Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Spring Brunch - Holly & Melissa - May 2015

Holly and Melissa hosted a beautiful Spring Brunch at their clubhouse in May.
The tiny little succulent was a darling invite and I have mine flourishing in my pot garden.
The colors they chose were bright and refreshing yet calm and inviting. They had fun banners and tissue balls hung at the entrance and over the mantel adding just a pop of color.
Their chalkboard signs and mason jars placed around were darling and a fun accent.
The table. Lets talk about this table.
The centerpiece was my favorite part of the entire evening. Hydrangeas, peonies, gorgeousness!  All placed in mason jars inside a fun wooden crate box.

Plus, they were so brilliant and beautiful and smelt amazing!

The place settings were perfect. Chalkboard paper place mats, clean simple white plates, 

the cutest mason jars with lids and a chalkboard sticker for our names.
And these darlings.  All the ladies just raved about the ceramic mason jar measuring spoons. Seriously to cute.
After we gawked at the details the were ready for us to indulge in appetizers.

Wedge Salad Skewers, 
Deviled Eggs with Crab and Chipotle aioli,  
Avocado with Bacon deviled eggs
and Poppyseed Cucumber & Strawberry Salads.
Everything tiny and cute and tasty.
Menus got us excited for the rest of our night and ready to taste the evenings flavors.
Pomegranate, Pear & Pistachio Salad with Creamy Pomegranate Dressing.  It was so good and beautiful!
Main course was a quiche trio:
Sausage & Gruyere, Gorgonzola & Bacon with Red Onion, Spinach & Artichoke and a Caprese Orzo Salad with Prosciotto wrapped Melon. Fun distinct flavors in different shapes and sizes to enjoy.
Dessert was a Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Tart and a Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberry. Everything was delicious with great flavor.
The take home had a fun quote about Spring with bags of homemade granola for us, our recipes and we got to take the cute measuring spoons from the table with us as well.

It was a delightful evening, so fun to be together again and enjoy every ones company.
Props to Holly and Melissa who were great sports about changing their theme along the way and pulling of a fantastic evening! 

Cranberry Pineapple Spritzer
  • 8 ounces pineapple juice, chilled
  • 8 ounces cranberry juice, chilled
  • 8 ounces orange juice, chilled
  • 8 ounces sparkling water, chilled
  • crushed ice
Instructions:  Put handful of crushed ice in each of 4 glasses. Pour 2 ounces of each; pineapple juice, cranberry juice, orange juice and sparkling water over crushed ice. Garnish with orange slices and fresh cranberries. Serve immediately.
Wedge Salad Skewer
  • 8 (1-inch) wedges iceberg lettuce
  • 4 strips *candied pepper bacon, cut in half (*see recipe below)
  • 8 grape tomatoes
  • 8 bamboo toothpicks
  • 8 teaspoons blue cheese salad dressing or *Green Goddess Dressing (*see  recipe below)
  • 8 teaspoons crumbled blue cheese, or more to taste
Thread each lettuce wedge, bacon piece, and grape tomato onto each toothpick, respectively. Arrange toothpicks on a serving platter. Drizzle 1 teaspoon blue cheese dressing over each and sprinkle with blue cheese.

*Candied Pepper Bacon
Thick-Cut bacon slices (Can use peppered bacon for an extra kick)
Dark Brown Sugar
Fresh Ground Pepper

-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Arrange 7 or 8 slices of bacon on top of the parchment. 
-Sprinkle with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar. 
-Season liberally with fresh ground pepper. 
-Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
-Watch the bacon carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn, as the sugar will caramelize as it cooks. When the bacon looks almost done, turn over and bake on the other side for the last 5 minutes of cooking time, until the bacon is chewy-crisp but not charred. 
-Remove from pan and drain (sugared side up) on paper towels. Don’t leave the bacon on the paper towels too long or they may stick to the candied bacon.

Green Goddess Dressing

3/4- 1 cup heavy cream (to desired consistency)
1 c sour cream
3 TBLS chopped chives
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix and refrigerate before serving

Deviled Eggs with Crab and Chipotle Aioli

8 Hard boiled eggs
4 T. Mayonnaise
1 T. Dijon mustard
¼ t. Salt

Hard boil the eight eggs and let cool to room temperature. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the yolk. Place into a bowl and break up with a fork until lumps are gone. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and salt. Whisk with a fork until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Chill for one hour.

Chipotle Aioli
½ C. Mayonnaise
1 T. Chives, finely chopped
1 Garlic clove, finely minced
½ t. Lemon juice
1 large Adobo chili
Salt and pepper

Add all of the above ingredients into a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Place into a container with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.

