SoCal Baby Shower

This past weekend I traveled down to Southern California to celebrate baby Greene with friends and family.

My mom made reservation for a baby shower brunch at Mimi’s cafe for 15 people and a high chair. Because of the time of day we had the whole room to ourselves which made it easy for us to move around and greet everyone.

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The gift table was decorated in bright greens, yellows, and oranges, just like our nursery will be. On the table my mom place a bowl for cards and advice cards for the-mother-to-be.

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Also on the table were fresh flowers and pictures of me and Luke as babies in between the most recent ultrasound  of baby Greene. Last of all was a glass display of post-brunch dessert of mini cupcakes: red velvet and strawberry shortcake from one of my favorite places: cake mama’s.

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It was an all girls event of all ages, minus of course baby Greene. It was wonderful connect with people I haven’t seen in anywhere from two to four years and celebrate with all age groups. After many hugs and belly rubs I sat down under a chair with brightly colored balloons announcing “its a boy”. We then enjoyed a very yummy brunch together while catching up on life.

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As we finished brunch we took the opportunity to take a few family pictures of me with my mom and grandmothers.

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Then it was present time. As I opened gift bag after gift bag I tossed the tissue paper on the floor which made for a very entertaining game for the four girls under 10 that attended.

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I received many items from our baby registry as well as several fun additional toys and outfits. I am so thankful for everyone’s thoughtfulness, creativity, and generosity in their cards, advice, and in their gifts for me and baby Greene.

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Thank you everyone! It was so much fun and I enjoyed every moment.

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Happy Easter!

Not only is this our first married Easter but also the first year together that we are not putting on some big BBQ, brunch, or Easter Egg hunt. Instead it will be just the two of us enjoying the 50 degree weather and a peaceful brunch at home of hot cross buns and berry salad! (For the recipe click here!).

As I wrote awhile ago I decorate a manzanita tree (left over wedding decor) for each holiday.  So here’s my Holiday Tree! all decorated for Easter! (to see my tree decorated for other holidays click here!).

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The mini hanging mason jars are filled with colorful jellybeans with a vanilla votive in the center. Fresh spring carrots are sticking out of the green moss and a quilted easter egg hangs from the tree. And all this is tied up with a festive ribbon picturing Easter eggs and chicks in green grass.

The two plastic Easter eggs next to the tree I brought back with me from a Easter Egg hunt in old Jerusalem during my semester abroad in 2010. For more on that story click here!

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Whether you are hosting brunch, having a park picnic, holiday dinner, or hiding (or finding) eggs in your backyard I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter!!

Hot cross buns and Berry salad: A (new) Easter tradition

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Hot cross buns rising on the preheated stove

My family (Halvorsons) never had any “traditional” Easter foods. Sometimes we had homemade brunch after church, other times it was a ham dinner after Easter egg hunts (some salt to balance out the sweets). But being that this is our first married Easter I thought I’d ask Luke if there are any Greene family traditions.

The answer is yes: Hot Cross Buns (yes just like the song-sorry if I got it stuck in your head).

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Baked brown and ready for frosting

Apparently there were a few years Diana (Luke’s mom) was working that she bought the buns from the store. After this Luke took it upon himself to make them! (even though he claims to be a cook; not a baker).

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The hot-cross bun recipe is a family thing for now (sorry).

But a few times for Easter brunches I have made a simple and delicious berry salad I’m willing to share with all of you.  🙂 I thought this would pair well as a light  side for our weekend of homemade Easter carbs. Plus this is an excellent gluten-free and vegan addition to consider if you are bringing something to an Easter brunch or hosting one yourself.

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Here is the easy recipe for my berry salad:

1 16-ounce container strawberries (halved or quartered depending on size)

1 8-ounce container blueberries

1 6-ounce container raspberries

1 8/6 ounce container blackberries

2/3 T powdered sugar

2/3 lemons

1.If you bought frozen fruits then semi-defrost the berries. If you bought fresh put them into the freezer until you are ready to make the salad.  Leaving the berries frozen/semi-defrosted will insure that you don’t end up with a mushy salad.

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2.Grate 2/3 lemons into a small bowl then cut and squeeze about 2/3 Tablespoons of their juice in as well.

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3. Add the 2T of powdered sugar to the lemon juice and zest and mix together (the powdered sugar will absorb and coat the berries easier than regular sugar ). You can also probably use honey but use your discretion for portions diffrences versus powdered sugar.

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Tip: Do not throw away the lemons after this. Instead place the leftover lemon slices rind and all into a water pitcher!

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4. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently with a slotted spoon.

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5. Let the mixture sit in the fridge covered for a few hours or for best results for a day before serving so the berries can soaked up the sugar and citrus juice.

Possible variations: You can choose to use orange juice or lemonade in exchange for the lemon/powdered sugar mixture or add fresh mint as a garnish.

Or if you want a fancier grow-up version: Use a citrus liqueur such as Grand Mariner or Lemon-cello.

Do you have any traditional Easter foods?

What is your favorite brunch dish?

A good Spring Quiche

With Easter less than a week away, I thought you might appreciate a good spring brunch recipe. This quiche requires a little prep time but it can be done hours or even a day ahead of time and left overs are great for lunches.

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You will need: 

3 small onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup chopped mushrooms (or more)

1 cup chopped fresh asparagus

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1 (8 inch) unbaked pie shell (or make it yourself)

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup parmesan

4 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

(you can use sour cream or cottage cheese instead-but be aware this may change the baking time)

½ cup 1% milk (or skim)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1- ½ teaspoons pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1-2 tablespoons oregano

olive oil and /or cooking sherry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees then start with the crust:

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*Whether you are using a pre-made/homemade crust or no crust at all (gluten-free) make sure you butter the pie pan.

Tip if you are making your own crust: Stick your pie crust dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper then use a roller. Once it is rolled out, take the top paper off, flip the crust over the pan, peel off the other piece of paper ,and line the pan with the crust. This way you do not have to use a floured surface, your rolling pin never has to be washed, and best of all-you can reuse the parchment paper!!!

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Now for the veggies:

-Heat olive oil and/or little cooking sherry in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onions; cook and stir until onions begin to brown (with sherry) or translucent (only olive oil). (The cooking sherry caramelizes the onions/mushrooms adding a sweet taste to your savory dish). Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender.

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-Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Wash and trim asparagus then place them in the boiling water. Let them cook for about a minute and a half .  (If the whole stock is not submerged in the water then flip them over and repeat.)  Immediately after, drain the hot water and run under cold water to cool-let it sit on stove unheated.

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-When cool, chop the asparagus into ½ to ¼ inch pieces.

After veggies are done:

– In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs, heavy cream, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano until smooth.

-Then place the onion/ mushroom mixture, and asparagus, into the bottom of the pie shell.

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– Next sprinkle cheeses over the vegetables.

-After pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese.

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– Sprinkle the top  with more oregano and parmesan cheese.

And last of all:

-Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned on top.

Let cool before serving.

Want a slice?

Want a slice?

Although I am posting this right before a very typical brunch holiday- I myself make this quiche about once every 2/3 weeks (yea it’s that good).

Do you have a favorite spring dish?