Florida Strawberry, Lavender Farmers Cheese and California Walnut Braided Pastries

How could there not be pastries at a brunch, desserts are a must, right?  Best for last?  California Walnuts sent all the participants of #BrunchWeek a bag of fresh from the tree walnuts and I was thrilled to use them for a scrumptious sweet #BrunchWeek finale!


Strawberries are the perfume of the produce section right now in our Florida groceries.  I love this time of year with all the U-Pick farms, the road side stands filled with just picked berries.  With the inspiration from the berries and the beautiful earthiness of the fresh walnuts I thought making a pastry would be perfect.  To emphasize seasonal I wanted to use a floral essence, so I added the lavender.  Perfectly seasonal!



  • 16 ounces strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  • 16 ounces of puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
  • 1 cup California Walnuts, chopped
  • Lavender Pastry Cream
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash

 Lavender Simple Syrup:

  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon dried lavender

 In a small sauce pan but sugar, water and lavender in and bring to a rapid simmer for about one minute reducing to about half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. 

 Lavender Farmers Cheese Pastry Cream

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 7.8 ounces farmers cheese (8 is fine, but the package I used was 7.8, either way)
  • 2 tablespoon lavender simple syrup
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 Add the softened cheese to a bowl and beat until combined.  Add in remaining ingredients and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, and completely mixed. Place in piping bag if you like, but a spoon will work just as well.


Preheat oven to 400.

On a floured surface, roll one puff pastry sheet out to be 1/8 inch height to about a 12×10 square.  Cut with a knife down the center so there are now two 6×10 sections.  Trim a triangle from the corners of each section.  Cut angled strips down the 10 inch length of the dough, about ½ inch apart, make the same number of cuts on each side.  


Pipe or spread a ¼ of the pastry cream down the center of the each piece.  Top with 4 ounces of cut and cleaned strawberries and then sprinkle ¼ cup of walnuts down the center.


Make a fold with the top piece of the pastry over the berries. Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the filling, alternating sides, to cover the filling.  Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with egg wash.

Repeat with remaining cut section of pastry, and then repeat with the second sheet of pastry dough.  Place two braided pastries on each baking sheets.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until pastries are golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Cut each piece in half or in quarters depending how much your stomach is growling.

Makes 8 large or 16 regular size pastries.


These pastries could be a little sweeter for some, but a simple sanding sugar after brushing them with the egg wash would do the trick.  The lavender is very delicate, not overpowering at all- infact, one may not even notice.  The California Walnuts earthiness were the perfect complement to the light floral, the farmers cheese and to the sweet strawberries. 


As #BrunchWeek comes to a close today, leaving us with a library of ways to treat the Mom’s of the world tomorrow- I wanted to shout out again to all the participants of #BrunchWeek, and especially Terri of Love and Confections, and Christine of Cook The Story who made it all happen- You ladies are Fabulicious!

Join us at the #PinChat today, May 11th from 2-3 Eastern, for a chance to win prizes and participate in #BrunchWeek closing ceremonies!!  Until then- take a look at all this mouth watering goodness!

Brunch Drink Recipes

Frozen Grasshopper by Amanda’s Apron
Gin and Sparkling Red Wine Cocktail by Take A Bite Out Of Boca
Chocolate Trifle {kid friendly} by Real Housemoms
Vanilla Pomegranate Mojito by Noshing With The Nolands
Cherry Sangria by Cooking In Stilettos

Potato Brunch Recipes

Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes with Vidalia Onions and Thyme by Cook the Story
A Salad Called German Potato by The Vintage Cook

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Chocolate Chip Craisin Granola Bars by Big Bear’s Wife
Dandelion Pesto Pizza by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Biscoff Walnut Granola Parfaits by White LIghts on Wednesday
Stuffed French Toast by poet in the pantry
Pina Colada French Toast by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Sourdough Epi Baguettes with Rhubarb Blood Orange Ginger Jam by Spontaneous Tomato
Carrot Cake Pancakes by Love and Confections

Spreads and Dips for Brunch

Strawberry-Kiwi Jam by Sweet Remedy
Grilled Pineapple and Walnut Dip by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Raspberry Sweet Rolls with Meyer Lemon Glaze by by Cravings of a Lunatic


