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One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to ride bikes to our local farmers market and load up a backpack of all the fresh produce. This includes finding the brightest and sweetest berries that literally pop with sugar. This, to me, defines summer.

Also finding inspiration from the farmers market, Bruegger’s Bagels has created a special limited time Whipped Blueberry Greek Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt spread that perfectly encompasses the flavors of summer.

I think what makes this French toast casserole so delicious is the freshness of the berries mixed with this unique spread. The addition of yogurt to the cream cheese creates a lighter texture, while also adding 4x the protein and cutting half the fat of regular cream cheese.

This sweet casserole is perfect for a relaxing Sunday brunch or even a weeknight dessert. Allowing for this dish to chill overnight gives it a much appreciated lazy and low-maintenance factor.

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Mixed Berry French Toast Casserole
INGREDIENTS:
1 1lb. (16oz.) day-old loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (discard ends)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) Bruegger’s Whipped Blueberry Greek Cream Cheese*, softened
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries and blueberries), divided
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup clover honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

DIRECTIONS:

    1. To make the streusel topping: in a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cubed butter with two forks. Set aside in the fridge.
    2. Prepare a 2.5-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
    3. Place half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan.
    4. Drop spoonfuls of the softened cream cheese over the bread and top with half of the mixed berries.
    5. Layer with the remaining bread cubes.
    6. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, honey, and vanilla.
    7. Pour evenly over bread cubes, pressing down on the bread cubes to ensure they absorb the liquid mixture.
    8. Top evenly with remaining berries. Sprinkle the streusel topping over top.
    9. Cover pan with foil. Allow to chill in refrigerator for an hour or overnight.
    10. When ready to bake, remove French toast from fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until bubbling, golden and fluffy.
    11. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with syrup and additional toppings (berries, whipped cream, honey) if desired.

*Cream cheese flavor available only for a limited time.

 

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

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Big announcement: we are moving! As part of our farewell tour, Kevin’s parents hosted a going away brunch party for us. We thought it would be fun to contribute a DIY bagel bar into the party with a variety of bagels, spreads and toppings. This ended up being a simple yet creative way to serve brunch and hit everyone’s unique taste buds.

DIY Bagel Bar
What you need —
A variety of Bruegger’s Bagels:

  • Muenster Cheese
  • Onion
  • Sesame
  • Jalapeno Cheddar
  • Plain
  • Rosemary Olive Oil
  • Everything
  • Sun-dried Tomato

A variety of Bruegger’s Bagels Spreads:

  • Garden Veggie
  • Whipped Plain
  • Onion with Chive
  • Herb Garlic
  • Jalapeno
  • Plain

Toppings:

  • Smoked Salmon
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Capers
  • Red Onions
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Chives

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Hosting a bagel bar allows for 100% creativity. Feel free to have fun with the flavors! We decided to keep everything savory, but you could also incorporate sweeter flavors with bagels such as cinnamon raisin, cinnamon sugar, etc. with plain or strawberry cream cheese, light honey drizzle and fresh berry toppings.

We incorporated this bagel bar into a larger brunch spread including frittatas, fruit salad and mimosas. It ended up being an easy but great addition to the brunch party!

Bruegger’s Bagels Catering can be ordered online or by calling 1.855.776.0660. See the full menu here!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

If you’re looking for a different spin on traditional egg salad, then this is your recipe. The unique flavor of Bruegger’s Bagels Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese upgrades this egg salad, and the diced cucumber plays off this flavor infusion while adding some crunch. Make this as a dip for some veggies or bagel crisps (see recipe below) — but do it quickly because the Bruegger’s Bagel Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese is only available for a limited time!

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Cucumber Cool Egg Salad
INGREDIENTS:
6 eggs, hard boiled
4 oz Bruegger’s Cucumber Dill cream cheese*, room temperature
2 Tbsp. mayo
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. cucumber, peeled and minced
1 tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For hard boiled eggs: Place eggs in a medium saucepan. Cover with 1 1/2” of water. Bring to boil, then immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool.
  2. Once the eggs cooled, peel them and chop them roughly.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cucumber dill cream cheese, mayo, sugar, and lemon juice.
  4. Add the chopped eggs and minced cucumber, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cover and chill for 1 hour or longer.

*Cream cheese flavor available only for a limited time.

Homemade Bruegger’s Bagel crisps
INGREDIENTS:
2 Bruegger’s Bagels
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut bagels into quarters, and then slice into ¼”-1/2” pieces.
  3. Toss bagel slices with olive oil.
  4. Spread out bagel pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on how thin and freshly baked your slices/bagels are).
  7. Let cool and place into re-sealable container.

