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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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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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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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.

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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.

Brie Cheese and Fig Salad

Brie Cheese and Fig Salad

How adorable is this mini brie cheese!? We both love all sorts of cheese, but brie is probably one that is always on our cheeseboard. We prefer to add a topping to it, as they can be slightly plain in taste. Brie cheese is so versatile and pairs really well with either sweet, salty or both additions. The sky is the limit when creating anything with this soft and creamy cheese.  

This salad takes minutes to prepare; it’s SO easy, delicious and with a beautiful presentation. Start by seasoning the arugula; in a bowl, whisk some good quality olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the arugula.

In a salad plate, layer some of the arugula on the bottom. Next, cut the mini brie cheese in the middle; we used Supreme Brie Bites, which you can easily find at your local grocery store. On the bottom half, spread a layer of your favorite fig jam and top it off with the other half. If desired, add a little more of the jam on top! Place the brie cheese on top of the arugula, add fresh cut figs, shaved almonds and top it all off with balsamic glaze.

Feel free to switch up some of the ingredients in this salad; instead of almonds, try pistachio or walnuts. Change the greens to suit your taste; mixed greens will go really well here. Omit the fresh figs if you don’t like it; it tastes so yummy without them too. 

It doesn’t get easier than that!! It’s a great appetizer idea for your next lunch or dinner party. Your guests will love this!!

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Taco Dinner Board

Taco Dinner Board

Tacos are always a good idea!! Don’t you think?

I have been loving serving our family dinners on a large serving board. Placing a food board in the center of the dinner table and letting everyone snack as they please is fun and reduces the number of serving dishes you have to clean. A few dinners I have served in a board are Pulled Pork Sandwich, Spring Rolls, Grilled chicken and cob salad, and of course… Tacos!

Tacos are not only easy to prepare, but it is also a crowd-pleaser. Most of the taco toppings (if not all) you can buy at grocery stores. But if you prefer preparing your own, it is even better, and there is really no secret.

I personally prefer preparing my pico de gallo, or also called “salsa fresca”. All you have to do is dice up tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Place them in a bowl and squeeze in the lime juice and add salt and pepper. Combine well all the ingredients and let them rest for at least 1 hour. You can even prepare one day in advance, and it will taste even better!

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As for the protein, I usually go more traditional with ground beef, chicken or carnitas.  But you can also add fish, shrimp, or just beans. I use the grocery store spice packets to season the beef, and then I throw it in a very hot skillet and let it cook until it is browned. I like it a bit saucier, so I add a tablespoon of beef stock.  That’s it!

Sometimes I add soft tortillas, and sometimes the hard shells. You can pick one or add both to your board. There is no right or wrong! Just make sure to add the tortillas and/or taco shells as the last item to the board. I keep them in the oven and bring them to the table when I am ready to serve.

I have listed below some of my favorite Taco Toppings:

–         Guacamole

–         Pico de Gallo or salsa

–         Lettuce

–         Grilled peppers

–         Black Beans

–         Cheese

–         Sour cream

–         Hot sauce

–         Jalapenos

–         Fresh cilantro

And follow these easy tips to create your board:

–         Choose a large food board.

–         In small bowls, add your favorite toppings: cheese, guacamole, black beans….

–         I like to serve hot items, like grilled peppers and tprotein in cast-iron dishes. They come from the stove directly to the board, and it will keep it warmer for a long time.

–         Add the tortillas and/or taco shells as the last item.

–         Add jalapeno and cilantro to finalize!

Once your board is assembled, you and your family are ready to dig in!

Pico de Gallo

Ingredients

  • 3 medium tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded (diced)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 lime (lime juice) 
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and the chopped cilantro.
    All the lime juice and season to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1-hour.

