If you are one of those people who “likes their cake and eat it too,” then Brunch is the meal for you! It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit savory, and just late enough in the day that you can go all-out preparing something really special while still sleeping in. Last week I threw a ladies brunch with Blue Diamond Almonds for my girlfriends. My friend Christina has a lovely rose garden in her backyard so we spent the day sipping on Honey-Almond Champagne cocktails, eating delicious bites, and enjoying the flowers.
On the menu: Honey Almond Champagne Cocktails, Bacon and Egg muffins served with Maple Syrup, Blackberry & Lavender Honey Nut Thins, Roasted Strawberry Parfaits, and a cheese board straight from heaven.
This menu sounds down right fancy but believe me, brunch doesn’t have to be a complicated meal to prepare! I stuck to one warm dish (the bacon and egg muffins) and accompanied that with lots of cold & room temperature bites like fruit, yogurt, cheese and almonds.
Of course it’s hard to not have a great time when there is a lovable, and very hungry, schnauzer named Professor Dog in attendance. If only we could be Ladies who Brunch every week!
So, what’s your favorite thing about brunch? I hope you will try these recipes and treat your girlfriends or family to a little brunch party!
Brunch Menu Recipes:
Honey-Almond Champagne Cocktail
Almond Champagne, chilled
1-cup Blue Diamond Oven Roasted Honey Almonds
1. On a cutting board, chop almonds finely.
2. Rim champagne glasses dipping them in a plate of honey then in the chopped almonds.
3. Fill glasses with almond champagne and serve.
Blackberry & Lavender Honey Nut Thins
1 tbsp. lavender
1 cup honey
¼ lb. gorgonzola
8 oz. mascarpone
Blue Diamond Artisanal Multi-Seed Nut Thins
1. Infuse 1 tbsp. lavender in 1 cup of honey in a small sauce pan over low heat for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
2. Let ¼ lb. gorgonzola come to room temperature. Mix gorgonzola with 8 oz. mascarpone.
3. Wash blackberries, dry with a paper towel and set aside
4. Arrange Blue Diamond Nut Thins on a serving board.
5. Top each Nut Thin with cheese, one blackberry, a drizzle with lavender honey and a sprig of fresh mint.
Roasted Strawberry Parfaits
1-16oz carton strawberries
17.6 oz plain Greek yogurt
Blue Diamond Oven Roasted Sea Salt Almonds
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and slice strawberries and arrange on a foil lined baking sheet
2. Sprinkle strawberries with sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until strawberries are roasted, bubbly and the juices have released.
3. Once cooled, remove roasted strawberries and their juices to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to assemble parfaits.
Layer yogurt, strawberries and granola. Top with a few Blue Diamond Oven Roasted Sea Salt Almonds and serve.
Bacon and Egg Muffins- recipe via Better Homes and Gardens
4 slices bacon, cut in thirds
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil or butter, melted
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Maple or cane syrup (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large skillet cook bacon just until it begins to crisp. Drain and reserve drippings. Return 2 tsp. drippings to skillet. For scrambled eggs, in a small bowl beat 3 of the eggs, 2 Tbsp. water, and a dash each of salt and pepper. Cook eggs in hot skillet over medium heat without stirring until eggs begin to set on bottom and around edges. With a large spatula, lift and fold for uncooked portion to flow underneath. Cook until set yet still moist. Transfer to bowl; set aside.
2. Brush twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with some of the remaining bacon drippings. Set muffin cups aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt. In a separate bowl combine milk, oil, and remaining 2 eggs; stir into flour mixture. Fold in scrambled eggs and cheese. Spoon into muffin cups (cups will be full).
3. Place one bacon piece on each muffin. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, until light brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. To loosen muffins from pan, run a small metal spatula or table knife around edges of muffins; remove from pans. Serve warm with maple syrup.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds but all opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who allow me to continue creating new content for Freutcake!
My entertaining style really changes throughout the year, how about yours? During the chilly months here in NYC, I don’t mind sitting inside planning dinner or appetizers for a night in with friends. Once spring finally hits though, I’m such a heedless hostess. Blame spring! Blame sunshine! I’ll get caught up in a long walk around the neighborhood then—eeks!—realize guests will be over in an hour and I haven’t even shopped for ingredients yet. Sound familiar? If so, arm yourself with a super-easy recipe you can shop AND bake in 30 minutes flat, like this 5-Ingredient Spring Veggie Pizza.
