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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Easter Brunch Tablescape Ideas – DIY Projects


Easter Brunch

Easter 2013 200Easter 2013 186Easter 2013 188Easter 2013 187Easter 2013 189Easter 2013 202Easter 2013 193

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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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