Changing Seasons

I’m terrible at goodbyes. Whether it’s after dinner or a week of summer camp, I’m the person who always drags their feet, taking as long as humanly possible before I have to hug my friends, bid them goodnight and venture out on my own to whatever is next. In my mind, goodbyes are definitive, scary and downright unpleasant. It’s much easier on my heart to make a plan with my gracious host for a follow up meal next week, or to arrange for an ice cream date with my newly-made camp friends. It’s not really goodbye if you will see that person again in the near future. I can handle that.

In the spirit of faux-goodbyes, let’s make plans for the near future. You’ve listened so patiently as I’ve planned my wedding, applauded my meager entertaining ideas, and listened graciously as I’ve raved about new developments and adventures within the restaurant. I’ve loved sharing Leah’s recipes with y’all over the past year, and it’s been such a privilege to write with her. I will miss being constantly surprised by her fabulously creative recipes, photographing blog dinners and sharing s’mores with her over a good bottle of red. This position has been absolutely wonderful and I will miss everything about it, especially the lovely people.

But I am off to the next season of life! Graduation, marriage and an exciting move or two await me. I’d love to share those adventures, homemaking tips and ensuing recipes with y’all this summer. It’s not really goodbye if I pop up to share some tasty inspiration or helpful tidbits every now and then, right? That’s what I like to think, too.

So thank you, dear readers, for tolerating my frequent posts when you really just wanted to hear from Leah. Thank you for humoring all my gift baskets and pictures of cupcakes. Thank you for loving the restaurant and everyone here almost as much as I do.

I’m sure you’ll hear from me soon, and so I’ll look forward to that! Until then, I’ll be religiously reading with y’all every time Leah shares a new recipe or story from the Olive Branch.

Warm regards,

Bonnie

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Mother’s Day Brunch

What fun plans to you have for Mother’s Day? With Sunday just four short days away, now is a good time to set up something special if you haven’t already. Here in town, Baylor graduation falls on the same weekend as Mother’s Day, making it one long weekend of celebrations and festivities. But rather than lumping both events together, be sure to show your mom how much you appreciate her by doing something just for her.

One such idea would be a Mother’s Day brunch in her honor! This doesn’t have to be a big soiree, but she’s sure to love having her family gathered around over the table sharing a delicious meal. And with that tasty combination of breakfast foods and lunch goodies, brunch is simply the best of both worlds.

If you go this route, keep your decor and menu simple and fresh. Covering a table with mom’s favorite fresh flowers and lovely springtime patterns will definitely catch her eye. For a fun added touch, break out the fancy china! Your mom is totally worth the extra effort.

For a fool-proof brunch menu, include a variation of a breakfast classic – French toast. Leah’s recipe for blueberry stuffed French toast is a great deviation if you want to jazz up the original a bit. Get creative with presentation, too! I love these individual toast slices with maple syrup in shot glasses. While something like this adds an element of class to a larger event, thoughtful details like this won’t go unnoticed for an intimate affair, either. Consider placing individual milk bottles at each place setting, if your guests love their calcium! You can upcycle old Starbucks frappucino glass bottles if your milkman hasn’t been delivering regularly, too.

Individual stacks of pancakes are sure to be another crowd pleaser. Parfaits, mini quiches and egg and bacon breakfast sliders are other tasty ideas for a breakfast-themed get together.

Although it’s easy to obsess over details and get a little carried away, a Mother’s Day brunch doesn’t have to be elaborate. Make mom her favorite treats and spend quality time with her. While presentation can be fun, it’s always the thought that truly matters.

Don’t worry – if the very thought of cooking breakfast of any kind is slightly overwhelming, we’ve got you covered. Come on in and sample one of our scrumptious breakfast items, served all day long. Whatever you decide to do that day, be sure to spend it celebrating mom. She deserves it!

Springtime Gift Baskets

Oh my heavens, how is it already May? April absolutely flew by!

