Sunflower Tablescape

Sunflower Tablescape

As we approach fall, do you get that itch for the new season but also want to hang on to summer just a little longer? Then, this transitional tablescape is perfect for you!

Let’s start with the flowers, our favorite element when setting the table. Annual sunflowers bloom from summer into autumn, and they are easily accessible. You can find them at floral shops and most grocery stores. We even saw a bunch of them at Target a few weeks ago. Sunflowers can brighten up any table decor and lift anyone’s spirits. They stand out in any setting with their long and strong stems and their large and bright leaves. Less is more when it comes to this type of bloom, by just adding a few of them to your table will add such an impact. They sure will cheer your decor and your guests.

They have such a strong presence, that we like to keep them solo and never mix them with other flowers. Their stems are so unique, long, and strong that they deserve to be visible. We don’t like to cut them too short, but also be aware of their height as you don’t want to block your guests’ line of sight and obstruct conversation. We used these Pottery Barn bud vases, which also help prevent obstruction. If you are using taller arrangements, narrow and clear vessels are best.

Now, let’s talk about the chargers; the Juliska rustic rope natural chargers add warmth and an autumn vibe to the decor. This hue of brown is perfect for the fall.

Go neutral with the plates. Since the sunflowers, chargers, and napkins have three different colors, it’s best to keep them simple. We love Juliska Berry & Thread dinner and salad plates; they go so well with nearly everything. A set of neutral plates like white and ivory solid pieces is timeless and versatile. You can dress them up or down with different napkins, placemats, and chargers. Keep it in mind when purchasing a set of dinnerware.

What we love the most about these Serena and Lily napkins is their neutral color. They are so versatile and can go with nearly any table decor. They are simple but yet add so much charm to the tablescape.

Finally, candles! These small CB2 tea light candle holder are subtle and informal but still adds that touch of warmth and intimacy to the ambiance.


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Lemon Mousse and Meringue Ice Cream Cones

Lemon mousse is so refreshing and always a great dessert! We made it extra special by serving it on ice cream cones and covering it with a delicious Italian meringue.

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Lemon mousse is light and creamy and can be whipped up in a few minutes. There are so many different recipes for lemon mousse out there, but one of our favorites is this one with only 2-ingredients. It is full of taste, simple, and requires zero cooking skills. We also love that you can make it a day in advance, saving on prep time.

Meringues are so delicious, but a lot of people think they are hard to make. We must admit that we thought so until we started making this Italian meringue recipe. There is no secret! Italian meringue is made with a hot sugar syrup that is mixed into whipped egg whites. The hot sugar syrup partially cooks the egg whites making them safe to eat and gives the meringue a firm texture and flavor.

For a beautiful display, we served the lemon mousse in ice cream cones. The waffle cones are a perfect addition to a dessert table. They not only are cute but give a nice crunch texture to the lemon mousse.

To make this easy lemon mousse, you only need two ingredients: condensed milk and lemon juice! Combine these two ingredients, and you will be amazed by the taste and the texture. As soon as the acid from the lemon juice hits the condensed milk, the mixture thickens. After both ingredients are well-combined, bring the lemon mousse to the fridge for 2-hours to set.

Lemon mousse is ready; now it’s time to prepare the Italian meringue. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat over high heat and let it cook until the sugar syrup reaches a temperature of 240F (I use a thermometer to check the temperature). Meanwhile, using a mixer on medium speed, mix the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, carefully and slowly drizzle in the hot sugar syrup. Increase speed to high and whip until you get a stable glossy meringue. Allow it to cool completely before using it. You can cover it with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for up to two days.

When it is time to serve, add the lemon mousse to the ice cream cones up to the top, cover it with the Italian meringue. We don’t recommend adding the lemon mousse to the waffle cones too early in advance. If you leave the lemon mousse too long in contact with the cone, the chances are that the cone will get soggy (I did that once, and it did not taste good).