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No Bake Tiramisu Trifle

No Bake Tiramisu Trifle

We love trifles, especially individuals ones.  They are so easy to make,  brighten up any dessert table and look so impressive. When I came across this recipe from ciaoflorentina.com, the picture looked so beautiful that I had to try it. It turned out to be SO delicious too! Barbara and I had to share this one since we love yummy recipes with a beautiful presentation. We call them winners! This no-bake tiramisu trifle is definitely one of them.

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Ingredients:

  • 6oz lady fingers
  • 1/2lb blueberries
  • 1lb blackberries
  • 1lb mascarpone cheese
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 5tbsp sugar
  • 3/4cup heavy cream
  • 4tbsp honey
  • 2 lemons
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp water
  • mint leaves to garnish

No Bake Tiramisu Trifle

Course Dessert
Author Florentina

Ingredients

  • 6 oz lady fingers
  • 1/2 lb blueberries
  • 1 lb blackberries
  • 1 lb mascarpone cheese
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 lemons juices
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Mint to Garnish

Instructions

  • In a saucepan add the blackberries and blueberries together with the lemon juice, vanilla extract, honey and water. . Bring it to a simmer on low flame, cover with a lid and simmer together for a few minutes until the blueberries have popped. Allow to cool. Once cooled off strain the berry sauce separating the liquid from the solids.
  • Meanwhile using a mixer with the whisk attachment whip together the heavy cream with 1tbsp of the sugar. Transfer to the refrigerator and keep cold until ready to use.
  • In a different bowl cream together the egg yolks with 4tbsp of the sugar using the mixer with the whisk attachment. Start adding the mascarpone cheese a little bit at a time until incorporated.
  • Using a spatula add the chilled whipped cream to the bowl with the mascarpone and gently fold them together. Divide in two bowls.
  • Add the solid berries from the sauce to one of the bowls with the mascarpone and gently fold together. Set aside.
  • Dip the ladyfingers in the berry sauce and layer them in the bottom of the serving glasses or trifle dish. Add a layer of the berry mascarpone mixture followed by a layer of the plain mascarpone mixture. Repeat the layer until you run out of ingridients
  • Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until set.
  • Serve chilled garnished with some fresh blackberries, blueberries and fresh mint.

Pizza and Salad!

Pizza and Salad!

Hosting at home has never been so popular; it’s a safer and more controlled manner to gather with your family and intimate friends (the ones in your bubble). However, most people think that hosting at home can be exhausting and time-consuming. It doesn’t have to! Pizza, Salad, Dessert and let’s not forget the wine, everything served on the kitchen island. Easy Peasy and looks adorable. People just want to get together in person; that’s all it matters now. Keep it simple but cozy; all your guests will love whatever you plan.

The kitchen is the heart of most houses and most likely the best place to host a casual gathering. Lay everything on the kitchen island, and guests can help themselves. Very simple! If you want, add some flowers to enhance your kitchen’s decor. We always think that flowers can instantly transform any room or tablescape, but you can always live it out if a floral arrangement is not your thing.

Pear Naan Pizza with Honey and Goat Cheese!
This pizza is SO easy to make, and it’s so delicious; we have made it so many times. The original recipe is by https://bygabriella.co

Ingredients
1 bosc pear, peeled & thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon butter
8 ounces chevre
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
15 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons honey
2 pieces of naan bread

Instructions

  1. Sauté your onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil with sugar & salt over medium heat until browned.
  2. Melt butter in a pan over medium-low heat, add pears & roast for 10 minutes, flipping once.
  3. Add 3 sprigs of thyme to a small bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, let sit for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Make your honey whipped chevre by mixing your chevre with 2 tablespoons honey & 5 sprigs of thyme.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Brush olive oil onto your naan then add & spread your honey whipped chevre.
  7. Add onions & pear, bake for about 8 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven. Top off with the rest of your thyme & 1 tablespoon of drizzled honey.

Experiment with different toppings; we love three-cheese and basil! So flavorful!

Add your favorite salad, and don’t forget the dessert!

Everything looks like a million bucks when served on a beautiful platter!!

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