August 19, 2016

Tea Time Entertaining

by Marjan

Here in southern California, summer days in the month of August appear shorter and seamlessly weave into cooler summer nights. The serenity and comforting evening breeze of nightfall makes it easy to forgive the triple digit temperatures. Even though it is hot,  I still love to entertain.

Wanting to keep my meals cool and refreshing, I enjoy inviting my friends when the sun is still shining bright but the weather is beginning to cool down promising a glorious sunset. Who doesn't like tea time and petite sandwiches? Light and refreshing finger foods require minimal use of a hot stove or oven. To keep it easy and enjoyable for myself, I prepare everything in advance and serve delicious bites on beautiful platters to tantalize my guest's taste buds.

From hot, cold, spiked tea or coffee to icy homemade lemonade, I cool everyone's body temperature upon arrival and keep them happy and inspired with delicious, beautiful decorated food.

My cucumber sandwiches are always a crowd favorite. Toasted pumpernickel or challah bread, cheese, herbs and cucumbers presented in a simple, elegant bite begging for seconds. Try to have just one! Heirloom tomatoes from our garden is a nice addition to cucumber sandwiches as it elevates each bite with an additional dimension of sweet yet tangy burst of flavor.

Easy to prepare, healthy, delightful both visually and to the palate, these petite sandwiches will please all your guests!

Hope your summer parties are filled with cheer and delicious bites!
For more elegant, delicious, entertaining recipes with cucumber and herbs, check out some of our most popular posts: vegetable napoleon sandwiches and feta cheese rolls.

Challah or pumpernickel bread
1 English cucumber
4 Persian cucumbers
Any soft cheese of your choice such as goat, cream cheese, or blue cheese
heirloom tomatoes
2-3 radishes

Cut out bite size bread using any shape or simple squares with a knife or cookie cutter utensils.
Toast in a preheated oven for 7-8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Using a potato peeler, remove sections of English cucumber's outer peel to create strips. Using a flat knife, cut even slices of both English and Persian cucumbers into 1/8" each.

Using larger heirloom tomatoes, also cut into equal size of cucumbers.

Chop basil and blend in with goat or cream cheese.  For variety, blue cheese may be used, in which case basil is not necessary.

Place one slice of English cucumber on top of toasted bread. I prefer to use decorative frosting dispenser tips to spread cheese on top of cucumber followed by either tomatoes or Persian cucumber. Then top it with a dab of cheese, smaller heirloom tomatoes, or radish.  Be creative, using different varieties of layers, cheeses, herbs, and vegetables!



August 5, 2016

Keeping It Cool! Quinoa Bowl

by Marjan

I know I am going to be upsetting a lot of people reading this (including Anja), but is summer over already? Seriously, the heat is just wearing me out! I know I sound like a spoiled Southern Cali girl, but I just can't wait for it to cool down.
I guess I just have to make the best of it (I can imagine Anja rolling her eyes up at me now; sorry Anja). Crowded beaches, malls, and streets make it easy for me to want to stay home and not leave my beautiful garden, tantalizing pool, and of course, my favorite room in the house, the kitchen!
Craving some fall ingredients, my local farmer's market displayed a basket of mushrooms that I just could not resist. Who cares if it is summer? I decided to make myself a cool salad using delicious fall flavors such as curry, carrots, mushrooms, and of course kale; tossed in some quinoa and topped it off with a poached egg. This easy to make vegetarian salad is intense with flavor and rich in protein;  I had to share it with you! Good news is, I can enjoy this recipe coming autumn as well.

Healthy, delicious, and satisfying, this easy simple salad will keep you in shape, cool and happy!

Serves 4


1/2 cup quinoa; follow directions for preparing. Normally it is 1 cup water for 1/2 cup of quinoa with a large pinch of salt brought to a boil over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Turn heat off, place lid and allow quinoa to finish cooking until cooled.

2 large carrots; diced
1 onions chopped finely
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms quartered
1/2 lb. kale; rinsed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
4 fresh eggs
1 teaspoon curry
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Large pot with matching lid of boiling water

In a large frying pan, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Toss in onions, carrots, and mushrooms. Season with curry, salt and pepper to taste and stir fry for 4-6 minutes until vegetables are slightly tender. Toss in kale and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes; remove from heat. Add quinoa to vegetables and toss all ingredients well.
In large pot of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, stir water and one by one add cracked eggs (maintain whole yolk). Two minutes later, turn heat off and place lid and cook eggs for additional 2-3 minutes.
Place desired amount of quinoa salad in individual serving bowl.
With a slotted spoon remove one egg at a time and place one egg per bowl on top of salad. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and scallions.

July 22, 2016

Grilled Tex-Mex Salad

by Marjan

I hope you enjoyed last month's post for grilling salmon filets using my recipe for a delicious, succulent, mouth watering yuzu dressing. From Asian flavors, I'm going to take you on a journey half way across the world to introduce you to one of my all time favorite Tex-Mex recipes.  For our readers outside of the States, Tex-Mex is the combination of flavors from the state of Texas and country of Mexico, which border one another.
Of course growing up in Southern California, I love Mexican cuisine! Recently, Texas has built quiet a reputation for itself in the restaurant and food industry. As a matter of fact, I am planning a two week road trip across the great state of Texas to check out the food scene.  I can't wait!

Continuing my summer tradition of grilling, I had to share with you my Tex-Mex salad recipe.  Honestly, I don't know why it took me so long to post this colorful, robust, full of flavor recipe? I've been making it for many years now and simply love it! It is light yet satisfying, delicious, easy to make and a complete healthy vegetarian meal. Whenever I grill corn on the cob, I use the left overs to create this delicious salad which will keep me nourished and satisfied.

I know yo'all will love this recipe!  Enjoy your trip to the South with bright colors of green, red, and yellow, along with flavors of avocado, charred grilled corn, black beans, bell peppers, and cilantro!

Serves 6-8

4 whole corn on the cob; husks removed
2 cups of cooked black beans (or one can of black beans; rinsed and drained)
1 red pepper; seeds removed and diced
4 radishes thinly sliced
3 chopped scallions
2 avocados, diced
4 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
4 tablespoon lime juice
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Grill corn until slightly charred and cooked. Once cooled, using a large flat knife, cut kernels off the cob.
Whisk mustard, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss in corn, black beans, red pepper, radishes, scallions, avocados and cilantro. Toss well and serve.
Left overs are great!

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