Spring Collab 2017: Everything You Need for Easter

Remember that one time when Katie Ann and I lit candles and baked a bird and toasted glasses of wine around the table? That was fun.

Well, we’re back for round two of the collab! And this time, we tried to put spring out on the table in preparation for Easter. But of course, the day that we wake up with feelings of sunshine to cook and bake and style and decorate for five hours straight, it’s pouring snow outside. Oh well, such is life.

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In all seriousness friends, I am SO excited to bring you the second installation of the collab and I hope you have as much fun reading through this, exploring the recipes, and trying out the DIYs as we did putting this all together. P.S. How fun is this bar cart that Katie Ann designed?! 

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For the recipe and food part of this collab, I really wanted to focus on bringing yummy brunch options to the table to inspire creative Easter gatherings this year, because you know what? You don’t need the traditional lamb and endless sides to celebrate this special holiday with your family. Nah, you need savory reimagined salad bites without any of that filler lettuce. You need a fresh new take on bruschetta. You need towers of waffled french toast covered with powdered sugar and dripping with caramel sauce. (P.S. Katie Ann MADE these gorgeous platter plates–I am absolutely in love with them!)

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Oh my heart, I can still see my momma standing in the Saturday morning light with little clouds of powdered sugar floating around her hands as she dusted each piece of french toast so carefully, so thoroughly while we crowded around our plates impatiently waiting for the next drop of fresh french toast.

That. . . That is what I want you to feel when you make these recipes and open your arms to spring and prepare to celebrate Easter. . . That warm feeling of family and familiarity, that soft feeling of a full and happy soul.

Of course, a sweet and delicious mimosa or glass of chilled white wine never hurt anyone either. This collab was a blast, and you can catch more of Katie Ann’s part of the collab by clicking here.

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Recipes

Mediterranean Bites
Since I first discovered tahini, I have been obsessed with it and use it whenever possible. Not to mention that pita is one of my favorite breads AND that I have a deep love affair with cucumber and tomato. This right here is what my food dreams are made of: fresh, savory, salty. Hello, yes.

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Ingredients
2 pita pockets/pieces of pita bread
2-3 Persian cucumbers + ¼ cup diced cucumbers
Grape tomatoes
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Toothpicks

The goal here is to make a small sandwich-ish bite on a toothpick. First, cut your grape tomatoes in half. If you get the small Persian cucumbers, just slice them about ½ thick. If you get the larger cucumbers, slice them to ½ inch thick and then cut each slice into thirds, following the natural interior lines of the cucumbers so that your piece of cucumber is relatively the same size of the tomato. Next, cut your pita into squares or triangles to match the size of your cucumbers and tomatoes. If you’re feeling ambitious, make your pita from scratch. Otherwise, just grab your favorite brand of pita bread from the store. What gives this little bit of goodness the extra kick is toasting the pita pieces in a saucepan with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. SO good. Get the hubs, a friend or one of the kids to assemble all the pieces on a toothpick starting first with pita, then tomato, then cucumber, and finish with another piece of pita.

The last step of this is to make your dressing. Start by mixing the water into the tahini dressing one tablespoon at a time. It’ll try to clump up on you, but just keep adding the water and it’ll eventually thin out more. Next, add the lemon juice, one garlic clove mashed or diced, and salt and pepper to taste. It’s magic. Drizzle the toothpicks right before serving.

You can make the dressing and cut up the veggies and pita the day before to save time. Toast pita and assemble the day of your event.

 

Chickpea Bruschetta (Inspired by Bon Appetit)
The key to making this dish shine is to have gorgeously soft chickpeas that have been given the proper time to sit and soak. When dressed with vinegary shallots, vibrant fresh herbs, and pure olive oil, it’s divine heaven on a piece of bread.

