hiding little toys in them, so for Easter I used a silicone egg mold and made dinosaur eggs (again, we like dinos in this house). You simply heat up the soap (must be melt and pour soap) in a pan until is liquid and pour into molds. You can add things like oatmeal or citrus peels, but I decided to go unscented this time. These are a great motivator for kids who aren't so keen on washing their hands or bath time, because the more you use it, the closer you get to the toy inside!
I try not to go overboard on the sweets, but for in plastic eggs I like the Surf Sweet Jelly Beans. I also found some of the new Amy's vegan candy bars. The Dreamy Bar is my favorite that I've tried. Dreamy. Just be careful as not all of them are vegan, but the vegan ones are clearly labeled VEGAN on the front (right now I think it's just the Sunny and the Dreamy that are vegan).
The kids also each got their new FAVORITE THING EVER, the Lenny and Larry Birthday Cake Cookie. I seriously did end up ordering a case on Amazon simply because they are so loved in our household (for us, this was a good deal, but I'm told they are only $1 a piece at Sprouts, so if you have one near you, check that out first). It's perfect for birthday parties too, when you don't want to make one cupcake to take. The taste is amazing, and with 16 grams of protein, it fills them up (no room to gorge on candy, oh well).
I threw in some Annie's Bernie's Farm cookies too, and I may grab a box of Annie's bunny snacks before Easter to add to this too. Fun bunny stuff that's also vegan is an easy add.
DIY Chocolate Eggs
These were so easy and to be honest I'm going to have to make more because the kids already ate my first batch. I used a small silicone egg mold (otherwise it's just too much chocolate), Dandies Mini Marshmallows, and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips. So easy.
I put about half the bag of chocolate chips into a ziplock and set it in a bowl of boiling hot water until the chips melt. This method is awesome because you don't have to add anything or worry about burning your chocolate, and the ziplock makes for easy piping into the mold. I put some chocolate in each mold, then add two mini marshmallows and fill the rest of the way, making sure to cover the marshmallow. Chill until hardened and they are good to go (but best kept refrigerated until time to enjoy them).
People often ask me what I eat instead of chocolate since I'm vegan (and since I'm allergic to milk people have been asking me a lot longer). The good news is that there are lots of vegan chocolate options. The bad news is that it's not like you can just grab the grocery store chocolate covered strawberries and go. It takes a bit more planning. It's pretty simple to melt down some Enjoy Life allergen free chocolate chips and dip strawberries in it, so I wanted to do something a bit different. I have some white chocolate chips I ordered online (since I've never seen vegan white chocolate chips in a store), so I was excited to involve them. I also love a good chocolate peanut butter combo- so why wouldn't I bring in strawberries on that action?! Strawberries and peanut butter are best friends, and who am I to keep them apart.
And so was born the white chocolate and peanut butter double dipped chocolate coated strawberries (with sprinkles no less!). I must really really love my Valentines- and you, dear readers.
Like I said, the white chocolate is a bit tricky to find, but everything else is easy to get ahold of and it comes together really quickly and easily.
1 cup white chocolate chips (I used Pascha, which you can order from their website)
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy, always creamy)
15-20 strawberries (if you are concerned about farmer ethics, here's an article about why you may want to boycott Driscoll's brand berries. In my area, I was able to find locally grown Louisiana berries. My plants are dormant now, but I also grow my own strawberries)
1 cup chocolate chips (I always choose Enjoy Life brand chips, they are my favorite and melt beautifully)
SPRINKLES (optional, but definitely encouraged. I like these India Tree ones made with natural colors).
Step 1: Wash and dry your strawberries. If they don't have nice stems, you might want to insert toothpicks in the top so you will have a handle for dipping. Prepare a sheet pan/tray with a layer or parchment paper for setting/cooling your strawberries.
Step 2: In a double boiler (a pot of boiling water with a glass or metal bowl on top), melt down your white chocolate chips and peanut butter, stirring to blend completely. The white chips melt so fast that you can turn off your boiling water and just let the carryover heat melt the chips. Once it's smooth, take bowl off top and set on a trivet or pot holder while you dip.
Step 3: Dip your strawberries into the peanut butter and white chocolate mixture and then set on parchment paper. You'll have dip leftover, even if you do 20, so don't worry about that.
Step 4: Place peanut butter coated strawberries in freezer to firm up. Meanwhile, return your bowl of dip to double boiler and add chocolate chips. Stir in until smooth and remove from heat.
Step 5: Redip the chilled strawberries in the chocolate mixture, and set back on pan. Coat with sprinkles and chill in refrigerator until you are ready to eat.
You should have leftover chocolate sauce- this is not a problem! You can either pour it into cupcake liners and chill to harden, or pour over ice cream and it will get hard like magic shell! Either way, it's a win win.
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