For a toasty golden brown color, we toasted the meringue with a culinary torch. If you don’t have a torch, don’t worry! You can certainly skip this step!!

Lemon Mousse and Meringue Ice Cream Cones

Lemon mousse is so refreshing and always a great dessert! Wemade it extra special by serving it on ice cream cones and covering it with adelicious Italian meringue.
Course Dessert
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (strained)
  • 4 ice cream cones
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp water

Instructions
 

  • 1. In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk and the lemon juice until well combined (about two minutes)
    2. Refrigerate, covered, for two hours or until completely chilled and thickened. It tastes even better if refrigerated overnight (don't forget to cover the mouse).
    3. Prepare the meringue: In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Cook over high heat until the sugar syrup reaches a temperature of 240F degrees and remove from heat.
    4. Meanwhile, combine egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set the mixer to medium speed and mix until soft peaks form. Increase the whipping speed to high and pour in the syrup in a thin stream while whipping. Whip for about 10 min until you get a stable glossy meringue. Let it cool completely. You can leave it on the fridge covered until it is time to serve.
    5. When it is time to serve, add to the ice cream cones the lemon mouse and cover with the Italian meringue.
    6. Optional: Brown the meringue with a blowtorch.
     

Peach Summer Tablescape

Peach Summer Tablescape

There is nothing like a meal alfresco on a nice day with family or close friends. We put together this tablescape for a special lunch with our mom and sister. Yes, we have a younger sister who lives in NYC!!! Due to COVID, we hadn’t been together for 1.5 years, and oh boy, we missed spending time together. This table decor is so simple and casual but so inviting at the same time.

Let’s start with the color scheme, we picked the traditional blue and white palette. You can never go wrong with this color combination. Next are the placemats, wicker and rattan ones are great options for outdoor entertaining. The light natural color of these charger plates was the perfect backdrop to the blue and white plates. These placemats are from Pottery Barn, we have them in two different colors. They are so versatile and go well with so many different styles of plates.

We used melamine plates and acrylic glasses; they are great for the summer when eating outside. These Q Squared Dinner Plates are so beautiful and have a Mediterrane fell to them. How stunning is this design!?
The water goblets are also from Q Squared; we absolutely love their design, and they are also so durable! Unfortunately, they don’t carry this exact one anymore. The wine glasses are from William Sonoma. There are so many acrylic glasses available, and they came in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors. There are endless options for every taste.

Bamboo flatware is one of our favorites!!! We use them all the time in the spring and summer. They will never go out of style, making them an excellent investment. They add a fresh and casual look to any table decor. This bamboo flatware is from Pottery Barn and is very wallet-friendly compared to other brands.

Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and prints, as long as they complement each other. The plates and napkins’ different patterns and shades of blue look so lovely together.

Finally, the centerpiece!! Ditch the flowers for fruits! If flower arrangement is not your forte, or you want something different, fruits are a great alternative. How charming is this bowl of peaches!? They added a pop of color, and they are in season now, bringing that summer feel to the table decor.


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Skinny Margarita Bar

Skinny Margarita Bar

You READ this RIGHT… SKINNY Margarita, YAY!! It’s no secret that we love margaritas. Margaritas are refreshing, and a great summer drink. However, most margarita mixes have lots of corn syrup, liqueur, and sugar. In our opinion, the best margaritas are the ones that combine a good quality tequila with fruit juice, lime, and sparkling water. That’s it!!!

Jump to Recipe

Drink stations are fun and keep entertaining easy for both the hostess and the guests. They give your guests the freedom to select their drinks and get refills whenever they want. The idea of creating a Margarita bar is perfect for the summertime.

As you get started, the first step is to plan where you will set up your margarita station. We used a bar cart; however, any table, countertop, or buffet works. For the décor, you won’t need much! The fruits and juice are colorful and will already be the star of the station. Besides offering slices of fruits to garnish the drinks, we also created a small fruit arrangement to add an extra décor touch. A beautiful flower arrangement goes well in any place, so we could not avoid adding some flowers to our station. Check out how we styled this arrangement.