The secret to this faster-than-anything recipe: Soft garlic-and-herb flavored cheese. My favorite brand is Boursin but there are tons of other options out there, like Alouette, Rondele and Pine River. These flavor-packed, cheesy spreads are a great one-step “sauce” that melts and bubbles into pizza perfection!
I love super-skinny asparagus spears but often the stalks available at the grocery store are ridiculously thick. If that’s all I can find (and I have time), I’ll slice each spear in half lengthwise to make two thin halves. Need it speedier? Swap in frozen asparagus spears, thawed and skin the pre-cooking entirely!
Want to make these pizzas bite-size for a spring cocktail party? Cut each puff pastry rectangle into 4 or 6 pieces before topping (and chop up the asparagus so it’ll fit on top) and bake for only 6 or 7 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cheers!
5-Ingredient Spring Veggie Pizzas
Serves 6 to 8
1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and halved lengthwise (if desired)
1 (17.3-ounce) box puff pastry sheets, thawed slightly
2 (5-ounce) containers soft garlic-and-herb cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup dill leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Put the asparagus and 1 tablespoon water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on High 1 to 2 minutes or until bright green and barely tender. Drain and pat dry.
3. Meanwhile, starting with one puff pastry sheet, unfold the sheet and cut along the seams to make 3 long rectangles; cut each rectangle in half to make 6 rectangles total. Repeat with remaining puff pastry sheet. Transfer rectangles to prepared baking sheets.
4. Divide the cheese, asparagus and peas among the crusts. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with dill before serving.
I can easily say that this is the best week, ever! If you take a look at the May Issue of Better Homes and Gardens you might just see me (and Freutcake) on page 10 in a little column called Blogs we Love. I grew up learning to bake with recipes out of my Mom’s old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I can thank Better Homes for helping me make my very first pie crust and for inspiring me as a little girl to attempt a key lime pie all by myself, even if I messed it up royally.
So, needless to say I am honored beyond belief to be included in the glossy pages of their magazine years later. I hope you will pick up a copy and read my interview. I sort of spill the beans about my favorite cocktail, although if you read this blog frequently, I’m sure you can guess. Ok, go ahead and guess!
That’s not where the excitement ends however! A couple of months back I wrote a recipe for Prosciutto and Parmesan Deviled Eggs based off of a Better Homes and Gardens classic. This month my recipe is featured in Better Homes special issue magazine Top-Rated Recipes. This magazine is pure recipe magic with a beautifully curated selection of Better Homes and Gardens best recipes from their magazine, cook book, Pinterest boards, Facebook Page and BHG food bloggers, all rounded up in one place. It’s a feast for the eyes and I am humbled to be part of it.
If you are looking for a great Easter appetizer or side dish, try making my Prosciutto and Parmesan Deviled Eggs! They are savory, salty, scrumptious little eggy bites and an unexpected twist on the classic deviled egg.
Prosciutto and Parmesan Deviled Eggs
12 hard-cooked eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped prosciutto- crisp cooked and chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan chees
snipped fresh chives – optional for garnish
1. Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise removing the yolks. Set whites aside. Place yolks in a small bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper. Fold in ¼ cup prosciutto and the Parmesan cheese
2. Using a small spoon, stuff egg with halves with yolk mixture. If desired, cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Garnish with additional prosciutto, a dab of pesto, and or chives.
Now that we’ve launched Freutcake Book Club and selected our read for April, you may be inspired to gather a group of literature loving ladies for your own version of a book club. It’s a simple task that really only has three requirements: the book, willing participants, and a desire to have some fun! Here are some suggestions for how to get started …
How to Start a Book Club:
1. Alert your friends, co-workers, and family members that you’re forming a book club and see who wants to join. Let them know that they can extend the invite to their other friends as well. It’s a fabulous way to meet like-minded women.
2. Though optional, it’s fun to come up with a name that represents your group. Your club deserves a unique identity!
3. Decide how often you will meet, who will host the meetings, or if you are going to alternate hostesses.
4. Remind everyone to buy, download, or borrow the book and read it!
5. Regularly visit Freutcake for that month’s discussions questions, recipe suggestions, and craft ideas. We will be giving tips on how to incorporate the novel’s theme into your book club meeting to ensure you and your members have the loveliest of literary experiences!