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Ingredients
1 cup dried chickpeas
¼ cup fresh herbs (I used a combination of cilantro and parsley)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp white vinegar
4 slices of french bread
1 tomato
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare your chickpeas according to the package directions. It’s better to do the overnight soak option so that they get really soft. But if it’s already the day of your dinner/event/date, opt for the quick soak. I like to boil them a little longer than the package normally directs because I like these little guys really soft, not crunchy. Next, dice your shallot and combine with the vinegar. Let that sit for at least ten minutes to do a quick pickle on the shallots. Next, chop up your herbs and drizzle the olive oil over them. Combine the shallots, herbs, and chickpeas. Add salt and pepper to taste and store in the fridge until ready to use. Lastly, dice your tomatoes, sprinkle a little bit of salt over them, and refrigerate.

Right before you’re ready to serve this up, give your french bread a quick toast in the oven using the broiler, then top with the bean mixture, and finish with a sprinkle of tomatoes. Of course, dive in.

Assemble the entire bean mixture up to two days before your event to save time. Toast the bread and assemble the day of your event.

 

Egg Souffles
Brunch, in my opinion, isn’t complete without something eggy. And when you top them off with avocado or salsa, it’s even better. These little guys do it all.

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Ingredients
6 eggs
½ cup heavy cream
½ lb. sausage
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped chives
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 357 degrees F. Next, cook your sausage with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. While that’s finishing up, beat your eggs. Then add the heavy cream (yes to all the cream!) and beat until light. Hit it with some salt and pepper and stir in the chopped parsley and chives. Grease your cupcake tin and fill halfway with the sausage mixture. Add your creamy egg mixture, but don’t fill all the way to the top—your tins should be filled just a little over ¾ full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. As they’re baking, they’ll puff up a TON—that’s normal! They will deflate a bit when you take them out. But that’s it! Yes, delicious egg bites really are that simple. Top them with some hot sauce, fresh pico de gallo, or avocado–whatever you fancy.

If you’re absolutely pressed for time, you can make these ahead as well. However, they aren’t nearly as good reheated as they are fresh. You could also put any cheese of your choice in the egg mixture as well as a myriad of other veggies and meats. You do you.

 

Latkes (inspired by Molly Yeh)
Potatoes have always been a comfort food of mine, but Molly Yeh took it to a whole other level for me. After reading her cookbook, I thought, “Absolutely, I can make latkes!” and I have been obsessed ever since even though this version is quite different from hers.  

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Ingredients
1 ½ lb. potato, peeled
1 sweet onion
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Start by peeling your potatoes and onion. Cut them both up into manageable chunks and put them into a food processor. Blend until the potatoes and onion are just tiny little itty bitty pieces.

You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times, but it shouldn’t take long to get to the size you want. Next, transfer to a cheesecloth or kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. NOW, don’t keep squeezing and squeezing until there is NO liquid left, just enough so that there isn’t a pool of yuck at the bottom of your bowl when you transfer the mixture out of the towel. Once in the bowl, add to potato-onion mixture the bread crumbs, flour, and seasonings.

Get a frying pan hot with oil. I used canola for mine. Scoop a handful of the mixture out of the bowl and form into a ball, transfer to the pan, and flatten. You could also flatten in your hand if you don’t want to take the risk of getting burned. 🙂 You may need to hug some of the edges in if they look like they’re cracking. Keep your eye on them because these babies cook fast! You only need about 2-3 minutes on each side. BUT, don’t try to flip before you get a really nice brown color beginning to seep up the sides, otherwise, it’ll fall apart if it hasn’t cooked enough yet. Repeat until your mixture is gone.

I devour these with sour cream, but Joshua prefers hot sauce (mostly because he’s lactose intolerant). Some people eat them with applesauce. Whatever floats your boat, just go all in.

To save time, these can be made the day before. Store in airtight container and simply reheat by frying again the next day in a little oil. I actually prefer them this way because they get an even crunchier fried exterior. The more fried, the better.

 

Waffle French Toast
I remember as a kid always being stuck between requesting french toast or waffles for Saturday morning breakfast. What a difficult choice! I like them both! WHICH DO I CHOOSE?? Now as an adult, I decided I might as well get the best of both worlds. Enter the waffled french toast. My seven-year-old self would be in awe.

