Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas morning breakfast menu

For as long as I can remember we've had the same thing on Christmas morning.  It's funny, we all love this breakfast, but for some reason we only make it once a year.

What I love about it is that both dishes are made the night before so that the morning you (or in my case, my Dad) gets up first and pops them in the oven.  I'm usually sitting by the tree going through my stocking when this happens - yes, I still get a stocking :)

Spinach strada
 - 6 croissants, cut in half lengthwise (you may not use all of them depending on the size
 - 6 eggs, room temperature
 - 1 1/2 cups milk, whole or skim (I wouldn't use nonfat) 
 - 1/2 tsp salt
 - 1/4 tsp pepper
 - 1/4 tsp nutmeg
 - 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
 - 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded monterey jack cheese (optional - pepper jack cheese for a bit of a kick)
 - 7 oz crumbled feta cheese
 - optional - mushrooms, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped

Place croissants crust side down in lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle spinach out evenly over croissants (if using mushrooms, add at this time).  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Pour egg mixture over spinach and croissants.  Press croissants down so that liquid can soak into them a bit. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over strada. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take strada out of the fridge and let come to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.  Uncover and bake 40-45 minutes.  If cheese gets too dark too quickly, cover with foil while baking.  Serve warm.  This is even better the next day or for brunch with a big green salad.

Bubble bread
(also known as monkey bread)
 - 1 package frozen white dinner rolls, thawed
 - 1 box (4 oz) butterscotch pudding (not instant)
 - 1/4 cup white sugar
 - 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
 - 2 tsp cinnamon
 - 1 cube butter, melted
 - optional - chopped pecans

Cut dinner rolls into 2-3 pieces each.  Mix pudding, sugars, cinnamon and nuts. Sprinkle a bit of the sugar mixture on the bottom of a lightly greased bundt pan.  Dip each piece of dough in melted butter and roll in sugar mixture.  Place dough in pan.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar and pour remaining butter over rolls. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove bubble bread from fridge 30 minutes before baking.  Leave covered and in a warm place to allow the rolls to rise. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover and bake 35-45 minutes. Cover with foil if top browns to quickly.  Let stand in pan for about 10 minutes.  Place plate upside down on bundt pan and flip over.  Tap bundt pan if bread doesn't fall immediately. Serve warm and with lots of napkins.

Hope your Christmas morning is filled with family, friends and yummy, delicious food!


Thursday, November 7, 2013


I love that there's a time dedicated each year to focus on being thankful.

I started this list over a year ago and although (technically) I didn't meet my goal of 1,000 things, I more than met my goal of noticing and being grateful for life's everyday gifts that sometimes we are too busy / too tired / too stressed to notice.

Since starting that challenge, daily something jumps out at me that I am thankful for - whether it's a phone call from a friend to keep me company on my commute home or the gorgeous pink sky at dusk (I'm a sucker for a pink sky).

Of course, those things happened before, I just didn't always take notice of truly what a gift they were.

I am constantly reminded that gratitude mostly definitely changes everything.

So for this month I'm hoping to write a weekly list here to help me focus on being thankful for life's big and small gifts that I'm sure I take for granted all too often.

Here is my short and very incomplete list for today:

I am grateful for:
the wonderful man I just married 
(almost 6 weeks as newlyweds)
having so many friends and family that live nearby
working for a company I love
living near the ocean
a morning cup of hot coffee
leg warmers
sweater weather

What are you grateful for?


Friday, November 1, 2013

chocolate pumpkin bread {recipe}

I was looking for two things when I decided to make pumpkin bread:

 1 - I wanted to use one whole can of pumpkin purée 
Seriously, what do people do with the leftovers in the can from most recipes?

 2 - I wanted something that both the adults and kids would like at last weekends sleepover

This totally delivered on both.

Chocolate pumpkin bread
yield: 2 loaves + 12 mini muffins


 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 - 1 tbs cinnamon
 - 1 tbs nutmeg
 - 2 tsp baking soda
 - 1 1/2 tsp salt
 - 3 cups sugar
 - 1 (15oz) can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
 - 1 cup canola oil
 - 2/3 cup water
 - 1 tbs vanilla paste
 - 4 large eggs
 - 1 cup chocolate pieces (I used 72% dark because then I can pretend it's healthy)

Muffin topping - I stole this from Amanda and now keep a cinnamon sugar mixture in my baking supplies to add to all my muffins
 - 1 tsp cinnamon
 - 1 tbs raw sugar
 - chocolate pieces, chopped


Preheat over to 350 degrees F.  Spray pans with cooking spray.

Chop chocolate chips and set aside.  I like to chop them so that there are some really fine pieces and some big chucks.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.  In separate bowl or stand-mixer, combine all of the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time.  Mix just until combined.  Gently fold in chocolate pieces.

