Easter Meal Plan Ideas

Hey everyone!  I wanted to share some great recipes you might want to try this weekend for Easter gatherings.  These are all really great ones to try, and I promise people will want the recipe!  Enjoy!

Easter Menu Ideas-Diary of a Recipe Collector

In my family, we LOVE Deviled Eggs!  Here are a few versions:

BLT Deviled Eggs

Southwestern Deviled Eggs

Here are some great sides to try!

Vidalia Onion Cornbread Muffins

Sour Cream Butter Biscuits

Veggie Squares

Layered Salad

Frito Salad

French Onion Dip

King Ranch Chicken Dip

And you’ve got to have a sweet…especially for those of us who are too big for Easter baskets…

Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding

Strawberry Cake

Easter Potato Chip Cookies

Chocolate Dream Trifle-Diary of a Recipe Collector
Chocolate Dream Trifle

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Chocolate Dream Trifle

  Decadent chocolate mousse layered with chocolate cake and chocolate icing…a chocolate lover’s dream!

Chocolate Dream Trifle-Diary of a Recipe Collector

This dessert has to be one of my favorite desserts ever!  I would pick chocolate over any other dessert any day.  And this one right here is at the very top of my list.  The original recipe came from a Paula Deen  Magazine Chocolate Lovers issue.  It makes a very good and beautiful layered cake.  However, each time I’ve made it, I’ve told myself I should make a trifle with it.

And that was a wonderful decision…but first, let me tell you about a little mishap.

I tell you this not to discourage you in any way from making this dessert.  It is your classic triple step layered cake recipe:  homemade chocolate cake (easy recipe) with a filling (chocolate mousse), and an easy homemade chocolate icing.

So I made this last Sunday.  I thought I’d get a head start on it and make the cake and the mousse before we left for church.  This WAS a good idea.  However, my brain isn’t exactly what it should be, and I blame it on this 4th pregnancy.
I started mixing my dry ingredients for the cake.  Before I added the wet ingredients, I realized I was out of vegetable oil.  No big deal, I thought.  I could just go get some after church and finish the cake later.  So I set this bowl aside…and this is where my good morning intentions of getting ahead went astray.
I started making the chocolate mousse, so I could get it in the fridge to chill.  This, again, is a super easy step if your head is on right.  On the very last step, you need to add cocoa powder/sugar mixture to your mousse filling.  So I grab my dry mixture and start adding it.  I realize that this mixture sure seems like a lot, and I think, “Oh no, I must have added too much sugar to this because I sure have a lot of this.”  So I start to make a few adjustments and add some more cocoa powder (Mistake #2).
When I get finished making the mousse, I put it up in the fridge and thought that I had at least accomplished making that.  When I go to start cleaning up, I notice the bowl of cocoa/sugar mixture that I SHOULD have used, but I didn’t!  Do you know what I used??  I accidentally used my dry cake mixture (you know the one I stopped making all because I didn’t have vegetable oil).  My heart sank.  I was so upset that I just managed to not only ruin my chocolate mousse by adding cake mix to it, but I also used a lot of my cake mix.  Basically the morning of trying to get ahead was an EPIC fail!
And no, it wasn’t because anyone was talking to me or getting me to fix them something to eat or drink while I was trying to make this cake.  It was all because my brain is simply not all there here lately.  I’m ready for it to come back soon please!

Anyway…. this cake really is easy, and I managed to really goof up.  Lesson learned…finish one step before moving on to the other.

So later that day I made this cake, with no other issues… and I’m happy to say, it came out so beautiful.
Chocolate Dream Trifle - Diary of a Recipe Collector
Chocolate Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup brewed coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Chocolate Mousse:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5- 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
10 tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar

For the cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 13 x 9 pan.  ( I use baking spray and line the bottom with a piece of parchment and spray that as well).  Mix all the dry ingredients.  Add oil, milk, coffee, and eggs.  Beat with electric mixture until smooth.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.    Let cool for 20-30 minutes and remove from pan to finish cooling.
For the mousse:  In a small bowl, mix gelatin and cold water.  Let it stand for 2 minutes.  Add boiling water and stir.  In another small bowl, combine cocoa powder and sugar.  In a large bowl or using a stand mixer bowl, beat whipping cream at medium speed until foamy.  Gradually add cocoa/sugar mixture.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Stir in gelatin mixture.  Cover and chill in fridge for 4 hours.
For the icing:  In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and cream to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes while stirring often.  Remove from heat, add butter and chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Whisk in powdered sugar.  Let it continue to cool.

