Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer

Spring has officially sprung!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

And that means it’s time to start eating (and drinking) alllll the strawberries. This Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer is going to make you want to jump head first into the season and never look back. It’s soooo tasty!


First, important question: Are you pro- or anti-gin?? My friends and I were having this discussion at my little birthday get-together the other week and two of them just absolutely can’t stand the taste of gin. I am staunchly in the other camp, because gin just happens to be one of my favorite liquors. I love how flavorful and botanical it is, and I feel like it adds so much more character to any beverage.

I would like to point out, though, that one of these friends that was so anti-gin had mentioned that she’d enjoyed a farm-fresh cocktail at one of our local bars that involved gin, and had actually loved it because the flavors were so perfectly balanced. I haven’t had her taste this Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer yet, but I bet she’ll feel the same way she did about that farm-fresh cocktail once she does!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, so enough of the gin discussion, let’s talk strawberries. We are incredibly lucky here in Santa Barbara because we live smack dab in the middle of strawberry country. We have Oxnard, home of the California Strawberry Festival, just 45 minutes south of us, and Watsonville, home of Driscoll’s Strawberries, just three and a half hours north of us. Because of this, we always have tons of farm fresh strawberry options available both at our grocery stores and in our farmer’s markets once March rolls around.

That being said, I realize all of you might not be as “strawberry lucky” as we are, but that’s the great thing about this Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer. You don’t have to be! This drink gets most of its strawberry flavor from strawberry jam, with just a few fresh strawberries muddled in for good measure. And, honestly, you could even use thawed frozen strawberries and nobody would know the difference.

You will, however, need to track down some fresh basil, but I’m pretty sure fresh basil is available year round these days so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

The most important step, of course, is to use your favorite gin! There are many different flavors and styles out there, so if you don’t have a favorite already, do yourself a favor and taste a few to get a feel for what you like. There are gins that are more juniper-forward, others that are more foral…Every gin brand uses its own combination of aromatics and spices, so even if you don’t like, say, Tanqueray, you might like Hendrick’s!

Once you have your fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, basil and gin, your Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer will come together in less than five minutes. Grab your cocktail shaker, some ice and a glass and you’ll be sipping on this deliciousness in no time!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

The perfect cocktail to kick off spring - in-season strawberries are muddled with fresh basil, topped with a refreshing gin and jam mixture.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 ounces gin
  • More whole strawberries for garnish (if desired)
Instructions
  1. In a rocks glass, muddle the strawberries and basil. 

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with about ¾ cup of ice, combine the strawberry jam and the gin. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and then pour contents of shaker (including ice) into the rocks glass.

  3. Garnish with a fresh strawberry if desired.

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze

Who doesn’t need cinnamon rolls on a Monday?

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I know I sure do! Especially when they’re loaded with banana, chocolate and walnuts like these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze. I don’t even think that these need further discussion, but a discussion we will have.


As I mentioned in my post for these Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting, I owe my deep love for all flavors of homemade cinnamon rolls to my Dad. Over the past couple of years, good ol’ Dad has been dreaming up different combos like Caramel Apple, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, you name it, and if we’re lucky he’ll have some baking away in the oven for breakfast whenever we go up home to visit.

Two weekends ago, we were up there helping my sister move into her new house, and my parents decided to throw a little brunch to celebrate my birthday the next morning. Sure enough, Dad was in the kitchen the night before the brunch whipping up the above-mentioned Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls, and I decided it was high time for me to feature another cinnamon roll flavor on this here blog using his trusty recipe.

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

On this same trip, Dad and I were chatting over our coffee one early morning (as we usually do since we’re the only early-risers in the family) and he brought up the fact that it had been a while since he made his banana chocolate chip pancakes – another breakfast specialty of his. It got the gears turning in my mind and I figured, why not combine the two? Cinnamon rolls, banana, chocolate chip….all in buttery, flaky bread form? Yes, please!

Of course I couldn’t stop there, and I decided to go ahead and add toasted walnuts to the mix. I mean, who doesn’t want their breakfast to taste like the best Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor around? Oh, and the glaze….yes, I trashed that up too and made it a rich, ganache-like chocolate…

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m proud to say that these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze turned into not one, but two pans of delicious, indulgent, chocolate-y breakfast pastries, half of which are living in our freezer right now so we don’t eat them all in one sitting. Plus, I love having a freezer full of baked goods for any last minute house guests or mornings where we just don’t feel like cooking!