 

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

When Jen asked me to make her a birthday cake, I began scouring the internet for recipes. Although her favorites include coconut and salted caramel, I didn’t want to end up making a repeat of Lauren’s Coconut Rum Layer Cake. So when I came across this London Fog Cake, knowing that one of her favorite warm drinks is London Fog, I knew I hit the nail on the head. Separately, I also used this decor inspo from Pinterest. Semi-homemade makes this cake easy to execute and unique.

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London Fog Cake
Adapted from The Cake Blog 
INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 boxes Dark Chocolate cake mix
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
Topping
Early Grey Buttercream (below)
Store bough salted-caramel sauce
Decorations:

DIRECTIONS:

Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Make cake according to the directions.
  3. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased and lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  5. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  6. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  7. Level with cake leveler and discard one layer (or reserve, but you do not need it. I always bake 4 layers and pick the best 3).

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Earl Grey Buttercream
INGREDIENTS:

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup loose Earl Grey tea
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) egg whites
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until is reached the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
  2. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers about 155-160 degrees on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
  3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea-infused butter, and 1 cup butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and bet until the buttercream is silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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For the Assembly
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on about ½ to ¾ cup of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
  2. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate until set, about 15 to 20 minutes or overnight.
  3. Pour caramel sauce over the chilled cake, starting with about a ½ cup, letting it drip over the edges. Add more caramel as necessary.

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For Lauren’s Sweet 16, I was inspired by the coconut cake served at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge (her favorite). The inspo: Coconut Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce, Sugared Macadamia Nuts, Cream Cheese Frosting.

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I used the cake recipe from Beth Cakes Triple Coconut Rum Cake paired with the Homemade Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting from Living Well Spending Less. The whole cake turned out super dense, and I kid you not, probably weighed around 20lbs because I didn’t end up leveling the layers.  The flavor made it taste like a humongous coconut macaroon.

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For decor, I used a big rhinestoned “16” Jen purchased from Amazon and a variety of pink roses. Fresh flowers have been my favorite decor lately. They dress up a cake without requiring a steady or artistic hand for some ingenious floral frosting.

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For Noelle’s “Stay Wild Moon Child” themed 30th birthday, I promised her an out-of-this world cake. When I realized I committed to making a fondant covered, sponge painted creation (both of which I have no experience with) I found myself searching for a solution. “Galaxy” donuts have been a thing lately, so I decided to use donut glace icing for the cake frosting. With a little bit of pixie dust, this cake turned out sparkling and better than I could have imagined!

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Galaxy Cake
INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 boxes Devil’s Food cake mix
2-1/2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
Star sprinkles
Black food coloring
Topping
2 containers of store-bought buttercream frosting

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DIRECTIONS:
Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Make cake according to the directions.
  3. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased.  Sprinkle with star sprinkles.
  4. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  5. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  6. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  7. Level with cake leveler and discard one layer (or reserve, but you do not need it. I always bake 4 layers and pick the best 3).

Topping

  1. When ready to serve, spread frosting between each layer. Top with glacé icing (below).

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Glacé Icing
From Whisk and Wander
INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, no need to sift
1/4-3/4 cup water, room temp
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Blue, red and black food coloring
Silver pixie dust (optional)
DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add confectioners’ sugar.
  2. With mixer on low speed slowly add water to sugar a little at a time until icing is spreadable but not too thin.
  3. Mix until all sugar is dissolved and icing looks smooth. About 4 minutes. Scraping sides as necessary.
  4. Slowly add food coloring and swirl with fork.  I started with a couple drops of blue, a few red (to create purple) and a tiny hint of black.  Swirly gently to create the galaxy effect.
  5. When desired color has been achieved, pour slowly pour over cake to ensure maximum coverage.
  6. Spread around sides to completely cover cake. Top with silver pixie dust for additional shimmer

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For Deb’s birthday, she dreamed of a rainbow layer cake. So I came up with this cake and then transported it all the way down to Mexico.  My process of baking it earlier in the week (to avoid any stress – cakes take a lot of time!), cooling, freezing and thawing the cake lent itself to the most dense, moist and delicious cake ever.

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4-Layer Rainbow Coconut Cake
Coconut cake adapted from Homemade Interest

INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 box White cake mix
16 oz sour cream
1/2 c Vegetable oil
6 eggs
2 cups coconut cream (I used the cream on top of full fat canned coconut milk. ~2 cans)
Food coloring
Topping
2 containers of store-bought cream cheese frosting
Sweetened shredded coconut
Cake topper from Amazon

DIRECTIONS:
Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix cake mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, and cream of coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Separate batter evenly into 4 different bowls. Add desired food coloring to each respective bowl.
  4. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased.
  5. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  6. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  7. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  8. Freeze overnight. Remove from freezer and let thaw in refrigerator.

Toppings

  1. When ready to serve, spread cream cheese frosting between each layer and around exterior of cake.
  2. Completely top with sweetened coconut flakes.

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I am constantly bored with lunches. I easily get over salads. And I leave sandwiches for when I’m feeling really uncreative. In my meal planning these days (which basically means making my lunch), I’ve been looking to Naturally Ella for recipes. The picture for this recipe enticed me enough to give it a shot! I am not a fan of garlic or onions (both hurt my stomach for some reason), so I omitted them. Check the original recipe if you’d rather add both.

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Ginger Brown Rice with Carrots
From Naturally Ella
1 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
2 hardboiled eggs, for serving
DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium low heat. Add in ginger, and cook until it becomes fragrant (roughly 2 minutes). Stir in shredded carrots and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and sesame seeds. Pour over carrot mixture and cook until heated through.
  3. Finally, stir in rice and cook for 3-4 minutes or until rice is warm.
  4. Serve with toasted coconut.

 

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For London’s birthday party she asked me to bake her a cake.  After making this gluten-free coconut blue ombre layer cake, I feel pretty well-equipped for cake baking so I was all in.

Inspiration for the aesthetics originally came from this succulent cake post.  Then another request for “Drake on Cake,” so I decided to combine the two.  I was left to come up with the flavor myself, so after diving through the Internet, I decided to take a spin on a champagne cake — sparkling rosé cake with sparkling rosé buttercream.  And what better Drake quote than “24 Hour Champagne Diet” to adorn this cake?

The layers didn’t come out perfectly level, and at first glance it wasn’t my fondest cake, but with the final touches of the succulents and the actual taste of the cake, I was definitely satisfied (and so was everyone else! :)).

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Sparkling Rosé Cake
INGREDIENTS:
2 packages white cake mix (I used Pillsbury)
2 cups sparkling rosé (I used Korbel)
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour four 8×1-1/2-inch round cake pans; set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, except replace the water with an equal amount of champagne. Pour batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly.
  3. Bake according to package directions. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on racks.

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Sparkling Rosé Buttercream
Adapted from Broma Bakery
INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups champagne (eventually 4 tablespoons reduced)
3/4 cups salted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup raspberry jam
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Simmer 1½ cups of champagne in a small saucepan over low heat until it reduces.  Stir the pan every few minutes to prevent burning. You want to end up with around 4 tablespoons of rosé.
  2. To make the frosting, whip butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in 4 tablespoons reduced rosé and powdered sugar, whipping for another 2 minutes.
  3. To to assemble the cake, place first layer of cake on cake stand, then spread a layer of the frosting, keeping it the thickest on the edges.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of raspberry jam in the center and spread in a circular fashion outwards.
  5. Repeat with second and third layer.
  6. For fourth layer, frost top of cake normally, then frost outside with remaining frosting. Use a cake spatula to scrape frosting from sides to create a sort of “naked” look.

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Happy Bday London!

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This past weekend I went to the Leucadia Farmers’ Market and actually did some of my weekly grocery shopping there (rather than only buying a poke bowl for breakfast/lunch to eat on the spot).  My body was craving fresh greens and produce so I stocked up on Morning Star Ranch (aka “Yellow Deli”) green juice, energizing green bar, butter leaf and summer crisp lettuce, strawberries and fresh pesto.  I also stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a few extra ingredients to create a lunch: crimini mushrooms, kumato tomatoes, yellow squash, and avocado.

Overnight Oat Parfaits are still going strong this week.  I’m completely satiated afterwards and I like that the overnight oats, for me, take the place of granola.

Here’s this week’s menu:
BreakfastOvernight Oat Parfait
Lunch – Pesto Salad Bowl
Snack – Watermelon
Snack 2 – Green Juice + 1 tsp. Spirulina
Dinner – TBD

And the only new recipe for the week…

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Pesto Salad Bowl
INGREDIENTS:
3/4 farro, cooked
1 cup summer crisp lettuce
1/4 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small kumato, diced
1/2 avocado, cubed
1 pinch walnuts
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp. pesto, drizzled
Salt & pepper, to taste
Protein (I used 1/2 baked lemon herb chicken breast)
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Assemble the bowl with the ingredients listed above.

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