Turkey, Brie and Raspberry Waffle Bites

Maybe it’s just my experiences, but brunches often follow fun-filled, celebratory evenings, I assume that’s how Bloody Mary’s became so popular.  Nothing like the hair of a dog!  Thinking about brunch foods the last few weeks, made me consider my favorite hangover meals.  It would be a smart assumption the “favorite” came to be in my college days.  In Charleston, South Carolina there are endless possibilities of the cure all meal- during my days at C of C, my friends and I favorites were either Juanita Greenberg’s Burritos or Vickery’s Turkey and Brie Pita, maybe Andolini’s Pizza also..  The french fries made the Turkey Pita stand out as my preferred “not feeling so hot” meal and I still love to make it to Shem Creek every so often when I am in Charleston for a reconnection.


The warm pita was coated by a layer of raspberry cream, a stack of sliced turkey and warm gooey brie.  It’s a classic but still fabulous combination.  So when thinking about a #BrunchWeek inspired sandwich- what else- fruit, creamy, savory, and of course, perfect for any accidental hangovers that your guests that might stumble in with.

Figured I would twist the pita a bit and make it more “brunch-able”, with using waffles instead. I have a few different waffle makers/pans that I collected over the years, but my favorite is this pan.  I love the small size and thinness of them, making them super versatile and fun to play with.


Store bought waffle mix is fine to use, but this pan is not the most forgiving tool, so I recommend using an “extra-crispy” waffle batter as it tends not to stick to the waffled surface (not fun to clean)

This recipe makes about 12 waffles (6 sandwiches)


  • 1 whole eggs, separated
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1 cups flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cups canola oil
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves
  • 12 ounce sliced turkey
  • 6 ounces brie cheese



With a mixer, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. In another large bowl, put remaining ingredients and whip until smooth.  By hand, gently fold in beaten egg whites.

Heat the waffle pan over medium heat on the stove.  Drop about 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the wells, just filling them and spread with the back of the tablespoon. Cook until air bubbles come to the surface and break, about 1-2 minutes.  With 2 ends of forks gently ease out the waffle pancake and flip onto the opposite side.  Allow to cook another 1-2 minutes.

The waffle cakes can be made ahead of time and reheated in a 300 oven for 5 minutes.  Assemble the sandwiches with a teaspoon of raspberry jam on both sides of the warm waffle cake, and layers of sliced turkey and brie.


What a great week its been- I am so looking forward to trying out all the mouthwatering dishes I’ve seen during #BrunchWeek!  Join the PinChat from 2-3, where even more prizes will be announced!


Another shout out to the sponsors- California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic For a chance to win one of the great prizes- click on this link and sign up- super easy and legit. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are a few more ideas for Mother’s Day Brunches!

Brunch Drink Recipes

Mango Lime Bellinis by Cook the Story
Strawberry Sangrias by Kokocooks

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Souffle Pancakes with Bacon Flowers by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Mini Breakfast Pizzas by Sweet Remedy
Glazed Doughnut Pancakes by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Whole Wheat Blueberry and Sour Cream Pancakes by Sarcastic Cooking

Meat, Poultry, Fish and Legume Brunch Recipes

Thai Orchid Salmon Salad by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Egg Recipes

Crouque Monsieur Strata by White Lights on Wednesday
American Girl Chip and Ham Scramble by The Vintage Cook
Sausage, Egg, & Veggie Casserole by Katie’s Cucina

Potato Recipes

Poutine Hash by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Vanilla Bean Cookie Bars by Rachel Cooks
Candied Bacon Brownies by {i love} my disorganized life
Turtles French Toast by Cravings of a Lunatic
Chocolate Chiffon Cakee by Love and Confections
Dark Chocolate-Orange & Walnut Banana Bread by The Kitchen Prep

Apple and Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar Wheat Belly Crepes

I am lucky that I am surrounded by such a large and diverse group of chefs’ every day.  There is always someone finding something new, a cooking tool, a technical process, a cookbook, a just opened Asian market, a burger joint, a unique beer on the shelf.  Creative ideas/food knowledge is a by-product of kitchen life; it’s a great way to take part of conceptual collaboration offering new ideas (ever heard of Pasta Teppanyaki).  Enter the gluten free world- in particular crepes, perfect for brunch!


