Easter Brunch Menu with Kids

tray easterWell I ended up feeling really burned out before the holiday weekend, sorry for the late post!

Anyway, just wanted to share an easy make-ahead plan for Easter. Perhaps you can use it at your “make-up” Easter if you had sick kids (ah-hem, yes, every. single. holiday. I swear) or out of town guests coming over.

Easter Brunch Menu for 10:

  1.  Java Bay Coffee, ground and ready in the coffee maker for 12 cups
  2. Giada De Laurentiis biscotti (Recipe below)
  3. Asparagus + Mushroom Frittata (Recipe below)
  4. Orange Juice
  5. Grandpa Joe’s chorizo + egg scramble
  6. Mimosas
  7. Fruit salad (Recipe below)

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Biscotti Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (target brand)
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp baking powder (target)
  • 3/4 C sugar (target)
  • 1/2 C or 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp. (any brand)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour and baking powder in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, lemon zest and salt in large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mix and beat until blended. (If you have extras, like chocolate chips, dried cranberries, you’d add them in here, about 1/2 cup each).
  3. Form the dough in to a 13″ long x 3″ wide log on the prepared baking sheet. (I use a pencil to put the measurements on the parchment paper for the first time) Bake for 40 minutes (I bake for 30 minutes in my OLD Viking range).  Remove from oven, and cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Place the log on to the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife (I like SHUN) cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4 inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti back on to the baking sheet cut side up. Bake the biscotti until pale golden brown about 20 more minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.
  5. You can also melt some chocolate and dip the cooled biscotti for another fun topping. I like mine just plain with coffee! Enjoy!

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Asparagus and Mushroom Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2# fresh asparagus
  • 1/2# fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 to 10 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325* and melt butter in oven safe skillet (a cast iron skillet, I like LODGE brand). Stir in olive oil and chopped asparagus. Sautee about 10 min. Add mushrooms and sautee 5 minutes.
  2. In medium bowl whisk eggs and water and thyme. Pour mix into skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer skillet (use oven mits, skillet is HOT) in to oven. Bake 10 minutes. Add the cheeses and Broil at 500* until browned (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Do the shake test. If you jiggle your cast iron skillet and the egg in the middle of the skillet still wiggles, bake for a few minutes longer before putting under the broiler. I like mine set well before removing, but not overcooked. It’s a little practice, but you’ll get it.
  5. Enjoy. Yield is 6-8.  Can be easily re-headed or eaten cold later on.

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Fruit Salad

So…I love to shop at Hy-Vee. It’s close to  my house and they have some really nice pre-made salads. The fruit salads are great for when I’m in  hurry. Literally, Saturday before Easer, I’m the one in the produce department at 9pm snatching up the VERY LAST PRE-MADE FRUIT BOWL for just $10. Saved me my sanity from chopping a million pieces of tiny fruit late at night (Maybe even saved a finger. We’ll never know.)

I take a small or medium pre-chopped fruit bowl and dump into very pretty decorative bowl if you have one (I have plain white, shocker). I add 1 cup of vanilla or plain chobani greek yogurt, 1 pinch of salt + dash of pepper. 1 glug of vanilla extract from Penzeys and stir, stir, stir. To spice it up, you can add some colorful berries and garnish with mint leaves.

Typically, I chop all my own fruit: Bananas, apples, strawberries, melons, raspberries, blueberries. Whatever you have, throw it in a bowl with some yogurt. Done. Fancy. It’s yours, you made it. Now go to bed you crazy person. Guests will be here before you know it!

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Extra, Extra!

The egg scramble is my Dad’s recipe. I’ll have to check and see if he’s willing to share. For mimosas, Just have some good Korbel dry champagne on hand in the fridge. I also like to set out all of the napkins, plates, etc. the night before so when guests are here I can spend my time with them, rather than worrying about scurrying through my cabinets.

