03/17/2015 01:47 pm ET Updated May 13, 2015

Easter Italian Style

In our family we all host a holiday. Easter happens to be mine. It's a refreshing time of year when the weather is breaking and the earth is getting ready to bloom again. All kind of spiritual in many ways. I love hosting Easter, the food is bright and the decor is precious and the mood is sunny ! But as all holidays in our family Easter has a definite Italian touch. We usually dye our eggs on Good Friday and we enjoy trying new kits every year. This year I bought a air brush system by Paas to try. Plus some fun marble effect dye and foil type appliqués. I grew up in the city and though I live in a suburb not far from Chicago I still find that to get all my authentic Italian foods it's best to travel back to the old neighborhood in the days before Easter. It's a fun tradition and my daughter enjoys going back and hearing stories of my youth and seeing places we use to frequent as kids.

On Easter morning bright and early my daughter gets up to search for the indoor eggs and her basket from the bunny ! Then before we serve dinner there is the second egg hunt with cousins. No matter how old they get they all still love a visit from the family Easter bunny and fighting each other to get to candy and money filled eggs hidden all through the yard. The kids gather on the couches to open more Easter baskets from aunts and enjoy tallying up what was in their eggs.

We will normally attend mass on Saturday evening which at our church is the candle light service and can last over two hours. It's a long service but easier than trying to get everything in on Easter Sunday. So with mass done on Saturday night you can focus on the cooking without too much stress. We always start our meals with an antipasto full of meats, cheeses, olives and bread. My sister makes delightful deviled eggs in the shape of Easter chickies. At holidays our appetizers include raw fennel also called finnichio in Italian. We dip it in an oil with salt and seasonings. It's a simple treat but one we always have on table. It's a good accent to the heavy meats and cheeses.

Our menu will include of course a traditional honey ham and usually another meat like beef tenderloin or a roast. We prepare traditional baby potatoes with butter and chives and I always like to serve carrots because they add a beautiful brightness to the spread. Then of course like all good Italian meals we need a giant bowl of pasta - our choice for Easter is artichoke lemon linguine. It's full of parmigiano cheese and the lemon creates a bright flavor. We always have a calzone from Scuidieros back in the old neighborhood. It's full of sausage,cheese and doughy crust- yum !! Throw in a green salad and some fresh bread along with the lamb shaped butter mold and this meal is light but fulfilling. Now every Italian party or holiday meal ends with a sweet table - on ours we always have a homemade lamb cake in addition to a traditional Italian easter pie which is make with wheat, farina and lots of citrus It is one of my favorite things about Easter.

We also indulge in Italian pastries such as cannoli, rum baba, tiramisu and cream puffs. Even as adults my mom still brings us all the traditional Italian Chocolate egg wrapped in beautiful foil and filled with a prize inside. They are available at most authentic Italian bakeries and markets and are a beautiful addition to the table. Its important to put in the extra effort at holidays and parties to ensure that family traditions and heritage is remembered It can be as small as things like a certain dish or decoration that gets used every year but remember each small things creates a huge memory Buona Pasqua !! Happy Easter !