Budget Friendly Flower Arrangements – DIY Projects


Budget Friendly Flower Arrangements

I was at my local grocery store this morning and they had beautiful bunches of flowers on sale for only $1.00 each, what a bargain!  Instead of just placing them in vases I decided that I would add some filler accents from plants, herbs and shrubs from my own yard.

Now I have gorgeous flower arrangements that not only look amazing but only cost me $2.00 that will last for up to two weeks (just change the water every third day and they will stay fresh).  If any of the filler accents begin to wilt, just go out to your yard and replace those stems.

I placed this arrangement in the master bathroom and every time I pass by them I can’t believe this arrangement only cost $2.00 and will last for up to two weeks!

I placed this flower arrangement in my kitchen and because it’s in the kitchen I added some fresh rosemary and mint — it smells so fragrant and looks so pretty!  Because this arrangement all came from my existing outdoor herb garden, plants, shrubs and annuals (that I planted five years ago) the cost was zero!

Making budget friendly flower arrangements:





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Tempura Ahi Tuna Sushi w/ Wasabi-Avocado Cream & Pickled Cucumbers – Appetizers


Tempura Ahi Tuna Sushi w/ Wasabi-Avocado Cream & Pickled Cucumbers

I love these!!

Blended oil for deep frying
Fresh ahi tuna, cubed
Prepared sushi rice
Japanese tempura beer batter
Wasabi-avocado cream
Pickled cucumbers
Black sesame seeds, optional
Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of the prepared sushi rice on a work surface, place 1 cube of ahi tuna in the center then top another 1 tablespoon of rice.  Press into a square or ball.  Dip into Japanese tempura beer batter and fry until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel, cool slightly then slice in half.  Top each half with wasabi-avocado cream
and pickled cucumbers.  Sprinkle with a few black sesame seeds.
Sushi Rice
2 cups sushi rice, rinsed in cold water until clear
2 1/8 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Put the rice in a large bowl and wash it with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes almost clear. Drain the rice in a colander then place in a rice cooker and add water. Let the rice soak in the water 10 minutes then start the rice cooker.  Once rice is cooked, let it steam for 10 minutes.

Prepare sushi vinegar by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the sushi vinegar mixture.

-Or-     You can use store bought prepared sushi vinegar.

Spread the hot steamed rice onto a baking pan to cool.  Once cooled transfer the rice to a bowl and sprinkle (a little at a time) of the vinegar mixture over the rice (you will only need 1 to 2 tablespoons) and fold the rice with a rice spatula, you may not need all of the vinegar just enough to keep sticky. Be careful not to smash the rice.
Japanese Tempura Beer Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 egg whites
1 cup Japanese beer
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.

Wasabi Avocado Cream

1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1/2 tablespoon cold water
1 avocado, peeled, seed removed and cut in half
1/4 cup heavy Cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced Jalapeno pepper  

Pinch of kosher salt
In a small dish, mix together the wasabi powder and cold water to make into a thick paste.  Set aside.
Next, place the prepared avocado and remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and the wasabi paste and blend until smooth.  Note: add extra wasabi paste or Jalapeno peppers for desired spice.
Pickled Cucumber Relish
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Pinch salt
In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together.  Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.

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4th of July Watermelon, Basil & Tomato Skewers – Appetizers


 A perfect combination.   I can’t wait to make them for company in a couple of weeks  for the 4th of July.

Watermelon, Basil and Tomato Skewers


¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sugar
Watermelon, small square chucks
Basil leaves
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Small wood skewers

In a small sauce pan, make simple syrup with the balsamic and sugar by cooking over medium-low heat stirring  minutes, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

On a small skewer add a chuck of watermelon, a small basil leaf and a tomato slice (face the cut side up) repeat.  You should have 2 of each on the skewer.

Drizzle the finished skewers with the balsamic syrup, olive oil and some salt.

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Cheese & Scallion Quiche – Breakfast


Cheese QuicheCheese & Scallion Quiche
This is not only great for breakfast but also for lunch or dinner served with a fresh garden salad.

1 store bought pie crust OR homemade pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups shredded Havarti or Swiss cheese
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and beat with a wire whisk until smooth and incorporated. Pour into crust.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until quiche is puffed, golden brown, and set.  

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Mini Red Potato Bites – Appetizers

Mini Red Potato Bites

Your friends and family will love these mini potato bites.  I serve them with sour cream and “hot salsa”.  