There are a few girls I work with that are really into allergen and gluten free lifestyles.  One has a family member that requires this special diet and the other just like to have a healthy balanced diet.  The discussions with these ladies are often based on new discoveries in a gluten free diet. The Wheat Belly Cookbook came into their world and both were sold.  I tried one of the microwave wraps from the cookbook and was convinced myself. 

So looking for #BrunchWeek ideas that would bring diversity and inclusivity to all interests, I thought I would try the crepe recipe from their Wheat Belly Cookbook. 


Truth: I am a terrible crepe maker; and have ticked off many of chefs with my continued inability to make a crepe properly.  However, I mask my lacking talent by making fun of anyone that wants to put crepes on a menu.  Secrets out.



  • 4 small granny smith apples
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


  • 4 tablespoons apple brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar  (I could go on and on about how addicting this cheese is, my new favorite, but feel free to use your own favorite white cheddar)

 Crepes- This recipe came from The Wheat Belly Cookbook

  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ golden flaxseed meal
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cup almond or carton-variety coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract



To make the filling:

Cut the washed apples into ¼ inch thick sliced wedges and cut again in half shortways, leaving about 1 inch bites.  In sauce pan cook the apples, butter, sugar, and lemon juice over medium for about 15 minutes.  Stir the butter and sugar around the apples to create a consistency of a pie filling.  Set aside on low until ready to fill the crepes.  This can be done ahead and reheated slowly to save time.

To make the sauce:

Keeping it simple, start by adding the apple brandy into a small saucepot and bring to a simmer.  Let the brandy reduce by half and add the heavy cream to the sauce pot.  Continue to reduce the cream for an additional 10 minutes or until you reach half. Keep on low until close to serving; add in the shredded cheese, and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.  By waiting to add the cheese until the end, it will prevent the sauce from breaking, when the fats separate, leaving a course, grainy, oily sauce.

To make the crepes:

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, flaxseed meal and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Coat a small nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium heat.  Measure 1/3 cup of the batter and pour into the pan, swirling the batter so it coats the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 3 minutes, or until the top of the crepe appears dry.  Turn the crepe and cook for 1 minute, or until the underside is dry.  Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the crepes as they are cooked.

Top or fill each crepe with a spoonful of apples and drizzle with the cheddar cream.

Makes 8 servings


Let me add that it makes 8 servings if you are better then me at making crepes.  I was happy with the 6 that cooperated for me,  Sir Wes was happy with the 2 that did not.  Eat your mistakes.


Truly a great dish- I am looking forward to trying more gluten free recipes from this cookbook.  The apples and the cheddar bring a sweet and savory twist to crepes.  FYI- you can buy Beecher’s Flagship Reserve online… #WellWorthIt

Another day of #BrunchWeek and another list of mouth watering dishes!

Brunch Drink Recipes

St-Germain and Prosecco Cocktails by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Strawberry Lemongrass Martinis by White Lights on Wednesday

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Granola, Yogurt and Walnut Cups by Cook the Story
Banana Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal by Big Bear’s Wine
Garden Squares by {i love} my disorganized life
Maple Sausage French Toast Bake by Real Housemoms

Brunch Egg Recipes

Mediterranean Frittata by Spontaneous Tomato

Potato Recipes for Brunch

Potato and Bacon Hash by Cravings of a Lunatic

Meat, Poultry, Fish and Legume Brunch Recipes

Key Lime Shrimp Salad by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Black Bean Breakfast Tacos by Sweet Remedy
Fruit for Brunch
Fruit Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing by Kokocooks

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Muffins by Rachel Cooks
Rustic Apple Cake & Tea with Mom by The Vintage Cook
Toasted Almond and Chocolate Muffins by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Crumb Cake Parfait by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Rum and Raisin French Toast by Noshing With The Nolands
Cinnamon Raisin Banana Stuffed French Toast by Katie’s Cucina
Breakfast Cookies by Cooking In Stilettos
Berry Parfaits by Love and Confections
Rhubarb Vanilla Yogurt Parfaits by Kelly Bakes

Huge thanks to all that are making #BrunchWeek  happen –  California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic

For a chance to win one of the CrazyTown prizes just play in the a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Dill Pickle Crisps and Deviled Egg Brunch Dip

I know a lot of people that would swear up and down that a good party cannot be had without deviled eggs. Honestly, I have yet to meet one I haven’t liked. Hate to add it to a menu of mine as they are just so expected, and then the classic, down home southern girl inside of me tells me “what in God’s name am I talking about”, and they are saved from being 86’d from the buffet table. But nothing wrong with mixing it up, after all dip is equally important at all parties, brunch included!