With April already halfway over, there’s no time to lose. Grab your copy of The Perfume Collector, gather your bookish buddies, and start reading with Freutcake! If you are reading along with Freutcake Book Club, make sure to snap a photo and share it on social media #freutcakebookclub, we would love to see it!
When I think of traditional holidays like Easter, I immediately associate them with family recipes. In my family as well as my husbands, we have our fare share of easy (semi-homemade) dishes that have become known as Grandma classics. Jason’s Nanie (nah-nee) has a saying for these types of dishes, “no te mates” which basically translates into “don’t kill yourself” in Spanish. Nanie’s Ambrosia Salad definitely falls under the no te mates category, but that doesn’t keep the family from devouring it one fluffy spoonful at a time!
Before I get down to the super simple family recipe, let’s just discuss Ambrosia for a second, shall we? Ambrosia salad is more of a dessert than any salad I’ve ever met, consisting of whipped cream, cream cheese, mini-marshmallows, and fruit. Some recipes may call for coconut or pecans but in this family, we don’t mess around with nuts in our dessert!
It’s said that Ambrosia was the food of the Gods in Greek mythology. More like food of the Southern-American-housewife-goddess if you ask me! Either way, it’s an American classic that I can’t get enough of. Served along side your Easter ham or as a light dessert, Ambrosia is sure to be a hit at the holiday table. Just don’t tell Nanie that I tweaked her recipe a wee-little-bit! I had to put my own spin on this family recipe; after all it might just be my fluffy legacy one of these days!
Does your family make Ambrosia salad for Easter?
photos by Leah Bergman
Nanie’s Ambrosia Salad
2- 20oz cans Pineapple Chunks, drained
2- 15 oz cans Mandarin Segments, drained
1/2 cup Maraschino Cherries, drained
3- 8oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
10 Tbsp milk
3 large handfuls (about 3 cups) mini-marshmallows
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat heavy whipping cream into soft peeks. Remove into a small bowl and set aside.
2. Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle and beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. On low speed beat in the powdered sugar until combined. Slowly add in the milk and mix.
3. Remove from mixer and by hand fold in the reserved whipped cream.
4. Fold in all of the drained fruit and mini-marshmallows. Chill at least 1 hour covered before serving or overnight if possible.
Note: I like to reserve a few mandarins, cherries and pineapples to garnish the top of my serving dish for a prettier presentation!
Last October I embarked on a new venture that was 100% out of my comfort zone, I taught a class on blogging! Let me tell you, it’s one thing to sit behind a computer talking about this stuff and an entirely different thing to stand up in front of a classroom filled with your peers and speak with any sort of conviction. To my great relief the class was a huge success, I had so much more to share than I could have possibly imagined, and the attendees created a little community of ladies that I have grown to know and love. Today I am excited to announce that I will be hosting a second installment of Freutcamp this Summer at Darling Magazine’s Headquarters in Los Angeles, California. I hope you will be part of it!
WHAT IS FREUTCAMP: Freutcamp is a branding, social media & business bootcamp for bloggers. The goal of Freutcamp is to give bloggers, small business owners, and creative individuals of all levels the tools needed to run a better, more successful, and creative blog. Class will cover the basics of branding, tips for better social media usage, information on monetizing your blog, how to approach working with sponsors, finding a unique voice in the blogging world, and tons of creative inspiration. As a graphic designer and brand social media manager I am excited to share my knowledge and experience with you!
SCHEDULE: We are all too busy for our own good, am I right? That’s why I have been working to reduce the class down to just the best parts, leaving you more time for what really matters, your blogs! Summer Freutcamp will kick off with a Friday night mixer on June 20th followed by a FULL day workshop on Saturday, June 21st. No Photoshop skills taught this time around, just all the other important business, branding and social media you could possibly need for running a better blog. (more info here)
TICKETS: 25 seats will be available and tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 16th at 8:00am PST. Because Wednesday is tax day, oy vey, I’m setting aside a limited number of tickets (10) for $199 with the discount code TAXRELIEF from April 16th-20th. Regular priced tickets will be $299. Tickets are available at www.freutcamp.com
BONUS: I promise to make Freutcamp a fun, informative, inspirational, and exciting event for all who attend! I have lots of surprises planned and guest speakers TBA. I hope you will consider purchasing a ticket and joining the camp. If you have any questions please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are planning to go Easter egg-hunting with little ones this year, these DIY Glittered Easter Pails will be the perfect project for you! When I saw these adorable pastel pails at Target, in the bargain section for only $3 each none the less, I knew they would be a fun alternative to the typical Easter basket. Plus, everything is better with a little gold glitter on it, don’t you agree?