1½ Pounds red potatoes
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ Cup mayonnaise
½ Cup sliced green onions
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
10 Slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a large baking sheet place potatoes and bake 35 minutes or until tender. Let stand until cool enough to handle.  Cut each potato in half, then cut a thin slice from bottom of each potato half to allow them to sit flat.  With a small spoon, scoop pulp from potatoes leaving a ¼-inch shell. 

Place the pulp in a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Spoon or pipe potato filling into the potato shells.  Arrange filled shells on baking sheet and broil 3 minutes or until golden and heated through.  Serve with sour cream.


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Triple Chocolate Cupcakes – Desserts


Triple Chocolate Cupcakes


Some cupcake making tips:

1) When using store bought cupcake or brownie mixes use a fork and not a hand mixer which may over mix the batter.
2) Lightly spray cupcake pan with cooking spray for easy clean up.
3) Use a large scoop to distribute batter into liners to make each cupcake the same size.   My Favorite scoop is by Pampered Chef.











1 box triple chocolate cake mix by Duncan Hines
3 eggs
1/3 cup blended oil
Cupcake liners
Chocolate frosting
Optional: White luster pearls by Williams-Sonoma

Follow package directions and enjoy!

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Tempura Vegetables – Appetizers


Years ago my husband I were vacationing in Napa Valley and stayed at this great little B&B, La Residence Inn and in the afternoons in their beautiful courtyard they would serve light appetizers paired with great wines. 
On one of the afternoons they served tempura vegetables with a dipping sauce.  Every time I make this recipe it brings me back to that sunny, picturesque afternoon sipping wine with my husband and enjoying these tempura vegetables.


Tempura Vegetables with Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

Oil for frying
1 package tempura batter mix
1 bottle good quality beer or sparkling water kept ice cold
½ head cauliflower or brocolli, cut into bite size pieces
1 red or yellow onion, quartered with sections separated
1 large hand full of green beans, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder (divided)
1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin (divided)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot heat the oil to 350 degrees (never fill pot more than ½ way when deep-frying). Oil is ready when a cube of bread takes about 30 seconds to brown.

For the Dipping Sauce:
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice. Add 1 tablespoon of the chili powder, ½ tablespoon cumin, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Tempura
Have sheet trays ready with paper towels ready for draining.
Pour the beer into a large bowl and add the tempura batter mix.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Add 1 tablespoon chili powder and 1 tablespoon ground cumin.  Whisk together until just combined. The tempura should be nice and thick with some small lumps.
Piece by piece, coat the vegetables with the batter and carefully drop into the oil. Fry in batches gently turning the vegetables until they are golden brown.  As you transfer the vegetables from the oil to the paper towels, immediately season with salt.


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Grilled Chicken Caesar Flatbread


Love chicken caesar salad?  Then you will love these tasty flatbreads. 

Grilled Chicken Caesar Flatbreads
Serves 2
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced lengthwise
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Caesar dressing (recipe below)
2 Naan garlic seasoned flatbreads
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
Parmesan cheese, shaved

For the Chicken
Heat grill on high.
Brush chicken breasts on both sides with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side. Brush some of the Caesar dressing on each side until finished cooking, remove from heat.  Slice into ¼-inch strips.
For the Naan Flatbread
Heat grill on high.
Lightly brush both sides of the Naan flatbreads with olive oil and grill 30 seconds per side.
Remove from the grill and divide the mozzarella cheese over the top of each flatbread.  Lower grill heat to low and place back on the grill, cover until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute.
Remove and divide the sliced chicken between each flatbread. Top with the lettuce and drizzle with the Caesar dressing. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese and serve.

Caesar Dressing

1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup light virgin olive oil

Combine ingredients together and mix well.  Chill until ready to use.


You might also like:

Steak with Caramelized Onion Flatbreads


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Easter Tablescape Ideas


Easter Tablescapes – Every year I have so much fun creating a special tablescape for our family Easter Brunch.

Below is my 2012 Easter Tablescape and Easter Brunch Menu.

Easter Brunch Menu
Huevos Rancheros
Roasted Potatoes
Pizza Rustica
Italian Easter Grain Pie
Mixed Greens with Citrus Vinaigrette
Fresh Strawberries and Blueberries

                                                                                Pineapple Pound Cake
                                                                                Easter Cupcakes and Cookies
                                                                               Mimosa and Juice Bar



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Easter Tablescapes Ideas


Easter Table 2011

My children, nieces and nephew had fun decorating eggs and then we had our traditional Easter egg hunt.  Afterwords, I placed the colored eggs in baskets filled with straw as my center pieces!  So cute and the kids loved looking at them all day.


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