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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Easter Offers a Time of Reflection Amid the Food and Fun

By Sherri Norris

In the midst of Holy Week as celebrated by Christians the world over, our minds go back to that time in history when the greatest of miracles occurred. I won’t even try to describe the feelings that wash over me as I try to conceive the greatest sacrifice ever recorded, followed by the greatest miracle in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that it happened and have tried to live a life reflective of God’s love for me. I offer no apologies and leave no room for debate. I have received the gift of salvation simply because I do believe that God so loved me — and you —that He gave his only son so that we would not perish.

In today’s world, that reassurance is literally our only hope. Does that mean that we never have troubles, trials and heartaches? Does it mean that we do not fail daily? No, it certainly does not, but it offers us comfort to know this is not the end of our story. I can’t fathom the enormity of it all, but I have experienced the gift of God’s love enough to know that it is real.

I hope that the Easter season — and the reason that we observe this special time — becomes real to you this week.

And, for many, it is an opportunity for gatherings with family, friends, food and fun in the mix. Let’s make it a time to remember as we remove the clamor and clutter from our minds and hearts during this Holy Week and focus on what really matters beyond the bunny trails of life.

Ham and Pineapple Pinwheels

8  oz. cream cheese, softened

½ cup finely diced ham

 ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained very well

½ small onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. spicy mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1 crescent roll dough sheet

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese, ham, pineapple, onion, mustard and garlic until combined. Set aside.

Roll out crescent roll dough on a clean work surface. With longer edge facing you, cover the dough with cream cheese mixture, leaving a ¾- inch border of dough. Starting at the long edge, tightly roll the crescent roll dough over the mixture, forming a log; pinch the seam together. As evenly as you can, cut into 12 slices.

Place the slices, barely touching, onto baking sheet, aiming for four rows of three. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with more parsley, if desired.

Pastel Easter Cake

 1 box white cake mix

 ¼ cup water

 4 egg whites

 ½ cup vegetable oil

 1 cup sour cream

 1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

 Blue pink, and yellow food coloring ( gel or liquid)

 Pastel-colored sprinkles

Frosting ingredients:

 ½ cup butter softened (not melted)

2 cups powdered sugar

¼ tsp salt

 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

 2-4 tsp heavy cream or milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, with electric mixer, beat cake mix, water, egg whites, oil, sour cream and vanilla extract, on low speed for 30 seconds or until combined. Scrape edges of bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes, scraping edges occasionally.

Pour 2 cups of batter into prepared pan.

Divide remaining batter between 3 medium bowls (about ½ cup each). Add a few drops of blue, pink and yellow food coloring (one color per bowl) to the batter, stirring well after each drop, until the batter reaches the desired color.

Place spoonful of each colored batter in random places on top of the white batter. Run a knife back and forth through batter to swirl added color.

Bake cake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Lime and Pineapple Jell-O Salad

8 oz. cream cheese

1 envelope Dream Whip

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, with juice

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

3 oz. pkg. lime Jell-O

1 Tbsp. milk

Prepare Dream Whip as directed on package; set aside. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Heat reserved pineapple juice until hot enough to dissolve Jell-O. Add Jell-O and cream cheese with 1 Tbsp. milk. Beat until smooth. Add Jell-O mixture to Dream Whip and whip until well blended. Add drained pineapple and walnuts. Mix well. Pour into mold or glass dish and chill in refrigerator until time to serve.

Butter Cream Easter Eggs

½ lb. plus 1 tbsp. butter

8 oz. cream cheese

2 boxes powdered sugar (or more if needed for consistency)

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces

1/3 block paraffin wax

Cream ½ lb. butter and cream cheese together; gradually blend in sugar. Shape into “eggs.” Chill for about 1 hour.

Melt chocolate and wax over hot water or in double boiler. Dip eggs in mixture and allow them to cool on waxed paper.