Some may say this is just egg salad, but it is served with crackers- so that obligates it to be a dip. Hands down, no question asked. The end. Dip.


This recipe comes from way back on September of 2009 from Food and Wine Magazine

Deviled Egg Spread

1 dozen large eggs
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Salt & pepper
Paprika for dusting

  • Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water; make sure the water is a good inch above the eggs. Add in the vinegar and heat to a rapid boil. Place the lid on the saucepan and remove it from the heat. After allowing to stand for 15 minutes, drain the water from eggs and run cool water over them to cool. Add a few ice cubes to chill them faster.
  • Peel the egg shells and slice them in half lengthwise. Rough chop half of the egg whites and place them into a large bowl. Put the remaining whites and all of the yolks to a food processor along with the mayo and mustard. Process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and blend with the chopped egg whites. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.

Makes about 3 cups of DIP


To add a special touch to the Deviled Egg alternative I took out the standard pickle in the dip and added it to the cracker- which came out great! I love the zip and sourness in the crackers- definitely a unique twist on a standard butter crack. Watch your back Keebler!

This Zestuous recipe has been slightly modified

Dill Pickle Crisps

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ranch dressing mix
  • ¼ cup chopped dill pickle (2 spears)
  • 1 egg, cracked and blended for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dill
  • ½ teaspoon fresh course ground black pepper


  • Using a food processor, add the flour and softened butter and pulse until combined. Add the oil and ranch seasoning and blend again. Add in the chopped dill pickle and mix until the dough forms into a ball. Remove the dough from the processor and shape into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Using a clean surface, a piece of parchment paper or a silpat sprinkled with flour, roll the dough to about 1/8 thickness.
  • Using a cookie cutter, cut out the crackers and peel away the excess dough. Place the cut crackers onto a parchment/silpat lined baking sheet and lightly brush the egg wash over the tops. Sprinkle with the salt, dill and pepper. Prior to baking tap each cracker with a fork to allow are to escape and your crackers to remain flat.
  • Bake in a 400-degree oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Makes about 50 crackers, depending on the size of your cutter.


These Dill Pickled Crisps make a great vehicle for the deviled egg dip. Can’t get much more southern then this!  Cheers to all parties, especially brunch!


#BrunchWeek is rocking social media this week- The #BrunchWeek Hashtag was even trending on Sunday!  So awesome! Of course, we couldn’t do it without the generous sponsors!  I can’t wait to see who wins the prizes!   Big Kudos to –  California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic

For a chance to win one of the amaze-ball prizes just play in the a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Just look at this great list- all offer a chance to win! and plenty to get hungry over!

I can’t wait to see whats going on at Girl in the Little Red Kitchen!

Brunch Recipes with Eggs

Asparagus and Leek Frittata by Rachel Cooks
Baked Ham and Egg Cups by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Veggie Quiche Cups by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Asparagus and Eggs in Mornay Sauce by Noshing With The Nolands

Brunch Recipes with Potatoes

Traditional Home Fries by Sarcastic Cooking

Meat, Poultry and Fish Brunch Recipes

Chicken Pockets by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Turkey Dill Crepes by Kokocooks

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Cherry Coconut Granola by Katie’s Cucina
Brioche by poet in the pantry by poet in the pantry
Gold Goddess Steel Cut Oats by The Vintage Cook
Quick and Easy Early Morning Parfaits by Cravings of a Lunatic
Caramelized Onion & Bacon Croque Monsieur by The Kitchen Prep

Fruit and Vegetable Brunch Recipes

Warm Salad Three Ways by Cook the Story

Spreads for Brunch

Black & Blue Thyme Jam by Cooking In Stilettos

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Crumb-Top Blueberry Muffins by Love and Confections
Banana Walnut Scone (Gluten Free/Dairy Free) by Around My Family Table
Croissant & Chocolate Bread Pudding by White Lights on Wednesday
Honey Poached Pear “Sundae” by Amanda’s Apron
Strawberries and Cream Muffins by The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook

