Friday Faves

photo-122 {latte art}

Happy Good Friday! What are your plans for the weekend? I’m excited to spend Easter with my nephew/Godson and my new baby niece – the first Easter for both of them (wait until you see their outfits!!). I have some holiday baking to do tomorrow, and I need to find something to wear to mass and brunch on Sunday. What I won’t be doing: watching the Zags play (sob!). Wishing everyone a wonderful sunny weekend – hope this weather holds up! Some fun links and pics:

  • I’m making this for easter brunch, yum!
  • Tips from female entrepreneurs
  • Spring makeup refresher
  • I love a good grammar update (I’m guilty of #14 – I know it’s wrong but I say it anyway)
  • Another yummy Smitten Kitchen easter treat from the B&B archives

photo-120{spring flowers}

photo-119{so many sprinkles}

photo-121{packing up my gbs in my new special tote – comes in handier than you might think}

photo 3-19{easter baskets for the babies}

photo 1-40{Harper’s looks a lot like Coop’s from last year, except in pink and with a couple bows too. Basket and liner from Pottery Barn, Serena & Lily blanket (no longer available in pink, good thing I ordered this one long before she was born!), Hanna Andersson sleeper (similar here), Bunnies by the Bay lovey and rattle, Life Factory bottle, Baby Bling bows (and one I got at a boutique, but similar here), rattle, board books.}

photo-114{And I still had to do one for my favorite little guy – same basket as last year, but this year he has his name on it! Basket, liner (similar here), cup and plate from Pottery Barn, Hanna sleeper, bottle, eggs with puffs (thanks, pinterest!), big “buddy” bunny from Bunnies by the Bay, pull-tab book, wooden toy.}

Friday Faves

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{homemade muffins + pretty bouquet}

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been gray and rainy here all week, and I’ve had a nasty cold, so I’m extra ready for the weekend. What are your plans? I made two delicious recipes this week for the blog but didn’t manage to post either of them, so I might work on that.  My cousin delivered a baby girl in Edinburgh an hour ago, so I get to go pick out a little something tiny and pink to send over to Scotland. Movie date to finally go see The Wolf of Wall Street tomorrow night (should we even bother?)….. and of course, games three and four of the Portland/Houston series tonight and Sunday. I’m predicting the Blazers sweep!

Some fun links and photos to help you make it to 5 pm:

  • How to wear bronzer (I have a tendency to overdo it so this is helpful!)
  • This article reminded me of my grandpa
  • I might need to try these asap (as I’ve recently rediscovered my love for Nutella)
  • Happy (belated) birthday, Suri
  • Love this new Tumblr!  (My friend Jessie just bought that LK Bennett dress and she spilled a cup of tea on it and it’s ruined, how sad is that?)

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{all new products for my over-processed hair}

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{I told you I wanted these!}

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{mid-cookie-baking snack}

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{weekly baby nephew purchases – t minus three months!! Sleeper, teether, rattle, blanket}

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{the back is the cutest part!}

Friday Faves: Easter Edition

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{antique ceramic bunny that belonged to my grandmother}

Happy Good Friday! I hope everyone is looking forward to a weekend full of sunshine (?), egg hunts, and chocolate. What are some of your favorite Easter traditions? I love going to mass with my family on Sunday morning – our parish has the most amazing choir and they sing almost all of my favorite “church songs” at Easter mass.  I used to love indulging in whatever I had given up for Lent at brunch, but this year I didn’t give up anything so I guess that’s out.  My eight year old cousin told me last night that Lent ends the Wednesday before Holy Thursday, has anyone ever heard of this?  He claims the priest at his school told his whole class.  Theoretically, the priest would know better than me, but I was skeptical so we looked it up and the answer isn’t entirely straightforward.  I’m choosing to stick with my lifelong understanding that Lent ends on Easter, but Nolan gave up chocolate this year and he really wanted to eat a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich last night, so he’s going with what his priest told him.  If anyone can shed any light on this debate, I would love to hear it in the comments.

I found some fun Easter links for you, and then dug up all of the old B&B recipes that I thought would be good for an Easter brunch (since I didn’t get it together to make anything new).  And then, of course, some faves from the week (three weeks in a row – I’m really on a roll!).  Wishing you all a wonderful Easter weekend!

  • 40 ways to decorate eggs
  • Last minute basket inspiration – I love the idea of the ceramic berry baskets (and just for the record, I had my Paper Source grass well before I saw this post!)
  • How adorable are these muffins? I’m trying to stay away from wheat but I might have to cheat and make/eat these on Sunday.
  • Remember when Easter meant a new dress? This year I would pick this one.
  • Easter egg cookies – easier than they look!

