Easter Brunch; or, Why the heck didn't you take any freakin' pictures?!

For Easter, we decided to have our friends Nick & Rachel over for brunch. I of course went a tad overboard. We had:

Bloody Marys
Cinnamon Rolls {from Whole Foods}
Drunken Fruit Salad
Baked French Toast Casserole
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Perfect Hash Browns
Bacon Deviled Eggs

And of course, I got exactly zero pictures of it! BOO! But the recipes all came out pretty good, so I'm posting them without pictures.

Keith & I dyed Easter eggs the night before and we did an Easter egg hunt (guys vs. girls, of course!), which was fun. Nick & Rachel brought mimosas made with cranberry-vanilla mix and cava. We had a really nice day!

Bacon Deviled Eggs

I kicked these up a notch by using a mix of Dijon and wasabi mustard, plus peppered thick-cut bacon. They are addictive so watch out!

Bacon Deviled Eggs
{makes 12}
6 hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 tablespoon low-fat or fat-free mayo
1 tablespoon wasabi mustard
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill relish
1/2 teaspoon paprika
crumbled cooked bacon for garnish

Slice each egg in half length-wise and seperate the whites from the yolks. Mash the yolks with all the ingredients above except the bacon until creamy. Using a spoon, fill each egg white with the mixture until heaping. Garnish with the bacon and enjoy!

These can be made the night before and refrigerated.

Drunken Fruit Salad

I think I was the only one who liked this, but I really liked it! The added bonus was that as I ate the fruit, I got a buzz! Nice!

Drunken Fruit Salad
{serves 6}
6 cups peeled & sectioned grapefruit & oranges
3 shots of gin
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus a couple sprigs to garnish

Mix everything together and enjoy!

Perfect Hash Browns

These really were perfect! They were easy to make because you can bake the potatoes and chop the onions the night before, and they tasted fantastic! As you know, I'm a potato connoisseur, so you can trust me on this one :)

Perfect Hash Browns
{serves 4}
2 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and dry well. Poke holes in them with a fork and place the potatoes on a small baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until tender, about 1 hour.

Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a plastic bag with a resealable closure overnight.

Partially peel the potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onion in it until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the onion, then add the vegetable oil to the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Add the potatoes and leave to form a crisp crust. Do not disturb the potatoes until the crust is formed, about 5 minutes. Check to see if a crust has formed; if so, give a quick stir. If not, continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the crust has formed. With a spatula, turn over large chunks of the crusted potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until golden brown. Stir in the onion, season again with salt and pepper, and stir until the hash is heated through, about 3 minutes.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

These sounded posh and sophisticated. They were REALLY good, too :)

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
{serves 5 - 6}
1/4 pound sliced smoked salmon
12 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
12 to 15 blades of fresh chives, finely chopped

Chop the salmon into very small pieces. Whisk the eggs and cream together. Add 1/2 of the chives and season eggs with salt and pepper. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in the pan and add eggs. Scramble eggs with a wooden spoon. When eggs have come together but remain wet, stir in chopped salmon. Remove pan from heat. Garnish the eggs with remaining chives and serve out of the pan.

Baked French Toast Casserole

I wanted to have most of this Easter's brunch make-ahead so that I wouldn't have to spend 6 hours in the kitchen while trying to entertain. I saw this recipe, and it sounded very decadent and delicious; however, it wasn't as great as I thought it would be. It was decent, don't get me wrong, but I had extremely high expectations I guess! However, it definitely wasn't bad, so I'm going to share the recipe.

P.S. I'm not a fan of nuts, so I made the Praline topping minus the pecans :)

Baked French Toast Casserole
{serves at least 8}
1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows

Slice bread into 1-inch slices. Place slices in a buttered 9 by 13-inch casserole dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping (minus the pecans)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Paula Deen's Bloody Marys

These were sooo good! I made a couple modifications to make these {better} spicier.

Bloody Marys
Makes 8 servings
46 ounces vegetable juice - I used half tomato & half vegetable (organic)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup vodka
8 shakes hot sauce
Ice cubes
Celery salt, for rimming the glasses
Celery sticks, pickles, olives, for garnish

Pour the juice into a large pitcher. Add the pepper, salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, vodka, and hot sauce. Stir well. Rim the glasses with the celery salt, add ice, and serve with veggies!

Daily Happy - Picnic @ Lake Washington

Hey peeps! So on Saturday, the weather was about 70 degrees and sunny. This is not common in Seattle from what I've been told / seen. I kind of freaked out (but in a good way!)

We decided to pack a picnic and take Bella down to Luther Burbank park for some outside time. What a blast! We ate sandwiches, kale salad with tahini & sesame, potato salad, and fruit salad. We also brought some sparkling water and, well, beer (did I mention it was 70 and sunny?)

The funniest part had to be when five other mini-Aussies showed up at the park and they all converged on us with Bella in one furry heap! It was an Aussie party, and soo cute! I wish I would have been fast enough to get a picture.

Also, Keith brought me flowers for no reason on Friday. Those also made it into the Daily Happy :D

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Food posts coming next!


Daily Happy - Spring is Here!

Tomorrow it's going to be 65 degrees and sunny!

P.S. Seattle. Is. Stunning.


Rue La LOVE - Want $20?

Ah, friends and neighbors, the erratic Deals & Dollars post!