Kids Craft While You Cook

Because we did have a virus going through our house during the Easter week break, we took an old cardboard roll (could be toilet paper rolls, paper towel or wrapping paper rolls) cut them into small napkin holders and had the kids paint them, and decorate them for Easter brunch. This activity took a while and could be done while you’re preparing food, if you’re OK with a little extra paint mess. The napkin holders turned out great and the kids were proud of them at the table on Easter morning.  We ironed white napkins and the kids helped roll them into the holders and place on the table.

Stay tuned for a post on what it means to have a modern day “Village” and what my village is comprised of.  As always, for fun photos of what we’re up to, check me out on Insta, jamiekeehn.

Thanks and have a wonderful week!

Switch it UP!

It’s Spring, and that means spring ahead. Spring forward. Change. Switch it up. Try  something new. Challenge yourself. Start again. Renew. Refresh.

Today on our outing to Brennan’s Farm Market on the west side of Madison, we discovered a new treat that is 100% nut-free and pre-made. This is such a time saver and lunch box game-changer for us. The snack is a small cookie-like shape called “Somersaults” and they come in a variety of flavors. Basically, they are crunchy sunflower seed bites.

We bought two kinds at $4.99 each. The bag is pretty substantial, about 60 pieces. They are healthy. Nothing artificial added and 100% vegan, certified + NON-GMO.  The kids and I opened the Dutch Cocoa flavored bag first and they were delicious!  Chloe loved them, Carter was undecided. They reminded me of chocolate covered almond balls that I used to make. So good – high in iron and protein.

I love that these treats are made in the USA, and the company is based out of Sausalito, CA (a personal favorite place of mine).

When school resumes next week, we’ll be switching up the lunch box/bento box to include some of these tasty, yet healthy nut-free treats.  And with our road trip right around the corner, I’ll be adding these to our car cooler packing list.  We’re trying hard to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into everything we do. But of course there will be the standard Sour Patch Kids and Gummies! So glad we found these treats today!

Whatever comes your way this Spring, I hope it’s new and exciting! Cheers to a fresh start.

Spring Break. What’s That?

So many people that we know are enjoying this week of Spring Break some place tropical. It’s going to be a quazi decent week here in Wisconsin, so I’m hopeful to have some outside time with the kids. Of course, I wish we were going some place fun + far away. We’ve thought about the Atlantis, East Coast, Florida, and a few others. However, we’ve decided to stay low-key this year. And LUCKILY we decided to stay home, too. This morning our youngest guy woke up at 2am sick.

He didn’t really sleep after that, so I’m pretty tired. Doug rallied the troops this morning, made us all breakfast, coffee and cleaned up. Then he realized I’m home with the kids all week and did MY USUAL SUNDAY PLANNING FOR ME. How nice is that?! I think he does enjoy planning the food + shopping for it, but it was still very nice of him to do it for me! What a time saver.

We have a giant chalkboard in our kitchen and on Sundays we talk about what we want to eat for the week as a family. Monday’s are always grocery shopping days where we stock up and prepare for the week. I enjoy doing this, but I was completely exhausted this morning, so having Doug do it, is a really nice break. Plus, we can just focus on being healthy, and maybe having some fun later in the week.

Anyway, if you’re interested in my weekly meal plans, I post them on instagram on Sunday nights. Most of the recipes come from Cooking Light and Food Network magazine because that’s my cooking level. I’m not a cook. I’m not a chef. I just like to make good food for my family to eat that is healthy.

I don’t always get it right. But I try. Really hard. Cooking is an art and science and takes a LOT of practice. I read a lot and watch a fair amount of cooking shows, and YouTube videos on specific things I’d like to learn to make. It takes time, and patience, and I don’t always have that with the kids in the kitchen, too. It’s really hard sometimes to make the menu actually come to fruition. Some weeks my plan goes completely out the window and we have pizza, breakfast for dinner and take-out. But, each week starts again, and I try again to make the plan and stick to it (as Elephant and Piggie would say).

Happy Spring Break – As I catch up on some sleep, I’ll post my Easter Brunch  + Dinner menu with photos on insta to follow it up.