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Ingredients
5-6 slices of Texas Toast
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
⅓ cup milk
Cinnamon
Powdered sugar
Caramel sauce (recipe below)

Listen, french toast just doesn’t work if you don’t have Texas toast. Seriously. Don’t use your cheap sandwich bread; go get the cheap Texas toast instead. You won’t regret it. #Midwestern

Heat up your waffle iron and start by whipping your eggs, vanilla, and milk together. One by one, drop a piece of toast in the egg mixture, flip to coat both side, and drop of the waffle iron. Now, and this is important, sprinkle the top of the french toast piece with a generous helping of cinnamon. Then close it up and let the magic work.

When a piece is done, sprinkle it with plenty of powdered sugar and douse with caramel sauce (recipe below). Unfortunately, these babies are only good right off the grill iron, so prepare them the day of your event.

Caramel Sauce
Listen, who has ever needed maple syrup when they can have caramel sauce?? I’m serious. And I owe my momma for this genius recipe. Thank you Mother. You save my food life day after day.

Ingredients
¼ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and maintain that boil for a few minutes, continuously stirring. Remove from heat and let it calm down a little. After a few more minutes hit it with the cream and you’ll see glorious caramel goodness emerge. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, completely mixing in each time. It’s important to get all those ugly balls of powdered sugar completely dissolved. As Bob Ross says, just beat the devil out of it. Sidenote: It might be easier to just sift the sugar first, but, alas, I am too lazy.

You may not need the full two cups of powdered sugar depending on how sweet you want it or the thickness you desire. If it gets too thick, just add another tablespoon of cream until you get to the perfect consistency. If this sauce sits for even any amount of time, it gets a little hard on top. That’s normal! Just give it a good stir before using it again. For that reason, this should also be made the day of or at least the morning of.

Blueberry Scones
Full disclosure, I didn’t use to be a fan of scones, not until I tried to make them myself. When you opt for homemade scones, you get to eat them straight out of the oven rather than getting a hard cold piece of something scone-ish over the counter at a coffee shop. So don’t judge it until you try it. Hey, next Saturday morning, whip up a batch of these—everyone will love you.

One more note, the nutmeg absolutely makes these scones. It brings another dimension of flavor and coaxes so much more depth and life out of the blueberries. Don’t skip it, trust me.

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Ingredients
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup frozen butter
1 egg
½ cup cold heavy cream + more for tops
1 cup blueberries
Turbinado sugar

Pop your butter into the freezer 30 minutes before you need to use it. The best scones are so delicious because of all the pockets of air and moistness inside them and that only happens with cold butter. BUT, enter frozen butter and you get even better air pockets and moistness. It works, people.

Next, mix all the dry ingredients together. Cut your frozen butter into small tabs and mix into the dry ingredients either by using a pastry cutter or leaving your mixer on low for about five minutes. You’re good to go when your butter is reduced and incorporated with the dry ingredients to smaller-than-pea dots. Next, with the mixer on low, drop the egg in and then stream the cream in and mix until the dough comes together stiffly. Next, add your blueberries and mix until they’re incorporated. It’s totally fine if they break up!

At this point, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Drop your dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a circle until about one inch thick. Cut it like a pie to get your individual scone pieces, then transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush the tops with heavy cream. Lastly, drizzle a healthy dose of turbinado sugar on top of each one. Bake for about 20 minutes, and DEVOUR. Don’t even wait until they’re cooled, just eat. The risk of burned taste buds is completely worth it.

These are best if made fresh rather than the day before. If you do make them ahead of time, just heat up a little in the oven or microwave if you must.

 

Mimosa 
I can’t take any credit for this one. Katie Ann was the brains behind this delicious mimosa of which I could not stop drinking. Seriously, this will likely be in my hand every weekend this summer when I’m sitting by the pool with the latest chick-lit book. 

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Ingredients
2 cups orange juice
1 cup strawberry juice
2 tbsp St. Germain
1 bottle of champagne

No one likes a warm mimosa, so get all the juice and champagne chilled! You can mix the orange juice and strawberry juice together ahead of time. Don’t use orange juice from concentrate, get the real stuff. Right before serving, add the St. Germain and champagne. Give it a good stir and drink up! Also, to whoever invented St. Germain, thank you. That stuff is pure deliciousness.

To see more of Katie Ann’s part of the collab, click here.

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