Pour batter into muffin tins; I fill them almost to the top.  Evenly distribute the rest of the batter between 2 loaf pans.

Bake loaves for 55-60 minutes and mini muffins for approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I went to a sleepover party last weekend.
I forgot how little sleep you actually get at a sleepover, especially with six little girl ranging from four to seven years old.

But it was still so much fun.

The party included a trip to a friends' farm, hot tubbing, makeovers, mani's & pedi's, pizza and cupcakes and a movie.  It was exhausting!

I think all of us "adults" (I use this term very loosely to describe me and my friends)
thought we would do the girls makeovers and paint their nails.

But they took it upon themselves to put it on each other.
And it was so sweet to watch them together.

A little heartbreaking too. They just looked so grown-up!

I think we all got a little glimpse into the future.
It definitely looks pretty! :)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

blueberry scones {recipe}

These aren't those rock-hard, dense scones that seem to be readily available here in America.  These are flakey and delicious and biscuit-like, similar to the scones I fell in love with in London.  I didn't think I even liked scones until I moved to London.

They were delicious and looked oh so pretty on our new wedding gift.

Blueberry scones
makes 12 large scones
slightly adapted from Tartine 


 - 4 3/4 cups flour + more for work surface
 - 1 tbsp baking powder
 - 3/4 tsp baking soda
 - 1/2 cup granulated sugar
 - 1 1/4 tsp salt
 - 1 cup and 1 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
 - 1 cup buttermilk
 - 1 cup milk
 - 1 tsp lemon zest
 - 1 to 1 1/2 cups blueberries (depending on how berry-ful you like your scones - I like a lot)


 - 3 tbsp butter, melted (if you don't want to add more butter, you can use skim milk instead)
 - raw sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl.  Mix in sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender (or a fork) cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  You want to end up with pea-sized pieces of butter throughout the mixture.

Add buttermilk, milk, lemon zest and blueberries all at once and gently mix together until dough forms.  If dough appears too dry, add a bit more milk.

Dust work surface with plenty of flour.  Pat dough into a rectangle approximately 18 inches long, 5 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Cut into 12 large triangles and place on baking sheet.  It's okay if they're a bit close together, you can easily cut them apart if they bake together in the oven.

Bake until the tops are lightly golden brown, approximately 25-35 min.  Serve immediately.  If you want more scones, cut them into smaller triangles and remember to bake them for a bit less time.

Delicious served with honey butter {1 cube butter combined with 2 tbsp honey}.

These were so yummy, I made them again the next weekend with strawberries.



Monday, October 21, 2013

prosciutto wrapped figs with goat cheese {recipe}

A few weekends ago, all the stars aligned, and {almost} all my cousins and my brother were in town from all parts of the country, at the same time.

We had an impromptu get together at my aunts house and I offered to bring an appetizer.
I come from a family of bakers and cooks and caterers. Foodies. So it had to be delicious.

For example, for this impromptu casual sunday lunch, we had the following desserts:
From left to right: Cousin Brian's brownies - super labor intensive but totally worth it - partly because I've never had to make them myself | Lemon layer cake made by my aunt using Miette's recipe | Homemade twinkies

{last minute dessert thrown together for our casual Sunday lunch}

Inspired by pins {here} and {here}, I picked up figs, prosciutto, and goat cheese on the way to my aunts house. I am a big fan of recipes with a short ingredient list and using things fresh and in season. 

Prosciutto wrapped figs with goat cheese


 - 1 basket of black mission figs, halved
 - 1/2 log of goat cheese {I used Laura Chenel}
 - 1-4oz package of thinly sliced prosciutto {from Trader Joe's}
 - optional: honey for drizzling


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Scoop a small spoonful of goat cheese on the inside of each halved fig. Wrap each fig half with a small piece of prosciutto and place cheese side up on a cookie sheet. Each slice of prosciutto wrapped about 3-4 fig halves for me.  Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes. They are done when the prosciutto gets a bit crispy, but before figs start to lose liquid. Serve immediately.  

If your figs aren't super sweet, you can drizzle with honey before serving. I didn't add honey mainly because they disappeared so quickly once I pulled them out of the oven and they were so good they really didn't need the added sweetness.  Notice the few missing figs in the photo above. I couldn't grab my camera fast enough!  

You could also make these ahead of time if your party isn't as casual as mine and you don't want to be working in someone else's kitchen as soon as you arrive. :) Assemble figs beforehand and refrigerate until needed.  Let figs come to room temperature before baking. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

honeymooning in bora bora - activities

Before we left on our honeymoon, my father-in-law asked us, "So what are you guys planning to do in Bora Bora, like are there things to see, places to go...?"

Our answer: Absolutely nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are vanilla fields to see and pearl mining excursions.  That just wasn't in our plan. Swimming with sharks and manta rays - no way!