Marcona Almond and Duck Fat Brittle

I’ve been wanting to make this brittle for quite a long time, but for one reason or another it only made it as far as the back burner.  We all have those ideas/projects right?  But I thought about it being a perfect special touch to add to a salad for a special meal- maybe even a brunch! 🙂

I adore Marcona almonds, known as the “Queen of Almonds,” which are imported from Spain. They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the domestic variety. When I was in Barcelona they became a staple while walking the streets of the city. I picked up the best I’ve had at the market, Las Ramblas- and have been searching for their match ever since. I may just have to return to the scene of the crime to get them again- CC: Sir Wes.


Last fall a tub landed in our offices at work, and slowly shrank into crumbs. These Queens inspired a conversation regarding unique cookies with myself and the pastry chef, whom thought using duck fat in lieu of butter would make an interesting brittle. I couldn’t agree more as I thought of the Spain/Catalan influence with the duck and Spanish almonds.



  • 3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon duck fat
  • 1 1/4 cups whole Marcona almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil, spread the ½ teaspoon of duck fat evenly over the foil and set aside
  • In a small sauté pan melt the duck fat over medium heat. Add the almonds and stir constantly, toasting them for 2 minutes, Remove pan from heat.


  • In a heavy saucepan, over medium high heat, combine the sugar and water. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Use a damp pastry brush or a moist paper towel to remove any sugar particles from the sides of the saucepan. Without stirring allow to boil until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage, 310°, about 10 minutes
  • Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in almond mixture and baking soda.
  • Immediately pour the mixture onto prepared baking sheet, spreading the brittle quickly into a ¼ inch layer with a metal spatula. Let set for 30 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces.

Makes about a pound of brittle.

The brittle came out super light from the baking soda which makes it very easy to eat. Not at all the kind of brittle that breaks teeth.  The flavor with the richness of the duck fat and sweet nuttiness of the Marcona almonds is balanced and perfectly decadent.


This has been on my mind ever since our inspired collaboration and thought they would be make a great addition to a salad on a brunch. I added tuna, plums and goat cheese crumbles but would also be lovely with simple greens and raspberries. You can also serve the brittle alone in a nut or candy dish.


While this brittle  isn’t the same as the treasured bag of almonds from the Barcelona Market, it is quite inspired by them and the search for the Barcelonan Almonds led me to that cookie discussion with the pastry chef.   Anyone ever been “biten” by the search for that perfect bite again?

#BrunchWeek has been filled with so many great ideas and tasty looking items- Special thanks to Terri at Love and Confections and Christine at Cook the Story, who have spent so much time putting the event together!  And thanks to our sponsors who made #BrunchWeek so much better!  California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic

There are still a lot of incredible prizes to win- click on this link and sign up- very simple and safe too! . a Rafflecopter giveaway

This list looks amazing- I can’t wait to see everyone’s posts!!

Brunch Beverage Recipes

Irish Cream Coffee by Sweet Remedy
{Grown-Up} Lemonade by {i love} my disorganized live

Brunch Egg Recipes

An Easy Italian Egg Recipe by Cook the Story
Asparagus Tomato Frittata by Big Bear’s Wife
Sausage and Egg Muffins by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Mennonite Gold Hash & Eggs by The Vintage Cook
Eggs Over Wilted Spinach by The Vintage Cook
Brie and Herb Omelette by Noshing With The Nolands
Hangover Breakfast Burrito by Cooking In Stilettos

Brunch Recipes for Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-Type Yums

Almond Croissants by Love and Confections
Granola Pancakes by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze by Katie’s Cucina
Strawberry Scones by Real Housemoms
Blueberry Vanilla Muffins by Take a Bit Out of Boca

Brunch Dessert Recipes

Marcona Almond and Duck Fat Brittle by Vanilla Lemonade
Kiwi and Rose Cream Trifle by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Banana “Ice Cream” by Amanda’s Apron
Chocolate Coated Mini Donuts by Kokocooks

