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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This is my second time making homemade crackers. It’s so easy and they are so tasty, I really need to make these on a regular basis. I saw this recipe on Pinterest, be sure to check out the original recipe via Tidy Mom.  These crackers are like Cheez Its but are 1000% times better and so much healthier.

Right after I rolled the dough out and cut it into little squares. This recipe requires a food processor…you could probably mix the dough by hand, but a food processor makes it much easier. Onto a greased pan and ready to go in the oven.Homemade cheese crackers (recipe via Tidy Mom blog via Pinterest)

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (I used mozzarella because that’s what I had)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup flour (plus a little more for dusting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (because I was sharing these with Juliet I omitted the red pepper flakes and instead used dried basil)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350° Grease baking sheet, or line with parchment or silicone mat.
  2. Place first 5 ingredients in food processor, and pulse until it turns into coarse crumbs.
  3. Add milk and process until dough forms.
  4. Using your hands form dough into a ball, then flatten on floured work surface.
  5. Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick. Try to roll into rectangle as best as you can.
  6. Using a pizza or pasty cutter, cut dough into one inch squares. Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each cracker
  7. Using a spatula, transfer crackers to prepared baking sheet. You can place them fairly close together, they will puff up, but not spread much.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges start to brown. Do not over cook. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Enjoy when cool. Store in airtight container for up to 3 days in a cool place.

Homemade crackers are not as crunchy and hard as store-bought. I actually like this because they are perfect for toddlers, soft enough for little mouths that don’t have lots of teeth yet. Trust me when I say that these taste so much better than anything you can buy store-bought. It’s worth the extra effort of mixing a few ingredients and rolling out dough.

Check out the other homemade cracker recipe I made a couple years ago. These are great, too.

These crackers were a big hit with Juliet. She loved dipping them in hummus. They were gone in a few days.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was busy and fun. Erik was at the Kentucky Derby so Juliet and I had a lot of momma/daughter time, which was wonderful. We had a fun brunch with girlfriends and then had a lot of family time. The weather finally warmed up again today and we enjoyed it by taking a walk and hanging out at the park. I’m a bit sad to see the weekend end…

Here’s to a great Monday and week!

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We finally had a beautiful spring weekend in Minnesota. It was in the mid 70’s and absolutely amazing. Erik golfed Saturday so I planned a picnic at a nearby park with my family. It was pretty impromptu but I had a bunch of ingredients to make a tasty pasta salad. We also had sandwiches, chips, cupcakes, veggies and hummus and fruit. I also packed a Smirnoff Ice Peach Bellini for my mom and I…who doesn’t like a little bubbly with their picnic?

Picnics are one of my favorite spring and summertime activities. We spent hours outside, it was just what we needed after a very long winter.
This pasta salad was really tasty. Erik loved it, too. It’s a great salad to bring to a picnic or any potluck. 

Pasta salad with goat cheese and tomatoes (recipe inspired via Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound whole wheat rotini 
  • 3/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (3 ounces)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 package spring greens (baby kale, spinach or arugula would work as well)
Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and allow to come to room temperature. 

In a large bowl, toss pasta with tomatoes and goat cheese.

Make dressing: In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard and season with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate pasta mixture and dressing separately, up to 1 day.) 

To serve, toss pasta mixture with dressing and spring greens.

Apparently the weather is going back down into the 30’s this week…UH!!!!  But it shouldn’t be too long before we have another sunny, warm weekend. Here’s hoping.
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The other day my sis-in-law, Nikki and I were emailing back and forth about how challenging it is to get dinner on the table during the week with an active toddler on our hands. And really, the only thing we want to do when we walk in the door from work is scoop up our babies and play with them every second until it’s bedtime.

But…that’s not realistic because dinner needs to be made and people need to eat. And eating together as a family is really important. I remember sitting down to dinner with my family every single night growing up, that family time is really invaluable.

So the goal is to find the easiest, quickest meals that are still healthy and taste good. My strategy is all about planning ahead as well as making the most out of leftovers. Erik and I (but mostly me) decide what meals we want to eat that week and we prepare a grocery list. Then one of us does the shopping (I shop more but he’s pretty good about doing it when I need a break).

Typically I cook two meals during the work week, then we eat leftovers two nights and on the last night we opt for convenience (frozen pizza, paninis, quick salads, etc). That way, I am only cooking two nights during the busy weeknights. I’d love to get to the point where we don’t have that last day where we just eat whatever is convenient (we don’t eat fast food ever…but frozen pizza isn’t healthy either). Juliet always eats what we eat, with the exception of frozen pizza, those days I’ll make her a hummus and Applegate turkey sandwich with veggies and fruit or something else that is simple but nutritional.

When I saw this Easy Korean Beef recipe on Pinterest the other week I thought it looked awesome. It fit the criteria I listed above and best yet, we always have ground beef in our freezer because we get it from Erik’s uncle who has cattle in North Dakota.

This recipe was super easy, had a lot of flavor and is overall pretty healthy.  It may not be the prettiest dish around, but when you’re feeding a toddler and a hubby who would be happy with boneless wings for dinner…well, presentation is the last of your worries. I will definitely be adding this to the list of 20 minute meals that make my weekdays easier.

Easy Korean beef with kale (recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything blog)

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce (I always used reduced sodium)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced 
1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I omitted this because Juliet hasn’t had spicy foods yet)
Bunch of kale (or bag of pre-washed kale, I prefer baby kale)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, sliced (optional, I didn’t use these)
Instructions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef in the sesame oil. Add the garlic towards the end of browning and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain the fat.

Add the kale and stir to wilt.  
Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over brown rice. I use Trader’s Joes brown rice that comes pre-cooked and frozen. It just takes 3 minutes in the microwave.  

