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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Hand-Tied Flower Arrangement

Hand-Tied Flower Arrangement

It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to create your own floral arrangement! A flower arrangement can instantly transform your home decor or your tablescape. However, most people feel overwhelmed to design a bouquet. We will help you create a simple yet beautiful hand-tied bouquet with a selection of flowers that you can find at your local grocery store. 

One of the questions we get the most is where do we buy our flowers? Most of them are from grocery stores. The blooms available in grocery stores tend to last a long time, and usually, they are low maintenance, cheerful, and very affordable. We agree that flower shops carry a larger variety and much better quality flowers. But for those who don’t know much about flowers, this can be intimidating, so there is no problem starting with the grocery store ones until you decide to move with different colors and shapes.

When selecting the flowers, one tip is to avoid buying the blooms fully open. You should also always check the stems and leaves. You want to make sure that they are firm.

The first step when designing a flower arrangement is to decide on a color scheme. It is best to work with one or two main colors. And when it comes to floral design, the green act as a neutral tone that accents any decor.

There are several different ways that you can design and create your own flower arrangements. The hand-tied technique is simple and very quick to master.

Start by following the steps below:

1- Once you have chosen your color scheme, select flowers that have fine stems but are full of flowers, like roses, alstroemerias and hydrangeas.

2- Strip the foliage and thorns of the stems and lay them all on your table. You don’t leave any leaves on your stems for a bouquet because most of them will fall below the flower line. You should also always make sure you do this before you start arranging the flowers.  

3- Begin by holding a single flower on your left hand (or your non-dominant hand), and then, using your other hand, add the second flower on an angle (crossing the stems). Keep adding the flowers at an angle, working your way around it.

4- Remember: One hand holds the arrangement, and the other hand adds the flowers.

5- Make sure to always turn the bouquet and slightly drop the stems’ height to get a rounded shape.

6- Make sure to look at the bouquet from the top and ensure that the flowers are nicely spaced.

7- Avoid having many flowers of the same type sitting together. Make sure that you mix them up to create a cohesive arrangement.

8- If you are not happy with the arrangement, don’t be afraid to put it down and start again.

9- Once you’re happy with the way it looks, tie the stems together firmly with a string or a rubber band.

10- Trim the stems gradually to fit the container.

For these two small arrangements, please find below the list of materials we used:

– 16 pink roses

– 12 stems of pink alstroemerias

– Rubber band

– Floral scissors: https://amzn.to/39ju84j

– 2 Silver Plated Beaded Mint Julep Cup 5 inches tall : https://amzn.to/3oez2DW

Watch the video below for full tutorial

Valentine’s Day Brunch!

Valentine’s Day Brunch!

LOVE IS IN THE AIR!!! Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, the perfect day to celebrate with an extra special Sunday Brunch. Whether with your immediate family, or some very close friends, this year, take the time to set up something a little special. This past year was a rough one for us all; we definitely need some love and to show some love, so cheer up your home with a Valentine-themed Brunch.

Brunch is probably one of the easiest meals to plan as you can serve several store-bought items. Add a variety of pastries, pound cake, bread, yogurt and fruits to your shopping list. The only dish you may want to prepare is the main one, like scrambled eggs, omelettes, french toast, croque monsieur or madame, or whatever you enjoy. Make the main dish easy or a little more elaborate, depending on your cooking skills. No brunch is complete without some champagne to toast, so add a little bubbly to your list. Mimosas or Bellinis are perfect for the occasion too.

You don’t need valentine designed dishes; you can simply add pink or red (or both) flowers to capture the season’s style. A ton sur ton pink roses arrangement like the one above is so easy to design. Pick three different shades of roses, remove all the leaves and cut all the stems around the same height. The pinkish vase definitely helped to elevate the theme, but it can look so beautiful in a clear vase as well.

A great way to serve yogurt is by placing them in a bowl full of ice to keep them nice and cold. This one is a decorative crystal bowl that I have on my coffee table, but didn’t it look so beautiful here!? On the side, add some optional toppings for the yogurt, I served berries, but the sky is the limit. You can serve nuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, granola, and so much more.

I bought this pink 3 tier stand for my daughter’s one-year tea party themed birthday. They are so cute, and I have used them a few times already. They are perfect for V-Day! However, any 3 tier stand works! This type of serving dish displays pastries beautifully, I tend to use a lot when serving brunch.

I am sending extra love on this year’s Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a day filled with pink, red, hearts, flowers, chocolates and all things valentine!

By Carolina

Shop items from this post here and some of our picks!

Chocolate Board

Chocolate Board

Chocolate boards became a hit amongst our family and friends. They are a beautiful display and so easy to put together. All you have to do is display your favorite chocolates and fruits on a board! The best part… NO BAKE IS REQUIRED!

The first thing is to choose your board. This is the type of dessert that can be scaled to serve any number of people. You can arrange a chocolate board for two or 50! The number of people you will be serving will dictate how big or small your plate should be. We chose a round wood board, but it also looks beautiful on a marble tray or even a ceramic plate.

The next step is to choose what you want to add to your board. This is where you get creative! There are no rules, and you can combine your family favorites.

