Hop into Easter with easy spring lamb, sides and treats

Family Features
Recipes that appeal to everyone gathering around the table at Easter time.

This Easter holiday, hop into a new tradition and swap your classic ham for savory lamb.

Cooking lamb can be easier than many might think, especially when using a pressure cooker. You can combine aromatic herbs with white wine for a juicy leg of lamb in under an hour. Or try baking a rack of lamb crusted with a quinoa-hazelnut combination and topped with a mint pesto.

For a perfect, set-and-forget side, try slow cooker carrots, sprinkled with dill weed and lemon extract for a delightful spring dish. End the meal with festive cupcakes modeled after the Easter bunny, which can satisfy the sweet tooth of guests of all ages.

Find more Easter recipes at and find McCormick Spice on Facebook and Pinterest.

Bunny Butt Cupcakes

Bunny Butt Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of Amanda Rettke of “I am baker”

            1          2-layer size white cake mix

            1          T. plus 2 t., McCormick Pure Lemon Extract, divided

            1          T. McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

            3/4       c. white chocolate chips

            2          sticks butter, softened

            16        oz. confectioners’ sugar

            2          T. milk

            10        drops McCormick Green Food Color

            1-2       drops McCormick Red Food Color

            12        large marshmallows, halved crosswise

            3          T. white nonpareil sprinkles

Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding 1 T. lemon extract and vanilla. Spoon 3 tablespoons batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake as directed on package for cupcakes. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.

To make bunny feet: In medium, microwave-safe bowl, microwave white chocolate chips on high 30 seconds. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Spoon into pastry bag or re-sealable plastic bag. Snip small corner from bag. Pipe 24 pairs of bunny feet onto parchment or wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Use toothpick to smooth out bumps or rough edges, and gently tap cookie sheet on counter to help settle. Allow to harden 2 minutes in freezer or 15 minutes in refrigerator.

To make frosting: In large bowl, beat butter and remaining lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. Remove half the frosting and place in medium bowl. Add green food color; mix until evenly blended. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with grass decorating tip. Set aside. Remove half the remaining frosting into small bowl. Add red food color; mix until light pink. Spoon into another pastry bag.

Using pink frosting, pipe three toes and padding on each bunny foot. Once frosting has set (about 1 hour) gently press down on pink frosting to create smoother look.

To assemble cupcakes: Pipe green frosting onto each cupcake in series of short motions to create individual grass spots. Cover top of each cupcake completely.

To make bunny butts: Place cut sides of marshmallow halves onto each frosted cupcake, leaving room for bunny feet. Shape remaining white frosting into dime-sized balls then roll with white sprinkles to cover. Pipe small drop of remaining pink or white frosting onto top of each marshmallow. Press bunny tail on top. Place both bunny feet against base of marshmallow with toes facing down. Makes 2 doz.

Lemon Dill Slow Cooker Carrots

Lemon Dill Slow Cooker Carrots

                        Nonstick cooking spray

            2          lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-1-inch chunks

            2          T. water

            1/2       t. salt

            2          T. olive oil

            2          t. McCormick Dill Weed

            2          t. McCormick Pure Lemon Extract

            2          t. Dijon mustard

            1          t. white wine vinegar

Spray inside of 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add carrots, water and salt; toss to coat. Cover. Cook on high 3-4 hours, or until tender.

In small bowl, mix olive oil, dill weed, lemon extract, Dijon mustard and vinegar. Stir into cooked carrots in slow cooker before serving. Serves 6.

Rack of Lamb with Quinoa-Hazelnut Crust and Mint Pesto

Rack of Lamb with Quinoa-Hazelnut Crust and Mint Pesto

            2          T. red quinoa

            2          T. white quinoa

            1/2       c. water

            1/4       c., plus 1 T. finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, divided

            2          racks of lamb, about 1 lb. each

            3          T. olive oil, divided

            1 1/8    t. McCormick Gourmet Sicilian Sea Salt, divided

            1/4       t. McCormick Gourmet Organic Black Pepper

            2          t. lemon juice

            2          T. McCormick Gourmet Organic Mint

            1/8       t. McCormick Gourmet Organic Garlic Powder

            1          c. plain Greek yogurt

Rinse quinoa; drain well. In small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring quinoa and water to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 13 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Spread cooked quinoa on baking sheet to cool. Stir in 1/4 c. hazelnuts. Set aside.

Heat oven to 450 F. Brush racks of lamb lightly with 1 t. oil. Sprinkle with 1 t. sea salt and pepper. Coat lamb with quinoa mixture, pressing firmly to adhere. Place lamb on roasting rack in foil-lined, shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Roast 20-25 minutes, or until desired doneness.

To make Mint Pesto: In small bowl, mix remaining oil, remaining hazelnuts, lemon juice, mint, garlic powder and remaining sea salt until well blended. Stir 1 teaspoon pesto into yogurt.

To serve: Carve lamb into chops. Drizzle with remaining pesto. Serve with yogurt sauce. Serves 6.

Electric Pressure Cooker Lamb

            1          T. McCormick Garlic Powder

            1          T. McCormick crushed Rosemary Leaves

            2          t. McCormick Sea Salt

            1          t. McCormick Thyme Leaves

            1/2       t. ground McCormick Black Pepper

            2          t. vegetable oil

            1          semi-boneless leg of lamb (about 4 lbs.)

            1          c. Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock

            1/2       c. dry white wine

            2          med. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

            1          med. yellow onion, cut into wedges

            1/4       c. water

            2          T. cornstarch

In small bowl, mix garlic powder, rosemary, sea salt, thyme and black pepper. Set aside.

In electric pressure cooker, heat oil on saute setting until simmering. Sprinkle half the seasoning mixture evenly over lamb. Place lamb in pressure cooker. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until browned on all sides, turning occasionally. Add stock, wine and remaining seasoning mixture to pressure cooker. Arrange carrots and onion around lamb. Close lid.

Cook 25 minutes on high pressure. Once complete, allow pressure to release naturally with vent closed 15 minutes. Vent to release remaining pressure; remove lid. Remove lamb and vegetables from pressure cooker; set aside and keep warm.

Set pressure cooker to saute. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5-10 minutes. In small bowl, mix water and cornstarch. Stir into pressure cooker with wire whisk. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1-2 minutes, or until thickened. Serve lamb and vegetables with gravy. Serves 12.