Derby Hats, Dark Books, and Easter Desserts (Or Things that Make Me Smile)

Here are some things that make me smile:

#1 I got my dog’s biopsy results back, and his cancer didn’t spread to his lymph nodes. Sure, the tumors were level 2, which means they COULD return, but they didn’t spread, so there’s that. We are consulting with a veterinary oncologist, but it’s mostly good news for now.

#2 I’m going to Vegas for the Kentucky Derby with two of my besties from college. We’ve been scheming about hats in a group text all morning.

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This little nugget from Nordstrom is my front runner.

Part of me is tempted to have a flower crown made for the Derby, like this fabulous one I’m wearing here:

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I don’t actually know who this guy is.

He just liked my cakeandpunch crown, so we posed for a pic at Malibu Wines. (I think ranunculus are everything. Apparently he agreed.)

#3 In addition to conspiring about hats, we’ve been discussing poolside reading. Kelley and I shared book suggestions all morning and have basically started our own long distance, two-person book club. Most of my friends would recommend me for a padded room if I told them to read these books, so I’m grateful for a kindred spirit in the land of the macabre. (Pretty Girls, The Missing, The Murder Room, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things are our first orders of business for discussion.)

#4 It’s almost time for Easter at 816, an annual tradition that brings the best people on the planet together for food, wine, and fun at our favorite Santa Monica beach house.

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Here are a few of my beautiful bunnies from last year’s festivities.

I’m trying to decide if I want to make the same fennel scalloped potatoes I made last year or if I want to branch out.

This gorgeous geode cake from Buttercream Bakeshop in DC gives me ideas.

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Couldn’t you just DIE from the pretty?

I think I’d put ice cream in the inside instead of cake if I made it. I’ve been scouring this link for ice cream inspiration.

Cake bores me as much as a bad book.

True story.

Taste Testers and My Easterelle App (Or Mint, Leek, and Pea Puree in Parmesan Crisp Cups)

OK, one more Easterelle post and then I’ll get back to the Taco Bell fiesta discussion.

In addition to the inside out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes I told you about yesterday, I also made two appetizers for our Easter beach soiree because I’m an over-achiever like that.

I did end up making the melon with mint and prosciutto app (recipe here) because it’s easy and it involves pig. (You absolutely can’t do Easter without pig. I mean, that’s the whole point of Jesus coming to earth. He died so I can eat bacon. Duh!)

OK, maybe not really, but ANYWAY.

I also made a mint, leek, and pea puree and put it in parmesan crisp cups because it just sounded good and Easter-y to me. (I also liked that both apps involved mint. I like overlapping ingredients for cost-saving and menu coherence purposes.)

I was still suffering from the lingering effects of my nuclear germ assault at the time, so I had to call in the reinforcements to test the recipe because I couldn’t taste ANYTHING.

Luckily, I had plans to watch the Michigan Spring Game with my friend Mike the day before, so I made him try the app to tell me if it was a mess. He’s a really good cook, and he’s honest with me when I screw things up in the kitchen, which I appreciate. You can’t have a taste tester who is too “nice” to tell you when there’s too much mayo in the deviled eggs and whatnot because it’s just not nice to serve things that suck. I do NOT need a bunch of sycophants patting me on the head and telling me I’m marvelous when my food actually isn’t amazing. (What is the point of THAT?!?)

So anyway, the app passed the Mike test, and then it totally passed the test at Easterelle Day too.  People DEVOURED it at the picnic.

Along with all of our other great food.

Along with all of our other great food.

My crew knows how to rock a beach picnic. For real.

And here’s a close up of the pea puree situation in case you’re wondering what pea puree looks like.

Boom!

Leek and pea puree in parmesan cups.

SO parmy and cute, right?

I’m planning a few picnics for May and June, and I think I may make these again.

I’m totally looking forward to being able to taste them next time too!

Here’s how I made them just in case you wanna…

Leek and Pea Puree with Mint
Serves 12

2 T Olive Oil, divided
2 Leeks, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
1/4 C Water
1 C Frozen Peas
1/4 C Grated Parmesan
20 Mint Leaves, 12 reserved for garnish
Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Heat 1 T of olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium. Add leek and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add water and reduce heat to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more water by 1 T, if necessary, if the pan becomes dry and the leek isn’t soft yet. Cook until the water evaporates.

Meanwhile, blanch the peas in boiling water for 3 minutes, or until still bright green but softened. Strain the peas and add them to the leeks and stir.

Transfer peas and leeks to a food processor. Add remaining 1 T of olive oil and pulse until coarse. Add the parmesan and mint and pulse again. The mixture should remain a little chunky.

