Brunch Bites: Berry Ricotta Croissant French Toast

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Although I’ve been working pretty much non-stop since Monday and will more than likely be working through the weekend, as well- I did find some time this past Sunday to whip up a quick, easy, creative- and delicious- brunch recipe that I had been inspired by while browsing PUREWOW.

Ricotta in French Toast was something I’d never considered before- since i usually only put it in on my pizza or in my salads and lasagna- but I’m really glad I gave this a shot because it was so unbelievably sweet and tasty!

This recipe, which only takes about a half hour total to prep and assemble- is completely customizable, as well. You can use any type of berries and toppings you like- and it will taste incredible regardless!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 small croissants
  • Butter, for greasing
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling (this is optional!)
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh berries (your choice! I used strawberries this time around.)
  • Maple syrup, for serving

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a shallow, medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Dip the croissants into the egg mixture, allowing each side to sit for 1-2 minutes in the egg mixture.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat generously with butter. When the skillet is hot, cook the croissants in batches (do not overcrowd) until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the ricotta. Stir in 1 tablespoon honey for added sweetness.
  4. Carefully slice open the croissants length-wise, and using a small spoon- fill each croissant with portions of the cream/ricotta mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, mash half the berries. Stir in the remaining whole berries. 5. Serve the french toast topped with additional ricotta, berries, and maple syrup.

This was another huge hit for me and my friends- who cleaned their plates and came around looking for seconds! I know I’ll be making this again- but I intend to find some more ricotta-filled recipes moving forward since it’s a much more universal ingredient than I previously gave it credit for!

But the morning is underway and I’m off to answer e-mails, voicemails, and maybe sneak in a nap under my desk- but you didn’t read that and you certainly won’t tell anyone- right?

Have a great “Hump Day”, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Stay-Cations and Solo Debuts…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m writing this on Sunday night from Troy’s dining room table while I listen to The Cure and munch on a crab cake sandwich from a takeout order I had placed at Fitzwilly’s just down the street. I’ve been staying at his place in downtown Northampton these past few nights- some of which while he’s been away in San Diego for his job- as a bit of a “Stay-Cation” to get away from minor office/home stresses, be closer to the Pioneer Valley while I work on side projects and look at real estate in the area- and just be able to breathe in some fresh air and do a little sightseeing around town.

It’s back to work for me this morning, though- and I’ll be diving into work-mode as soon as I get into the office bright and early momentarily. The good news and the upside, however- is that my little venture/vacation in Northampton left me feeling a lot more refreshed! I desperately needed it after all the Spring cleaning I’ve been doing and all the big changes and opportunities I recently talked about.

This past Saturday saw my brief return to Boston, however- when I launched my Saturday afternoon radio show at Indie617! Although there were a couple of technical difficulties at the very beginning that left me rattled- I got the hang of it and loosened up- and had a really good time! The response has been really kind and positive, too- which is amazing. If you missed it, I’ll be back this coming Saturday from 12-4 PM! I play good tunes and share upcoming and super fun events in the area- so you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Prior to this weekend, however- I’ve got a pretty great breakfast recipe to share on Wednesday- followed by a recap of my favorite things from March on Friday! With Sunday being the last day of the month, my full summary of these past few weeks will be up whenever I roll out of bed for brunch- which means a shortened posting week next week- but it’ll be a good one nonetheless!

For now, I’ve got to get the jump on my work and caseload for the week- and indulge in some post-office burgers and fries with friends after I clock out for the day. I won’t be laying my head in the Pioneer Valley tonight for the first time in a long time- which is a shame- but I’m sure I’ll be heading back *real* soon! It’s so peaceful there!

Enjoy the start of your week, everyone! We’re all in this together and we can push through to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Blossoms and Bell Sleeves

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

While I prepare for the launch of my radio show this weekend and line up my planned posts for next week as we get ready to wrap up the month of March (how?!)– I haven’t forgotten to keep things bright, cheery and as “Spring-y” as possible with my current wardrobe and accessory choices- even when the temperatures have occasionally dipped back into the more frigid digits these past couple of days.

Earlier this week I looked to an old favorite top I had picked up years ago while vacationing in Southern California to give me some much-needed color when the sky and the world around me was looking particularly gray as Winter continues to keep it’s tight stranglehold on us here in New England.

I can’t remember exactly which store in San Diego I had purchased this breezy, bell-sleeved floral half-shirt- only that I was wearing it out for a date and paired it with skinny jeans and a tank top underneath it. I still wear it that way to this day- opting for a glittery and dusty rose colored tank this time- although this most recent wear was for work and not for a date purposes.

Not pictured are the dusty rose kitten heels I wore with this shirt to give myself a little bit of height and my feet a break from boots for a day! I simply cannot wait any longer to break out my flats and my sneakers again!

And, side note- I love the small and unexpected details with this top- particularly the crochet neckline. It makes what is already a cute top feel a bit more elegant and appropriate to wear to more “dressier” events. I would just swap the skinny jeans for an equally breezy skirt, instead!

Next week on ‘Blondie Birdie’ I’ve got some more photos from recent travel, a pretty incredible French Toast recipe- and my favorites from this past month (and there’s a couple of interesting things that made the list, for sure!)

But until then- here’s wishing you all a wonderful, warm and safe weekend. Be sure to tune into Indie617 tomorrow from 12-4 PM (EST) to catch my show!

See you all on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Bloom Where You’re Planted…

Good Morning, Happy “Hump Day” and Happy (official) First Day of Spring, everyone!

It seems fitting that the season of blossoming and blooming would start just as so many exciting new opportunities and changes are happening for me/around me right now. I know I always briefly mention how busy I am lately- but I really mean it! I’ve been going non-stop!