How to set a Skinny Margarita Bar:

  • When it comes to making the perfect margarita, a high-quality tequila offers the best flavor. The best tequila for margaritas includes reposado, blanco, and añejo tequila. Make sure to search for the ones that say 100% de agave. The brands labeled as “mixto” have been cut with an inferior natural cane spirit.
  • Serve an assortment of fresh fruit juice. Our favorite choices are lime, grapefruit, and watermelon. But don’t be afraid of being creative with the fruits. Pineapple, Strawberry, and raspberry are some other great choices.
  • Fresh fruit slices for garnishes. They will also serve as décor to the drink station.
  • Don’t forget the pepper! In our opinion, spicy margaritas are the best. Our favorite is serrano pepper, but if you can’t find it, jalapeno is also a great option.
  • Get plenty of ice!
  • Water is key! Sparkling water works the best.
  • Glasses or tumblers
  • Provide sweetener or agave in case guests prefer to sweeten their drinks.
  • Provide salt and sugar for coating the rims.

This is all you need at your margarita station. Your guests will love creating their own drinks and trying different flavors.  

Skinny Margarita Recipe

Serves 1 person

Ingredients

  • 1- ounce tequila
  • Lots of ice
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Splash of sparkling water
  • 3 slices of serrano pepper
  • Optional: Salt to rim the glass

Instructions

  • Optional: Slice the center of a lime wedge and rub the wedge around the rim of your glass. Pour a layer of salt onto a small plate. Dip the glass into the salt.
  • Add ice to your glass, tequila, lime juice, slices of serrano pepper, and sparkling water.
  • Garnish with a lime slice

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Dianthus Arrangment

Dianthus Arrangment

How stunning is this shade of Dianthus!? We love this flower because it has an extraordinarily long vase life. It’s a great one to add to your home decor. They come in many colors and textures, so there is one for every taste. You can easily find them in your grocery store.
They are simple flowers, but they can stand out in a room when combined with a gorgeous vase. Follow the tips below to help you replicate this arrangement.

For an environmentally friendly option, choose chicken wire instead of floral foam. Another advantage is that the flowers can drink naturally, helping with their longevity. Don’t let chicken wire intimidate you; they are easier to use than you think.

First, start by selecting one with large holes as it will be much easier to place the flowers. Next, cut the chicken wire in a square shape (a piece larger than your container’s base). The following step is to fold it into a cushion shape, ensuring the sharp edges are twisted in and tucked inside the rim of the vase. The objective is to create a cover for the opening of your vessel.

When creating your flower arrangement, one important tip is proportion, including the height of flowers. Traditionally, for a well-balanced arrangement, the length of the flower stems should be one and a half to two times and a half the height of your vase. If you’re using a tall vessel, the entire arrangement should be two and a half times the height of the container. For smaller vases, like this arrangement, the final bouquet height should be one and a half times the size of the vase.

Fill your container with water and place the dianthus in the vase. This arrangement is incredibly easy to make!!!


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Bite-size Strawberries and Dates Dessert

Bite-size Strawberries and Dates Dessert

Strawberries are one of our favorite fruits, and our kids too. We ALWAYS have them in our fridge. This bright, juicy, and sweet fruit is great for desserts; we will eat any treat with them! They are also a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So why not pair with another great source of fiber, dates!! They are natural sugars making them perfect for desserts. We created this super easy, delicious, healthyish, and adorable no-bake bite-size treat perfect for the summertime. This one is truly super simple!!

The first step is to wash the strawberries and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Next is to pit the strawberries. Using the tip of a knife or a strawberry huller (so worth it! so much easier to use a huller), remove the center. Set them aside.

Now, it’s time for the dates. If not pitted, remove their pits. Then, thinly slice them, or cut them into small pieces.
It’s time to assemble!! Fill the strawberries with the bits of dates, add a layer of whipping cream and top everything off with a slice of date and garnish with mint. Serve immediately.

