Carrot Bloody Marys

I’ve been lucky enough to visit New Orleans more than a few times now to spend time and work with my friend Joy but also to sightsee and enjoy the city on a vacation with Julian. The first thing I always want to do right off the plane, like a tradition now, is get a Bloody Mary. Maybe even two of them. Before anything else, even before eating the amazing food there or sight seeing and listening to the super talented street performers. A Bloody Mary is top of the list. The greatest thing about it is that Joy never complains and just allows me to drink my cocktail while walking through the quarter to her place. I think that Bloody Marys are synonymous with Sunday brunch, and I couldn’t picture my life without them. Don’t even get me started on restaurants that offer endless Bloody Marys, those places can be very dangerous. The cold cocktail made with tomato juice and a bunch of spices and seasonings, garnished with celery sticks and everything else but the kitchen sink, just calls out to me. It makes breakfast taste better, doesn’t it? 

This whole Easter Brunch Bonanza wouldn’t be complete without a brunch time cocktail. At first a mimosa sounded good to me because endless mimosas are just as equally as amazing. There was something holding me back though and then all of a sudden, Bloody Marys came to mind. I knew that I couldn’t just give you a classic every day cocktail that we’re all used to. This Carrot Bloody Mary was inspired by my mother because her favorite juice happens to be carrot juice. I’ve never wanted to drink it myself, but for some reason it just sounds more appealing when vodka is involved. All of a sudden I can’t get enough of it. That’s the power of a Bloody Mary. 

Our mega Easter Brunch celebration has come to an end, but before we start crying and throwing things, let’s focus on the positive. We now have five great recipes to make for a delicious and show-stopping brunch. We started the week off with a simple savory pastry that was almost too good to be true, Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants. Then we made things super fresh and healthy with this Cucumber and Strawberry Salad, which was the perfect blend of savory and sweet. Plus it made us feel like we were making the right choices in our menu. We then made the brunch menu shine and turned things up a notch with our Spring Eggs Benedict that had all of the things we loved about brunch but with a much needed twist. What’s a meal without some kind of sweet dessert? We rounded out our brunch with Carrot Cake Scones which I swear to you, taste just like carrot cake. It’s something magicians would make without revealing their secrets. And last but certainly not least, we finished things off with these Carrot Bloody Marys and began an obsession with me that I don’t want to talk about. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Easter menu and I hope you’ll give them a try. Let’s make some cocktails, now!

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Spring Eggs Benedict

I make it a point to not cook eggs benedict all the time because let’s be real, it’s a lot of work. I mean poaching eggs and making hollandaise over a double boiler? That’s some intense skills right there that I don’t always have the strength or the energy to create such a fancy dish. I wish I could do it because I think a brunch meal with a big plate of eggs benedict is always the icing on the morning cake. It’s the dish I usually get when I go to a restaurant for breakfast or brunch, mainly because I like to order things I don’t make at home on a regular basis. I’ll usually eat that and wash it down with a few glasses of mimosas. I’ve never turned my nose down to bottomless mimosas. Whoever came up with that concept deserves a holiday named after them. Anyhow, I normally save this dish for a special occasion. I get away with only making it once a year for my family by saying something like, “We’ll all appreciate it more when we have it once in a blue moon. If I made it all the time, we’d take it for granted.” If you think about it, I’m doing everyone a favor really. All I’m doing is making sure that no one gets tired or bored of the dish. That’s very nice of me. 

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice (definitely in this Fish and Chips post) that one of my sisters is extremely picky. Like doesn’t like mac and cheese because it’s too cheesy and hates peanut butter because it smells funky to her kind of picky. A weird alien pickiness that I’m glad I didn’t genetically inherit. Sorry Nick, but it’s true. Even with her crazy likes and dislikes, she happens to love eggs benedict and gave this one two thumbs way up. Now, this is really saying something. If it passed my sister’s taste test, the same sister who hates pie crust, then anyone and everyone will enjoy this dish. You can trust me on that. 

This is day three of our Easter Brunch Bonanza post and we’re just getting to the really good stuff. Don’t get me wrong, Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants and Cucumber and Strawberry Salad are great ways to start a brunch, but the real fun is in the entrĂ©e and dessert. Don’t even get me started on the cocktail. Come back tomorrow and Friday for the remaining recipes, you don’t want to miss them! I’ll tell you what else you don’t want to miss, these Spring Eggs Benedict. They’re calling out your name. Can you hear them? I can. 

