I had a fantastic brunch with Emily and Natasha on Sunday morning. We were budget-friendly, had the brunch at Emily’s house and each contributed. I brought fruit, an egg bake and bloody mary’s, Emily made a delicious blueberry coffee cake and French Press coffee and Natasha brought mimosas.

We took a tour of Emily’s lovely garden, ate too much and as always, had a great time. Stay tuned for recipes for the egg bake and blueberry coffee cake.

This photo is funny, Natasha directed it and thought we should set it in the grass, among the dandy lions. It sure is pretty though.

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Check out this gorgeous sparkling tea (Golden Star Tea) I found in the lastest issue of Metropolitan Home. It would be a great non-alchoholic option for my pregger friends (Jill!) or for anyone who isn’t a huge drinker. Garnish it with a raspberry or strawberry and you have a gorgeous faux cocktail (I hate the word mocktail, don’t you?).

The tea is sold at Whole Foods but I’m not sure if it has distribution in MN yet, you can buy it online, check out their cool website, http://www.goldenstartea.com/.

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I am so lucky to work downtown Minneapolis. Every Thursday there is a wonderful Farmer’s Market on Nicollet Mall with fresh flowers, fruit, veggies, pastries, herbs, etc. The veggies and fruits get more abundunt and deeper in color as the season goes by and the crowds are amazing. It is one of my favorite things to just walk up and down the street on my lunch break. I tend to buy way too much (what am I going to do with all this basil???) and spend too much time.

Today I purchased basil, arugula and a couple pastries from Cocoa and Fig (they are a new, fabulous catering and confectionery company. I learned from their Twitter feed this morning that they were going to be at the market today so I had to stop down and tell them how much I adore their blog and their beautiful wedding dessert displays. I purchased a savory ham, chive and cheddar scone and a lemon and cream cheese brioche. Did I mention I am on Weight Watchers this week? I will be pawning those pastries off on my hubby or possibly Kristin if I see her soon enough. But I did sneak a bite of the savory scone and it was delish. Their stand is located on 7th and Nicollet so be sure to check them out on Thursday at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market!!


Photo from Cocoa and Fig’s blog of the brioche
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My mom loves carrot cake so my sister and I decided to express our love and adoration for her through good ol’fashioned baking. The first batch was a bust, we should have taken them out of the oven a good 5-8 minutes before we did. They were a bit hard and kind of crunchy. Not fabulous at all.

Second batch was much better. Best part? They were adorable! We piped tiny orange carrots with green leaves on each cupcake. And they taste great, too. We used an Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa recipe from Food Network (minus the raisins and walnuts).

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.

We celebrated Mother’s day at my parent’s house and my mom ooohed and aaahed over the cupcakes and didn’t believe us (or did a good job pretending) that they were homemade versus store bought. Love my momma!

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I had one of those days where a glass of wine was much needed. What made it even better was hanging with Libby and Kristin for dinner club. We had a fantastic meal and a good time.

Kristin is a vegetarian, actually three of my close friends are vegetarians (Amy, Mel and Kristin) so I am accustom to, and really enjoy eating vegetarian when I am with them.

Our dinner club menu consisted of:

Veggies with roasted red pepper hummus (purchased at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market)
Brie cheese, pear jam and crackers
Spring green salad with berries and goat cheese
Grilled portabello mushrooms with blue cheese (amazing blue cheese Kristin got from a cheese shop in Faribault, http://www.faribaultdairy.com/), tomatoes and avocados

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I posted the other day about a fabulous cinco de mayo meal and promised to include some recipes. Here is the recipe for the salsa verde Siobhan and I made, we basically winged it which is why the ingredients listed are a range and not exact. Be sure to have extra ingredients on hand to add to taste as needed. If you don’t like a lot of heat be sure to seed the peppers!


Salsa Verde

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2-1 chopped white onion
½- 1 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2-3 Jalapeño peppers and 1 serrano pepper
1-2 garlic cloves
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse. Cut tomatillos in half and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatillos for about 15-20 minutes. Put tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro and peppers in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are mixed. Season to taste with salt.

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