Spring brunchSpring is in the air, right? Well, maybe not so much. But it’s totally in my heart. I am just willing it to come. We need warm weather. It was 10 degrees when I left the house the other day and it. was. cold. Freezing. And something about that just made me angry and put me in a terrible mood. And I wasn’t the only one. All of us in MN are so sick of the cold. Our bones are permanently chilled.

Ok, enough weather talk. Technically it is spring. And if I can’t feel it in the air at least it can be felt through my entertaining endeavors.

One of the easiest ways to entertain is with brunch. Guests are always happy with a glass of champagne in-hand. I think it’s the bubbles, or maybe the fact that they’re drinking before noon. Either way, brunch is awesome and one of my top favorite things ever in life.

I’m thinking of starting a new content feature that is all about “how to’s” when it comes to entertaining. These posts will provide inspiration for hosting your own parties. They’ll include menu ideas, recipes and decorating tips, all in the Eat Drink Pretty style.

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I love brunch. I love quiche. Now that I’ve made my first strata I love strata, too. What’s not to love? It’s basically a dish with eggs, cheese and veggies poured over bread cubes to form sort of an egg bread pudding. Yum.

This dish is pretty healthy. Kale is all over farmers’ markets right now and you can get a huge bunch of it for $1 – $2. It’s a bit of a hassle to prep and wash kale but definitely worth it. Everyone knows how healthy kale is and how it’s a super duper food. I like kale, but I don’t love kale, like some people do. This dish would be great with spinach as well.

Kale and goat cheese strata (recipe adapted from Super Natural Everyday cookbook by Heidi Swanson)

Ingredients

Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk (I used whole organic milk)
6 large eggs
3 cups day-old whole wheat bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups chopped kale (washed and woody stems removed, leaves only)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preparation

Rub a splash of olive oil in a 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the baking dish with lemon zest and set aside. Instead of using a 9 inch baking dish I used 8 small ramekins.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper with a splash of the milk. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the eggs.

Put the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with the kale and half of the goat cheese. Gently toss with your hands – just enough that the spinach and cheese mixes with the pieces of bread. Make sure the bread is relatively level in the baking dish. Very slowly drizzle the egg mixture over the bread and sprinkle with the remaining goat cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake the strata, uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, until the egg is set in the middle and the edges are browned. If you are using ramekins it won’t take as long to bake, about 30 minutes, but check it often.

Serve warm.

Note, for richer flavor, add more goat cheese. You can never have enough goat cheese, in my opinion. Also, I felt there was quite a lot of bread and the dish became very bread-y. Next time I would reduce the amount of bread by 1 cup. 

I think my next brunch recipe challenge is going to be a souffle. Have you ever tried one? I’m a bit intimidated. Please comment and share any strata or souffle recipes you have. Check out the breakfast category for all the former yummy posts and recipes.

Have a great Monday.

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I have a borderline obsession with brunch. It’s my favorite meal and brunch food is one of my favorite types of food to prepare. I think brunch entertaining is the best kind of entertaining. You get to serve pretty, bubbly cocktails like mimosas and bellinis and it’s totally acceptable to serve half of the meal with store-bought items like croissants and donuts. Quiche is always a great option for the main dish and it can be served at room temperature, so there is no worrying about timing the meal perfectly to serve hot out of the oven. Less stress and more time for sipping mimosas and enjoying your guests.

I’ve made a ton of different quiche recipes over the past few years and this one is my favorite. It is creamy and bold. I mean…some of the key ingredients are blue cheese, cream and cream cheese. It’s as good as it sounds. But probably not good for you. Did I mention I ate it with a chocolate donut?

