French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream [plus an essay about being seen and an invite to the C+C Mother's Day Brunch!]

French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast

We slide into the diner booth, scooting along the faux leather benches as our server hands us an impossibly large menu. My husband sits next to me and my dad in the seat across from us. Going to a place like this reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in New Jersey where diners are about as common as Starbucks in the Chicago suburbs. There's one on every corner, each with giant, plastic-covered menus showcasing all kinds of omelettes, skillets, French toast, crepes, sandwiches, and anything else you could possibly think to eat for breakfast or lunch.

I scan the menu as we catch up about my husband’s job and my dad’s new house. I try to keep the conversation light, but my heart feels heavy—maybe even a little guilty. Having my dad and stepmom in town is a gift, but over the last week I’ve been so weary that I feel like I’ve missed out on being with them. I take another sip of my coffee and internally lament the fact that my stepmom had to stay home with my kids just so I could have a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation with my dad.

Our plates arrive, and we drizzle on syrup and request refills of coffee. My dad looks at me and asks the question I hoped to avoid. “How are you doing? Really?”

It’s the “really” that gets me. The addition of that little word tells me I can’t get away with a scripted answer. My emotions sit too close to the surface, and any effort to hide them proves futile.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast

Read the full essay and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake [and finding solace in the village]

Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser

I sit alone in bed, pillows propped behind me and books, dishes, and pumping supplies piled on the nightstand to my left. My youngest isn’t yet a month old. I hear the doorbell ring, but I don’t move. I know it’s my sister. My husband walks upstairs to check on me and let me know she’s there, and I mumble something about getting out of bed eventually. Then again, maybe I won’t. She won’t be offended. I know she gets it, and she’ll end up making us dinner or cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry without me having to ask.

I hear a soft knock on the bedroom door as she peeks her head in. I try to hold it together and say I’m fine, and I’ll come down to visit. But that’s an empty promise. She sits on the edge of the bed and my eyes begin to water. I mutter something about how there’s nothing actually wrong. I really am okay.

“It’s nothing, but it’s everything, isn’t it?” she says.

I nod. It’s nothing major, no “real” reason to complain or be sad or not be able to get out of bed. But it’s also everything. It’s the sleeplessness, c-section incision, whining toddlers, hormones, grief over my late mom, anxiety, burden of parenting, and even the news headlines that seem a heavier weight to carry than normal. I turn her words over in my mind. Nothing, but everything. Yes.  

I don’t have to justify my tears or explain away my emotions. I stay in bed, but the tightness in my heart releases, and I finally exhale.  

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!

Mushroom + Leek Frittata [Whole30 compliant!]

Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser

It took us nearly two months to create space amidst our own schedules and that of our combined 12 kids. But three friends and I eventually found (and then adamantly safeguarded) a few hours on a Saturday morning to get together for brunch. We see each other regularly and text almost daily, but a brunch date meant we could set aside our phones and our deadlines, our errands and parenting responsibilities, and focus on rest, nourishment, and connection.

Over cups of coffee and stacks of pancakes, we talked about motherhood, marriage, hard days, and celebrations. I brought tears to the table. They passed me napkins to wipe my mascara-stained face and nodded their heads in understanding.

Sometimes I forget I wasn’t created for independence. I forget that mothering well doesn’t mean mothering alone, and I’m grateful for the reminders that I’m a better woman, wife, friend, writer, and mama when I let others share the burden of those roles with me.

As our server refilled mugs of coffee and brought boxes for leftovers, I felt the weight lighten, not because circumstances changed or because I even had a clear plan to implement. The weight itself remained. But as I brought my story to that table, three other people listened. Three other people laughed, cried, and encouraged. Three other people silently agreed to carry that weight with me.

Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser
Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser

Maybe you’ve just received an unexpected diagnosis, or perhaps you’re celebrating a brand new baby. Maybe you're overwhelmed with joy right now, or maybe your eyes are red and your heart is worn from the weariness that comes with motherhood. No matter where you're at today, we invite you to the table.

At the table, we can find nourishment for our bodies and souls. We can celebrate and mourn. We can learn and teach and encourage and challenge.

We can hold each other up, because the weight is not meant for us to bear alone.