We didn't want the sort of vacation where you're up and out of the hotel by a certain time to take in as much as you can.  We didn't have to be anywhere by a specific time, except breakfast before 10.30 am (we weren't about to miss that!).  We never once set an alarm and instead just let the sun in the morning wake us up.

That said, we were surprised by how much stuff there was to do; if we ever got bored lounging by the pool and beach {not often}.

The hotel had tons of community bikes you could grab anytime for easy transportation around the resort.

{biking by day}

{and by night - that's a glass of champagne in his hand from dinner}

{hanging with the fish}
{a little perspective - check out the sea urchin in both photos - that's a seriously big fish!}

{we did a bit of people watching}

My aunt lent us her underwater camera, that was so much fun.

{I count a photo shoot in the pool as an activity.}

{paddle boarding - don't let anyone fool you, this is so much easier than it looks}


Probably the most fun we had on the trip was the jet-skiing tour around the island.

We stopped off half-way through to switch drivers (I declined), eating fresh coconut and to swim for a bit.

{this me enjoying the coconut and the view}

Does eating count as an activity?  More on that later.

See more of Bora Bora here.


Monday, October 14, 2013

honeymooning in bora bora

"Holy sh*t!, this place looks like a sceensaver," said Jon Favreau's character in Couples Retreat. And I cannot think of a better description.  It was like something out of a dream

Sometimes when traveling, the photos you see online of destinations tend to be a bit better than the reality {thank you, photoshop}.  But not here.  Bora Bora was so much more beautiful in person than the photos we saw online.  It was quite literally paradise.

We took three planes and a boat to get to the resort.  Door to door it was about 18 hours of travel and completely worth it.

{the view from our bed}

Honestly, I had no idea these shades of blue existed naturally, without paint or the touch of digital enhancement.

{morning coffee}

{yep, that's a shark}

{this photo is straight out of my canon rebel- isn't that color amazing?!}


Monday, September 30, 2013

Our St. Helena weekend wedding

We did it!  We're married!  
It's such a cliché, but the day really flew by so fast.  
I'm trying my best to hold on to and remember every detail.

My friend, and our fabulous photographer, left our wedding and immediately sent us a photo from the day.  Seriously, how awesome is that?

What a perfect moment she was able to capture.  I am beyond grateful.

And beyond grateful to that man in the photo above, for marrying me.
I truly don't know how I got so lucky.

Why am I online 2 days after our wedding  Well, due to some commitments at work, I wasn't able to take a ton of time off.  But there was just enough time to get married and have a fabulous week-long honeymoon in Bora Bora, and for that I am grateful.

We leave tomorrow night. 
See you in a week!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

wishing your life away

I've had so many things to look forward to these past few weeks: my bridal shower, friends weddings, our wedding in two days, our honeymoon...and many things unrelated to weddings too.

I find myself saying, "I can't wait 'til it's the weekend." Or "I can't wait 'til our honeymoon." 
Like, I just wish it would get here faster.

Whenever a phase like that goes through my head, I hear my mom say, 
"Don't wish your life away, Lauren." 

I don't think I really understood what that meant when she first started saying that to me.
But I do now.  

Today is my first day off work for our wedding this weekend.  My mom and I are having mani / pedi's together, picking out the flowers for the bouquets, and making candy as thank you gifts for the vendors that we're working with on Saturday. And that is all I'm going to think about.

Today, I am wishing that it is today.


image via

Monday, September 23, 2013


{image via | words via Jim Bishop}

It's officially fall.

I've always loved this season.  

I loved the start of the new school year - shopping for school supplies and new school clothes. 

Fall was one of my favorite seasons in Paris too. The tree-lined streets were gorgeous.  

And Northern California doesn't disappoint.  I love the colors of the vineyards during this season.  Plus I'm a sweater weather kinda girl.  And this is the month where San Francisco really shines.

But now, even more so, this season, September to be exact, may be my new favorite going forward.  
I marry this guy in five days.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

tahoe weekend wedding

We drove up to Lake Tahoe this weekend to watch some amazing people become an even more amazing couple.

It was a gorgeous wedding overlooking the beach with a gorgeous mountain backdrop.  Even more gorgeous was how the groom couldn't stop staring at his bride.

This is the one photo I took at the wedding.  I read this a while ago and decided to put my phone away, let the professional photographers document the occasion and just enjoy myself and celebrate.  Congrats E&H!

The morning of the wedding Dan and I walked around the lake.  

I love Tahoe.  It reminds me that I live in such a fantastic place: California. 

Beaches, ocean, mountains, cities, country, vineyards, snow, sun, we've got it all.

Dan skipped rocks.  

I can't.  It's like whistling {another skill I don't possess} the harder I try the worse it looks.

P.S. Did I mention I'm marrying this guy in less than 3 weeks :)

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