1/3 C. Crab, lump meat
1 T. Chives, minced

To assemble:
Place the egg halves onto a platter. Put the egg yolk mixture into a piping bag and use the star tip to pipe into the egg halves. Once you have that complete, then top each one with a pinch of crab. Then add a tiny dollop of the chipotle aioli and garnish with a small pinch of chives. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Bacon
Yield: 24
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 Tb. lime juice
  • 1 Tb. chile garlic sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Garnishes: 1/4 cup crumbled bacon and/or  1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • *Can use recipe for candied peppered bacon for extra flavor!

  1. Place the eggs in a large pot and fill with cold water until it covers the eggs by 1 inch. Put the pot on the stovetop over high heat and bring to a boil. The moment the water starts boiling, set the timer for 12 minutes. At exactly 12 minutes remove the pot from the heat, set it in the sink, and run cold water into the pot until it remains cold. Then add ice to the pot to chill the eggs all the way through. If you have time, put the eggs in the fridge for a few hours to chill--cold eggs peel easier than warm eggs.
  2. Tap the hard boiled eggs on the counter and roll gently to crack the shell all the way around. Peel the egg shells off. If you're having trouble, run them under cold water as you peel. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and pop the egg yolks into the bowl of your food processor. Lay the white on a platter.
  3. Now spoon the avocado flesh into the food processor, followed by the lime juice, chile garlic sauce, and salt. Puree until completely smooth. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag with a medium tip (or into a zip bag then snip the corner off) and pipe the filling into the center of each egg. You should have plenty of filling to create nice tall mounds.
  4. Top each avocado deviled egg with crumbled bacon or pomegranate arils. Loosely wrap and chill until ready to serve. Can be made up to 4 days ahead.

Poppyseed Cucumber & Strawberry Salad
  • 2 large cucumbers, spiralized (with the ribbon setting)
  • 4 cups strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup feta, crumbled
  • ½ cup Poppyseed Dressing (Recipe below)
  • Mint leaves
  1. In a large bowl, toss cucumbers and strawberries together.
  2. Divide among four plates, sprinkle with feta and pour 2 tablespoons dressing over each salad, garnish with mint and serve immediately! *This salad holds wonderfully in the fridge for a make ahead meal. Just add salad dressing before serving.

*For a tutorial on how to spiralize, see Ali at Inspiralized!

Poppyseed Dressing

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vinegar
1 TBSP plus 1 ½ tsp onion juice
1 cup oil
1 TBSP plus 1 ½ tsp poppy seeds

Mix together sugar, mustard, salt & vinegar. Add onion juice & stir thoroughly. Add oil slowly, beating constantly until thick. Add poppyseeds & beat for a few minutes. Store in a cool place or in fridge. Yields 1 ¾ cups. 
Pomegranate, Pear, Pistachio Salad with Creamy Pomegranate Dressing

Adatped from Jen@CarlsbadCravings.com
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 sweet apple, chopped
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup roasted and salted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese

  • Creamy Pomegranate Dressing
  • 1 5.3 oz. Greek Yogurt with Cherry Pomegranate (I use Fage)*
  • 1/4 cup Sweet Red Chili Sauce (found in Asian section)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Whisk together all of the Creamy Pomegranate Dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the salad.
  2. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. If serving entire salad immediately, drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to coat. If there might be leftovers, drizzle dressing on individual salad servings. Top with freshly ground salt and pepper.
*You may substitute 1/3 vanilla Greek yogurt (won't be pink or have as much pomegranate taste but still delicoius) or substitute 1/3 cup strawberry yogurt which is a little sweeter than the Cherry-Pomegranate yogurt but still delicious 

Sausage & Gruyere Quiche
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
 1 pound of sausage (or bacon)
1 ½ cups milk
½ tsp salt
2 cups gruyere or swiss cheese
2 TBSP flour
Dash of cayenne pepper
4 eggs
Directions: Heat oven 350. Mix eggs, milk, seasoning. Mix well. Toss cheese with flour. Add cheese mixture & sausage (or bacon) to egg mixture. Pour into pie shell & bake for 40-45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 6.