Mushroom + Leek Frittata - Sarah J. Hauser

In that spirit, Coffee + Crumbs is "hosting" a Mother's Day brunch on Saturday, May 12th. We love encouraging mamas in the online space, but what we really love is seeing mamas support each other in person. In just a couple weeks, women from all over the world will be gathering around their tables for rest, nourishment, and connection.

Will you consider being a host? We've got menu ideas, conversation cards, and all kinds of other goodies we're sending to hosts for free! Click here to learn more and sign up!

Mushroom + Leek Frittata
Yields about 6-8 servings

2 medium leeks
8-10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
8 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup full-fat coconut milk, at room temperature*
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cut the roots off the leeks. Slice them lengthwise, then rinse under cool water to remove dirt and sand that can build up in between the layers. Chop the white and light green sections of the leeks, and discard the darkest green 2 inches or so (or reserve it for stock or other recipes. The darkest green parts can be bitter, so we’ll leave them out of this dish.)

In a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped leeks and ½ teaspoon of salt, and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until the leeks get soft and slightly browned. Add the mushrooms, along with another tablespoon or two of olive oil if needed. Cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Turn off the heat. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. 

Pour the egg mixture over the leeks and mushrooms, and give everything a stir. Transfer to the oven and cook 8-10 minutes, just until the eggs are set. (I like to remove the frittata from the oven just shy of them being fully cooked, because they’ll continue to cook slightly even when they come out of the oven.)

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with chopped fresh parsley and additional black pepper to taste.

*I use coconut milk in this recipe to keep it dairy-free. Full-fat coconut milk helps keep the dish creamy as opposed to using other alternatives like almond or soy milk. My husband and other friends have not been able to taste the coconut milk in the final dish at all, but you can sub in regular milk or cream if you prefer.

Grapefruit, Elderflower + Tequila Cocktail [and Friday night mercies]

Grapefruit, Elderflower + Tequila Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

I don't do well with little inconveniences. I know life includes hard seasons, but sometimes I forget it also includes a lot of annoying moments. I do not suffer these well. I too quickly lose my patience, I say unkind words, and my anxious mind races to the worst-case scenario in even the tamest problems. 

Monday morning started with ornery kiddos, and that usually means I'm more than a bit ornery myself. Then while I cracked eggs in a pan and poured cups of milk for the twins, I heard rushing water from the bathroom upstairs. Not normal rushing water, like the bathtub starting or the toilet flushing. No. I walked upstairs to find my husband soaking wet and water shooting across the bathroom as if it came out of a fire hose. 

I probably said something harsh (or at least looked like I was about to), and then I turned around, walked out of the room, and tried to pretend our bathroom wasn't flooding at 7am on a Monday morning. 

The chaos eventually subsided, my husband took the twins to Home Depot to buy a part to fix the shower, and I sat down to catch my breath. My impatience and weariness got the best of me that morning, and I needed a redo. I wanted to rewind those couple hours not to change the circumstances, but to change my attitude. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
— Lamentations 3:22-23

I can't say my temper and my heart instantly turned calm and gracious (although the flowers my husband brought home helped). But I can tell you that once again, I was reminded His mercies are new every morning. I was reminded of that same truth later in the week as my kids' fighting wore me out, when the baby wouldn't nap, and after anxiety got the best of me.

It's Friday. And thankfully, His mercies are new on Friday nights as much as they are on Monday mornings. So I'm breathing a sigh of relief and soaking in His goodness. Oh, how often I fail to suffer the little things well.

But time and time again, He shows up faithful. 

Grapefruit, Elderflower + Tequila Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Grapefruit, Elderflower + Tequila Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Grapefruit, Elderflower + Tequila Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

Grapefruit, Elderflower + Tequila Cocktail
Yields 1 drink

3 ounces grapefruit juice
1 ½ ounces elderflower liqueur
1 ½ ounces silver tequila
1 egg white or 1 ounce aquafaba* 
Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Add all ingredients except the cayenne to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds, then strain into a cold glass. Top with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve and enjoy! 

*When shaken up with a cocktail, egg whites add a creamy, frothy texture to a drink. Because you’re consuming raw eggs, make sure they’re high quality. If you prefer a vegan option, use aquafaba, which is the liquid left after soaking legumes. The next time you use a can of chickpeas, reserve the liquid from the can and shake up a cocktail! (Make sure there are no other added ingredients like salt or other seasonings.) For more about aquafaba, check out this article from Bon Appétit