Assemble the trifle:  Cut cake into large cubes.  Layer the bottom of the trifle with cake.  Layer chocolate mousse followed by chocolate icing.  Repeat layers two more times.  Top with grated chocolate and chocolate curls.

Chocolate Curls:  Pioneer Woman had an episode where she showed how to make chocolate curls.  For me, this was amazing.  I had always wondered how to get those big beautiful curls.

Melt 3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate or 3 heaping tablespoons of chocolate chips with 1 tbsp shortening.  Melt in microwave safe bowl stirring every 20-30 seconds until melted.  Spread with off-set spatula onto the bottom(underside) of a sheet pan.  Spread out until it is thin.  Place in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  Working quickly, use a spatula to scrap and curl up the chocolate in sections.  If chocolate quits curling, it is too warm.  Stick it back in the freezer a few more minutes.

I’m linking up with:
Time to Sparkle 56
In and Out of the Kitchen 63

Peach Pie Filling Fruit Salad

Fresh fruit mixed with a can of peach pie filling…

Diary of a Recipe Collector-Peach Pie Filling Fruit Salad This is so stinkin’ easy!  It is a little treat my roommate’s mom would make for us when we were in college.  I always loved it.  It can be customized with your favorite fruits too.  My kids love it!  I’m very lucky they love fruit as much as they do.  Now vegetables….that’s another story.  Those are a work in progress.

This would be great packed in school lunches too!

*Adjust quantities to your preferences
1 can peach pie filling
1/2 pint -1 pint fresh or frozen (thawed) sliced strawberries
3 bananas, sliced
1- 1 1/2 cups grapes
1 can mandarin oranges

Mix all ingredients.  Chill a few hours and serve.
So easy!

I’m linking up with:
Best of the Weekend 48
Show Stopper Saturday
Saturday Night Fever 28
Sweet amd Savoury Sunday 57
Time to Sparkle 56
In and Out of the Kitchen 63


Triple Lemon Poundcake

  A lemon lover’s dream cake…with a baked lemon curd filling…

I am a lemon lover.  So is my dad and so is my brother-in-law.  For the majority of our holidays or birthday celebrations with family, we always seem to have a lemon dessert.  The first time I made this cake was about 10 years ago.   At that time, I could not find lemon curd anywhere in my grocery store.  This turned out to be a good thing in my opinion.  I was forced to make my own.  And while this is one of those steps that you may not want to do, it is so worth it!!
Lemon curd doesn’t take long to make, but you do have to babysit it at the stove.  It isn’t hard to do though.  I’m telling you…it is so worth it.  You will actually pour this into the cake and it will bake up producing a lusciously, moist, lemony layer.
I made this cake the other day for my co-workers…mostly men.  Currently I am working at the family fabrication business until #4 is born.  This works out well lately, since they will usually give me their honest opinion, and I have somewhere to give my desserts away so I don’t eat them all.  Well, when I brought this cake to work, I heard a few say they were not a big fan of lemon.  I told them to just try it.   Well, in just a short time, they polished off the cake!  Some went and got a second piece….but I thought you didn’t like lemon I thought as they scraped their plates clean.  I love it when that happens!

This recipe comes from one of Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade cookbooks.  I found the Lemon Curd recipe from Alton Brown…like I said…this step is so worth it.

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested, and juiced
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into tablespoons
*Makes just the right amount for both the cake and the glaze in this recipe.

Make your own double-boiler, by adding 1 inch of water to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.  In a metal bowl that will fit in the saucepan,  combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until smooth.  Juice lemons into measuring cup until you get 1/3 cup of juice.  If necessary, add water to reach this measurement.  Add juice and zest to eggs and whisk.  Place bowl onto saucepan making sure bottom doesn’t touch water.  Keep whisking until mixture has thickened.  This will take about 8 minutes.  When it is ready, it will be light yellow and coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and add butter one tablespoon at a time making sure it melts before adding another.  Pour into a plastic container and cover with a layer of plastic wrap directly onto surface of the curd.