If you want to make this dessert ahead of time, substitute the whipping cream for vanilla frosting or cream and leave it in the fridge until is time to serve.
For the strawberries to stand up, slice the bottom of the fruit to create a level base! Super easy and done in a snap!

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Summer Citrus Salad

Summer Citrus Salad

On warm days, salads are a natural choice! I’d rather be outside enjoying the weather in the summertime than in the kitchen cooking, and the summer salads are the perfect solution. They are not only simple to toss together, but there are also so many delicious options.

Jump to Recipe

I have made this citrus salad on a few occasions, and it appeals to everyone at the table. The different oranges paired with the creamy burrata cheese are packed with flavors and so fresh. It’s bursting with creamy and citrusy flavors.

The secret to this salad is to use as many varieties of oranges as you can find to make a colorful plate. The mix of colors is so appealing! The different types of citrus fruits will also bring a good mix of texture and sweet and bitter elements.  

Ingredients:

Citrus fruits: I mixed navel, blood oranges, and grapefruits, but you can use any firm orange or even mandarins and tangelos. 

Burrata cheese: is a pouch made of stretchy cheese much like mozzarella. It comes in different sizes. You can get the small ones and use a small burrata per person on a single serving salad plate. Or you can get a large one and place it right in the middle of the serving plate (like I did!). 

Fresh Mint: The fresh mint gives the perfect final touch. 

Instructions:

Cutting off the peel and white pith from each citrus wedge is essential. I personally prefer cutting the oranges in half and resting the orange on the cut surface before I slice away strips of peels and the white membrane.

Slice the oranges crosswise 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. It should not be too thick, either too thin; otherwise, they can break easily.

A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper is all the seasoning this easy salad needs. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh mint leaves.  

Summer Citrus Salad

Ingredients

  • 4  navel oranges
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2  grapefruits
  • 1  large burrata 
  •  extra virgin olive oil
  •  handful of mint leaves, torn
  •  sea salt
  • black pepper

Instructions

  • With a small, sharp knife, cut the oranges in half and rest the orange on the cut surface. Slice away strips of peels and the white membrane to expose the flesh all around the oranges. 
  • Slice the oranges crosswise 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
  • Place the ball of burrata in the center of a serving plate and arrange the segments of orange around.
  • Drizzle generously with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, scatter over the torn mint leaves and serve.

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Spicy Cape Gooseberry Margarita

Spicy Cape Gooseberry Margarita

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ADM. All opinions are 100% mine.

When it’s summer, is there anything better than a refreshing drink full of flavor?? We don’t think so. In fact, we love exploring new cocktail recipes and making them with fresh ingredients filled with fascinating flavors. 

Margaritas are a classic. This sweet, sour, and salty drink is one of the most popular in the world. It is easy to replicate, and there are hundreds of versions for every taste. This summer, we added cape gooseberries and serrano peppers for a special twist to this classic. 

Some of you might be wondering what cape gooseberries are and what they taste like? Cape gooseberries, also called goldenberries, are a bright golden yellow fruit. They have a unique flavor: sweet, tart, tangy and tropical, and are loaded with nutrients. You’ll instantly notice both sweet and sour flavors when the berry bursts in your mouth. 

You can enjoy cape gooseberries in a variety of ways:

•          You can eat them like you eat grapes and cherry tomatoes, for snacks.

•          Swap the cherry tomatoes with cape gooseberries and use them in sauces and salads.  

•          Add them to a cheeseboard

•          They are also great in desserts and make for a tasty gooseberry curd cheesecake.

•          They also work well in cocktails.

Serrano peppers are versatile chiles that are not too spicy and not too mild. Their perfect balance of heat makes them delicious in a wide range of dishes and drinks. 