You’ll notice that the base for these Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls is very similar to my Pumpkin Praline Cinnamon Roll recipe. That’s the beauty of cinnamon rolls! Once you get the basic formula down, you can swap different ingredients in and out to make alllll of the flavors.

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

You’ll also notice that there is (once again) a very long prep time. Don’t be discouraged by this! The hands-on time is really quite minimal, the dough just requires an overnight rise in the refrigerator. All the better if you want an easy breakfast that’s ready to just pop in the oven in the morning (and fill your house with the most heavenly aroma at the same time!)

The dough for our Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze is brought together using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, and is then rolled out into a rectangle over a large floured surface.  This is where our banana will live, mixed into the buttery dough just like you would when making banana bread.

The next step is the delicious, ooey gooey filling. The rolled out dough gets a light brushing of butter, and then a heavy dusting of ground cinnamon. We sprinkle our mini chocolate chips and toasted walnuts over that, and then we’re ready to rock-and-roll!

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

That’s right, time to roll up the dough into a long, tight log. I failed a bit at the “tight” part, but was able to make it work by using a rubber spatula to scrape the dough off of my marble slab (it can get a bit sticky) and guide it onto the rest of the roll.

The rolling is literally the hardest part (besides waiting for the cinnamon rolls to rise!) and once you’re done with that just slice it up and tuck the spirals into a couple of baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Wrap them up and stick ‘em in the fridge overnight, and in the morning you’re just 45 minutes away from incredibly mouth-watering Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze!

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I like to let the cinnamon rolls have a little bit of a warm rise in the morning, and to do this I just turn the oven on to 250 degrees for about 5 minutes, then turn it off and put the rolls in for 10-15 minutes. After they’ve had some time to rise, I take the rolls out to, set them on top of the oven, and preheat the oven to the baking temp of 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, stick in the cinnamon rolls and in 30 minutes your house will smell like your favorite bakery – promise.

You can mix up the chocolate glaze while the cinnamon rolls are cooling, and either pour the glaze all over the cinnamon rolls in the pan, or leave the glaze in a bowl on the side and spoon it over each of the cinnamon rolls as they’re being served. (Although, if you wait to scoop the glaze on after you take the rolls out of the pan, you’ll have a lot more surface area for it too ooze all over…just sayin’.)

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

And that’s it! Really, as long as you’re cool with popping the rolls in the refrigerator overnight to rise, this recipe comes together in a snap and with very minimal effort. I mean, we’re talking weekday breakfast status right here. So what are you waiting for?

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze

These are not your average cinnamon rolls with flavors of banana, chocolate and walnuts. Just like your favorite ice cream flavor! 

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 18 cinnamon rolls
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the dough:
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
For the glaze:
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. First, make the dough. Combine yeast and lukewarm water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add butter, sugars, salt, eggs and banana and stir (using the dough hook) to combine. Gradually begin adding in the flour, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, but not over-stirring (you just barely want all the flour incorporated in the dough before adding more.)

  2. Keep adding the flour until the dough can be removed from the mixer without sticking too much. It will be a little sticky, but feel free to put more flour on your hands to help you get it out of the mixer and onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough lightly on the floured surface, adding light dustings of flour as needed, until you feel you can roll the dough out into a large rectangle.

  3. Using a rolling pin (or pizza roller), roll the dough into a rectangle that’s large enough for the dough to be about ¾ of an inch to an inch thick. You’ll want one of the long sides of the rectangle closest to where you are standing.

  4. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter over the dough, then sprinkle on the cinnamon, followed by the walnuts and chocolate chips. 

  5. Starting at the long side of the rectangle that’s closest to you, begin rolling up the dough into one long log. Do this slowly and carefully, using a rubber spatula and more flour to guide the dough as needed. Pinch the ends into the dough to prevent the log from falling apart.

  6. Using a sharp knife, slice the log of dough into 1 ½ - 2-inch pieces. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and place each roll snugly side-by-side. If you have extra rolls that you can’t fit in the pan, place them in another, smaller baking dish coated with cooking spray, such as a loaf pan.

  7. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

  8. In the morning, take the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator and uncover. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for just 5 minutes, then turn it off. Add the cinnamon rolls to the warm oven for about 15 minutes to go through a second rise, then remove the rolls and turn the oven heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  9. Return the cinnamon rolls to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool slightly while you make the glaze. 