Easter on B&B, previously: Blueberry MuffinsLeek and Swiss Chard Tart, Blueberry Cornmeal Coffee Cake, Coconut Cupcakes and Carrot Muffins, Leek Bread Pudding and Coconut Loaf, Chocolate Peanut Butter Meringues

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{easter glassybaby: evelyn, grass (not available online), sweet pea, canary}

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{easter lilies}

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{bulk chocolate eggs}

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Everyone seemed to find it pretty odd that I made an Easter basket for a baby due this summer – I don’t really understand why, but I guess perhaps not everyone loves buying baby gifts as much as I do? I had so much fun putting it together – and someday Baby P will know how much I loved him even before he was born, even if his mother thinks I’m nuts. Basket and liner from Pottery Barn Kids, safari blanket from Serena & Lily, sleeper from Hanna Anderson, books from Amazon, bottle from Life Factory (and filled with peanut butter M&Ms, which might have been the hit of the basket), bunny lovey and rattle from Bunnies by the Bay, paper grass from Paper Source (seems minor, but good easter basket grass is harder to find than you might think!).

Leek Bread Pudding + Coconut Loaf

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{Smitten Kitchen‘s Leek Bread Pudding}

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{Sprouted Kitchen‘s Coconut Loaf}

I’m not entirely sure that these two recipes go together, but they’ve both been on my “to make” list for awhile now and they’re both made in loaf pans, so I thought maybe they should share a post. They’d also both be excellent additions to your Easter brunch menu, if you’re looking for new ideas – so that’s three things they have in common. I’ve been meaning to try the leek bread pudding for literally years now, and it did not disappoint. I’ve made the coconut bread before, but I’ve been wanting to do it for the blog and I’m so glad I did because it was even better than I remembered. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat lately, but I splurged on a piece of this fresh from the oven last night and it was worth every bite.

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This bread pudding couldn’t be easier, as bread puddings go. Just cube your bread and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and sauté your leeks while the bread is toasting. Deb suggests stale brioche, which I’m sure is ideal, but I used a loaf of fresh french bread and it worked just fine. The recipe calls for one cup of leeks, but I used closer to two and it was delicious – and next time I might even use more (I bought three leeks and only used two of them – I think I could have used the third and it would have been a welcome addition, although it was fine with just the two. Deb also suggests you could sauté any other veggies you like along with the leeks and add them in as well).

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Layer your toasted bread cubes and leeks with cheese, pour a custard over it, and it’s ready to go into the oven. Again, the recipe calls for small amounts of chives and thyme; next time I’ll probably use more – although it was delicious as is. Deb noted that you could add more cheese as well, so of course I stirred a little grated parmesan in with my eggs and milk. It didn’t need it but of course it didn’t hurt.

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An hour later, you have a toasty, bubbling casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfast: warm, perhaps with an egg or bacon on top (not me personally – gross! – but others might like it that way); lunch: cold, with a crisp green salad; dinner: alongside a roasted chicken breast or something of that nature. I think it’s adorable in the loaf pan, but you could double the recipe and it would work in a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish (that’s my plan for Easter brunch). Savory bread pudding, who knew?

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And then, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this divine coconut loaf from one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Sprouted Kitchen blog, of course, but her cookbook is really worth getting as every recipe I’ve tried from it has been to die for.  As I’ve mentioned here many times already, I love anything with coconut,  so of course this bread is a safe bet – coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I would call this recipe “healthy-ish” – it’s still a loaf of bread, and it still has sugar in it, but there’s enough whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and lack of white sugar and butter that I feel ok about eating it. I was calling it vegan until I remembered it has eggs in it (duh!), but it is dairy free.

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Again, super easy. Toast your coconut, combine your dry ingredients and your wet ones, and stir them together – two bowls, one spoon (ok, I used a spoon and a whisk), no mixer, easy cleanup. So much fun to stir cake batter with a spoon, I felt like a pioneer woman.  Is this how our grandmothers did things all those years?

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When I’ve made this recipe before I’ve never bothered with the glaze, but I did it just for blog purposes and was prepared to tell you you could skip this step – but it turns out the glaze is delicious. It adds a little extra sweetness and moisture to the cake, which isn’t necessarily needed but I appreciated it. Sara suggests serving the cake with fresh blackberries; I used strawberries here and it was SUCH a good combination. This is also something that could be served as breakfast or dessert (or perhaps just a snack!) – which I guess means it has more in common with the bread pudding than I initially thought. (Note: if you aren’t serving the cake warm from the oven, Sara suggests you toast your slices under the broiler for a minute or two).