This recipe is a bit nostalgic, it totally reminds me of a meal my mom used to make when I was growing up. Her dish had ground turkey, spinach, soy sauce and probably a few other ingredients. We ate it over white rice (we had white rice every single night). It was totally delicious, just like this easy korean beef. 

Juliet gobbled this meal up, she really loved it. It’s funny how happy something like this can make me. 


I’d love to hear what your go-to weekday meals are. Please comment and share and bonus points for links to the recipes! 
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Ok so spring isn’t actually here yet in Minnesota. We’ve had a few snow storms in the past two weeks and all of us Minnesotan’s patience is up. We want green grass and warm sun. And stroller rides with babies!

Diet Pepsi reached out to me to put together a sassy spring love list, inspired by the newly designed can by Vern Yipp (HGTV star). The can is really cool (and mini!) and features Pantone’s spring fashion and color report’s dusk blue and a pretty peacock design.  The cans are being sold at your local grocery stores and Target (get them while you can, they are limited editions).

So the sassy part of this list is a bit funny to me…because I am not quite the sassy twenty-something I used to be.  Get a cocktail in me ten years ago and watch out, I was sassy as hell.  Now I’m a bit more reserved, (hello, I was in bed at 9pm last Friday night!).  But I’m sure there is still some sass left in there somewhere.

Of course my spring love list has to include a couple items for my sweet toddler girl…and overall represents things I’m loving lately:

  • The Sakura Bloom sling: I am a huge fan of babywearing.  Ever since Juliet was 8 pounds I had her snuggled up next to my chest in the Moby Wrap.  We existed that way, heart to heart, for many months until she got a bit big for the Moby and transitioned to the Beco Gemini.  We still use the Beco as well as this sling, which I love.  I use the hip carry which works best for a toddler. Some days Juliet wants to be held by mommy a lot and she is getting heavy, so this sling is the perfect solution.
  • Diet Pepsi: Coffee is my choice of caffeine in the mornings but Diet Pepsi is a great pick-me-up during an afternoon slump.  I like it with a slice of lime.
  • Honest Organic Lip Balm: I recently started using Honest products and really like them so far. I couldn’t go as far as subscribing to their monthly diaper service, because of the price, but I like their Essentials Bundle which includes 5 products of your choice delivered every month to your door. I love that their products are chemical-free and also work really well. I love the lip balm, shampoo and bubble bath (I use all their products on Juliet).
  • Boon Snack Box: I anticipate going on lots of picnics this summer with Juliet and Erik. I use this snack box to pack Juliet’s lunch and it will also be perfect for packing her picnic lunches and snacks while we lay on a blanket basking in the sun.
  • GAP Always Skinny Jeans: Like all women, especially moms, I’m always on the look-out for a great pair of jeans that actually look good on my post-baby body. I recently found these skinny jeans at GAP and I am in love. I wear them too much already and need to buy them in every color.
  • GAP Eyelet Colorblock dress: For Juliet, of course…this little dress has been on my Pinterest board for the past couple of weeks. Isn’t it so adorable! I’m waiting for it to go on sale.

And there you have it…my (sassy?) spring love list. Is there anything super fun on your spring love list?

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Diet Pepsi and as always, all opinions are my own. 

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My sweet girl turned 14 months last Tuesday. She is all smiles lately. She giggles and laughs and squeals. We have been having so much fun.

There weren’t any major milestones this month.  Mostly, her little mind is hard at work taking in the world. She has been super engaged lately; loves being read to, loves hanging out in her playroom with momma or daddy and playing with her kitchen.

Here are the (sort of) milestones that took place this month:

  • Juliet learned to say “hi”…ok, I haven’t heard it, but Sarah her daycare provider told me she’s said “hi” recently. She came in to get Juliet after a nap and said “hi, Juliet!” and Juliet replied “hi!” This is the first time Juliet’s had a milestone at daycare that I haven’t experienced at home. I’m a little bit sad about this, but Juliet adores daycare so much, and the truth is, she is there 45 hours a week, so it wouldn’t be realistic to think all her milestones will happen at home with me and Erik.
  • Juliet says “dada” all the time and uses it in the right context.  Before she would say “dada” to pretty much anything (the couch, shoes, cheese, etc) but now she calls Erik “dada”. It’s so cute. It mostly happens in the morning after I breastfeed her and bring her into our room. Before we even get to the bed she starts saying “dada, dada” because she knows she is going to see him.
  • This next milestone is mine. I am completely done pumping. I went down to just one pumping session a day a month ago and for some reason, it was so hard to give that one session up. I had anxiety about it dropping my supply and I guess I came to realize that while I mostly hated the pump, I was attached to it. I carried that thing with me everyday for 14 months. Last week was my first full week with no pump and it is a glorious thing. I carry a purse now instead of a pump. Juliet still nurses mornings and before she goes to bed, and on-demand on the weekends. That works amazing for us and it’s my favorite part of my day.
A few milestones that shouldn’t be too far away…Juliet has 3 teeth coming in on top. They are about to come through. Fortunately, Juliet doesn’t seemed bothered much by teething. She still has a sweet little gummy grim and I wonder what she’ll look like when she gets 3 top teeth all at once.
Juliet loves walking while holding our hands…she is getting stronger and her balance improves everyday. She has stood by herself a couple times and seems really close to taking her first steps…but really, who knows for sure. For now, I’m still enjoying the thump thump thump sound her little knees makes as she crawls around the floor.

There were a lot of cute, happy and very smiley photos taken for this post.
Happy 14 months my darling babe. I feel like the luckiest momma in the world because of you.
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