  10. In a medium bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add the melted butter and milk and whisk until a thick glaze forms. Spoon the glaze over the cinnamon rolls before serving.

Chunky Monkey Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze

Happy birthday to me!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

That’s right, it’s my birthday! The big 3-2 to be exact (ugh) but hey, at least I’m celebrating with Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze! And for someone that didn’t even plan what she wanted to do to celebrate until, ohhhhh, last week (thanks to lots of pressure from my hubs and friends,) I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start.


(I’m clearly on a big lavender kick right now – did you catch the Spiked Lavender Lemonade I posted on Friday? So refreshing and tasty!)

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

Is it just me, or is your 32nd birthday just sort of “meh?” I mean, I certainly went all out for the big 3-0, and might find some inspiration when I hit number 35, but it seems like all of the birthdays in between those milestones kind of just come and go without much pomp and circumstance. Especially when your birthday falls on a Wednesday, how un-fun is that?

So, after I kept getting nagged about what I wanted to do to celebrate, and after avoiding the question for as long as I could, I finally decided I wanted to keep it casual with Happy Hour at our local waterfront bar/restaurant, and let friends and family stop by whenever they wanted.  We celebrated with our parents this past weekend, and if you ask me, that’s all this gal needs to celebrate another trip around the sun!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

To be honest, I first made these Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze a few weeks ago, when I decided it was high time for me to add another cupcake recipe to this here blog. It has, after all, been almost exactly one year since I posted the only other cupcake recipe on this site – these Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream – which BTW would be perfect for you to whip up for St. Patrick’s Day on Friday!

I was trying to decide what flavor I wanted to make my cupcakes this time around, and remembered I had a big jar of culinary grade lavender that my parents had given me a while back. We all know that culinary grade lavender isn’t exactly something you reach for in your pantry on the reg, so it had been sitting in there practically untouched ever since I got it. I knew it would be perfect to integrate into a spring-friendly cupcake, but that it might need a little assistance from some other amazing flavors to keep it from tasting too much like soap (side note – this can easily happen if you use your lavender in the wrong context, like adding lavender syrup to your brewed coffee, don’t do it.)

Lucky for us, vanilla is a great complimentary flavor for lavender, and also perfect in cupcakes! I’ve talked about it before, but I swear by this creamy vanilla bean paste that I order on Amazon. It’s a little pricy, but you get a HUGE bottle and it lasts for such a long time! I highly recommend you order some if you bake nearly as much as I do.

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

With all of the soft, floral notes I was going for in the cupcakes, I knew I wanted a stark contrast in flavors for the frosting. I happened to still have quite a few blood oranges on hand from my winter stockpile, so instead of a buttercream or whipped cream frosting, I decided to top the cakes with a tart, blood orange glaze.

Turns out, my instincts were spot on and these cupcakes turned out perfectly balanced yet full of flavor. They’re also not overly sweet, which means you could totally get away with calling them muffins and eating them for breakfast. It’s my birthday after all, so I give you full permission. Cheers to another year and thanks for celebrating with me!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Light and fluffy cupcakes filled with the delicate flavors of lavender and vanilla, perfectly contrasted by a tart blood orange glaze. 

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons culinary lavender, ground (I used a mortar and pestle for this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, milk, butter, eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined. 

  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, lavender, baking soda and salt, then add this mixture to the wet mixture, beating until just combined. 

  4. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop batter into cupcake pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before topping with the glaze. 

  5. While waiting for the cupcakes to cool, make the glaze. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth and no lumps remain. 

  6. Once cupcakes are cool, spoon glaze evenly over cupcake tops. Let glaze dry completely before serving. 

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spiked Lavender Lemonade

Because spring is just around the corner!

Spiked Lavender Lemonade | CaliGirlCooking.com
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

And that means everything should be pastel-hued and full of the brightest, freshest flavors. This Spiked Lavender Lemonade is just that. It’s a simple cocktail to make, but so perfectly balanced. It’s incredibly refreshing and just as fitting for a happy hour or welcome drink as it is for brunch. It’s also the perfect cocktail to kick off my birthday week!

We’re heading up to my parents’ house this weekend to start the celebrations (since they’re heading to Hawaii without me next week…how rude!) and a big Sunday birthday brunch is on the agenda. This Spiked Lavender Lemonade might just have to take the place of our usual mimosas, because it’s that good and, yes, spring is right around the corner! I’m pretty sure once our families taste this they may never want any other sort of brunch-y beverage ever again.