On this board, we added:

– Chocolate ganache;

– White chocolate;

– Belgium chocolate biscuit assortment

– Dark chocolate bar

– Milk chocolate bar

– Chocolate covered finger cookies

– Bite-size wafer cookies

– Strawberries and raspberries

The only thing homemade is the chocolate ganache! Not even sure if we can consider this as homemade, lol! It’s is a 2-ingredient recipe: semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream, at a 1:1 ratio of cream to chocolate.

How to make chocolate ganache:

1- In a microwave safe bowl, add the finely chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) and heat in the microwave for about 1 minute.

2- Pour the heavy cream into a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 45 seconds.

3- Combine the warm cream and chocolate and whisk together until well combined and smooth. If needed, return to the microwave for another 30 seconds.

After you stir the chocolate and warm cream together, use the ganache right away.

Don’t try to do the same with the white chocolate. It doesn’t work! Using a heatproof bowl, microwave the white chocolate, stirring every 15 seconds, until it is melted and smooth.

Now it’s time to assemble your board. There are no rules, but here are some tips:

– Start by placing the bowls on the board;

– Place the cookies and chocolates creating different heights and mixing the colors (for example, the dark chocolate on top of the milk chocolate, or vice-versa);

– Fruits not only go so well with chocolate, but they also add a beautiful pop of color to the board.

Now, it’s time to enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are extremely easy to make but are so elegant, beautiful, impressive looking and romantic. We love them! I mean, who doesn’t love them!? They are beautiful on their own, add elegance to a dessert table, or the final touch on top of a cake or cheesecake.

Ingredients

  • Strawberries
  • White, Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Melting Wafers or Baking Chocolate Chips
  • Coconut Oil

The most important aspect of this treat is to select high-quality chocolate. Very important! We usually use Ghirardelli Melting Wafers or Ghirardelli Baking Chips, but any high chocolate works.

  • Wash and dry the strawberries. Make sure to dry them well; they must be completely dry. The water will prevent the chocolate from sticking to the strawberry. 
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. 
  • Using a heatproof bowl, microwave the chocolate wafers and a little bit of the coconut oil, stirring every 15 seconds, until they are melted and smooth. Coconut oil is not essential, but it helps hardens the chocolate faster and makes it a little thicker. 
  • Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip it into the chocolate, turning it to coat. Lift and let excess chocolate fall off.  
  • Lay the strawberries on the parchment paper.
  • Wait 30 minutes for the chocolate to set, or place the strawberries into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to speed the process.
  • Enjoy them the same day, that’s when they are best. However, you can keep them in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.


Marbled Decoration

For a marbled effect, melt the dark and white chocolate as described above. Using a small spoon, drizzle some of the dark chocolate onto the white one. Do not stir! Dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture, twist and turn when lifting up to create the marbled effect. Watch the video below for the full tutorial.

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue

Is there anything better than staying home on a cold night enjoying cheese fondue and a glass of wine!? Sounds like heaven to us! So why not add one to your cheese platter!? We don’t know about you, but for us, we can’t get enough of cheese. 

Serving cheese fondue feels super special, like being in the Swiss Alps (lol), really simple to prepare and so cozy for a winter night. Although growing up in Brazil, we always enjoyed going to a fondue restaurant. I guess you can have it in any weather (lol)!!! 

There are many ways to make cheese fondue; however, use a Fondue mix for a quicker and easier way. Just make sure to make it on the stove and then transfer it to the fondue pot. Serve with crusty bread, crunch vegetables like broccoli or cauliflowers, fruits like apples and pears, cherry tomatoes and potatoes. Make sure you have enough skewers for everyone, the last thing you want is people sharing them.

Gingerbread Man Cake

Gingerbread Man Cake

It’s no secret that we love using shortcuts to create a fun and delicious recipe! A homemade cake is certainly healthier (if you can call a cake a healthy thing, lol!), but you don’t have to do everything from scratch when you are busy.

Just a few little tricks and you can create this delicious cake out of a box! It is safer to say two boxes, lol! One box of French vanilla cake mix and one box of gingerbread man cookies.

It’s so easy to make and definitely a must-try!!

Gingerbread Man Cake

Course Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 box french vanilla cake mix
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 16 oz whipping cream
  • 1/2 can condensed milk
  • 1 box gingerbread man cookies about 8 cookies

Instructions

Cake

  • Mix the cake according to its baking instructions and add 1tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • Pour the batter evenly into two 6-inch cake pans
  • Bake according to its baking instructions

Chantilly Filling

  • Slowly beat the heavy whipping cream until it begins to thicken.
  • Add the condensed milk and 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp of ground ginger.
  • Continue to beat until the cream is very stiff and stands in firm peaks.

Assemble and decorate the cake

  • Use a large serrated knife to level the cakes
  • Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, spread the Chantilly filling evenly on top.
  • Top with 2nd cake layer and spread the Chantilly filling evenly on top
  • Spread the Chantilly filling around the sides using an icing spatula, stick gingerbread man around the cake
  • Decorate the top with mini gingerbread man.