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Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

I used to frown upon salads with fruit on them. It always seemed so weird to me. “Why are there strawberry slices in my salad?” Then I’d proceed to flip the table over and throw the salad across the room. I’m not one for mixing sweet and savory into one dish. With a few exceptions of course, like fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup and honey drizzled all up on it. I’ll never say no to that. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would. I’m not (that) crazy. For the most part, though, I like to keep certain things separate on my plate. My pancakes have to be on another dish completely, far away from my eggs and potatoes and bacon. I’ve recently had a change of heart on the entire matter, and I now have a new found appreciation for sweet fruit on a savory salad. I can’t get enough of it, actually. I guess it helps to keep an open mind to new things we’re not completely used to. Now I’m trying to get you all hooked on it. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from the error of my ways and I’m ready to eat all of the fruit studded salad in the world. The world I tell you. THE WORLD. 

This is the second recipe in our mega Easter Brunch Bonanza celebration. It’s the perfect side dish for our Spring time meal to celebrate one of my favorite holidays. Just in case you’ve missed yesterday’s post, here’s a link to the Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants. It’s another easy dish that you can whip up with no effort at all, taking some help from the store. I’m also going to remind you to come back each day for the rest of the week for the remaining recipes, there are three left and they’re only going to get better and better. I promise. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow. Just as a hint between you and I, Friday’s recipe is my absolute favorite. Oh, I’ve also been updating the main Easter Brunch post on the home page with the links to each individual recipe so that you guys can have one central location for the entire brunch menu. I think it makes it easier on us all. That one post will continue to live on the home page, front and center, so we can find all the recipes without hassle. Enough about all this business talk though. Let’s get to salad making and eating.

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Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants

I really like croissants. Who doesn’t? I find myself never buying croissants at the grocery store or bakery because I’ll never not just have one. I’ll end up eating about ten while standing over the sink losing all dignity and sense of worth, and later on I’ll feel bad about the entire situation. Never enough to not eat again for the rest of the day or anything like that. Nothing that extreme. I’ve had this idea stuck in my mind though, more like a fantasy, where I make fresh croissants at home and they’re absolutely perfect and I get a standing ovation with a never ending applause from an invisible audience. That idea is quickly abandoned and the feeling of excitement quickly vanishes when I realize that making homemade croissant pastry dough is sort of hassle and quite time consuming. I’m no Martha Stewart and therefore I will not spend all day in the kitchen for anything. Nothing is that worth it. Maybe french fries, but those are quick to make. Although, the sound of spending all day in the kitchen making and eating fried potatoes does sound like the best day in the world. 

Since I do have a life that doesn’t revolve around me folding cold butter into dough all day long and letting it rest for various amounts of time during the day, I’ve always cheated my way through “homemade” croissants. Have I talked to you guys about my love for frozen puff pastry yet? It’s the greatest thing ever invented and I use it all the time, especially when I want homemade chocolate croissants super fast without all of the work. Let’s get one thing straight, I am aware that it’s not the same thing as a pastry dough and it doesn’t get as flaky as traditional croissants, but you know I have to tell you, it’s pretty darn close and it gets the job done. Now I’m not trying to deter you from making traditional croissants at home, if you have that time and energy, then go for it! If you’re like me, however, and don’t have the patience, then get yourself over to a grocery store ASAP and pay the frozen food aisle a visit. While you’re there do yourself and everyone around you a favor and buy all the boxes of frozen puff pastry. 

They’re great to have on hand for a lot of things really. You can use them to top off pot pies or make fruit filled hand pies or fake out danishes for breakfast or make puff pastry tarts topped with all sorts of delicious ingredients for appetizers. It’s a versatile ingredient and a pantry (freezer) essential. It’s gotten me out of many a last minute cooking/baking situation and I can’t recommend it enough. As I said earlier, the best thing to use puff pastry for is to make faux croissants. My friend Joy taught me to make quick croissants by filling puff pastry with chocolate chunks and rolling them around in cinnamon sugar and baking them off until golden brown and flaky. It’s an irresistible treat warm right out of the oven. This time around I’m filling them with a few spring ingredients like roasted asparagus and prosciutto and shredded gruyere cheese and champagne mustard. They’re part of my big Easter Brunch Bonanza going on right now. It’s the first recipe in our five recipe Easter bash and I think it’s a great way to start. 