On behalf of Leah and the rest of the Olive Branch crew, we apologize for posting so sparsely this past week. Our transition to table-side service has been hugely popular, which is wonderful for business and less-than-stellar for blogging. We appreciate your patience as we work out a functional routine.

I’ve been working on some fun projects in the office this morning and I just had to share them with y’all. With graduation and Mother’s Day around the corner, our custom gift baskets make for a special way to let someone know you care. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing you to pick what best fits the recipient’s taste without breaking your budget.

This morning, I put together a springtime basket, complete with an assortment of gift cards to the Olive Branch, Leah’s signature cookbook To Taste, and a bag of our custom coffee (not pictured below).

In the past, we’ve had parents send these baskets to their students during finals. I know I always appreciate knowing someone is encouraging me on to the end of the semester – especially when it’s communicated through cake balls and coffee!

I think these baskets are almost as much fun to put together as they are to receive! Some of our more popular options are listed below, but remember that we are always able to tailor a basket to your preferences.

With Mother’s Day just a week away, don’t doddle in placing your basket orders! Email us at info@olivebranchwaco.com or give us a call at 254-757-0885 and we’ll put together a custom basket that’s just right for you.

Belated Birthdays + Old Fashioned S’mores

I have been trying really hard to eat healthily.  I mean, it’s like I thought I needed to pack on weight for hibernation.  Except I didn’t hibernate…  I’ve done pretty well.  Especially with the warmer weather and the ability to get outside and grill.  Flavorful and juicy meats and smoky veggies cooked with little or no fat turn into a gourmet meal in minutes.  However, no girl can be good all the time…  Special occasions call for a splurge, don’t they?  So I went in search of a special occasion!  I ran into one pretty easily.  I didn’t even have to make it up (which I was prepared to do if necessary).  My friend Sara’s birthday!  A birthday is the specialist of special occasions.  And here was one.  Dropped right in my lap!  So what did I do?  I threw a dinner party.  I threw a couple of thick steaks on the grill along with some sliced zucchini and squash.  I twice baked some sweet potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese.  And then, oh then, I used that grill for something not so healthy… S’mores!

Yep – You heard me right.  The real deal s’mores, too.  No imitation or s’more-esque dessert.  I snapped apart those honey maid grahams and opened a bag of giant jet puffed marshmallows.  Then I unwrapped and broke a real Hershey’s milk chocolate bar into neat little rectangles, furiously ignoring the suggested serving size.  I hauled the treats outside to my grill.  It was no campfire, but it worked all the same.  In lieu of a clothes hanger, I used my aluminum skewers to spear the marshmallows.  On the top rack of my grill, I placed the bottom graham cracker which I had topped with the milk chocolate.  I then removed the grate on the main grill surface and roasted away!  Once my marshmallows were perfectly toasted and, well, blown out, I slid them off the skewers onto the now warm chocolate.  Topped it all with another cracker and pressed.  Heaven.  Really.

I can’t honestly tell you the last time I had a REAL s’more.  I mean, I faintly remember a bonfire and clothes hanger skewers, but I was probably 7 years old.  Let’s just say I get the craze!  I now understand the obsession with re-creating the s’mores experience.  Especially if it can be made a tad less messily.  J  It was a really fun, special occasion treat.  If you’re a s’mores lover, check out my s’mores bread pudding that’s hidden somewhere in the depths of this blog.  But don’t forget to find a special occasion worthy of a messy little bonfire!

Happy Birthday, Sara!

Table Service Sneak Peek

Remember those big, beautiful changes we were talking about last week? Well, they’re becoming a reality and we’d love your help with the process! This week we are doing a test run with our new servers and menu and you get to try it all out.

From 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, stop by for dinner at a discounted rate. We’ll have our wonderful new servers there to wait on you, as well as our updated menu filled with delicious options. All we ask is that you fill out a brief questionnaire afterward so we can assess what we’re doing right and where we need to grow.

This fun opportunity is only happening at the beginning of this week. Unfortunately, we will not be opening for dinner on a regular basis; however, we are using this as a unique training opportunity for our staff.

We’re so excited about these changes and we hope you are, too!