To make these Glittered Easter Pails, you will need:
Metal Pails in fun colors
Tacky glue- we recommend Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
Chunky gold glitter
Foam paint brush
Ribbon – this gold glittered ribbon is available at Michael’s
Let’s get started:
1. Using your painter’s tape, tape off the section of your pail which you wish to cover in glitter. (Tip: to keep the line straight, tape of the section with small pieces of tape).
2. Using your foam brush, “paint” on a generous coat of tacky glue.
3. Before your glue dries, sprinkle a heavy amount of glitter all over the glue.
4. Carefully remove your tape, revealing your nice clean lines!
5. Finish off with a pretty bow at the base of the handle.
Photos by Marisa Mangum & Leah Bergman
Yesterday was 93 degrees in Los Angeles, you read that correctly, nine-zero degrees in April after a non-existent winter and with complete disregard for spring. Therefore I threw in the towel and made Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream. Sweet cream and milk steeped with floral Earl Grey Tea, combined with sugar and yolks, chilled and churned.
Served in a waffle cone, there is nothing complicated or overworked about this recipe. It’s just really good, rich and chewy ice cream made from scratch and completely satisfying on a hot (spring) day.
But for those of you who are not suffering through this California heat wave, don’t be deterred! Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream is the perfect year round flavor with lovely reminders of a hot cup of tea with lots of cream and sugar. If you are in California, I suggest digging that ice cream machine out immediately. Summer has arrived!
photos by Leah Bergman / floral napkin by Cute Bright Things
Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream- Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, half of the sugar (1/4 cup), the tea, and salt.
2. Put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges, remove from the heat and cover the pan. Let steep for about 10 minutes, or until the cream has taken on the distinct flavor of Earl Grey tea.
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in the remaining half of the sugar (1/4 cup). Uncover the cream mixture and put the pan over medium heat. 4. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 up of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowlypour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
5. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your fingers across the spatula, about 3 minutes longer.
6. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, transfer to the chilled container and freeze for at least 4 hours.
Everyone’s so keen to host cookie decorating parties when the holidays roll around but what about a swanky, springtime fete to prep for Easter? My plan: Have the girls over for an egg decorating day with lots of champagne and bite-size sweets, like colorful bowls of jelly beans and these Miniature Carrot Pudding Pies!
This modern twist on a classic Easter dessert gets tons of flavor and creaminess from my favorite secret ingredient: Melted ice cream! To make a pudding you usually need milk, sugar, vanilla, eggs. Guess what? Already in the ice cream! That’s how I kept this super-chic treat to its 5-ingredient cap. Just steep freshly grated carrots in melted ice cream, strain, and reheat with cornstarch, salt and butter…easiest pudding recipe ever!
To make the tart shells, I pressed store-bought pie dough into ungreased muffin tins and baked, lined with parchment and pie weights, until perfectly golden. You can make the shells up to 2 days ahead. Just store ‘em in an airtight container at room temperature. Willing to splurge on an extra ingredient? These are even more delicious topped with whipped cream!
Miniature Carrot Pudding Pies
2 (14-ounce) containers good-quality vanilla ice cream
1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded
1 (14-ounce) box refrigerated pie dough rolls (2 rolls)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
PANTRY STAPLE: Kosher salt
TOPPING IDEA: Sweetened, whipped cream
1. Heat the ice cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Stir in the carrots and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, unroll the pie dough rolls and cut into 3-inch circles; collect and reroll scraps, cut out into more circles. Gently press dough circles into an ungreased 12-cup muffin pan; line each with parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden. Let cool in the pan slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove parchment and pie weights.
3. Pour the ice cream mixture into a clean saucepan through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down on the carrot solids with a spatula to release all of the liquid; transfer 3 tablespoons liquid to a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Gradually whisk cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining liquid and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring, until pudding coats the back of the spoon. Stir in the butter until melted.
4. Divide the pudding among the prepared tart shells. Transfer to a serving platter, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding (to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until cold and firm. Top with whipped cream, if desired!
Want to see exactly how we made these teeny treats? Here’s a quick how-to video—ice cream blooper, included!