Easter Brunch Tablescape Ideas – DIY Projects


Easter Brunch

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Easter Dessert Bar Ideas


Easter flower container filled with jelly beans, assorted Easter candies, Easter cookies and Easter cake pops!

Easter flower container filled with jelly beans and Easter cookies.

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Steak Kabobs with Fresh Herbs


Try these succulent, lean steak kabobs marinated in a fresh herb paste.   

With this recipe it doesn’t have to be exact.  If you have 2 or 3 of the herbs on hand, great but if don’t simply substitute with what you have or like.  You may prefer basil vs. parsley or lime vs. lemon which is also wonderful on steak, etc.  Want spicy kabobs; add a dash of Sriracha (hot chili sauce) to the herb paste.

Be creative, if you want to use chicken instead of steak… try using orange juice instead of lemon.  Add a little honey or soy sauce to change it up.  

Steak Kabobs with Fresh Herbs
Makes 8
1 pound Beef Sirloin Steak or Filet Mignon
1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
6-7 fresh chives
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juiced and zested
Kosher salt
Black pepper
8 wooden skewers
8 small mushrooms, cleaned
8 cherry tomatoes
½ red onion, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, set aside.
In a food processor add the fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest. Blend then season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl add the beef and herb mixture, coat well and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Soak the skewers in water for 20 minutes (this will prevent them burner while grilling).
Place a piece of the bell pepper on the skewer followed by beef, tomato, onion, beef, mushroom, onion, beef and end with another piece of bell pepper.
On a hot grill cook the prepared beef skewers for 2-3 minutes on each side.


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Asian Dumplings – Appetizers


Pan-fried Dumplings

Sunday has always been a big family cooking day in our home and it’s not uncommon that some sort of home made dumplings are on the menu.  Dumplings or ‘Gyoza’ (Japanese potsticker) originated in China and can have many variations for the filling.  I’m always making a different filling depending on what I have on hand; chicken, pork, shrimp, carrots, cabbage, etc.  These are also great for a party served with various dipping sauces — spicy sauce, sweet & sour sauce or simply soy sauce with fresh chopped scallions (green onions).

Asian Dumplings




1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 boneless & skinless chicken breast (1/2 pound)
4 shiitake mushrooms, rough chop
1/2 cup chopped fresh carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili sesame oil
Won ton wrappers


For the filling — In a food processor, add the chicken and the shrimp and roughly chop.  Next add the mushrooms, carrots, garlic, ginger, green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili sesame oil.

Place the won ton wrappers on a board and place 2 teaspoons of filling in center and brush a light coat of water or egg wash around the edges and then fold to close.

For Pan-fried:

In a large sauté pan add 1 teaspoon oil and ½ cup water, heat on medium-high heat then add the dumplings and cook covered for 10-12 minutes and add water as needed.


For Steamed:

In a wok add an inch of water then place the bamboo steamer on top.  Cut out wax paper and place in the steamer and set aside.  If you do not have a wok or bamboo steamer – no problem…  Just take a medium pot, add 2 inches of water and a steamer or a metal colander and line with wax paper.

Place filled dumplings in prepared steamer and steam for 10-12 minutes.

Spicy Sauce:


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Srirachi (hot chili sauce), more or less to taste


In a small bowl add all the ingredients and whisk together.

Steamed Dumplings


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Donuts At Home – Breakfast – Recipes


Donuts At Home

These are delicious and easy to make!  My kids love to dip and decorate them.


I fondly remember making these when I was a little girl with my older brother and sister — my mom always had the biscuits on hand so if we weren’t baking them for dinner with warm butter and honey we were making these donuts!

Store bought biscuits
Blended Oil
Topping #1
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
1 Cup powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon hot water
In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave, add sugar and vanilla mixing with a fork then add water and stir until smooth, set aside.

Topping #2
Cinnamon & Sugar
1/2 Cup of sugar
2 Teaspoons of cinnamon
In a shallow bowl, stir together the sugar and ground cinnamon, set aside.
Topping #3
Chocolate Icing
1/3 Cup unsalted butter
4 Ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons hot water
Chocolate sprinkles (optional)
In a medium bowl, melt butter and chocolate chips in the microwave (1 minute or until melted), add vanilla then sugar mixing with a fork, add water and stir until smooth, set aside.
Frying the Donuts

Heat 2 inches of blended oil (I use Smart Balance) in a pot, to 350 degrees F.
Lay out the biscuits on a cutting board and with a 1-inch round cutter, cut out a hole from the middle of each biscuit or simply use a knife.   Fry each biscuit and donut hole in the oil until golden and then flip with tongs to fry the other side (40-45 seconds total).  Drain on paper towels then dip in desired topping.  Serve immediately. 
Helpful Tips:
#1) Save unused cinnamon & sugar mixture to sprinkle on hot french toast or sprinkle on    warm buttered toasted bread.
#2) Save chocolate icing, refrigerated, and spread between two graham crackers as a fun snack.
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Tomato Basil Shrimp Pasta – Dinner – Recipes


Tomato Basil Shrimp Pasta


Serves 4


2 tablespoons blended oil
1 large shallot, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound pasta, cooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated


In a large sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat, add the shallots and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next add the shrimp and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp have turned a light pink.  Remove the shrimp and set aside.