Spiked Lavender Lemonade | CaliGirlCooking.com

Speaking of spring, the changing of the seasons always calls for a little reorganization of my pantry, and more specifically a rotation of all of my Sonoma Syrup Co. products. The winter-y products (like the Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup I used for this Winter Spiced Vanilla Eggnog) get pushed to the back, and out come the warmer-weather flavors such as Mint, Lime and, of course, the Lavender I used for this Spiked Lavender Lemonade. I love that there are so many different flavors to choose from, so I can always find something that will be a total game-changer in whatever cocktail I’m whipping up, no matter the time of year.

We’ve had a lot of rain this winter, which means our citrus trees are exploding with gorgeous lemons and oranges. I love having such a big selection of vibrant fruit right at my fingertips, no trip to the store required, so I try to use fresh citrus juices in my recipes as often as possible. Plus, it’s warmed up to the 80’s this week (is our California “winter” officially over?) so nothing sounds better than a tall, icy glass of fresh squeezed juice with a sweet hint of lavender. I don’t think I’m going to have any trouble using up our huge citrus crop if I keep making this tasty drink!

Spiked Lavender Lemonade | CaliGirlCooking.com

I also love that this Spiked Lavender Lemonade has just four ingredients (another reason I’m such a fan of Sonoma Syrup’s products, all the flavors in one little bottle!) This is all you’ll need:

Vodka
Fresh lemons
SONOMA SYRUP CO. LAVENDER SIMPLE SYRUP
Club soda

Just pour everything into a glass over ice, give it a little stir and you’re good to go. And to make the drink look just as good as it tastes, try adding wheels of fresh lemon to the glass (tuck them on the sides between the ice and the glass before adding the liquids) and garnishing with a fresh lavender sprig. These little touches makes the drink look over-the-top and completely brunch-worthy.

Spiked Lavender Lemonade | CaliGirlCooking.com

So what are you waiting for? It’s Friday and the sun is shining, time to turn lemons into lemonade!

Spiked Lavender Lemonade | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Spiked Lavender Lemonade
Prep Time
5 mins
 

Not your average lemonade - this refreshing cocktail gets a kick from vodka and a fresh, floral taste from lavender simple syrup. 

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces Sonoma Syrup Co. lavender simple syrup
  • 2 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • Lemon wheels and a sprig of fresh lavender for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Fill a highball (or large rocks) glass with ice. If using garnishes, tuck lemon wheels into the sides of the glass using the ice to hold them in place. 

  2. Add vodka, lavender simple syrup and lemon juice to glass and stir gently.

  3. Top with club soda and garnish with fresh lavender sprig, if desired.

Spiked Lavender Lemonade | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch!

**Author’s Note: You may notice that this girl-powered post is coming to you a day later than my usual weekly posting schedule. We had originally planned to post our Spring Fling Brunch on Wednesday, March 8, but then discovered that many of the ladies in our lives (coworkers, friends, family, etc.) were participating in A Day Without a Woman. After some deliberation, we decided to postpone our posts until Thursday to show our support for all females and gender-oppressed individuals. As always, I so appreciate your support for me and so many of my fellow bloggers and lady entrepreneurs. I hope you enjoy reading about our brunch just as much as we enjoyed throwing it!

I told you this was going to be a fun week!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com


I am so excited for today’s post because it has been a long time coming. I’ve mentioned it before, but I truly feel so fortunate to have met so many amazing lady entrepreneurs IRL in my small little community of Santa Barbara. I’ve met fellow bloggers, freelancers, small-business owners, you name it. I’ve enjoyed interacting with every single person I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with, and have learned so much by having this diverse sounding board to bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, etc.

Way back in November, my fellow blogging babes, Hana-Lee from Wander and Wine and Becky from Baking the Goods, and I started throwing around the idea of a collaboration brunch. We all have such unique niches when it comes to our blogs (Hana-Lee focuses on wine and travel, while Becky’s the baker and I’m the cook with a side of mixology) that we thought it would be a great opportunity to play off of each other’s strengths and introduce our readers to all of the fantastic things everyone is doing in their own little corner of the Interwebs.