Watermelon Rosemary Champagne Brunch Cocktail

#BrunchWeek is under way- Bloggers from across the country kicked it off yesterday morning and followed with a #Tweetchat in the afternoon.  There was enough buzz on twitter that we saw #BrunchWeek trending right below #CincoDeMayo, pretty cool!  There were some huge prizes given away yesterday as well- luckily there are even more left!  Click on the link at the bottom of the page, the Rafflecopter, for a chance to win.  The #BrunchWeek sponsors have outdone themselves! 8655385121_01eb457200 The signs of summer are coming, and I couldn’t resist garden inspired cocktail.  I am not a gin fan, but because of my husbands devotion to it, we always seem to have it on the shelf.  The good part is that the refreshing watermelon really balances the emphasis of the juniper berries in the gin.  DSC_0248 Although gin is not my spirit of choice, I always get excited when I see fresh herbs in sweets and cocktails, I love the earthyness that seeps in.  This recipe comes from Everyday Magazine  Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 1 inch pieces watermelon
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Wine
  • Watermelon wedges


  1. To make the rosemary simple syrup place the water, sugar and rosemary in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes and cool.  This can be made ahead, and nice to have on hand for those “moments of need”. 
  2. When ready to serve, drop the watermelon into a cocktail shaker, and crush with a muddler or wooden spoon.  Add enough ice to fill the shaker, and then add gin, rosemary syrup and lemon juice; and shake. Strain into 2 champagne flutes. Top with champagne and garnish each with a watermelon wedge.

DSC_0257 This is a perfect Brunch-tail for a Mother’s Day, light, refreshing and not going to put you under the rest of the day. After all whether its breakfast in bed or ladies brunching, there should always be be some saucing… DSC_0269Mother’s Day is getting closer- buy your cards and keep following along with #BrunchWeek for ideas! Thanks to all the fabulous sponsors! They got it going on for sure!! California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic For a chance to win one of the great prizes- click on this link and sign up- super easy and legit. a Rafflecopter giveaway


Today there are a ton of brunchalicious posts from across the country- Check them out!

Beverages Pear Hibiscus Brunch Cocktail by Rachel Cooks Strawberry Rose Sangria by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen Mocha Frappuccino by Around My Family Table Pineapple-Basil Tea by The Kitchen Prep


Tomato and Mozzarella Quiche by Love and Confection Cherry Tomato and Chorizo Omelette by Katie’s Cucina Asparagus and Bacon Quiche by Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Meat, Poultry and Fish

Bacon Canapés with Oranges and Maple Yogurt by Cook the Story Chicken Bacon Ranch Panini by Sweet Remedy Pancetta Wrapped Chicken by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Spinach and Goat Cheese Muffins by Culinary Flavors Overnight Blintz Bake by White Lights on Wednesday Bananas Foster French Toast by by Cravings of a Lunatic


Cinnamon Raisin Bread by Katie’s Cucina Mrs. Lund’s Fresh Plum Cake by The Vintage Cook Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake by Take A Bite Out Of Boca Strawberry Scones by Kokocooks Strawberry Mascarpone Tart by Kelly Bakes

Fruits and Veggies

Honey-Watermelon Soup by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Tomato Basil Macarons #BrunchWeek

Today is the start of #BrunchWeek, which leads straight up to Mother’s Day.  There are bloggers across the country participating, so there is bound to be some great ideas for the coming Sunday’s feast.  Check out the end of the post for a list of recipes and posts to be inspired by as well as list of incredible sponsors.  Click on the Rafflecopter link to get a chance to win amazing prizes from the sponsors!!! Super easy!


I have to admit- I’ve been gotten.  A little monster snuck into my head, and flipped a switch to make me believe that all the hype about macarons being “difficult” would not be true for me.   I was convinced that I, an amateur, yet successful baker would not have any issues with this simple cookie.  So when I was thinking about creative brunch ideas, savory macarons popped into my head and I signed on the dotted line- #BrunchWeek Day 1, Savory Macarons.


Of course there was plenty of time to get started, just needed to get past that busy work week, and then Sir Wes’ birthday celebration #WEStival, my brother’s family visit, a catching up at work week, a weekend to relax, and then a crazy town week at work.  Soon I was left with just two weeks to tackle these “simple” cookies.  It turns out that the hype was real- macarons are as temperamental as they get, they are not simple at all, more like a monster in fact.  Touch them wrong and its over for you.


