Category Archives: ASM Entertains


Carrot Cake Cupcakes for a Traditional Easter Celebration

I have a confession to make.

I have never actually made a classic carrot cake.

I don’t know why. I guess it has always been somewhat of an intimidating layered cake to master. The grating of the carrots, the perfectly whipped cream cheese frosting.


But, these delicious classic Carrot Cake Cupcakes were well worth the effort and they weren’t that difficult at all! In fact, I have made them over and over for many types of occasions, but they will make the perfect delicious handheld dessert for any Easter gathering.

Perfect for Brunch or Lunch!


Classic Carrot Cake Cupcakes 

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten, Copyright 2001


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.


Tossing the carrot mixture in flour will ensure that the carrots, raisins, and walnuts remain evenly suspended in the batter and don’t sink to the bottom of your cupcakes. But even if it does, they are still delicious.


Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, and then drop the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Cool completely on a rack.

And at this stage, resist any and all urges to eat one warm and unfrosted.

Or don’t. Your call.


For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve to some very happy house guests!



Absolutely delicious!


Needing more Easter dessert inspo?

Nothing more traditional than Coconut Cake at this springtime gathering, and this Pineapple Layered Coconut Cake is absolutely perfect & an update to the classic coconut cake.

Image result for pineapple layered coconut cake

For a more non-traditional dessert, try Chocolate Eclair Cake, which is exactly what my family will savor this Saturday at our Easter gathering. It is super simple and stays in the fridge until you are ready to cut and serve!

Image result for chocolate eclair cake

It’s so, so sinfully good! Cool, creamy, and dreamy.

And finally, The Very Best Banana Pudding, or at least my DatDat thinks so!

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My secret? It’s buttery Chessman cookies in place of Nilla Wafers and homemade stove-top pudding in place of instant. It’s the smallest of details that sometimes make the biggest difference in the finished product.


But most of all, Happy Easter to you and your families!

He is Risen indeed!



Instant Pot Lemon Chicken with Green Olives

Y’all. I am a believer in this piece of kitchen equipment.

Mom and I took an Instant Pot class (part of her Christmas from me this year) at Sur La Table recently and we made 3 delicious recipes, but more importantly, it gave us confidence in how to use and alter recipes to suit this piece of machinery. So far, since the class, I have made baked sweet potatoes and this ultra delicious, restaurant-quality Tuscan Lemon Chicken with Green Olives.

It utilizes some pantry and refrigerator staples, some you may already have on hand right now, along with a few fresh ingredients, and ultra-easy to cook & eat chicken thighs.

So, let’s get started!

Tuscan Lemon Chicken with Olives 


  • 8 medium chicken thighs, skinless
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or white wine, used for deglazing the pan & adds much needed moisture for pressure cooking later
  • 4 sprigs of fresh Thyme, leaves removed from the stems
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced in rounds or small wedges and the seeds removed
  • 1 cup of green olives, whole or sliced in half (be sure the pimentos are removed)
  • Parsley for finishing, optional


Generously salt and pepper both sides of the chicken thighs.

*This is the only time you are seasoning the chicken itself, so be generous!

Image result for browning chicken thighs in instant pot

Brown both sides of the chicken in the Instant Pot set to “Saute” function in just a few tablespoons of your favorite cooking oil so the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan.

Don’t worry about cooking the chicken through at this point, that comes later. Just focus on reaching a nice golden color. Remove chicken from the pan and allow to rest on a plate or platter. Set aside.

Add the diced onion and garlic to the pan and saute until translucent and fragrant. Then, add the chicken broth or dry white wine and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan from browning the chicken and the veggies.

Add the lemon sliced, thyme, and green olives and stir to combine. This is the base for the luscious sauce the chicken will cook in.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the onion, lemon, olive mixture and secure the lid. Turn the Instant Pot to “Pressure Cook” and cook for 15 minutes.

At the end of the 15 minutes, release the steam at the end of cooking time, unlock the lid, and serve the chicken thighs covered in the sauce.

Image result for lemon chicken with olives

This dish is amazing served over rice, couscous, potatoes, or even served alongside a tossed green salad.

The chicken thighs are so tender and incredibly moist and provide the perfect amount of richness to the dish that probably couldn’t be achieved with boneless breasts. However, should you want to use chicken breasts, adjust the cooking time accordingly.

It’s so quick and so easy, and is one of those recipes I make and think “this could easily be served in  a restaurant!” It really is that good!