Well, after much rescheduling and the craziness of the holidays, we were finally able to pull it off. The result was a super fun and festive Spring Fling Brunch we held on a beautifully sunny day last week. I whipped up this hearty Breakfast Panzanella, while Becky brought a stunning Ricotta, Potato & Spring Pea Galette and, of course, Hana-Lee brought the wine. We were also able to get some of our other local lady entrepreneurs involved – Vanessa from Garibaldi Goods provided her over-the-top delicious homemade bread (and some jam, of course!), Amy from Bright Inc. provided the beautiful flower arrangements, and Alison from Sugar Cat Studio whipped up some brunch-themed cupcakes. Be sure to check out all of their blogs/websites/businesses because they are all amazing and work their little tushes off to turn out some amazing products. So fun!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

Let me just tell you, starting the photo shoot for this brunch at 12pm was pure torture. We did so in order to capture the best lighting, but by the end of our almost two-hour shoot, all of our stomachs were audibly growling because all of the food looked (and smelled) so good! Don’t worry, we were sure to taste everything afterwards because, you know, quality control.

When we decided to give our brunch a spring theme, my mind immediately turned to creating a dish that was full of incredibly fresh ingredients (hello, warmer weather) yet hearty enough to not shock our systems too much after a season of all of those comforting winter foods. I knew a Breakfast Panzanella would go perfectly with the Spring Fling theme and set about making a version loaded with two of my favorite breakfast items – bacon and eggs, of course!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m sure you’ve had (or at least heard of) the classic version of panzanella before, which generally consists of cubes of crusty bread, fresh basil and tomatoes, and some sort of dressing involving olive oil, vinegar, shallots and capers. For my Breakfast Panzanella, I omitted the capers in the dressing (I’m not the hugest fan) and of course added bacon and eggs, plus some fresh mozzarella, because CHEESE.

What resulted was a perfectly balanced salad – the basil and tomatoes are a reminder that warmer weather is just around the corner, while the crusty bread gives the dish that hominess we still crave during this transition between the seasons. This Breakfast Panzanella is also loaded with protein from the eggs, bacon and mozzarella, so it will fill you up and give you a nice solid base for all of that wine you’ll be drinking.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

This salad also comes together in almost no time at all. You can toast the bread cubes and cook the bacon the night before, which means you’ll be able to sleep in approximately 15 minutes more before you have to roll out of bed to scramble up some eggs and whisk together the dressing. What’s left after that is simply tossing everything together in one big bowl and garnishing with some fresh basil! If this Breakfast Panzanella isn’t the perfect brunch dish, I don’t know what is.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

My recommendation to you? Call up some of your girlfriends STAT and set a date for a Spring Fling Brunch of your own. Then head on over to my gal pals’ blog posts for all of the other deets you’ll need to make it a smashing success.

For the recipe for Becky’s Ricotta, Potato & Spring Pea Galette, head on over to Baking the Goods.

For all of Hana-Lee’s wine recommendations and pairing notes, head on over to Wander and Wine.

And be sure to check out all of the other ladies’ sites as well for further inspiration!

Bright Inc. for all of your floral inspiration,

Sugar Cat Studio to grab some tasty cupcake mixes,

and Garibaldi Goods for small-batch artisan foods from local California producers.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Breakfast Panzanella
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

The classic Italian bread salad gets a morning makeover with the addition of bacon and eggs. The perfect dish for a spring-themed brunch!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 4 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6-8 basil leaves, plus 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 5 cups cubed crusty sourdough (about 1/2 of a large loaf)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces ciliegine (baby mozzarella balls)
  • 3 eggs, scrambled
For the vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once bacon is cooked, remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Do not dispose of the bacon grease in the pan!

  2. Add 6-8 basil leaves to the saute pan with the bacon grease in it (still on medium heat) and then add the bread cubes. Toast, tossing to coat, until all of the cubes are golden brown. If the cubes seem dry, drizzle on a little olive oil as they continue to toast. You may notice that the basil gets crispy and crumbly as it cooks along with the bread, this is okay! The little bits of basil will add some additional flavor to the salad once it’s done. Once the bread cubes are nice and toasted, spread out on some parchment paper to dry out and cool completely.

  3. Next, mix up the vinaigrette. Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients by shaking in a Mason jar or whisking vigorously in a small bowl. Set aside.

  4. Place the cooled bread cubes in a large bowl. Chop up the now cooled bacon and add it to the bowl as well, along with the ½ cup of chopped fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, ciliegine and scrambled eggs. 

  5. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Garnish with additional chopped basil, if desired.