Wild Irish Kids

St.Patrick’s Day was a lot of fun with the kids this year.  We had our traditional St.Pats with friends party at Christen’s house.  She did such a great job planning an all green menu for dinner. We had grapes, salad, white and green clover shaped pasta, green jello, and a bunch of other green goodies. I think the best part was watching the kids, and adults, try to smash open the giant piñata. Everything was nut-free, even the contents in the piñata, and I am so grateful to have such thoughtful friends. I know it’s not always easy, or top of mind, to make sure things are nut-free.

Later on at home, Chloe and Carter were an absolute blast. It’s tradition in our family that we make corned beef, cabbage and vegetables for St.Pats, and the kids LOVE this meal (as does my husband, and it’s probably the easiest thing I make all year!).

After we eat, say an Irish toast, enjoy some Guinness or Green Milk, we dance to traditional Irish Music. It got a little wild! We love Irish music because it’s fun to dance to and very safe for family enjoyment. Below is what we made, along with a little twist on the boiled potatoes, that we don’t actually care for. This year, I roasted them separately with a bunch of herbs. Plates were cleared completely! For dessert, we enjoyed Guinness Cupcakes + Baileys Irish Cream Frosting, this recipe is on the blog as well. Delish!

Ingredients:

  • 2lb corned beef + spice packet
  • 5 or 6 whole carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 2-3 celery ribs, cut into same size as carrots
  • 10 baby red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 cups water (or chicken stock/veg.stock)
  • 6-8 oz of beer (I like Guinness)
  • 1 yellow onion, cut in half
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • swirl of olive oil

 

Directions:

  1. Place the crock pot onto level kitchen surface and turn on High.
  2. Put the carrots, celery, onion on the bottom of the crock pot.
  3. Place the corned beef on top of the vegetables.
  4. Pour the water + beer in.
  5. Sprinkle spice packet in
  6. Cover, and cook on High for 8 hours.
  7. Chop the cabbage and put into air tight bowl in the fridge.
  8. 1 hour before the meat is done, place the cabbage into the slow cooker and cook on high for the remaining hour.
  9. 1 hour before the meat is done, wash, and quarter the red potatoes.
  10. Place the quartered potatoes into mixing bowl. Add the swirl of olive oil to coat the potatoes. Add the herbs, salt and pepper. You can add other spices too, whatever you like. Make sure potatoes are coated completely.
  11. Place the potatoes onto a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet.
  12. In a pre-heated 425* oven, roast the potatoes for 45 min to 1 hour, stir occasionally.
  13. Everything should be ready at the same time.
  14. Enjoy, yield = 6

 

 

Sneak PEEPster into Easter

I prefer to keep it simple. A few years ago I ordered these custom baskets from Lillian Vernon becuase of the low cost and good quality. This year, I will be filling them with a combination of nut-free candies and a few small items. Here are a few ideas to jump-start your Easter baskets:

  • Vermont nut-free bunnies
  • Peeps Original (not all are safe!)
  • York peppermint paties
  • Whoppers Robin’s Eggs
  • Bunny socks (target $1 bin)
  • Bubbles
  • Travel crayons+note lads (getting ready for TN road trip)
  • Swim suit + swim trunks
  • Black Widow action figure
  • Hulk action figure

To keep things quazi environmentally friendly, I made my own Easter grass by shredding old pieces of colored paper in our paper shredder. Turned out great and it’s 100% recyclable when we are done. Plus, if Carter decides to eat it, I won’t freak out!

Whatever you are celebrating this Spring, Easter, Passover or just good old kindness, I hope this time of year is full of family, friends and fun.

Cheers!

 

I’m 8.3% Irish…

So that means I’m definitely celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, along with my VERY Irish husband, Doug, and our red-headed kids (OK, so Chloe is pretty red, Carter, not as much.)

We’ll be saving the Corned Beef + Cabbage for March 17th (recipe will follow!), but this weekend, we’ll be starting our party a little early with some sweet treats, nut-free. I hope you enjoy. The last time I made this recipe I was 8 months pregnant with Carter, and I LOVED them.

