spring brunch

With the first day of spring this week, I’m sure I (Lauren) am not the only one ready to turn over a new leaf. A fresh season seems like a fitting time to get out of winter hibernation mode and welcome a few girlfriends over for a sunny Saturday brunch. Or maybe with Easter just around the corner, you’re planning on hosting a Sunday morning meal for family? Either way, I’m back today with an outfit that’s perfect for the occasion.

spring brunch

Vibrant, saturated colors abound in spring fashion this year, and the color-blocking trend is far easier to master than you might think. In this case, I paired blueberry, emerald and marigold hues–all on the same side of the color wheel. Whenever I wear this much color, I always stick to solid pieces and tone down the accessories.

spring brunch

spring brunch

For fun, I did throw on some vintage rhinestone accessories that picked up the colors I was wearing but didn’t compete for attention. Together, it’s a playful, cheerful look for hosting friends that is still completely comfortable and easy going at the same time.

spring brunch

spring brunch

I dressed up the table in our kitchen nook with a big bunch of chamomile flowers–all the green of the stems and leaves and the tiny daisy-like flowers screamed spring to me. And if you’re looking for a full-proof brunch menu, I’ve got you covered, too. My favorite plan:

spring brunch

Get the look: J.Crew topJ.Crew skirt, Modern Vintage heels (similar), Elma Blint bracelet, vintage earrings and ring

Channeling-Contessa-Buttermilk-Biscuits-with-Blueberry-Butter-1

I have a serious thing for butter. Like serious.

Senior year of college I went to South Beach on spring break with a bunch of friends. We rented a condo with a “full” kitchen, thinking we’d save some money by cooking a bit. Cooking consisted of making ramen and eating it out of water glasses (because there were no bowls), so needless to say there wasn’t too much going down in the kitchen. But before we left I had visions of whipping up big breakfasts for the group before heading to the beach everyday. And that breakfast prep would require butter. Not a ton- just a stick or so to get us through the week. So why buy a full pack when we got there? No no no- I would just bring a stick of butter in my suitcase. Makes perfect sense, right? Yeah, my roommate pretty much vetoed that plan.

So needless to say I kind of love butter, and this recipe really brings out that love by having it be the star in both the biscuits and the biscuit spread The combo brings together to of my absolute favorite food bloggers- Deb and Ashley- so you really cannot go wrong here. I’d recommend either doubling the batch of biscuits or planning on making some pancakes that same week to use up all the butter. Or you could just slather it on toast- that would be pure heaven.

Buttermilk-Biscuits-with-Blueberry-Butter-3 Buttermilk-Biscuits-with-Blueberry-Butter-2 Buttermilk-Biscuits-with-Blueberry-Butter-6 Buttermilk-Biscuits-with-Blueberry-Butter-4

Buttermilk Biscuits from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 10-12 biscuits

  • 2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 °F and cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add buttermilk and stir until large, craggy clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together.

Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick (err on the thin side if uncertain, as the tall ones will literally rise and then tip over, like mine did the day I photographed these). Using a round cutter (2 inches for regular sized biscuits, 3 inches for the monstrous ones shown above), press straight down — twisting produces less layered sides — and transfer rounds to prepared sheet, spacing two inches apart.

Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve warm.

Blueberry Butter from Not Without Salt

  • 1 stick butter, salted (or add 1/4 tsp salt), softened
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Combine the butter and the sugar. Mash the blueberries with the butter until the butter is lightly colored from the blueberry skins. You still want to maintain lots of nice blueberry chunks, so be careful not to over mash. Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Channeling-Contessa's-Maple-Bacon-Oatmeal-3

I always find the best recipes come out of nowhere, when I’m making something I never even intended to put on the blog. In fact, I had big plans to post a recipe for a Tuscan white bean and kale soup today but, truthfully, the photos came out horribly! I’m feeling the need to re-work my photo styling/ figure out a better way to deal with the winter lighting. I love the warmth of the photos from this sour cream coffee cake, but that was taken in my mom’s kitchen- so yeah, need to work on recreating that.

But I digress….let’s talk about oatmeal! Before you go running to the hills because I put bacon in this oatmeal and you’re trying to eat well in the new year- hear me out. There is only one slice per serving, and I used organic nitrate free bacon so we’re not talking about the worst thing for you. Add in some slivered almonds and flaxseed and you’ve got a hearty but not overly indulgent breakfast to fuel you through the morning. I had planned to add sautéed apples but didn’t realize I was completely out, so feel free to add that in to give it some fruit content. But even without, this breakfast is definitely one of those reason to get out of bed in the morning meals. And I definitely need that when it’s a balmy 30° outside. Oh January…

More killer oatmeal! Apple Pie Oatmeal, Bruléed Pumpkin Oatmeal, Creamy Blueberry Steelcut Oats

Channeling-Contessa-Maple-Bacon-Oatmeal-1 Channeling-Contessa's-Maple-Bacon-Oatmeal-2

Maple Bacon Oatmeal

Serves 3

  • 1 cup scottish oats (could also use rolled or steel cut)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 slices thick cut organic bacon
  • 2 T flax seed
  • 3 T slivered almonds
  • maple syrup and cinnamon for serving

Begin frying the bacon over medium low heat, cooking for about 5 minutes on each side until the bacon is nice and crisp (the key to cooking bacon well and not burning it, is to do it low and slow).