One year ago: Chicken Pot Pie (two ways) and Chocolate Pudding

Leek Bread Pudding, from Smitten Kitchen via Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)

1 cup leeks (or more to taste), white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed, and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Kosher (or coarse) salt
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1″ cubed crustless brioche or other bread (about one loaf)
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half (or a combination thereof – I used 2 cups whole milk and one cup half and half)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese (I used Gruyère and a little extra Parmesan)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese in the bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another two tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Coconut Loaf, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6-8 slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used flaked)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
Berries, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about four minutes.  Watch it carefully, as it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar.  Sift the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in one cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla.   Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes (mine took 55). Remove loaf from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer (you won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into slices (wait for the loaf to fully cool or your slices will crumble).  Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh berries.  YUM!!

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Friday Faves

Happy (Good) Friday! I hope everyone had a fabulous week. It’s been in the 60s (SIXTIES!!) in Seattle this week, so it feels like spring is finally here. Between that and the upcoming Easter holiday, please forgive the fact that all of this week’s favorites are pastels and Easter themed. I bought myself a new Easter dress and some new Easter shoes (best part of the holiday! It’s as though I’m six years old) and am so excited for a gorgeous weekend full of celebrations – religious and otherwise.

grass, canary, bff, little roy blue

grass, canary, bff, little roy blue

Way too much fun using my Easter pastels and spring brights as vases after I went a little crazy at the market.

I’m making mini strawberry tarts for my cousin’s baby shower tomorrow…..it’s not really strawberry season yet but we’re so close!

Le Panier is a French bakery in Pike Place Market….I took a little break from work the other day and found myself wandering through the market, and then somehow in line for macaroons. One of these days I’m going to teach myself how to make them, but in the meantime these are pretty perfect.

I was talked into these Joe’s jeans last week by my 93 year old grandmother, who informed me that “pistachio” is the color for spring. $69.99 at TJ Maxx, score!!

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I couldn’t decide between my go-to favorite cupcake recipe (recipe here, boxed version here), or this much healthier – but also Easter-y – carrot muffin (recipe here). So I made both – something for everyone! (Note: the carrot muffins aren’t your typical “cupcake disguised as a muffin” muffin – they are very much a muffin. And although the coconut whip is yummy, I actually prefer them without it).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and that the Easter Bunny is good to you! xoxo

Blueberry Cornmeal Coffee Cake

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For the past few years, my friend Tracy has volunteered through the YWCA to put together a number of Easter baskets for children in the foster care system. She prices the baskets out, asks us all how many we’d like to donate, orders all of the baskets and goodies, and then hosts a brunch where we can all get together and put the baskets together over gossip and mimosas. Isn’t that one of the best ideas you’ve ever heard? While it was pretty hard for me to get out of bed yesterday morning (since after the Zags’ loss on Saturday night my will to live was close to non-existent), once I did this coffee cake was easy to put together and bring to brunch (along with my heavy heart). And after coffee and two mimosas, I even started to feel just a tiny bit better.

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As you may already know from earlier posts, Smitten Kitchen is one of my very favorite food blogs, and when Deb released her cookbook last fall I was SO excited to see what it held in store for me. While I haven’t yet had the chance to make as many of the recipes as I’d like, those that I have tried (pancetta-white bean-chard pot pies and pumpkin-gingersnap-cheesecake tart, to name a couple of my favorites) have been pretty amazing. This “coffee cake” was no exception. I’m calling it a coffee cake, although Deb calls it a “butter cake” (whatever that means), and even goes so far as to include it in her cake chapter rather than her breakfast chapter, so that there’s no mistake. I happen to think the presence of blueberries automatically puts this in the breakfast category, so I’m sticking with coffee cake.

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If you’re in need of new ideas for your Easter brunch menu next week, I would really recommend that you try this. I was able to whip it up in about 15 minutes, and the 35-50 minutes it needs in the oven is plenty of time to shower, or set your Easter table, or in my case, go back to bed and squeeze your eyes shut and pray that somehow last night was just a bad dream. I should add that it’s not only easy, but delicious as well. It’s not too sweet (although I do think you could dial back the sugar in the topping if you wanted to), and the cornmeal is enough to make it interesting, and a little crunchy – but not so much as to make it cornbread-y. It’s pretty much a brilliant combination of a coffee cake, a blueberry muffin, and a light cornbread – and I suppose I can kind of understand why Deb calls it a butter cake, because it is pretty buttery (in the best sense of the word). It received rave reviews from all the girls at brunch, even the ones that wouldn’t normally eat cake for breakfast, blueberries or not.