It was helpful having to try and retry baking macarons nightly due to deadline, as I am certain I have actually learned about the anatomy of the French monsters.

With the help of Les Petits Macarons written by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride, I spotted my troubles and made plans for the next batch.  I strayed a few times over to good old Martha, but became sold on Kathryn and Anne’s methods and advice.


My problems laid mostly with the feet, they had all types of problems- flat feet, no feet, wide-load feet, and most commonly,  “why don’t I have model feet”.  The monsters also had some intestinal problems, not much of a fan of this topic, but I’ll just say that there were runs and explosions.

With enough nights to work on them and the help of some friends at work, along with this monster bible, I managed to be satisfied with the macarons.  All had not been lost, I won the war against the savory macaron monster- as I would say at work- “Kiss it B*^@ches….”

This recipe and method came from Les Petits Macarons with some very slight modifications to adding the savory-

  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill is in my pantry)
  • ¾ cup confectioner sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered egg whites
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup aged egg whites (from 4 eggs, aged covered in the fridge for 1-2 days) – Room Temperature
  • 2 drops red gel food color (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon crystalized basil
  • 10 tablespoons garlic herb cream, goat, brie or preferred cheese spread


Makes about 40 macaron sandwiches

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Pulse almond flour, confectioners’ sugar salt and tomato powder in the bowl of a food processor 4 times for 4 seconds each time. Sift dry ingredients over a piece of parchment paper.

2. Hand whip the powdered egg whites and the granulated sugar in an electric mixer bowl, add in the egg whites and cream of tartar until the mixture is homogenous.  Whisk on medium-high speed, when the egg whites reach soft peaks add the food coloring if you choose to use.  Continue whipping until glossy stiff peaks form (about 8-11 minutes).  The meringue should look like marshmallow fluff when ready or when you are able to hold the bowl upside-down without it falling out.

3. Sift the dry ingredients into the meringue and J-fold until you reach the, almost impossible to know, macaronner stage. It is important to fold the different components just enough,(sadly I think this only comes after you’ve learned what doesn’t work), but not too much or the macarons will crack. To make sure that you have reached the right point, once the ingredients appear combined, lift some of the mixture about 1 inch above the bowl with the spatula. If it retains a three dimensional shape, fold it again. When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in one continuous drip.   Fill your piping bag halfway, allowing the maximum piping control.

4. Pipe the macarons 1 ½ inches apart on silicon baking sheet lined sheetpan. (again, more of the practice makes perfect saying).  Slam the baking sheet down to remove excess air (slam 6 times, from 6 inches above the table). Sprinkle the crystalized basil on top of each macaron.  Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the oven to 350 and cook for another 6-9 minutes depending on size.

5.  Fill with your preferred garlic herb spread, creamed brie, goat cheese, ect.  Refrigerate until an hour prior to serving.


***With any failures there are learning’s.  Pay attention to what didn’t work so you know what to try or avoid in the future.

I have to admit, there is no way I am done with these monsters.  I feel like they might have won this round, but now that I’ve cut my teeth, I am ready for round 2.


I secretly love getting stumped in the kitchen, as it makes successes so much sweeter.

Take a look below to see this great list of #BrunchWeek  Posts!!

Today’s Brunch Recipes From Participating BrunchWeekers Beverages

Blood Orange Mimosas by Love and Confections

Strawberry Mimosa by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Margarita for Mama by poet in the pantry

Candied Bacon Bloody Mary by Sarcastic Cooking


Breakfast Won Ton Cups by Small Wallet Big Appetite

Meat Lover’s Quiche by Savory Sweet Eats

Chorizo and Garlic Frittata by {i love} my disorganized life

Cherry Tomato and Chorizo Omelet by Katie’s Cucina

Meat, Poultry and Fish

Candied Bacon by Cravings of a Lunatic

Shrimp-Grapefruit Orchid Stirfry by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Savory Treats

Hollandaise Sauce by Kokocooks

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Apple Cinnamon Crepes by Sweet Remedy

Grain-free Apple Walnut Pancakes by Seasonal and Savory


Biscoff Coffee Cake Muffins by White Lights on Wednesday

Bob’s Scottish Oat n’ Walnut Sticky Scones by The Vintage Cook

A big thanks to all the sponsors, California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic,

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