In the same pan add the garlic and cook for 1 minute then add the white wine to deglaze the pan.  Reduce by half.

Add the shrimp back to the pan along with the basil and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper.  Toss with your favorite pasta and parmesan cheese.

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Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, Apricots and Strawberries – Desserts – Recipes


Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, Apricots and Strawberries












16 pretzel rods
10 dried apricots
10 fresh strawberries
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or dark chocolate)
1 cup white chocolate chips


Melt the chocolate chips in separate bowls in the microwave for 90 seconds, remove then stir until the chocolate chips have melted.  Dip each of the pretzels, apricots and strawberries and place on either wax paper or a platter lightly coated with cooking spray.  Refrigerate to set the chocolate.

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Potato Leek Soup with Bacon



This is a perfect soup to enjoy on a cold winter evening. It’s creamy, flavorful and easy to make.  I made a big batch and took some to my neighbor and they loved it.


Potato Leek Soup with Bacon
Serves 6
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 strips of bacon, chopped
1 large leek (2 cups, packed)
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock, plus ½ cup reserved
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (4 cups chopped)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 heavy cream
Garnish with 2 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
Cut the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water between each layer, slice thinly crosswise and set aside.
In a stock pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. Add the chopped leeks and cook for 5-6 minutes until soft.  Add the wine to deglaze the pot and until mostly evaporated. IMG_3311

Next, add the chicken stock and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fully cooked.  Remove from the heat.
Remove the springs of thyme and bay leaf IMG_3313and discard. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot or in batches puree in a blender.  Stir in the heavy cream and check for seasoning.
If too thick, add the reserved stock. 



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Goat Cheese & Lemon Ravioli



Goat Cheese and Lemon Ravioli
Serves 4
Pasta dough
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 eggs
2 ½ cups flour, extra for rolling
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
Grated zest of 3 lemons
11 ounces soft goat cheese
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of chili flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg white, beaten
Finish with
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, finely crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
grated zest of 1 lemon
grapeseed oil
fresh lemon juice (optional)
To make the pasta dough. Whisk together the oil and eggs. Put the flour, turmeric and lemon zest in a food processor, add the oil and egg mixture and blend to a crumbly dough. It might require extra flour or oil. Once the dough has come together and is smooth (you may need to work it a little by hand), divide it into four thick, rectangular blocks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Take one piece of dough and flatten it on the floured surface with a rolling pin. Set your pasta machine to the widest setting and pass the dough through. Repeat, narrowing the setting by a notch each time, until you get to the lowest setting. When each sheet is rolled, keep it under a moist towel so it doesn’t dry out.

To make the filling. Combine the filling ingredients, apart from the egg white, in a bowl and crush together with a fork.

Use a pastry cutter or the rim of a glass to stamp out roughly 3-inch discs from the pasta sheets. To shape each ravioli, brush a disc with a little egg white and place a heaped teaspoon of filling in its center. Place another pasta disc on top. Dip your fingers in flour, then gently press out any air as you seal the edges of the two discs together. You should end up with a pillow-shaped center surrounded by an edge that is just under 3/8 inch wide. Seal the sides of the edges together firmly until you can’t see a seam where the two discs meet. As they are made, place the ravioli on a dish towel or tray sprinkled with semolina. Leave to dry for 10 to 15 minutes. (You can now cover the tray with plastic wrap and keep the ravioli in the fridge for a day.)

When ready to cook, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 2 to 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and divide among four plates. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns, tarragon and lemon zest. Drizzle grapeseed oil over the ravioli and around them, sprinkle with extra salt and a squirt of lemon juice, if you like, and serve at once.

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Shrimp Spring Rolls – Appetizers


Shrimp Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Spring Rolls
3/4 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1/3 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3/4 pound shrimp, cooked, peeled and split in half lengthwise
12-14 (6-inch) round sheets rice paper
To make the dipping sauce: In a food processor blend together all the ingredients until smooth.
To make the rolls: In a large bowl combine the cabbage, carrots, green onion, and sesame seeds.
To soften the rice paper, fill a shallow baking dish with warm water. Place 2 or 3 rice paper sheets at a time in the water and allow to soak about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove 1 at a time and carefully stack between sheets of paper towels.
Turn over the stack and begin working from the bottom of the stack first. Place a softened rice paper sheet on a clean work surface. On the bottom third of the sheet, pile 1/4 cup of the cabbage mixture. Then place a few halves of shrimp and cilantro on top. Fold the bottom of the paper up and over the noodle mixture, then fold each side toward the center, rolling gently and as tightly as possible from the bottom until completely rolled. Place rolls seam side down on a plate and continue until all ingredients have been used.


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