Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls & Peanut Sauce



     If you have never had Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls you will fall in love with these. SO yummy!! Fresh, light yet rich in flavor and super nutritious, these rolls are super easy and fun to make. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local grocery store which is a huge plus. You have a combination of crunchy and soft, and the peanut sauce is worth making all by itself. It is not too sweet and it has a little kick to it. It is perfect for the rolls. If you are vegetarian all you have to do is remove the chicken. These will taste just as good. I have been having these for the last two days and it seems like I can't get enough. Just look at all the fresh veggies and herbs that goes into the roll. YUM!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls 

Ingredients: 

rotisserie chicken (pulled)

1/2 english cucumber (cut into little strips) 

carrots,grated 

fresh mint, chopped 

fresh cilantro, chopped 

rice paper 

rice noodles or rice sticks (you want the rice noodles that look like angel hair) 

Directions:

Prepare all fresh ingredients and reserve. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions (run under cold water if the package doesn't already say so). Prepare a big flat plate or clean surface to lay softened rice paper. Dip one rice sheet paper in warm water until ends start to curl and the paper is softened. (10-12 seconds). Lay the sheet on your work surface. Work quickly while paper is still moist. Layer ingredients close to one end of the paper or you may start in the middle.



 Wrap as a mexican borrito. Take one end and cover over the entire ingredients. Tuck underneath. Pull each side over and cover the ends. Then continue to roll until completely encased. Usually the back of the rice paper package has detailed instructions and pictures if you have a hard time. 

Thai Peanut Sauce 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter 

juice of a 1/2 a lime 

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed 

2 teaspoons sugar 

2 teaspoons ground ginger 

3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce 

1/4 cup minced cilantro 

dash of salt 

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor (a hand food processor may be used as well). Blend until completely smooth. Serve and enjoy!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Feta Stuffed Peppers


      I have been dying to try to stuff mini peppers with feta for a while now.  I miss Bulgarian food so much and especially stuffed peppers with feta and eggs. Here in the United States the peppers are thick skinned and it is almost impossible to duplicate the pepper recipes from back home. The mini mexican sweet peppers they sell here are probably the closest peppers to texture that you could get. This recipe was an attempt to get at least a little bit of the Bulgarian taste I used to remember and I think I succeeded. I love, love, love this appetizer/side dish. This is an easy 1, 2, 3 recipe and it tastes wonderful. Good quality feta makes a difference so make sure you buy a good one. I personally like cow's feta cheese but it is hard to find. My second choice would be sheep's milk feta. Bore's Head is a good brand. These peppers will make your kitchen smell SO good too. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

10 mini sweet peppers 

8oz good quality feta cheese 

1 large egg 

dash of salt 

dash of ground pepper 

olive oil 

parsley, chopped for garnishing (optional) 

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Half the peppers and clean from seeds. Place in a baking pan.  In a small bowl mix together the feta and the egg. The consistency doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. Lumps of feta cheese are ok. With a small spoon stuff the peppers as much as you can, covering the little crevasses. Drizzle bountifully with olive oil (the olive oil will help your peppers cook faster make them more tender). Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Bake in the oven about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.    

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Avocado Salsa



I recently went to a party where they served this avocado salsa with chips and it was so good I kept going back for more. It was delicious,  yet light, nutritious and the crunchy and salty chips were just the perfect addition to it. Not to mention it was perfect for the month of August when tomatoes are ripe and corn is fresh. I just knew I had to put it on the blog. I do have a few suggestions: use good quality tomatoes and feel free to play with the salt and lemon. We all have different tastes so just make it perfect for you. I hope you like it as much as I do. 


Ingredients: 

1 (16 oz) package frozen corn kernels, thawed (canned corn is ok)

2 (2.25 oz) cans ripe black olives, drained and sliced 

1 small onion, thinly chopped

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped 

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste 

4 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced 

1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional) 

2 cloves garlic, minced (optional) 

3 tablespoons cider vinegar (optional) 

Directions: 

Toss all the ingredients except the avocado in a big bowl. For best flavor refrigerate overnight. If you don't have that option salad is still good. Mix in the avocado right before serving. Serve with chips or add to your favorite wrap. Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tea Party


This is in not your Downton Abbey tea party but still a fun and elegant way to gather together with your girlfriends. Tea parties are a great way to celebarte bridal showers, baby showers or just a fun way to gather with the girls. And we women sure know how to keep up the conversation especially around a table full of yummy stuff. This post offers menu ideas and table decor from fancy to inexpensive ways to make your tea party a success. Enjoy and don't forget to share pictures with me if you use this post to organize your tea party. 


 The Menu: 


SAVORY: (OPTIONAL - you may choose to do only deserts as long as you pick a time that is in-between breakfast, lunch and dinner.)

