Favorite Easter Recipes

>> Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I don't know who made this, but would gladly give credit if I did!

Whew! With my new job as a librarian, working with a new art gallery, getting involved in social justice as a ministry, and writing some new fiction, I can hardly believe Easter is in just a few days. I miss the Easters when I was young; waking up to find a huge basket of candy, and wearing a corsage, a pretty new outfit my mom made, and white gloves to church that morning.

Once we had an Easter egg hunt at my Grandpa Williams' house in Royal Oak, Michigan, and he forgot to count the eggs he hid. He found one a couple of months later when he ran over it with the lawnmower. Yuck.

Easter Sunday in Detroit
Easter Sunday in Royal Oak. L-R: Grandma, me, older sister Sheryl, and my Mom.

Wellllll...I love any celebration that involves lots of food, don't you? Here are some of our favorite recipes, from a luscious lamb brisket to a lemony Easter basket bread, as well as the best devilled eggs ever.

Lemony Easter basket bread

Lemony Easter Basket Bread: my mom always made this every Easter, and tucked dyed eggs into the folds before baking.

Braised Lamb

Seder Braised Lamb: Our church group enjoys an authentic Jewish Seder dinner each year, which is a wonderful chance to learn more about the Jewish religion that Jesus lived in. Joe developed this lamb recipe a year ago.

Bacon-Jalapeno deviled eggs

Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs: Devilled eggs taken to the max, from Real Housemoms.

Homemade Reese’s-Style Peanut Butter Eggs

Homemade Reese’s-Style Peanut Butter Eggs: how we love anything chocolate and peanut-buttery. From Natalie of Good Girl Style.


Easy Broccoli-Stuffed Manicotti Casserole

>> Sunday, April 6, 2014

Broccoli-Stuffed Manicotti Casserole

Just like one of our previous presidents, I am not a big fan of broccoli. It isn't just the fact that broccoli is one of those cruciferous (members of the mustard family) vegetables like cabbage or Brussels sprouts, and those veggies make terrible explosions in my stomach. It's just that I don't like the taste too much. When our daughters were young, I used to buy giant cans of cheese sauce to drizzle over their vegetables to encourage them to eat more. I always want to drown my broccoli in a gallon of cheese sauce.

But Joe brought home a bag of large manicotti tubes and some beautiful fresh broccoli, and set about making a quick and easy casserole even I would love. He picked me up from work the other night, and I was dead tired but I could smell a glorious fragrance of pomodoro sauce in his clothes. The end result was a cheap, delicious, and fairly low-fat casserole that only tasted of broccoli in a good way.

Large manicotti shells
Large pasta shells work just as well as large manicotti tubes.


1 box jumbo manicotti or pasta shells
1 1/2 cups broccoli
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano, or 1 1/2 tsp fresh
1/2 tsp dried basil, or 1 1/2 tsp fresh
3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce or canned pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions, on the firm side of "done". Drain and set aside. Grease a 9x11 pan and spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Finely chop the broccoli and steam in the microwave or on the stove until cooked but slightly crisp, then set aside.

Place the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, oregano, and basil in a thick gallon-size zip-top plastic bag. Squeeze the contents so that the ingredients mix well (if you have little ones around, this is a great job for them to do!). Add the broccoli and squeeze again until well mixed. Then, squeeze the filling into one corner of the plastic bag.

Broccoli-ricotta filling for manicotti
This filling looks blue-tinged because the plastic bag was light blue.

Snip the corner off the plastic bag, then squeeze out an equal amount of ricotta filling into each piece of pasta.  Arrange the filled pasta in the baking pan. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top, then sprinkle with cheese.

Broccoli-Ricotta stuffed pasta

Cover the pan with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10-15 more minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the sauce is bubbly.

Serves 4-6.


Vietnamese Grilled Steak Salad with Cabbage and Peanuts

>> Thursday, April 3, 2014

Vietnamese Grilled Steak Salad with Cabbage and Peanuts

After St. Patrick's Day, we had half a cabbage and absolutely no desire to eat any sort of cabbage dish that reminded us of winter. We were looking for something fresh and bright and not from this climate. This winter has gone on long enough, folks.

Joe dug around in our cookbooks and found this recipe from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now. Seriously, go pick up a flank steak and cook this - now. You'll be happy you did.


For the vinaigrette

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, such as nam pla or nuoc mam
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

For the salad

2 carrots, peeled and shredded
10 cups shredded napa or regular cabbage (about ½ head)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp ginger, grated
2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4-pound flank steak, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (note: if someone at home has a peanut allergy, try toasted slivered almonds or toasted sesame seeds instead)


In a screwtop jar, shake the vinaigrette ingredients until well mixed. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve. Toss together the carrots, cabbage, and cilantro; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, zest, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.  Place the steak in a dish or pan and coat with this marinade, being sure to cover both sides. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12. Remove the meat 30 minutes before grilling.

Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, and grill or broil over medium high heat about 3 minutes per side (for medium rare) or up to 5 minutes (for well done). Toss the cabbage mixture with half the vinaigrette, then arrange on a platter. Slice the meat thinly across the grain into strips and arrange them on top of the cabbage. Drizzle with the rest of the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Serves 4-6.

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