For the cake:
1 box lemon supreme cake mix
1 small box lemon pudding mix
1 cup water
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Zest of 1 lemon
6 tbsp lemon curd (store bought or home-made)

Lemon Glaze:
6 tbsp lemon curd
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with baking spray.  Combine all cake mix ingredients except lemon curd.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan.  Drizzle lemon curd onto batter being careful not to let it touch sides of pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.  Transfer cake to serving platter when ready to glaze.
Make the glaze, by beating curd with water and lemon juice until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Drizzle glaze over cake.  It’s perfectly fine if you have a pool of extra glaze.  Everyone will love it!

I’m linking up with:
Best of the Weekend 48
Show Stopper Saturday
Saturday Night Fever 28
Sweet and Savoury Sunday 57
Time to Sparkle 56
In and Out of the Kitchen 63


Shrimp & Grits

The first time I ever tried Shrimp and Grits was at a faculty breakfast at the school in which I taught a few years ago.  I had never had a desire to try them or make them until that morning.  They were so yummy.
Shrimp and Grits-Cheesy baked grits topped with bacon and shrimpThere are all sorts of different versions.  Here is one I found in one of Paula Deen’s magazines.  I changed it up slightly and used her Baked Grits recipe from her first cookbook.  I had no idea there were so many ways to make grits other than the kind you eat for breakfast.  I was pleasantly surprised with a dinner version especially since it involved shrimp.

For the shrimp topping:
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 a red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Creole seasoning, to taste
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions

For the baked grits:
4 cups of water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup uncooked grits
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, cut into tablespoons
1 1/2 cups of shredded Colby Jack cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Begin by boiling water with salt.  When water reaches a boil, add grits and stir continuously for about a minute.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until grits have thickened.  Next you’ll need to temper eggs which means bringing the eggs to a higher temperature so they don’t scramble when you add them to the grits.  Do this by adding a tablespoon of grits at a time to the beaten eggs and stirring.  When egg mixture feels warm, add it to the pot of grits.   Next add butter, cheese, garlic and pepper.  Stir until combined.  Pour into casserole dish.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Shortly before grits are finished baking, cook bacon in a large skillet.  Remove bacon leaving drippings.  Add red bell peppers, onion, and garlic.  Season with creole seasoning.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add wine or chicken broth and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add shrimp and season with a little more creole seasoning.  Cook shrimp for  2 minutes or until they are pink.  Turn off heat and add lemon juice and green onions.  Pour shrimp mixture over baked grits and serve.


Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!

I’m linking up with:
Best of the Weekend
Show Stopper Saturday
SNF Link Party 28
Time to Sparkle 56

Slow-Cooker Enchiladas

Have enchiladas waiting on you when  you get home from work…
IMG_5342aI love a good enchilada casserole baked in the oven, but lately we have been so busy after school, I don’t really have time to make one.  I also love the thought of having my slow-cooker cooking away while we are out going from one activity to the next.  I love the smell of cooked food waiting on me when I get home.  What mom doesn’t??
I found this recipe in Cooking with Paula Deen magazine (January/February 2009), and I knew I had to give them a try.  They came out great garnished with sour cream and fresh green onions.
So on your busy weeknights, go ahead and give this one a try.

(adapted from Cooking with Paula Deen)
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2-3 tbsp chopped jalapenos
salt and pepper or seasoned salt
12 flour tortillas (torn into pieces)
1 28 oz. red enchilada sauce
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese
sour cream
green onions
*Slow cooker liner

Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic.   Season with salt and pepper or seasoned salt.  Stir in jalapenos.  Drain fat.  Line slow cooker with a slow cooker liner.  Layer one-third of tortillas in bottom of slow cooker.  Top with 1/2 beef mixture, half enchilada sauce, and 1 cup of cheese.  Repeat layers of tortillas, beef, and cheese.  Finish off with last third of tortillas and remaining cheese.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or until hot and bubbly.  Garnish with sour cream and green onions.

I’m linking up with:
Best of the Weekend
Show Stopper Saturday
SNF Link Party 28

Smoothie Cups

 I love making these smoothie cups to put in the freezer so I can throw them in lunch boxes on busy school days.

IMG_5592aMy kids get so excited when I make them too!  I use the same Strawberry Banana Popsicle recipe from Paula Deen except I just put them in small plastic containers instead of Popsicle molds.  By the time they go to lunch. they are the perfect temperature for eating.

