Champagne, Taboo and Movies….

….that’s how I spent my Easter and it was a blast.

The same crowd from Slothsgiving reconvened with a few more friends (old and new) to make Easter Brunch 2013 a complete success!

My dear friends Keri and Chris hosted a fabulous brunch for the lot of us. Early in the week they put out the call for a Champagne Potluck Brunch: bring a brunch item and a bottle of bubbly to share. Done and done.

Our hostess made two different DELICIOUS Egg Strata, one studded with bacon and sausage (drool), one loaded with spring vegetables (delightful) along with a deliciously savory smoked salmon dip. Friends brought a luscious platter of breakfast meats, a pasta casserole, a potato/egg fritatta, yogurt and fruit, deviled eggs and all manner of delectable sweets.
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photo (3) photo

My contributions to the festivities:
Bourbon Ice Cream Pie
Frosted Coconut Shortbread Bars
Butternut Squash, Fennel, Arugula Salad with Shallot Apricot Viniagrette

A Bourbon Ice Cream Pie? I know, I know, there’s something about hanging out with this crowd that brings out my inner country girl (same crowd for whom I made a cheeseball).

This pie was a creamy, boozy delight and a fun addition to the cakes and cookies brought. Also, it could NOT have been easier.

IMG_5640What you’ll need: Bourbon, Cool Whip, Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce and a Graham Cracker Pie Crust, and a handful of chopped dark chocolate (unpictured, duh).

You can be all classy and make your own pie crust and caramel sauce; but I went the store-bought route. Also, the Cool Whip is meant to aerate the pie a bit; so real whipped cream would not have the same effect. Trust me on this one, you want cool whip. Finally, I had a sad 1/2 gallon of vanilla staring me in the face, but you could use chocolate, caramel or coffee ice cream if you’d rather. Chocolate Bourbon Pie? Heck yeah.IMG_5642

In a large bowl, mix the ice cream and cool whip together (both should be softened slightly). Pour in about a half-cup of bourbon (less if you want it more subtle. We like our bourbon not subtle).

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Beat well with a wooden spoon, until smooth but not melted. Add a healthy dose of caramel sauce here. You could also add a pinch of nutmeg or splash of vanilla extract if you want. IMG_5644
The mix should have a thick custardy appearance by now.
IMG_5645Stir in a handful of chopped up dark chocolate (or chocolate chips if you want). Or you could throw in a handful of pecans or coconut. This is about making this ice cream your own. Its your blank boozy canvas.

Pour the mix into a pre-baked graham cracker pie crust and let set up in the freezer overnight. Right before serving, slather on more cool whip and a healthy drizzle of caramel sauce.

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Because of the cool whip and booze; this will soften almost immediately; so you can plate and serve right away!

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Pretty messy and pretty delicious.

Next up; I made Eat Live Run’s Toasted Coconut Cookie Bars .
IMG_5649I lurve coconut and these bars sounded amazing….and they were. Super rich, dense and buttery with a luscious icing and crunchy coconut. These were a huge hit with coconut fans and non-coconut fans alike. One friend even said “These may be better than the Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake” which in our world is the pinnacle of coconut deliciousness. Get over to ELR’s site and make these…NOW.

It wasn’t all bourbon and coconut, I also made a big, crazy Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Shallot Apricot dressing. I had been staring at this butternut squash in my fridge for a week and I knew I wanted to make something salad-y with it. I roasted the squash and then tossed it with fresh spring vegetables and a homemade dressing.
It worked!

IMG_5655First, I diced up a big butternut squash, sprinkled it with salt, pepper and chili powder and roasted it at 375 for about 20 minutes. We want this tender; but not mushy. Allow to cool (I prepped this on Saturday).

Next I sliced the following ingredients very thinly:
-8 radishes
-1 fennel bulb
-1 scallion
I threw all that with the squash over a bed of arugula, added a few tablespoons of sunflower seeds and finally, I crumbled a block of sharp feta over the top.
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Fresh, crunchy and slightly sweet/spicy from the squash.
A great accompaniment to all the buffet deliciousness!

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I made a quick dressing to along with the salad. I’m currently in a mad passionate affair with shallots and red wine vinegar so they are the base of this easy dressing. IMG_5641Red wine vinegar, Olive oil, Salt, Pepper, Apricot preserves, Shallot and some gahlic.

Mince up the garlic and the shallot, add to a jar or cruet, sprinkle in sea salt and black pepper. Add a dollop of apricot preserves to take the edge off the acid and give it a touch of sweetness without being too cloying (Raspberry Vinaigrette, I’m looking at you); Finally, add about 1/4-1/2c. olive oil to your preference. Shake it like a polaroid picture and you’re ready to go. This tastes better the next day after the flavors have set up; so make it ahead, please? IMG_5673

After champagne, plates of brunch food and gossip, we had a vicious game of Taboo (boys against girls). Sadly the boys pulled ahead of our 20 point lead for the win, I blame the excess champagne for the girls’ team downfall. After Taboo, there was more champagne, catch-up and finally (12 hours later) a pizza order and a viewing of “This is 40”.

IMG_5685It was a fantastic way to end a beautiful (and delicious) Easter.

And that ain’t no April Fools.


Recipes:
Bourbon Ice Cream Pie
1 pre-baked graham cracker crust
1/2 gallon vanilla (chocolate or coffee) ice cream, softened
1 8 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
1/2 c. good quality bourbon (I like Bulleit)
1/2 c. diced dark chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1/4c. caramel sauce
Topping:
4 oz cool whip
caramel sauce

In a large bowl, mix ice cream, cool whip and bourbon, blend until smooth but not melted, Stir in chocolate chips and caramel sauce. Pour into pre-baked graham cracker crust, it should fill to the very top of the crust. Cover and set up in freezer for 4 hours or overnight. Right before serving, slather on more whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Serve immediately as it will soften right away. Serves 8-10.

Toasted Coconut Cookie Bars
Followed Eat Live Run’s Recipe to a T. Needs no adjustment. Delicious!


Butternut Squash, Fennel, Arugula Salad
with Shallot Apricot Dressing

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1″ pieces
1 tbs chili powder
8 medium radishes, sliced thinly
1 fennel bulb, outer layer removed sliced thinly
1 scallion, diced, green and white parts
1/4 c. sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1 block (8oz) sharp feta, crumbled
10oz arugula, washed
Sea Salt, Black Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread diced butternut squash in a single layer, Spritz a bit more cooking spray over the vegetables. Sprinkle on chili powder, sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender (but not mushy). Allow squash to cool.

In a large bowl, toss together, cooled squash, sliced vegetables, sunflower seeds, crumbled feta and arugula. Mix well. In a separate cruet or jar, make dressing (recipe below). Dress salad prior to serving. Serves 12.

Shallot Apricot Viniagrette
2 garlic cloves, diced fine
1 shallot, peeled and diced fine
1 heaping tbs apricot preserves (I like Bonne Maman)
1/4c. red wine vinegar
Sea Salt, Black pepper
1/4c.-1/2c. Olive oil (I like Bertollio’s Extra Light)

In a cruet or jar, combine the first four ingredients, add a hearty sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. Slowly stream in olive oil, starting with just 1/4c. and working up to 1/2c. depending on your desired amount of oil. Allow to marinate for about an hour prior to serving, shake well. Serves 12.

For a more “Fall” take on a Butternut Squash salad (ahem BACON); try my Roasted Apple and Bacon Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing

 

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