Parmesan Cups

3 C Freshly Grated Parmesan
Non Stick Olive Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 350. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray.

Put 1/4 C scoop-fulls of parmesan onto the parchment paper. Pat the piles down a little so the parm is evenly distributed. It will spread, so make sure you leave enough space between the piles. (You will need to do this in batches or use two baking sheets.)

Bake for 3-5 minutes or until bubbling. Remove baking sheet from oven. Allow discs to cool slightly before placing them into the muffin tin.

Assembly

Scoop the pea puree into the parmesan cups, garnish with mint leaves and fresh cracked pepper.

Devour.

And now I will leave you with this song I’m crushing on while writing. It’s “Pink Medicine” By Bearson. Consider it my gift to you today. It was my medicine while I was sick. I looooooove it.

OK, I’m off to make Paleo Porn’s Beef Brisket for my dinner party tonight.

Yee haw, brisket, ya’ll!

#texasforever

Easterelle Day (Or Easter + Elle’s Beach Birthday Celebration!)

I know Easter was so four days ago, but I’m finally ready to write about it. I’ve been in major screenplay mode all week, and I just didn’t have the time or energy to put together a post about my weekend until today.

So…

Here are a few shots.

I started my Easter celebration by attending the intimate, outdoor sunrise service at Bel Air Presbyterian.

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Fire pits are essential before the sun comes up ‘cuz it’s cold in SoCal when it’s dark….

And actually, it’s still cold after the sun comes up….

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Did I mention it was cold?

ANYWAY, After freezing my tukhus off at church, I came home and made an Easter basket for my cousin Maddie.

See?

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So much pink.

I even put a bow on it because everything is better with a bow on it.

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Everyone knows that.

Then I picked Maddie up, and we went to the beach for Easterelle Day. (Easterelle Day = Easter + Elle’s Actual Birthday. Just in case you were wondering.)

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The birthday girl is barely in the pic, but I promise she had fun.

And the food was epic.

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All of the boys thought so.

Actually, everyone thought so. (I’m going to take their word for it; I was still sick so I couldn’t really taste any of it.) We didn’t even get that much sand in any of it either, so that was awesome.

I’ll get to the cupcakes and the leek and pea puree in parm cups later. I need to get back to my script now.

But before I go… here’s one of my favorite songs at the moment. It’s the Mr. Fiji Wiji remix of Tiesto and Kyler England.

Just ‘cuz.

❤ XOXO ❤

 

Blame It On the Leprechauns (Or a Super Fun St. Paddy’s Day Idea for Kids)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and even though I’m not Irish, I’m ALL about any holiday that celebrates the sanctity of corned beef. But before I run off and stuff my face full of it…

My friend Kelley has a darling St. Patrick’s Day tradition for her kids that I absolutely have to tell you about.

Kelley and I met in the Pi Phi chapter room 17 years ago when we were supposed to be studying. We talked all night instead, and have basically never stopped.

I do not have words for how much I love her.

Here we are with a lobster's butt in Naperville.

Here we are with a lobster’s head on a platter.

(You may remember her from the Rosemary Meyer Lemonade with Vodka post if you were around in the old days of the blog.)

She lives in a fancy suburb outside of Chicago, and I don’t get to see her nearly enough.

ANYWAY, the thing she does for her kids:

She and her husband came up with it a few years ago, and it’s so great I want to steal it for my own kids some day.

The night before St. Patrick’s day, they stage a treasure hunt that looks a lot like a leprechaun invasion. When the kids wake up in the morning, she tells them that leprechauns vandalized the house while they were sleeping, and they have to follow the trail of mayhem looking for clues.

When she told me about it, I made her send me photos because I am bossy.

The first photo arrived with the following caption, “It’s 11:15 here and I am like a lunatic, literally teepeeing my own house. I am a suburban weirdo.”

Fun, right?

Fun, right?

She is NOT a suburban weirdo; she is an excellent mom who happens to be very creative.

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She also has a kitchen I would kill for.

I am so overdue for a weekend visit so we can cook something exquisite together. I digress…

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Here’s some more of the leprechauns’ handiwork.

The trail goes all throughout the house with the final clue in the bathroom.

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The green water is not the result of one of those 80s toilet tank thingies. The leprechauns did that too.

After taking in this year’s mayhem, her six year old son Blake told his sister Audrey, “Leprechauns should be covered by insurance.”

I am not making this up.

See why I love Kelley and her family?

I did not vandalize my own house because my dog seems to do that pretty well on his own, but I did accidentally end up at St. Patrick’s Day mass this afternoon. That is a very long story that belongs on my other blog.

Before I write that story, I’m off pay homage to the saint who sent the snakes away by stuffing my face with corned beef.

See ya!