Back at the end of 2018, I had mentioned a couple of new projects I was preparing to start working on and had admittedly been excited to delve more into the details when the time was right. One project was for a radio station based out of Boston, and the other was for a family theater company based in the Pioneer Valley. Considering both of those projects are essentially on opposite sides of the state- I go back and forth fairly often!

I also maintain my full-time legal specialist position and still make sure to find time to spend with family and friends- all of whom are thankfully very understanding to my occasional time restrictions- so with everything finally coming to fruition and all the smaller, more intricate details being ironed out- it feels like I can relax much more easily now!

So, what’s the news?

Well, beginning this Saturday- I’ll be starting my very own weekly show on Indie617 from 12-4 PM where I’ll get to play the music I love, talk about upcoming shows, recap recent events around the city of Boston, etc. I’m so excited since I simply adore everyone at the station and have been having a blast popping by for occasional sit-downs/chats over the past couple of months during the “Morning Glory” show.

You can stream my show online at the website or download the Indie617 app (it’s free- so no excuses!)

Additionally, I’ve taken on the role of Marketing & Publicity Director at Paintbox Theatre– a company I have loved and held dear for a very long time now. The work that they do for children and families in the Pioneer Valley is beyond admirable and I’m so thrilled to be a part of all the fun, crazy, and adorable things they have planned for their upcoming Summer season!

Of course, working across and around the state has sort of grounded me in the New England area- which is funny considering it was around this time a year ago I was earnestly and vehemently talking about moving out to Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada- and as I continue with my year of self-reflection and attempts at bettering myself by learning from past mistakes and missteps- I think that’s one flaw I need to tackle head on: my eagerness to move to a new location- sometimes places that are thousands of miles away from everything I’ve ever known or worked for- without addressing the reasons why.

First it was San Diego, and my main drive behind that was because I wanted to be closer to friends (and yes, a guy I liked at the time)– but I had never stopped to really consider career opportunities or the astronomical cost of living out there. Granted, where I live is on the pricier side as well- but I can still live and support myself without stretching myself out too thin.

I had just assumed my career could be easily transitioned across the county- but that wasn’t the case.

With my planned move to Las Vegas, my intentions were more fine-tuned- I wanted to live somewhere warm, close to my West Coast Wife, and in an area where the cost of living was infinitely more manageable (and I still do so much!)– but being so far away from my family, my friends and restarting a career over in a part of the country where the turnover rate of the population is nearly non-stop was a bit intimidating.

Plus, financial setbacks throughout 2018 kept delaying the process- and now here I am- finally getting my momentum back.

While Vegas/Henderson is not off the table by any means- I need to rebuild my foundation, first- and I need to do it here at home and by utilizing the aforementioned opportunities/projects I’ve taken on to build up both my finances and my resume (should I decide to switch career paths at any given time. I have to show I’m versatile!)

That means making the best of what I have here (“bloom where you’re planted”) for the time being- which includes potentially finding a less expensive place to live within the Pioneer Valley or outside of the city so I can better accomplish my short-term goals- and gradually work my way towards my long-term ones.

With smaller plans in play and these new projects keeping me occupied and focused- I can say with all sincerity that I’m excited for the future and looking forward to what’s ahead without any nervousness, uncertainty or anxiety- something that plagued me in the past when I was trying to relocate/reignite my life and passions.

And hopefully the future will be warmer here in New England real soon!

I’m off to play catch-up after an unexpected day off from work yesterday- and a little later on this week I’m dabbling with floral print again. I’ll have the photos to show you all what I mean!

Enjoy your Wednesday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Festive Foodie: Mom’s Corned Beef

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I didn’t forget that yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day when I posted my “Spring Cleaning” update last Friday- but when you live in Massachusetts and St. Paddy’s falls on a weekend- the party sort of extends into the days leading up to and following the actual holiday until everyone eventually gets tired/hungover and collectively decide it’s time to pack it up until next year.

Such was the case this past weekend, which consisted of plenty of Irish breakfasts, brunches, celebratory parades and green-tinted everything. While I managed to avoid overzealous college students chugging green beer and people dressed like leprechauns loudly trying to trace back their family’s lineage to Ireland (as is tradition!)– there was one thing I made it a point not to skip- and that was my mom’s annual corned beef dinner.

My family isn’t Irish enough for it to actually count- but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our Irish friends with a traditional meal of meat and vegetables. I asked my mom for her recipe to share here this week- and although she doesn’t actually measure out anything (it’s all from memory!)– she was kind enough to oblige and give her best “guest-imates” on how much of everything to use.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 corned beef brisket (point cut or flat cut)
  • 1 bag of red or yellow potatoes
  • 1 bag of carrots (whole or cut)
  • 1 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup brown sugar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Put corned beef in a pot, and cover with water and seasoning (optional.) Boil the corned beef until fork tender.
  2. Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Finish boiling under vegetables are tender.
  3. Heat oven to 400°F.
  4. Take the cooked corned beef and place it in a baking pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and bake until the sugar is melted and a little crispy- about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Plate the corned beef with the vegetables and serve.

Now, admittedly the cabbage went right into the garbage because, you know- cabbage is gross– but everything else was delicious! I love tender carrots and potatoes- and the brown sugar that was added to the corned beef gave it a pleasantly surprising sweetness I hadn’t expected.

I hope that all of you who celebrated yesterday are recovering smoothly and that today is as easygoing as possible for you. Naturally, I’m back at work and keeping two steps ahead of everything (or trying to, anyway!) so this morning is all about answering e-mails, voicemails, and prioritizing tasks. Living the dream as always!

Here’s wishing us all a good week ahead. I’ll be back on Wednesday with my weekend recap!

xx

– Ashley –