Spring is in the air and I love seeing all the beautiful flowers in bloom. I also love the promise of more outdoor activities and gatherings with friends.
If you’re anything like me, you are hosting one type of shower or another any given weekend. I love hosting, but sometimes ideas run dry for cute yet delicious items.
Here I’ve come up with a few different recipes whether you host brunch or a full-on dinner. Hope you enjoy them and have an amazing spring where you get the most out of this amazing weather.
Mini Brunch Tarts
These are the cutest little individual brunch items. You can personalize them to everyone’s liking, and you can do it with all eggs, all fruit or a combination of the two. They look adorable for presentation purposes and are pretty simple and flavorful to make.
- 1 package puff pastry (thawed)
- 6-12 eggs (depending on how many individual servings you’d like to make)
- 1-2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
- 6-7 sprigs fresh thyme
- cut chives for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: 1 cup crumbled bacon
- optional: 1/4 cup spicy mustard
- 1-2 cups of berries
- 1 cup lemon curd
- 1/2 block cream cheese (softened)
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 and line one to two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry and use a large round cookie cutter or a large glass to cut out however many pies you’d like to make. (I like to trace about a half inch outside the border and then cut in order to give room to pinch edges up.)
- Place your dough discs on the parchment paper and keep making folds around the edges in order to create a mini barrier.
- Use a fork to pierce the center of the dough. For the egg pies: brush bottoms with spicy mustard if using, then bake for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle shredded cheese in center, then gently crack an egg in the center, making sure you have a tall enough barrier so the eggs don’t slide out.
- Top with herbs and seasonings.
- Bake for another 5-10 minutes until the eggs are done and the puff pastry is cooked through.
- For the fruit cups: follow the same steps to cut out the dough but mix the cream cheese and sugar and set aside.
- Assemble as follows: dough, a tablespoon or two of lemon curd, top with berries, then dollops of cream cheese mixture on top of berries and then bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Delicious Carrot Cake
If there is one cake synonymous with spring, it’s carrot cake. This one has a ton of ingredients, but it is a cake from scratch, after all. Once in a while, we should all attempt to make one from scratch, and this one is certainly worth it. Decorate this in an easy cream cheese frosting or leave it simply in its natural beauty with just frosting between the layers.
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan or two 9 inch round pans.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, both sugars and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in carrots and coconut. Fold in nuts. Pour into pan(s).
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes (30-40 for two pans), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.
Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
Whether you’re hosting a brunch or a dinner party, this side goes perfectly with either gathering. I love it because it has such bold yet spring-y flavors. I love the saltiness of the cheese balanced out with the lemon zest. Give this one a try with whatever you decide as the main course.
- 1 pound of fresh green beans (trimmed)
- 1 stick butter (softened)
- 2-3 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh grated parmesan (plus more for garnish)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine all your ingredients (except parsley) and spread onto a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes, making sure to stir a couple of times.
- Remove from oven and transfer to your platter of choice. Garnish with fresh parsley and some more fresh parmesan.
From Z to A with Zara Abbasi
Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit.