Strawberry Pistachio Cupcakes

I don’t know if cupcakes are still a thing or not (I’m behind on a lot of food trends, try not to judge me), but I figured Mother’s Day is the perfect day to bring them on back because let’s face it, mom’s happen to really like cupcakes. That’s a fact, feel free to quote me on that. I know what you must be thinking though, cupcakes are a fad. They’re practically out the door. No one likes them. Much like kale, they’re on their way out, but you know what I say to those cupcake doubters, those cupcakes haters? “What did cupcakes ever do to you?!?!” They’re just trying to live their life. They’re nothing but adorable mini cakes trying to get everyone to like them. That’s all. Nothing else. They’re tiny cakes packed with tons of flavor allowing people to eat as many as possible without guilt because let’s face it, tiny cakes are made to be guilt free. Call me crazy, but I like to believe that they are virtually calorie free. I’m sure that’s how it works. So go ahead and eat as many as you can. Do what you like. Have a ball. Throw a cupcake party. Make sure you invite me though. 

One of my all time favorite flavors happens to be pistachio (pistachio almond ice cream is the bee’s knees by the way, but that’s a story for another time), so I think it’s a huge understatement to say that I am super obsessed with this recipe. Okay so if I’m being honest, obsessed doesn’t even begin to describe it. The idea of pistachio cake makes me all sorts of happy and just in case you didn’t already know, let me refresh your memory. These Mini Pistachio Boston Cream Pies are all that’s right in the world. Nothing screams fancy schmancy more than miniature versions of one of my favorite desserts. That was when my eyes were opened for the first time.

I know that not everyone has a mom like mine who loves BBQ, so I’m sure the latest post, Strawberry Rhubarb BBQ Wings might not be everyone’s go-to Mother’s Day recipe. But have no fear, I’ve got you covered. I thought it best to share a recipe on the other end of the spectrum as well because I consider myself a fair and balanced kind of guy. Where there’s a savory post, there has to be a dessert. So here we are cupcake recipe on hand, and not just any cupcake but a super delicious cupcake at that. Get in the kitchen and bake up something sweet for the moms in your life. They deserve all of the cupcakes. After all, they carried us for all of those months and fed us and raised us and taught us everything we know. If being the number one super women in all the world doesn’t deserve a cupcake, then I don’t know what does. My mom deserves all the cupcakes and so much more. 

Read More »

Strawberry Rhubarb BBQ Wings

I don’t know about your mothers, but my mamma would much rather have a barbecue feast instead of a fancy brunch for Mother’s Day. She’s a boss like that. Don’t give her pancakes or waffles, or even eggs, on her special day. She’d probably flip a table over and demand smoked ribs with coleslaw and cornbread on the side. I’m totally kidding, she’s not really a tyrant like that. She’s actually the complete opposite, but for dramatic effect let’s say I’m not kidding. (Sorry mamma). Give her a big plate of chicken wings though—not just on Mother’s Day but any day of the week—and she’ll be happy as a clam. A clam, I tell you. Take these Strawberry Rhubarb BBQ Wings for instance, they would probably bring tears of joy to her eyes. More so than any flower or chocolate or card ever possibly could. I think it’s safe to say that grilled chicken wings are the new way to our mothers’ hearts. It’s so 2015 of us. We shouldn’t be fighting it, but rather we should be making and eating all of the wings. Don’t fight it. Just make the wings.

Forget about all of the traditional, normal, everyday gifts that most moms get year after year. They don’t want that! They’re tired of those presents. Take it from me, they want something much tastier. Something new and exciting. Something they can’t get enough of. Something they can get their hands and faces dirty with, and are forced to lick their fingers clean because they don’t want to waste one drop of this delicious sauce. Don’t let the idea of making homemade BBQ sauce scare you though. It can be intimidating, but it’s actually incredibly easy to whip up. The hardest part is letting it simmer away for half an hour without sneaking a taste or two. So that’s definitely saying something. But let’s face it, at time’s I’m super lazy aren’t you? So I’m all for a homemade sauce that I can just dump everything into a pot, and forget about it while it simmer’s on low developing its incredible flavor, without me having to do anything major to it, other than just stirring it every now and then.

I’m definitely my mother’s son because I can never resist using my charcoal grill for everything. To me, nothing beats that flavor you get from burning coals. Definitely not as good as a propane grill, and sure it’s probably not the safest for the environment but I couldn’t grill any other way. It’s what I grew up with. My childhood during warm summer days, eating hamburgers and hot dogs by the pool. With that being said I of course, had to fire up my grill for this recipe. Rest assured though, I have those of you who don’t have an outdoor grill covered. I’ve given you a few alternative options to be able to make these sweet and spicy wings yourself. I’m just thinking of you and your mother’s because you should totally make these wings for them. They’ll be happy you did. 

Read More »

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!

Read More »

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 entrée 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. 

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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. 

Read More »