Cook the oatmeal according to the package instructions, but for every cup use two cups water and one cup milk. Once the oatmeal is cooked whisk in the salt and flax seed.

Once the bacon is finished cooking pat dry and slice into small pieces. Divide the oatmeal among three bowls. Top each with one slice chopped bacon, one tablespoon slivered almonds, and a bit of maple syrup and cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Shutterbean's-Sour-Cream-Coffee-Cake-on-Channeling-Contessa

I realize this decadent sour cream coffee is probably the last thing you want to see after all the holiday cookies and cakes, but I couldn’t help but share. The photo just came out so well! That and when you are ready to take a break from your post holiday detox, this cake is a phenomenal way to start. Just make sure you have 10+ people around because this thing is downright huge.

Now, moving on to more important matters. I want to talk about you. Up until recently I had this funny idea in my head that if I put it to you guys- ie asked you what you wanted to see around these parts, that the question would in some way suggest I was unable to come up with content on my own. I know, really silly. And maybe kind of selfish? In any event, now I’m asking. So the first part of your assignment is to tell me the following: What makes you come to CC everyday? What do you want to see more or less of? And most importantly, what do you want to see that’s not here right now? For those of you who have left comments and questions- no worries I’ve got you covered, but if you haven’t shared your opinion before, hop to!

Number two! Yep, I’m feeling pretty demanding today. Can you tell me who you are? I know some of you, but there are thousands- and well, I want to know more! What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you love to eat? Did you see Les Mis? Or anything else you’d like to share!

I appreciate you all so much and without you, well, CC wouldn’t even be possible. So in 2013 I want to make sure I know you all better- and we’re covering what you want to read! Sound like a plan? Let’s do it.

Oh! And coffee cake recipe below.

Shutterbean's-Sour-Cream-Coffee-Cake-on-Channeling-Contessa-1

Mom’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake from Shutterbean
makes 12-16 servings

For the Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons each vanilla & water

Maple Frosting/Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°.

Beat butter and granulated sugar together until light & fluffy. Add the 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in the sour cream. Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together and blend into mixture.

Combine nuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into a grease, flour-dusted 10 inch tube pan or bundt pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the nut mixture. Continue layering to make three layers of each, ending with the nut mixture. Blend vanilla and water in a bowl and drizzle it over top.

Bake cake for about 80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 20 mintues on a wire rack, then remove from the pan.

In a small bowl, mix the confectioners sugar, maple syrup & vanilla together to make the glaze.

With a spoon drizzle glaze on top of the cooled cake and serve.

If you had read all my posts last week, it would have seemed like it was pretty smooth sailing over here. There was some killer pumpkin oatmeala drool inducing grilled cheese, some gorgeous candlelight inspiration, and the last of the photos from our recent trip to Italy. And everything was technically fine, I was just in a funk. A major funk. One night I got dinner with two friends and I shared with them my not so pleasant mood as of late, and how I felt like such a hypocrite because from the blog, it seemed like I was one chipper bunny over here.

I know I’m not the first one to experience this. But even though I am a blogger, I can easily forget that all bloggers have their bad days too, even if they aren’t sharing it. All of this is to say, that there are a lot of beautiful things on this blog- I love creating them, I love sharing them with you, and I love blogging overall, but I do have rough days even if it isn’t portrayed here. Days where I find myself welling up in tears for no particular reason. Days where I don’t feel like getting out of bed. Days where I have arguments with my boyfriend. And days where I feel frustrated by blogging. I just wanted to make sure you knew that. Ok? Ok, great.

On a more upbeat note, I made you muffins! Muffins packed with pumpkin and an addictive streusel topping, but that are still actually good for you. Make them this Saturday- you won’t regret it. Have a wonderful weekend! xx

Pumpkin Bran Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping inspired by Espresso & Cream
Makes 18-20 large muffins

For the muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat brand
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin purée
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 T molasses (optional)

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Mix together the wheat bran and buttermilk and let rest while you prep the other ingredients.

In a separate bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients minus the sugar. In another large bowl beat the eggs. Then mix in the oil, vanilla extract, molasses, pumpkin, and brown sugar. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the wheat bran mixture to the wet mixture and fold to combine. Add in the dry ingredients and whisk together until just combined.

Make the streusel: Toss together the dry ingredients. Cut in the cold butter with your hands or a fork until the mixture resembles the size of peas.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins almost to the top with batter. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of streusel on top of each muffin- you don’t need to measure perfectly. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then serve immediately.