To find out if YOU’RE really IRISH, check out this amazing DNA testing site, 23&Me.com

Guinness Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Ingredients:
•1 cup unsalted butter
•1 cup Guinness Stout beer (and the rest for your tummy! YUM!)
•2/3 cup cocoa powder (Vermont nut-free powder, or Hersheys)
•1 cup light brown sugar, packed
•1 tsp salt
•2 cups all purpose flour
•1 cup granulated sugar
•1 1/4 tsp baking soda
•2 free range/cage free eggs (Pecatonica Farms)
•1/2 cup sour cream
•3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Foods brand)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
2. Combine butter, Guinness, cocoa powder and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool to almost room temperature.
3. In a large bowl (stand mixer bowl), add salt, flour, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Sift together to mix.
4. Add in cooled beer mixture and beat (slowly at first – then on medium speed) for about 1 minute.
5. Add in eggs and sour cream, mix on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes. Batter will be slightly runny.
6. Pour batter to fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine always take less time in this old, old, Viking range).
8. Set on cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting (for the adults!)

Ingredients:
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3 cups powdered sugar, determines the thickness of your frosting
• 1/2 tsp of salt
• 4 Tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
• Splash of Penzeys vanilla extract
• Splash of milk

Directions:
1. Make sure cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting.
2. Cream butter until it is light and fluffy.
3. Add salt and 1/2 of powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until sugar is slightly incorporated, then add remaining 1/2 of the powdered sugar.
4. Add Bailey’s, vanilla + splash of milk and combine.
5. Once the consistency is what you’d like, add the frosting to a piping bag + your favorite tip.
6. PIPING SECRET: to easily fill your piping bag, find a wide-mouthed mason jar, insert your piping bag with tip in, fold the top of your piping bag over the edge of the mason jar to keep the bag open and load the frosting in with spatula.
7. KIDS: for the kiddos, I generally make a simple butter cream frosting, which is the same as this recipe, sans the baileys. I will make this recipe as is, then add a little baileys to the remaining frosting for the adult cupcakes.

*Recipe modified from Cooking Light Magazine + Chunky Chef Blog

*Instagram will have some pics of this recipe!

Enjoy! jamiekeehn on insta

Black Bean Burritos + Herbed Rice

Today was amazing. It was almost 70* here in Madison and the kids played outside for 3 hours. By the time we all came inside, we were exhausted. Fresh air will do that. Instead of making what I had originally planned, Chloe asked for black bean burritos. It was a great idea + time saver for my sleepy kids who definitely needed baths! Here’s what I did:

Black bean burritos, herbed rice, broccoli + fruit

Ingredients

  • 2 cans low-sodium black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3 shakes of Penzeys garlic powder
  • 3 shakes of Penzeys onion powder
  • 3 shakes of Penzeys oregano
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken stock
  • 4 large tortillas (wheat or flour)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • shake of Penzeys Italian Herb Mix
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Penzeys 4S season salt
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • handful of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Measure out 1 cup of basmati rice. Make it according to package with water, pinch of salt and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Bring to a boil, let rice reduce to just below the water level and cover. Turn to low + let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff.
  2. While the rice is on low, put black beans into sauce pan and heat to med-low.  Add the garlic, onion, oregano and chicken stock/water (if you have time, use fresh garlic + onion). Stir. Add the cheddar cheese. I also like Cotija, but do not frequently keep it in the house. Any cheese will do actually. Stir well, cheese will melt and beans will become mushy. Remove from heat when all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Put broccoli florets into microwave safe pyrex bowl. Put two tbsp. unsalted butter and 3 tbsp. water into bottom of pan. Sprinkle with Penzeys 4S season salt. Microwave for 3 minutes.
  4. Microwave the tortillas for 20 seconds.
  5. Assemble the tortillas. Add the black bean mix, favorite salsa and roll up. Serve with the steamed broccoli, rice (sprinkle with Italian Herb Mix or fresh herbs) and whatever fresh fruit you have.
  6. Enjoy! Not a masterpiece, but quick, healthy, flavorful and the kids LOVED it.