Tea Sandwiches (cucumber, prosciutto with goat cheese and honey, pesto caprese, ricotta with orange jam and mint).  


Salad of your choice - optional (pasta salad is a great option and filling since the tea sandwiches are quite small) 



Directions: To cut the sandwiches in these fun shapes, use cookie cutters. Lay bread flat on a cutting board then press the bread with a book or another cutting board to smash the bread slightly. It is much easier to cut. You can use different kinds of bread to get layers of different colors. 

   Cucumber sandwich : layer a piece of round bread. Top with hummus and then a cucumber. Add salt and pepper. (You may substitute the hummus with tzatziki sauce, olive tapenade or simply butter according to yours or your guests taste).
  
  Pesto Caprese: layer a piece of bread. Top with pesto sauce, add a slice of tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with salt, pepper and fresh basil. 

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese: you may use 2 or 3 pieces of bread for this sandwich. Whipped goat cheese is easier to spread but regular one is ok too. Top with a few slices of pear and drizzle with just a little bit of honey. (Prosciutto can be expensive. If you are organizing a party for a large group, you may substitute with bacon or turkey). 

Ricotta and Jam: the jam can be orange or apricot. Wonderful combination with peaches on top and the mint it is garnished with adds so much to the flavor! Don't skip it. 




SWEETS: (You may choose all or just a few of these wonderful additions to your tea party) 

French Macarons - Vanilla: for the best recipe click here.  If you must know I am a complete french macaron junkie. I think every tea party should have french macarons. It is something your guests will love and this french vanilla flavor will go so perfectly with you tea. The other great thing about these is you can prepared them in advance and just refrigerate for a whole week before your event. You can buy some but I can guarantee you that this recipe is better than a store bought macarons unless off course you buy them from a professional bakery such as Laduree. 




Creme Brûlée: for the perfect recipe click here. This desert can also be prepared in advance. It can sit in the fridge for up to a week. It is also a great addition to your tea party that everyone will love. 

Madeleines: are known to be served with tea, hot cocoa or coffee. This recipe is SO easy and delicious that you might end up making these on a regular basis. It takes only 30 minutes to prep and make these. For Orange Madeleines click here. For Lime Madeleines click here.




Fruit Bars: this recipe was inspired by the cherry almond bars I did for 4th of July with just a few changes. Follow this recipe but use the following filling instead of the canned cherries: 
    Mix softened cream cheese with any jam of your choice. You don't have to decorate the bars just cut with the same cookie cutters you used for the tea sandwiches and dust with powedered sugar. 





Fruit: Any fruit is great to serve at a tea party. In my case I did raspberries and strawberries as it also served as beautifying the table and it gave my table a little pop. 
Fresh Lemon is a must as people will use it for their tea.

Drinks: 

     Tea: what would a tea party be without the tea??? You may have two or more kinds of teas. If you want to get a little fancy you may go to the local tea shop and get a fine tea that will actually require a tea sifter. If not I am sure people would still like tea bags as it is much easier. For my party I decided to stick with Herbal Teas (Mint and Lavender/Camomile). If you are doing tea party in the hot summer you might consider iced tea instead or in addition to your variety to teas. 

Cream or Vanilla Soy Milk: most people that like tea love to use cream or vanilla soy milk in their teas. You don't have to have much just about a cup to cup and a half.

Hot Chocolate (optional): if you are doing a tea party in the winter hot chocolate is a great addition to your tea party. 


Tea Party Table Setting 


You will need china, napkins, flatware, center piece and anything else you would like to use that is tea party appropriate. You can make your tea party as fancy or as simple and inexpensive, yet still fun as you wish. If you have a china set that has been sitting in your cupboard without use this is the time to use it. The china doesn't have to match. Mixing it a bit is actually quite fun. If you don't have a china but you would like to use one, ask any relatives that might have some. Usually a grandmother or a mother in law might one. Same with the flatware and napkins. Also consider renting it. 
      If you want to make it simple yes you may use simple mugs. You may even use fun paper plates and cups. Click here for this fun paper set you can find on amazon. You can find so many fun disposable items on Amazon, from table cloths to floral straws, to tea party decorating flags. So you can go as cheap or as expensive as you wish. 
     I have said this many times but I will say it again, the food plays a huge role in your table's decor. All you really need is a center piece. I picked pink roses as I though it would best match my china. Off course if you are organizing a tea party for a bridal shower I would have in mind the bride's color theme and stick with it. Stacking tea cups is also a fun and creative idea to decorate your table with. Add deserts or flowers to the stacked cups and you have a fun decor. Pearl necklaces and more flowers would make your party a little more fancy as well. I added a floral pillow to one of the chairs as a nice addition to the table decor as well. And at the end, remember to use your imagination and have fun with it.