Cape gooseberries and serrano peppers are on ADM’s list as two of the top 5 ingredients that should be on everyone’s radar this Summer. ADM is a leader in the development of ingredients and flavors for foods and beverages.  ADM believes that ingredients do not have to be used in certain ways. Instead, being creative with different flavor and ingredients combinations unlocks limitless opportunities to experiment with different trends. We could not agree more!! Experimenting with new ingredients and flavors is fun, and you will most likely create something unique and personal. We decided to incorporate both the cape gooseberries and serrano peppers in our favorite summer drink.

Where to buy cape gooseberries and serrano peppers?

The major grocery stores carry both cape gooseberries and serrano peppers. They are in the produce section and can be found year-round. The gooseberries can also be labeled as goldenberries. 

Now that you know more about the two secret ingredients that we will add to our margarita let’s jump to the recipe. 

To make the best margarita mix, you need to have on hand two main ingredients:

•          Tequila: Silver or reposado is considered to be the best tequila for margaritas, but any type of tequila will work.

•          Freshly squeezed lime juice: Fresh flavors are always the best, so we recommend juicing your own limes right before you make your cocktails.

These two ingredients are the base of any margarita. The following ingredients are the add-ons that will give your drink that special twist.

•          Fruit: nearly every fruit pairs well with tequila. As we like to be creative with different flavors, we incorporated the cape gooseberries into this famous drink. 

•          Something sweet: If you would like to sweeten your margarita, we recommend adding agave syrup, simple syrup, or any other sweetener of your choice. 

•          Spice it up: The serrano pepper has a nice flavor and mild heat. Its heat pairs so well with the fresh lime juice and the cape gooseberry. Just make sure not to add too many seeds, as that is where the heat hides. You should also keep in mind that the longer the pepper sits in the drink, the spicier it will get.

•          Club Soda: A splash of Club Soda will add a little fizz to the drink.

•          Last, but not least…ICE! 

That is all you need to have your spicy, tart, slightly sweet, and refreshing spicy cape gooseberry margarita!!! The full recipe is below.

Ingredients:

•          6 Cape Gooseberries

•          2 oz Tequila

•          1 tbsp Freshly Squeezed lime juice

•          1/2 Serrano Pepper

•          Splash of Club Soda 

•          Agave – optional 

 Instructions

1.         Add the gooseberries to a cocktail shaker along with the lime juice. 

2.         Muddle the gooseberries with a muddler, add tequila and shake vigorously.

3.         Pour into a cocktail glass, fill with ice, add a splash of club soda and add the serrano pepper.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

We love hydrangeas; they are one of our favorite flowers. It was one of our grandma’s favorite too; maybe that’s why we like them so much. It reminds us of her!! They are so simple yet have a significant presence with their large flowerhead. They always stand out, whether it is an all hydrangea arrangement or mixed with different flowers.

If you want to learn how to arrange flowers, hydrangea is a great place to start. They are easily accessible at most grocery stores and one of the easiest and least expensive arrangements to create.

Hydrangeas take a lot of water and can wilt quickly if not properly cared for. As soon as you bring them home, cut each stem at a 45-degree angle and put them immediately in water; this will allow the blooms to drink more water. When purchasing from your local store, often they come with flower food; make sure to use it.

If you are picking from your garden, after cutting them, boil water and dip each hydrangea stem into it for thirty seconds and then place it in a vase with room temperature water.

Hydrangeas drink water from their bloom heads as well, and spraying water on them helps prevent them from wilting. In case they do wilt, you can dunk its whole head in room temperature water.

Keep your hydrangea arrangement at a cooler temperature and away from drafts or direct sunlight. Replace the water every other day. With proper care, your hydrangea arrangement can last for weeks.

Potted hydrangeas look so beautiful and will last much longer than cut ones, especially if you pick one with few blooms and lots of buds.

Water the plant often, feel the soil, and if the top layer feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water it. Drainage is essential; make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom of the container you selected. Place your potted hydrangea where it receives bright light but not direct sunlight.