Chef J. Jackson's Easter feast

Celebrity Chef J. Jackson whips up this delicious Southern home-style Easter dinner -- on a budget!

Southern Topped Deviled Eggs

Prep time: 25 min| Cook time: 10 mins

Ingredients

9 large eggs

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons Honey Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons apple-cider vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons scallion (white part only), minced

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced

Paprika, to taste

Parsley leaves, for garnish

Method

1. In a large saucepan, combine the eggs and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a full boil. When the water reaches a boil, remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs stand, covered, for 18 minutes. Drain the eggs, leaving them in the pan. Add enough cold water to the pan to cover the eggs. Let stand until the eggs are cool enough to handle.

2. Peel the eggs. Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Transfer the yolks to a small bowl and mash well with a fork. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper until smooth. Spoon in the filling into a zip-top plastic bag and snip one corner of the bag.

3. Arrange the egg whites cut-side-up on a large serving plate. Distribute the minced scallion and tarragon over the cavities. Squeeze out the filling from the bag, piping it into the cavities. Sprinkle the stuffed eggs with paprika and garnish with parsley leaves. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Prep time: 35 min| Cook time: 90 min

I particularly like this sweet potato casserole because it isn't candy-sweet-no marshmallows, no canned crushed pineapple, no honey, and not very much sugar.

I don't boil the sweet potatoes before I mash them; I bake them so they're less watery and have better flavor. Here's how: Pierce each sweet potato with a sharp-pronged kitchen fork, set on a baking sheet, then bake on the middle oven shelf for about 1 hour at 400° F. or until you can pierce a potato easily with a fork.

Cool the potatoes to room temperature, peel, and then mash until light and fluffy.

Ingredients

3 cups firmly packed unseasoned mashed sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds) (see above)

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 2-quart casserole and set aside.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, beating until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

3. Scoop into the casserole, spreading to the edge and roughing the surface. Bake uncovered on the middle oven shelf for about 45 minutes or until tipped with brown.

Skillet Cornbread

Prep time: 10 min| Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients

2 cup of cornmeal

2 eggs

1 - 8 oz. can of condensed milk

1 - 16 oz. can of creamed corn

8 oz. sour cream

¼ cup of vegetable oil

½ cup shredded cheese

½ stick melted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 350.

1. In medium sized bowl whisk eggs and oil. Stir in cornmeal, condensed milk, creamed corn, sour cream and melted butter. Fold in shredded cheese.

2. Butter a cast iron skillet. Pour batter into greased skillet. Bake for 20 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

3. Spread butter or top. Cut and serve.

Sweet and Sour Green Vegetables with Lemon Garlic Bread Crumbs

Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 10 min

Ingredients

½ pound of whole green beans

½ pound of trimmed asparagus

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

6 slices of cooked bacon, reserving 2 slices for garnish

1 medium Vidalia or other sweet or yellow onion, quartered then thinly sliced

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of yellow mustard

Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Couple dashes of hot pepper sauce, optional

1/4 teaspoon of dried tarragon

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh basil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and the beans. Bring back up to a boil and boil for about a minute or two, or to desired tenderness. Drain and transfer the beans to the ice water bath. This stops the cooking process and also helps to retain the pretty green color. Leave in the water bath until fully cooled; drain and set aside.

2. Cook bacon to crisp; remove, set aside. When cool, chop, but reserve two slices to the side to add as a garnish. Add onion to the pan drippings and cook until lightly caramelized. Add the sugar and vinegar to the skillet; stir. Season with the mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tarragon, basil, salt and pepper.

3. Bring to a boil, stirring until well blended; add the chopped bacon. Stir, reduce heat and hold over low simmer if necessary, otherwise, add the green beans and gently toss, cooking just long enough to warm through. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

4. Chop the reserved slices of bacon, transfer the beans to a serving bowl and garnish with the chopped bacon. Just before serving, give the beans another toss to coat them in the sweet and sour sauce pooled on the bottom.

Note: I used Slap Ya Mama hot pepper sauce and also red wine vinegar, but try these beans using your own favorite vinegar. Can also adjust sugar, vinegar and seasonings to your liking. If you use fresh green beans, you'll need to blanch them slightly longer. Test for desired tenderness.

For the breadcrumbs:

1. Place the bread into a food processor along with the garlic, salt, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, and olive oil. Pulse until roughly chopped into bread crumbs. I doubt store bought bread crumbs would work here. They are usually way too fine.

2. Scatter the crumbs onto a shallow tray and bake in the oven until golden brown, which should only take a couple minutes or so.

Baked Ham with Southern Dixie Chutney

Prep time: 30 min |Cook time: 150 min

Ingredients

1/2 cup apple juice (preferably fresh unfiltered)

1/4 cup bourbon

1 3/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar

1 cup pecans, toasted, cooled, finely ground

1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses

3 tablespoons dry mustard

1 whole bone-in 16- to 18-pound ham

Method

1. Boil juice and bourbon in small saucepan until reduced to scant 1/3 cup, about 6 minutes. Combine sugar, pecans, molasses, and mustard in bowl. Add bourbon mixture; stir to form thick paste. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

2. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line large roasting pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving overhang on all sides. Trim off skin and all but 1/4 inch fat from ham. Place ham, fat side up, in prepared pan. Roast ham until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 130°F to 135°F, about 10 minutes per pound or 2 hours 40 minutes for 16-pound ham.

3. Remove ham from oven; increase oven temperature to 425°F. Lightly score fat on ham in diamond pattern. Rub glaze thickly over top and sides of ham. Return ham to oven and roast until glaze is deep brown and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let ham stand at least 20 minutes and up to 45 minutes. Serve with chutney.

Beet and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep time: 60 min |Cook time: 60 min

Ingredients - Beet Cake

1 pound beets (about 2 medium)

Cooking spray

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk

Ingredients - Frosting

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, chilled

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts, toasted

Beet Cake Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cake, peel beets using a vegetable peeler. Grate beets, using the large holes of a grater, to measure 2 cups.

3. Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray.

4. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add beets; beat well. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.

5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks; remove from pans. Carefully peel off wax paper, and cool cake completely on wire racks.

Ingredients - Carrot Cake

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

2 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Method

1. Grease and flour 2 (9 inch) round pans.

2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

4. To prepare frosting, beat orange rind, vanilla, and cream cheese with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar; beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat).

5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting; top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle nuts over top of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.

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