Friday, April 18, 2014

Buona Pasqua! "Braciole" & "Bunny Buns" Recipes For Easter Sunday Dinner

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! “May your Easter basket be filled with blessings and joy. I wish you, your family, and your friends a day filled with loving memories.”

Here on Long Island and many other places the weather is not cooperating with the time of the year. It is taking Mother Nature much longer to see the flowers starting to bloom, the sun should be getting warmer, and the air should have that hint of freshness that only spring can bring. Easter falls in the spring, which is when the earth renews itself after winter. Easter is a day to dress in your Sunday best, go to church, celebrate life, enjoy traditional foods with your family, and of course eat way too much chocolate. Sometimes we forget that Christians all over the world celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. In Italy, the church bells stop ringing on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to remember the death of Jesus on the cross.

Then on Easter Sunday morning, the church bells ring out once again, telling people that Jesus has risen. Italian children wake up on Easter morning and find eggs scattered in their rooms. Eggs, rabbits, and young animals are thought to represent re-birth and fertility in the spring. Easter is considered the most important religious event of the year in Italy, even shadowing over Christmas in its religious and cultural importance.

In my family we always had an Easter egg hunt for the small children. I recall back, taking those plastic colored eggs and filling them with some change plus candy or chocolate eggs. Then we would go outside in my parent’s yard and hide them. My nieces, nephews, and my son would all go out and see who could find the most. It was so funny to watch the really small children find the eggs; they would get so excited when they found one.

Throughout the world the most popular Easter symbol is the lamb. The reference to the lamb in Christianity goes back to the book of Genesis, from the Bible. In past centuries it was considered a lucky omen to meet a lamb, especially at Easter time. In the 7th century the Benedictine monks wrote a prayer for the blessing of lambs.  Little figures of the lamb are made of butter, pastry, cakes, or chocolate have been substituted for the meat, forming Easter table centerpieces. Many Easter Sundays, I can remember my mom cooking lamb for dinner along with our Italian traditional dishes.

Easter celebrations have many customs and legends that have nothing to do with the religious Christian celebration of Christ’s rising. Did you ever think of where and how these traditional celebrations of colored eggs, cute little bunnies, leg of Lamb dinners and Easter Lilies come from? Let’s start with the Easter Bunny, which was a symbol of spring and fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the rabbit. 

This custom originated in Germany and brought to America particularly to Pennsylvania. The German children would eagerly await the arrival of the Oschter Haws, a rabbit who delighted children on Easter morning by laying colored eggs in nests. The German’s baked cakes for Easter in the shape of bunnies they spread the tradition of chocolate bunnies and eggs across the country. The practice of making nests for the rabbits to lay its eggs in became decorated baskets and colorful eggs which were swapped for candy, treats and small other gifts. The white Easter Lily has come to symbolize the spiritual values of Easter; purity, life, and renewal. The flower’s trumpet shape is a reminder of the heralding of Jesus, returning to Jerusalem. 

Christians consider eggs to be “the seed of life” and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter eggs are colored and decorated to represent the sunlight of spring. Different cultures have developed their own ways of decorating Easter eggs. The most celebrated workshops are Faberge. They created exquisite jeweled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court, and they are still the most sought after eggs in the world.

I have two recipes for you this week. One is my mom’s “Braciole” recipe. My mom would add this delicious rolled up beef to her sauce or “gravy” for our family dinners. My whole family loved this little rolled tasty stuffed meat. The flavor of all the spices and the sweetness of the raisins give it a taste of heaven. Remember, Italian‘s do not need a holiday to have a feast, or have family over. Braciole is an Italian Sicilian dish that has many variations to its ingredients.


Serves: 4-6

1 - (1 1/2 lbs) of top round beef (thin slices of meat for rolling)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of minced fresh garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
3/4 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
1/2 cup of dark raisins
Vegetable oil for browning
Butchers twine to tie and secure the rolls
Tomato sauce recipe (my mom’s)

Optional: you can add Pignoli nuts, ham, prosciutto, spinach, bread crumbs, hard boiled egg, etc.

Lay the top round on your work surface. Cut into 4-6 pieces and pound to make the pieces thinner, if they are thick. Sprinkle on top of each piece of meat evenly, grated cheese, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper to taste, and raisins. Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak, like a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using the butchers twine, tie the meat rolls to secure, and then do the same on the long side. The tighter they are the better as you do not want the ingredients to come out while cooking. Heat some oil in a heavy large flat pot, (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the Braciole and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. After browned, add to your tomato sauce recipe and cook for about another hour or longer on a low simmer. After cooked, take out of pot and cut off the twine. Serve with your favorite sauce and pasta. 


My other recipe this week is called “Bunny Buns” by Rhodes Bake and Serve Rolls. This is an easy recipe and the children can help make these little delicious warm rolls for your Easter table.

"Bunny Buns"

12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls, thawed but still cold

Cut a small piece off of one roll for a tail. Roll remaining piece into a 12-inch rope with pointed ends. Twist top of rope together. Place on a large sprayed baking sheet and pull pointed ends apart for ears. Roll small cut off piece into a ball for the tail. Make an indentation with your finger at the spot for the tail. Moisten the tail with water and place in the indentation. Repeat the above steps with remaining rolls. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 minutes. Remove wrap and bake at 350° F 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy with butter for your Easter Dinner. Serves: 6

Till Next Time…………………..

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Good Morning Dottie , your post is full of information as usual , hubby's aunt gives each of my girls an 'Faberge' egg for Easter , it's not the real thing from Russia , She gets them from 'Hallmark but they are jewels to the she always have a story to tell them from the Old Country .
    Braciole is an old recipe and it's quite delicious , Aunty makes this each Easter and the raisins make it stand out deliciously . I think I will get the girls to make the bunny rolls , what a great idea . As usual I enjoyed the visited .
    Have a Happy Easter from my family to yours ... thanks for sharing :)

    1. Good Afternoon Nee,

      Thanks for stopping by to visit and I am so glad that you enjoyed my post. I agree the Faberge Eggs are beautiful, and I don't think either one of us could afford one, but the Hallmark company must have beautiful ones that really look real. that is so nice for your children to received them from your husband's aunt. She must tell wonderful stories.

      My mom has been making Braciole for many years and she taught me how to prepare them. You can add whatever your family enjoys. They really are delicious, and my favorite is with the raisins. It seems to give the meat a sweet flavor. These bunny rolls are so cute and are very easy to make. They are perfect for Easter and they really look cute in a basket on your holiday table. Thank you again for your lovely words...

      My wish is that you and your family have a Blessed and Happy Easter holiday.

      Dottie :)