Herbed quiche with blue cheese (recipe via Martha Stewart)

Ingredients 

1 refrigerated pie crust

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, chives, and/or oregano (I used 2 tablespoons fresh chives and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
Directions 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Unroll the pie crust and press into a pie pan (alternatively you can use mini tart pans, I found that one pie crust fills 3-4 mini tart pans. I used 3 but probably could have used 4 with a bit less crust in each pan). Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork. 
Place the pie pan (or mini tart pans) on a baking sheet, and bake for 9 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the tart pan on a wire rack to cool. 
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, blue cheese, and butter. Whisk in the eggs until well blended. Stir in the cream, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs. Pour the filling into the partially baked pie shell. Return the tart pan to the baking sheet and bake, rotating the quiche halfway through, until it is puffed and golden brown, 25 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the tart pan from the baking sheet and set it on a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Please note, you will have extra filling if you use mini tart pans instead of a pie pan. You can either reduce some of the milk and cream and eliminate one of the eggs so that you have less liquid or pour the additional liquid into ramekins and bake without the crust. Either option is great.  
Here are a few brunch entertaining posts and links to some of my favorite quiche recipes. Happy brunch entertaining!  
Juliet’s one year “Baby Love” first birthday party – part 1 and part 2
Oh and if you have any favorite quiche/egg bake recipes please comment and share. 
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Last Saturday I hosted a brunch with my girlfriend Shannon, Emily and Natasha. We drank cocktails and had a wonderful spread. The food is always amazing and the drinks are always flowing and the company is always awesome when I am with these gals.

Smirnoff contacted me a couple weeks ago and asked if I wanted to try their new flavors of infused vodka. Typically I like mimoas with brunch but after trying these infused vodka recipes I have a few additional cocktails that I will definitely be adding to my brunch regime.
I wanted to add some light, colorful touches to decorate my home for our girl’s brunch. I kept it easy and used lemons in tall cylinder vases and bought a bouquet of pink tulips and placed them in small mason jars and glass vases.  My entertaining philosophy is to keep things pretty simple. I add special touches here and there but I try not to go overboard, and I don’t spend a ton of money. I also always focus on serving good food, which doesn’t always mean homemade. And I always, always have alcohol.

Another entertaining philosophy I have is to divide and conquer. I am a big fan of hosting events but not necessarily providing everything. My friends and family are awesome and without fail, offer to bring something. I take them up on it almost every time.
Smirnoff sent me three bottles:

Smirnoff Sorbet Light Mango Passion Fruit
Smirnoff Sorbet Light Lemon
Smirnoff Sorbet Light Raspberry Pomegranate

We made three different cocktails with each of the vodkas. You will definitely want to check out these recipes at the end of this post. Two of the three of bubbly and perfect for brunch. The other is made with coconut water and is light and refreshing. Overall, this vodka has less calories than other dessert-inspired flavored vodkas. Plus, it’s infused vodka, not flavored and it tastes way better.

The menu:

Strawberry bread
Fresh fruit
Bacon and egg strata
Bagels and goat cheese
Fruit tart
Cocktails!

Emily made an awesome strawberry bread and Natasha and Shannon made a beautiful plate of fruit with pineapple, strawberries, papaya and peaches.  Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pomegranate Punch (recipe at the bottom of this post) and gluten-free bagels with goat cheese.

I purchased this bacon egg strata at Byerlies the morning of the brunch. It was delicious.The whole brunch spread. Let’s just say none of us gals went hungry. I also purchased this beautiful fruit tart for dessert. It was calling my name at the bakery counter of Byerlies. I set up a little Smirnoff cocktail bar on my foyer table. Smirnoff Sorbet Light Tropical Martini and Smirnoff Sorbet Light Lemon Pomegranate Punch.

Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pomegranate Punch

Ingredients

1.5 oz Raspberry Pomegranate Smirnoff Sorbet Light
2 oz Diet Ginger Ale
1 oz Cranberry Juice

Preparation

Mix all ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and strain into a glass (I like using champagne glasses but martini glasses would work too)
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Smirnoff Sorbet Light Tropical Martini

Ingredients

1.5 oz Mango Passion Fruit Smirnoff Sorbet Light
2 oz Coconut Water
1 oz Pineapple Juice

Preparation

Mix all ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and strain into a glass
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Smirnoff Sorbet Light Lemon Pomegranate Punch

Ingredients

1.5 oz Lemon Smirnoff Sorbet Light
2.5 oz  Diet Sprite
1.5 oz Pomegranate Juice

Preparation

Mix all ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and strain into a glass
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What an awesome brunch we had. Thanks to Shannon, Emily and Natasha for such a great time. Can’t wait to do it again soon.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post by Smirnoff Sorbet Light. As always, all the opinions are my own.  

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