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Easter Brunch

Ever since I was a little kid Easter was always a big deal in my household. My mom loves to go all out for Easter, hiding eggs for my sisters and I, filled with lottery scratchers, frozen yogurt gift certificates, money and candy. She actually still does an egg hunt for us even though we’re all older than dirt. The funny thing is that none of us really want the eggs filled with candy. Those aren’t nearly as fun as the others. Give me all the lottery scratchers, those are my favorite. She also gives us baskets filled with goodies. It’s something small and silly if you think about it, but it means the world to us still. We grew up looking forward to Easter, just as much as Christmas. It was a time for the four of us to really hang out and listen to music and play games and eat food, of course, and just have a good time. Not much has changed since then. We don’t really have a set menu or a particular dish we make and eat every single year. My two sisters don’t like ham so my mom and I never make it because it seems like such a waste to make a big ol’ ham just for the two of us. The menu sort of changes from year to year based on what my mamma wants to make and what my sisters and I want to eat. Trying to get us all on the same page can be difficult sometimes, luckily though, we all decide on one thing eventually. I think it’s nice that we switch it up. 

I decided that this year, I’d do a big Easter Brunch Bonanza on the blog for you guys. I’m doing it a couple weeks early because I wanted to make sure I give you enough time to plan things out and get your grocery lists together so you can be prepared on the day of. I’m starting to get smarter with these themed posts because I feel like sometimes I spring the recipes and ideas on you out of nowhere and without plenty of time to make it for yourselves. What’s the point in that?! This time around though, we’re all going to be prepared and on the same page.

You don’t have to celebrate Easter necessarily in order to enjoy these recipes. They’re all Spring time favorites of mine that utilize some very delicious seasonal ingredients. You can make them as an entire brunch menu, using all five recipes, or you can showcase them individually and have them each shine on their own, amidst all of your other favorite recipes. I promise they’re all delicious and got the seal of approval from Napoleon who has deemed himself my official taste tester, whether I like it or not.  

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Chocolate Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

When I was a little boy I was crazy about those chocolate Hostess cupcakes. The ones with the white swirl on top. Do you remember those? I’m sure you do, they’re pretty popular, or at least they were back in the early nineties when I was growing up. Well anyhow, I couldn’t get enough of them. My sister on the other hand hated them. She wasn’t (and still isn’t to this day) the biggest fan of chocolate. She was all about the twinkies, though, which I could never get down with. They weren’t my cup of tea. I secretly loved that she had her own strange tastes and that she didn’t like chocolate cupcakes because it just meant there was more for me. Those classic white swirled cupcakes have always inspired me and for the longest time I’ve wanted to make my own version of them on the site, but I never got around to it, until now. What better time to do it than on Valentine’s Day when chocolate desserts are sort of a must. 

I actually saw a photo of cupcakes with handwritten “I love you’s” on the internet, and I knew I needed to take the idea and run with it for Valentine’s Day. It just felt so right. Copying is a form of flattery after all, right? Thanks Martha Stewart for the smart idea. You’re always one step ahead of everyone else. So the design has been done, but the cupcakes? The cupcakes are all me. Rich chocolate cupcakes filled with my all-time favorite frosting, strawberry cheesecake, and then because there just wasn’t enough chocolate already, I went ahead and dipped them in a dark chocolate ganache. Melted white chocolate finishes them off. They taste like chocolate dipped strawberries and they’re the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day! 

There was a point a few years ago when cupcakes were the biggest thing on Earth and everyone who is anyone was sharing their recipes. Clearly I’m behind on the times. They might be a little taboo these days but I’m totally bringing them back. They’re a necessity on certain holidays and I’m sure no one will complain about these. So let’s forget about what we should or shouldn’t be cooking and baking. What’s in or what’s out and let’s definitely not pay attention to what people are saying because that’s not important. All that matters is that we’re happy and content in what we’re doing in life. So let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with those we love, family members, friends, significant others, and pets and stuff our faces with all of the chocolate and all of the cupcakes. 

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