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Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

For the Cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry

For the Streusel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pan or coat with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, for at least 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl in between additions, then add the vanilla and zest. Add a third of the flour mixture, all of the sour cream, and another third of the flour, beating until just blended after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Mix the remaining third of the flour mixture with the blueberries. Fold the blueberry-flour mixture gently into the cake batter. Spread the cake batter in the prepared cake pan. Use your original dry-ingredients bowl to combine the dry topping ingredients with a fork. Mash in the butter with a fork, your fingertips, or a pastry blender. Scatter the topping over the batter. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes (mine took 45 and the middle was still a bit undercooked). Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Run the spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it, then flip out onto the cooling rack.

Yield: 16 2-inch squares

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Friday Faves

So this morning I was running on time for a 9 am meeting (highly unusual for me, especially on a Friday!) – I entered my building at 8:55, but I hadn’t had coffee yet. To a normal person, 5 minutes to make it to one’s office and then get situated for a meeting means clearly no time for Starbucks – especially because the Starbucks in my building always has a huge nine o’clock rush. But I let myself peek in as I headed to the elevators, and what do you know, there was no line. My favorite barista grabbed a grande cup as soon as he saw me, and my drink was made before I had even paid for it. I made it to my meeting on time, with coffee in hand. A Friday morning miracle, so no complaints from me today!

My friend Amanda made these for a Selection Sunday party last weekend, so when I was trying to think of something to put in a care package for my cousin Ellie earlier this week – she attends a certain university in the Pacific Northwest with the number one ranked team in college basketball – I decided to copy Amanda and send Ellie some game-watch treats. I browned the butter and added a little sea salt (recipe from this cookbook), and then just cut out the “basketballs” with a biscuit cutter and piped on some melted chocolate. Crafty and delicious!  Although I’m not sure any Zag fan was able to eat during or after yesterday’s game – I still feel slightly nauseous.

Daffodils remind me of my paternal grandparents, both now deceased – growing up we spent hours and hours playing in the apple orchard behind their house, where the daffodils would cover the ground in March and April. This bouquet makes me think of them, and makes me happy.

I used to be an avid reader, but these days between work, the gym, social obligations, and DVR, it seems harder and harder to make time. Thanks to some recent trips and my new iPad mini, I’ve rediscovered reading, which is great, but I’ve also rediscovered how obsessed I get with reading, which is less great (at least, less great when you ideally should go to bed before midnight, or not take a two hour lunch break, etc.). It may be the same impatience/lack of willpower/obsessive personality that enabled me to get through all of season one of Downton Abbey in a week last January, or both seasons of Game of Thrones in two weeks this January (I could go on), but I wasn’t able to put this book down. Hilarious, satirical, heartfelt, and set in Seattle so that much more fun to read. I promise not to go all Oprah’s Book Club on you, but if you’re looking for something fun to read, I would highly recommend this book. And if you have any other book recs, please send them my way – I leave for Hawaii in a month so I’m starting my list now.

I found these little bunny candle holders while going through some of my old belongings I’ve been storing in my parents’ basement. They’re from my Pottery Barn discount days (which I really miss), and since they’ve been boxed up for the past few Easters I thought this year I should probably put them out. I love the retro, 50s feel of the colored glass – they look like something I would find at my grandma’s house, rather than something I bought at U Village in 2007.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest the other day – Miraval is Oprah’s spa in Tucson, which I can only hope to be able to afford some day. In the meantime, I love their cookbook and their blog recipes. Some people might recognize these as “Magic Bars” (I didn’t, but a few people at work did), but they inspired me since the recipe says they’re knock offs of my favorite girl scout cookie, Samoas. Healthy(ish) Samoas in bar form, what could be more delicious. The recipe calls for sweetened coconut – I used half sweetened and half unsweetened, and they’re still plenty sweet. A girlfriend at work (where I bring most of my baked goods, lest anyone be concerned I’m eating them all myself) suggested adding a layer of Nutella, which would probably be amazing.

Happy March Madness, everyone! I hope your brackets aren’t already busted!  Please think good thoughts for my Zags tomorrow!