One of the very best things about holidays is the gathering of family for a big meal — or it could be the worst thing. With so much to do on a holiday, it’s tough to find the time to make a great big spread. Frankly I’d rather be out Easter egg hunting than spending all my time in the kitchen.

Easter is also the end of Lent, a 40-day time period of fasting, prayer and penance. Many people who observe Lent give up meat not only on Fridays but for the entire period. For me that’s more penance than fasting!

Easter isn’t only the end of Lent; it is also a celebration of spring! In the pre-Christian era, the pagan believed in the goddess Eoster. During Eoster-monath there would be huge celebrations (which happened to be in April) that are said to have involved bunnies and eggs. Our modern terminology stems from this pagan celebration.

Whether you are celebrating a traditional Easter or the celebration of spring, what better way to celebrate a holiday and the end of Lent than going all out carnivore with some Pig of the Month Dry Style Baby Back Ribs!  They are the perfect ribs for family and friends (plus they are on sale right now!). I know my mom isn’t super fond of overly saucy ribs, she prefers them dry so she can add just the right amount of sauce — and the kind of sauce that is more suited to her taste. To make everyone happy, why not get the BBQ Sauce Sampler to serve with the ribs?

To celebrate spring how about serving this grilled asparagus and egg salad (a perfect way to use some of those Easter eggs) with some Lemon and Blueberry Mason Jar Cakes to finish off the meal?

Grilled Asparagus & Egg Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 bunch ‘fat’ asparagus, washed and trimmed

3 tablespoons Meyer or regular lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)

1 tablespoon minced shallot

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced thyme

½ teaspoon sugar

Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper

2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and chopped

3 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Shaved parmesan for garnish if desired

Spread the asparagus across a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and generously salt and pepper.  Roll the asparagus around until it is completely coated.  Grill asparagus on high heat, flipping occasionally until tender crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Return to baking sheet and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, shallot, lemon zest, thyme, sugar and some salt and pepper. Set aside.  Note: dressing can be made the day prior.

Cut the asparagus into 2” pieces.  In a large bowl toss together the cut asparagus, eggs and bacon with the dressing.  Garnish with parmesan shavings if desired.

Lemon & Blueberry Mason Jar Cakes

Base cake mix:

1 box Angel Food Cake Mix

1 box Lemon Cake Mix

 

Per Jar:

6 tablespoons prepared dry cake mix

1 lemon zested and juiced (2 tablespoons juice)

2 tablespoons water

¼ cup blueberries (frozen is fine, no need to defrost)

In a large zipper-top bag, add 1 box of angel food cake mix and one box lemon cake mix, and mix well. To each jar add 6 tablespoons of angel lemon cake mix, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water and lemon zest. Stir to mix, drop in ½ the blueberries. Microwave uncovered for 90 seconds. Let cool and top with the remaining blueberries and  the lemon whipped cream if desired (recipe follows).

Lemon Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

Zest of one lemon

Freeze a metal bowl and beaters for 10 minutes. Add all ingredients to the frozen bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Whipped cream can be made up to 4 hours in advance (do a quick rewhip before serving).

Note:  If transporting cake, store whipped topping in a separate container and keep cool, put canning jars on cake for the perfect picnic cake!

 

Lea Richards is the founder and CEO of Pig of the Month. You can read more recipes and ramblings at Pig of the Month BBQ or connect with them on Facebook for recipes, promtions, and contests.  Pig of the Month BBQ ships gourmet smoked meats and BBQ sauces and sides nationwide.

Zing! Readers are eligible for free shipping on any orders. Just enter “quickenblogs2012” when placing any orders.

PLUS: Pig of the Month would love to give a FREE bacon sampler to a Zing! reader who loves…bacon! Just leave a comment below to qualify. We’ll pick a comment on April 20 and send the lucky winner a free Pig of the Month bacon sampler.

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