I have blogged about Ruelala in the past and probably most of you already know about it. I have to say, though, it's the only site where I consistently find myself buying things. Last week, I bought two gorgeous pillows for my home office couch for 60% off. The week before that, I purchased a subscription to 425 magazine (a Seattle publication) for 40% off. This morning, I purchased two pairs of shoes and subscription to edibleSEATTLE (another Seattle magazine). Some may consider this a problem. I consider it awesome.

I've also gotten over $100 in free credits from this site, for various reasons (customer service make goods, referring friends who made purchases, just to show me they love me). The boutiques are interesting and include a very wide range of themes, from travel to shoes to sporting goods. If you haven't joined yet, this is your time.

Sign up for Rue La La right now, dollface.

Right now, they are giving new members who sign up via my link above a $20 credit! So, if you haven't signed up yet, I suggest you do it now. After all, the shoes I got today were only $35. You could almost have SHOES!


Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Hola, peeps!

I have been slacking yet again. Don't hate.

Way back during Vegetarian Week, I made these delicious stuffed shells and just hadn't gotten around to posting about them. Which is a shame for ya'll since they were super easy to make and really, really yummy!

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Serves 2 - 3 very hungry people
14 jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add shells and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well then toss with oil in a large bowl; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash spinach and put into a large skillet (don't dry the leaves). Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until just wilted; drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze to remove any excess water. Chop spinach and transfer to a large bowl with the garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, egg and basil. Mix well, and you have your filling!

Drizzle enough pasta sauce to cover the bottom of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the shells in a single layer. Using a teaspoon, fill your shells with spinach mixture and arrange in the dish. Don't be afraid to cram a lot of filling into these guys! Once you've filled all your shells, pour the remaining sauce over and around them and top with Parmigiano Reggiano. Cover with foil and bake until hot throughout, 20 to 30 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

I highly, highly recommend these cheesy, garlicky, basil-ly, spinach-y little morsels of deliciousness. HIGHLY.


Deal Alert! Blow Dryer of the Century!

Guys, no need to read this one, but LADIES! Do you need a new hair dryer? Because I just scored the most AMAZING deal on Amazon last week. I wanted to wait to post until I actually received the dryer and could test it out, but um, yeah. This thing is AMAZING!!!

Image from FHIheat.com

Here's all you really need to know:
  • It comes in really fun colors like red, pink, and green (I have it in pink, obvi).
  • It comes with a diffuser and concentrator nozzle.
  • It has multiple settings (low, medium, high) and also temperatures (cold, warm, hot).
  • It normally takes me 25 minutes to dry my hair. With this blow dryer, it took five minutes. FIVE MINUTES!!! Oh, the things I can do with this reclaimed time!
  • My hair is super soft, shiny, and awesome. I don't even need my flat iron! Frickin' fantastic!
  • Normally the dryer is about $195, but you can scoop it up on Amazon for $100. Since the last dryer I had was from 1999 (or earlier?) I think it's worth it.

Seriously, if you are in the market for a new blow dryer, scoop this up. I can't believe how awesome it is.

Daily Happy - Can't Wait for Summer!

I seriously can't wait for summer.

I don't know if it's because my last two winters were spent in Florida, which is probably like 85 degrees right about now, but this winter has felt...so...very...looooong.

But this is my "daily" happy! I'm super excited because Keith & I bought our tickets to Michigan yesterday! We're going for our good friends' Andrea & Jason's wedding, which in of itself is amazingly exciting, but we're staying for a whole week and I certainly expect to enjoy some lovely Michigan summertime activities!

  • Sailing with my dad & stepmom on Lake St. Clair
  • BBQing & bonfires at my mom's forest-hidden home
  • Disc golf with my hubby & brother-in-law
  • Wine & funny conversations on my in-laws porch
  • Drinks on the deck of the Lake Orion Bdubs overlooking the lake

I'm giddy just thinking about it!


Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice

I am still going strong with Vegetarian week! I haven't had a bit of chicken, fish, turkey, shrimp, beef, pork, or the like since last Saturday. It's a little more challenging than I thought! I am missing the seafood for sure, especially out here in Seattle. But, I've been finding some great new recipes that I normally wouldn't have tried! Like this one:

Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice
serves 2 with leftovers!

2 carrots, shredded
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 T feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup organic long grain brown rice, cooked according to package directions

Put carrots, greens, onions, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper into a large, deep skillet and toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing once or twice, until greens are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with feta cheese and spoon over brown rice.

Even Keith liked this! It was super healthy and I felt good just eating it! Another great way to cook kale :)

Daily Happy - P90 Uh Oh

I have been hearing about p90x for what feels like years now, and I've always been impressed with the results I've seen. I've read about it, gone to the website, tried to convince Keith to illegally download it from the internet, but haven't quite been ready to spend the cash on it. Because, of course, if I drop the coin on this bad boy, I actually have to do it.

And I'm scared!

But, I finally decided that since I'm going to be working from home most days now, I don't have any excuse. And so, I ordered it. And, my package arrived today. It's intimidating. I'm intimidated. Yikes!

Too bad I had some beers before I knew the package had arrived. Can't exercise all dehydrated! And of course, tomorrow I have Pilates. Maybe I'll start it Sunday. I'm great at procrastinating. I'll let you know when I decide to finally "Push Play" as they like to say. I do really, really, really want a six-pack ;)