Eat up, it's Easter

I love big food holidays. I really love to cook, and my crazy-ass life does not often give me the opportunity to experiment. This year I had coffee hour responsibility at church on Easter Sunday, which meant twice the desserts and snacks as usual, plus our family feast. That meant a lot of baking!

As promised, here are some of the recipes, and how well they turned out for us.

Source: Patrice Nelson

This one couldn't be simpler. I use Pillsbury pie crusts because life is too short for making crust, and I know this is religious debate that cannot be easily resolved, but hey, I work. So you bake up the crust first of all, and I am going to have to get myself some pie weights on a string to make my life easier.

While the crust is cooling, mix 8 egg yolks with two cans of sweetened condensed milk, the lime zest of two limes, and 6 ounces of key lime juice. I generally don't have lime zest and substitute lemon powder from Penzey's, with no complaints registered. Mmm.

Important: Get REAL key lime juice. It does NOT come in a green plastic orb. Read your labels carefully: If it says, "Key West Lime Juice," it is not the same thing. That means it's squeezed from limes grown in Key West. You want actual key lime juice, which is much sweeter and yummier. Fortunately, if you can't find it in gourmet shops and aren't lucky enough to physically be in Florida, you can find it at exorbitant prices on Amazon. (Not an affiliate link; I have yet to figure out how that works.)

Bake 17 minutes at 350 degrees, then cool and chill. It should be well set through the center, but a little jiggle is okay. Serve with whipped cream - you can do meringue if you like, but I am not a fan.


6 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 c. sweetened whipped cream
chocolate curls (opt.)
pie crust

Again, bake your crust and let it cool while you make the filling.

Melt unsweetened chocolate in the microwave, taking care not to scorch; do it in short bursts and keep stirring. Meanwhile, cream butter until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add chocolate (partly cooled but still pourable) and vanilla and blend. Add eggs one at a time and beat on high for 2 minutes after each addition.

Once smooth and fluffy, pour into pie shell and cool at least two hours, then chill in fridge. Top with whipped cream and optional chocolate curls.

This makes a very rich, dense pie; if you think of French silk as a pudding pie, this is not the recipe for you. I found it very tasty but not as sweet as it might be; I might add a little more sugar or some corn syrup to sweeten it up a bit if I were making it for someone who isn't me.

Source: Patrice Nelson

My mom officially changed the name of this recipe after repeated visits from her grandson indicated he would eat these exclusively for life. Public reaction to this recipe is generally second only to my chocolate chip cookies.

1 c. butter (not margarine!), softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract
coarse/raw sugar

Cream the butter and sugar a full three minutes, then beat in the egg and extracts just until blended; do not over-beat. Add in dry ingredients until blended.

I use a cookie scoop to keep the sizes roughly uniform. Roll the dough into golfball-sized balls. Pour some of the coarse sugar crystals into a small bowl and roll the dough in it until fully coated. (I just use "Sugar in the Raw"; your mileage may vary.)

The recipe says to rub butter on the bottom of a drinking glass and use it to press each cookie flat. I use the palm of my (cleanly washed) hand; it's faster and less messy. Add more sugar crystals as needed; I often will use colored crystals to add some color to it.

I recommend covering your cookie sheet with parchment to avoid stickiness. Place and flatten your cookies, then bake 11 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool on pan 2-3 mins., then finish cooling on a rack. Use your own judgment; my oven cooks slowly, so add a couple of minutes if they don't appear lightly golden when done.


This is so bone easy you will think I'm lying. It's one block of cream cheese, softened, then mix in two tablespoons of ranch salad dressing mix. Allow it to firm up a bit in the fridge, then shape it into a ball and roll it in walnuts. Wrap in saran wrap and keep it in the fridge until serving with crackers.

Or you can be lazy like me and spoon the mixture into a dip bowl, and just serve it that way. It tastes the same and my family doesn't generally hold on making food look pretty. This one is insanely easy, and always gets a positive response as if I spent hours making it.


First, get good quality bacon. That thin, stringy crap they dare to charge $4/lb. for at the grocery store will not do. Get thick-sliced, applewood-smoked if you can. Then master oven-baked bacon, which is my preferred method: Put a wire rack in a shallow jelly-roll pan or rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil if you don't want to keep the drippings. Set oven on 400 degrees (the recipe says 350, but my oven takes too long at that temp).

For candied bacon, mix 2 tbsp. each rice vinegar and maple syrup with 1/4 c. brown sugar (and pepper if you like; I do not). Cook the bacon 10 minutes, turn over the slices, and five minutes later pull them and baste the slices. Keep basting and turning until the slices are done, about 35 minutes total.

This was a marginal success. When I've had this at my friend Mary's house, it was crispy with a delicious crackly coating. Ours was more like a glaze. This did not stop the menfolk from consuming it at vacuum-cleaner settings. It was deliciously tasty, but not what we had before.

Fortunately, I have another pound of bacon. Oh yes, we will try again.

My mother's variation: Mix 1/2 c. real maple syrup with 1 tsp. dijon mustard and pepper. This is not my preferred mix, but your mileage may vary. You can also add in other things to make it spicy, but you all know I'm a spice wuss.