Source-Paula Deen
1 small box of instant banana cream pudding mix
1 3/4 cups milk
1 pint frozen sliced strawberries (thawed) or 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp sugar
Blend all ingredients in blender.  Pour into small plastic containers with lids.  Freeze for at least 4 hours.  Put into lunch boxes in the morning and they are ready to eat by lunch time.

I’m linking up with:
Best of the Weekend
Show Stopper Saturday
SNF Link Party 28

Copy Cat Spicy Chicken Romano

I adore the Spicy Chicken Romano at Johnny Carino’s!  This recipe nails it!
Creamy bow-tie pasta with smoky sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and green onions all tossed with thinly sliced grilled chicken.  Oh my…this is a great pasta dish!  I have to admit.  I am not one to really be a huge fan of many of the main ingredients like artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms.  But there is just something about them in this pasta.  They truly make the dish.

3 chicken breasts
12 oz. bowtie pasta
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup of sliced green onions
1 14 oz. can drained artichoke hearts
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (I used smoked)
1 tbsp flour
1 pint half and half
salt and pepper or creole seasoning
1/2 cup shredded/grated Parmesan
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Using an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill, grill chicken breasts about 6-8 minutes per side or until they have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  Set aside to rest a few minutes.  Slice chicken very thinly.
Boil bowtie pasta according to package instructions.
While pasta is boiling, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Saute mushrooms, green onions, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper or creole seasoning.  Saute for about 2-3 minutes.  Add thinly sliced chicken.  Saute 2 -3 more minutes.  Add flour and stir for about a minute.  Add half and half and Parmesan.  Stir and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add cooked pasta and stir to combine.

I’m linking up this week with:
Best of the Weekend #46
Show Stopper Saturday
Saturday Night Fever #27
Time to Sparkle #54

Easter Potato Chip Cookies

A super easy cake mix cookie base with a sweet and salty twist.
This is a fun cookie to make with kids.  They are really easy, and the kids like crushing the potato chips.  They also think it is totally hilarious to add potato chips to cookies!  They really make a great combination of that sweet and salty flavor so many people love.

Adapted from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade
1 box white cake mix with pudding in the mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Easter M&Ms
1 cup potato chips, crushed in a plastic storage bag

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, place cake mix, butter, and eggs.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until well-blended.  Stir in candies and crushed chips.
Spray hands with cooking spray.  Roll into 1 inch size balls, and place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on pans for 2 minutes and remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

I’m linking this recipe up with:
Time to Sparkle #53
Best of the Weekend #46
Show Stopper Saturday
Saturday Night Fever  #27
I should be mopping the floor-Inspiration Monday

Baked Ziti

A fabulous Pioneer Woman recipe…when you want a little change from Lasagna…


 Mamma Mia…is this good!  It was so easy too!  I’ve been on a real pasta kick lately with this pregnancy, and this recipe from Pioneer Woman did not disappoint.  At one point a few weeks ago, I told my husband that I had cooked an Italian pasta related meal for the last five meals.  I’m sure he noticed but was too fearful to say anything and was just glad I was cooking again!


 Give this one a try, and you too, will not be disappointed!

Recipe:  (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 lbs. ground beef
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
2- 14 oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 16 oz  box Ziti Or Mostaciolli (cooked until almost al dente)
1 15 oz container of cottage cheese
1 16 oz. block of mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan
1 egg, slightly beaten
fresh chopped parsley  (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large pot, heat olive oil.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute for about 10 minutes or until softened.  Add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain off some of fat.  Add whole tomatoes, giving them a good squish with a wooden spoon.  Add tomato sauces and seasonings.  Let simmer for about 25 minutes.  (In the meantime, boil your pasta).    Remove 3 to 4 cups of sauce to a bowl to cool.
In a separate large bowl, mix together cottage cheese, 2 cups of mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper.
Drain pasta, rinse under cool water.  Add to cheese mixture and stir.  Add cooled meat sauce and stir.
Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.  Add half the pasta mixture to the bottom of the dish.  Layer half the remaining meat sauce on top of pasta.  Sprinkle some mozzarella.  Repeat layers once more.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

I’ll be linking up with:
Best of the Weekend #45
Saturday Night Fever #26
Show Stopper Saturday
Time to Sparkle #53

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!!

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