Gorgonzola Quichettes with Red Onion & Thyme Confit
(makes 24)
200 g shortcrust pastry* (ready-rolled) or phyllo cups
1 tbsp butter
1 medium red onion (peeled and thinkly sliced)
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2/3 cup gorgonzola
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp mascarpone
2 tbsp single cream
salt, pepper
Prepare the pastry cases in advance. Pre-heat oven to 400+. Line 24 mini shallow bun or muffin tins with shortcrust pastry or phyllo dough (I have a non-stick and a silicone mould, so don't need to grease it, but do so if your tin requires it), the dough shouldn't be thicker than 1-2 mm. Cut off surplus dough and smooth round the egdes. Prick with a fork, then line with small pieces of grease-proof paper and fill with baking beans or pulses. Place tray in the oven and blind-bake pastry for 10 minutes, it should be cooked through, but not too brown on the edges. Leave pastry shells to cool, then store in an air-tight container.
For the onion confit, melt the butter in a non-stick pan, fry the onions until browning, then add the sugar and let caramelize. Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar and cook over a low heat, enough for the onions to soften through and the vinegar to lose its edge. This should take about 15 minutes. Add the thyme leaves and season to taste.
The confit will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.
To finish the quichettes, pre-heat oven to 350.
Beat the egg yolks with the mascarpone and cream, season to taste. Fill the pastry cases with roughly half a teaspoon full of gorgonzola, then top with a teaspoon full of the egg/cream mixture. Make sure the cases are not filled all the way to the top as the filling will rise.
Put into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the mixture has set and is browning on top.
Meanwhile, gently warm the onion confit in a pan or the micro-wave to make it easier to handle.
Remove the mini-quiches from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes. Top with half a teaspoon of onion confit and serve while still warm.
Crust-less Spinach Artichoke Mini Quiche
·   1 (14.5-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
·   1 package frozen spinach, drained
·   5 eggs, whisked
·   3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
·   2/3 cup milk (any kind)
·   1/2 cup chopped white onion
·   1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·   2 cloves garlic, minced
·   1/4 teaspoon salt
·   1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 12 baking cups by either spraying them liberally with cooking spray, or lining them with paper liners.
Stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Portion the mixture into the 12 prepared baking cups so that they are all nearly full.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Pesto Orzo Salad

Adapted from Pioneer Woman

·      Ingredients

·      1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more as needed)
·      1 whole Lemon, Juiced
·      1 clove Garlic, Minced
·      8 oz jar of prepared pesto
·      Salt And Pepper, to taste
·      12 ounces, weight Orzo Pasta, Cooked, Drained, And Cooled
·      1 cup Red Grape Or Cherry Tomatoes (cut in half)
·      1 cup Yellow Grape Or Cherry Tomatoes (cut in half)
·      1 cup Kalamata Olives (cut into 1/4ths)
·      1 cup+ bocconcine mozzarella cheese (or cubed)
·      1 cup Chickpeas, Drained.
·      1/4-1/2 whole Red Onion, Diced
·      1/3 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
·      4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh basil

Preparation Instructions: Cook pasta, set aside to cool.  In a jar or bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper until totally combined.  Place the orzo and all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and pour the dressing over the top, stir in pesto.  Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasonings, and refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Top with basil, pumpkin seeds and serve.  If you make this ahead of time, you'll need to "refresh" this. Just add a bit more olive oil, salt and parmesan before serving. This salad is best, though, room temp, or even slightly warm.

                                              Rustic Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Tart
~makes 1 tart~

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed but still cold
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/3 cup lemon curd, homemade or store-bought
1 pint raspberries
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, warmed
Powdered sugar

For the tart: Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Unfold the thawed out puff pastry on a lightly flour dusted area and gently roll into a 10x11 inch rectangle. Carefully transfer to your baking sheet.

Brush edges with a little bit of water and fold over all 4 sides to create a lip. Using a fork, poke holes all over the center of your tart. Gently brush the entire tart with an egg wash and sprinkle about 2 tsp. of sugar over the center. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully with the back of a spoon press the center back down if it has puffed. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the filling: In a bowl combine softened cream cheese and sugar. Mix with a hand-mixer or by hand until smooth and the sugar is well incorporated. Add the heavy cream and mix for about 1 minute. Fold in the lemon curd.

To assemble the tart: Carefully spread your lemon cheesecake mixture over the center of your cooled tart crust. Arrange berries decoratively over the curd and drizzle with the warmed jam. Dust the tart with powdered sugar.

Notes: This tart is best made and eaten on the same day. You can prepare the tart along with the cheesecake filling ahead of time. Refrigerate the filling and assemble the tart right before eating.

                                                          Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1 quart strawberries, capped
Chocolate shavings

Directions: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and almond/vanilla extract until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. (You could also use a ziplock baggie, and just cut the corner). Chill for 1 hour (I have skipped this step and they still turned out great). Quarter strawberries from tip to stem end without cutting them all the way through. You could also cut them the opposite direction, like the top picture, but then they don't stand up. Pipe cream cheese mixture into strawberries. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Chill until ready to serve.

Brown Butter Maple Granola
Yield: About 5 cups granola

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans or cashews
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Half Stick (1/4 cup) Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, almonds, pecans/cashews, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter over medium heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl. Add the maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Pour the brown butter maple mixture over dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are well-coated.
4. Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread granola into an even layer. Bake for 35 minutes or until granola is golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in dried cranberries. Let the granola cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 month.
Note-any dried fruit is great in this granola.