July 15, 2016

Zucchini Blossoms

They are one of the season's fleeting delight offerings and I can't believe I had never heard of them before. I'm talking about zucchini blossoms.
This year, Brady added two more beds to his vegetable garden, and at this point, zucchinis have been the kings of it, blooming with flowers.

One day after work Brady was outside watering the garden while I was cooking our dinner, and thinking about the beautiful zucchini flowers I wonder if we could eat them. I checked online and to my surprise learned that these delicate flowers are a delicacy. How could I have not known about it before?

I was intrigued by these yellow flowers, and now that I had them in my backyard I wanted to cook them.

I learned that typically they are deep-fried, but I did not want to make a mess in the kitchen, so I decided I would bake them, and in my head I already knew I was going to use some fresh herbs from my garden and make a simple and aromatic filling

I was thrilled. I had never cooked them before, and after looking for some recipes I decided to use rosemary and thyme with goat cheese to stuff the blossoms.

Zucchini blossoms are delicate flowers and they must be picked right before cooking them otherwise they wilt quickly.

According to this site, "many cooks remove the pistils from female flowers, and stamens from male flowers, although both of them are edible and have flavor. The male stamen contains the pollen". Yes, zucchini flowers have a sex life. 
For this recipe I used only male flowers and I removed the stamens.

Baked Zucchini Blossoms with Goat Cheese Filling

 6 zucchini blossoms
♥ 100 grs goat cheese
♥ 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
♥ 1 tbsp thyme, chopped
♥ freshly ground black pepper, to taste
♥ salt, to taste (I used pink salt)

Preparation: Preheat oven to 320F. Line a baking tray with baking paper, or foil.

Mix together the goat cheese and the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully open the blossoms, stuff them with the mixture, and twist the top of the blossoms to seal in the filling.

Place the blossoms on the tray and drizzle them with olive oil - turn and roll them to cover them all over.

Bake for about 15 minutes (+/-) until they are crisp and tender.

♥ ♥ 

I served them with tricolor quinoa. A healthy and light lunch meal.

The blossoms did not make the nicest good-looking dish at all, but honestly, they were totally delicious!

July 14, 2016

A morning walk and the simplicity of an omelet

Last week, after so many cold and wet days, we finally had the perfect Spring weekend, cool early morning misty, late morning sunny. Such a pleasant weather!

I left early in the morning for a walk in the neighborhood. Quietness, broken only by the chirp-chirp of birds and the patter of squirrels.

How magical that morning was, the fog and sunrise quietly moving together. It was the loveliest of Spring days.

On my walk back home, I stopped by my friend's home, Lucia, who kindly went to her garden and picked some organic asparagus and collected some eggs to give to me.

Brady smiled when he saw me getting back home with a basket filled with asparagus and eggs, he knew it was a gift from our friends as every year they share some of their produce with us.

The next morning, I made this delicious baked asparagus omelet. Oh it tasted so rich, the distinctive sweetness of the asparagus was a good complement to the eggs. 

This decidedly has become a favorite omelet of mine.

It's nutritious,

It's flavorful,

and remarkably simple to make!

A tasty breakfast, Spring brunch, or light supper in no time, this omelet is baked individually so it is easy to serve.

Baked Asparagus Omelet
Makes about 5 quinch dishes

♥ 4 eggs
♥ 8 green asparagus, snipped
♥ 4 tbsp heavy cream
♥ Havarti cheese, cubed
♥ green onions, to taste
♥ sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground is better
♥ grated Parmesan, to taste
♥ butter - to coat the dish(s)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the dishes with butter, and set them in a baking pan just big enough to hold them.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with the heavy cream until smooth.

Stir in the green onions, and season with salt and black pepper.

Divide mixture between prepared dishes, top each one with the asparagus and cubed cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake the omelets, uncovered,  for about 20 minutes, until puffed and gold.

Tips: use the herbs of your choice or/and  the ones you have handy; the same goes for the cheeses - Gruy√®re, Feta, grated Cheddar, or Pecorino, are great choices as well.

June 26, 2016

Urban Jungle Bloggers - One Plant and Three Stylings

Sometines I feel like the White Rabbit  muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late"... The Urban Jungle Blogger's topic for this month was published on June 23rd, and here I am, late again.

I think it's such a cool idea to be challenged to create a visual styling based on a topic they come up with. I wish I could organized my time better so I would participate on all of their topics, and publish them on time.

This month's topic is One Plant - Three Stylings. The idea is to show three different stylings using the same plant. I picked the lovely String of Pearls. I think I owe it to it.

Not too long ago, my String of Pearls looked  like this, remember? Well, with my need to keep moving things around, I placed it in the guess room, and guess what? I forgot about it. Yes, I must confess, I always killed this adorable plant, and I felt terrible. 

To revive my near-dead plant, I replanted its bits & pieces in two simple clay potes and placed them on Ikea plant pot holders. I keep them on the kitchen cupboard together with other small succulents and my precious pink bell-shaped violet. How do I call this styling? I call it homey styling.

My second styling couldn't be easier - Breakfast outside!

At this time of the year, Brady and I try and have most of our meals outside, especially breakfast on weekends.

For this styling I chose to keep the clay pots bare, and placed the pots on a wood tray. I think it goes well with the natural landscape.

My third styling was a request from Brady to bring more green to our home office. This is a corner of our home office,  and here the plant pot holders looked more suitable than the bare clay pots.

I hope you feel inspired and join the fun at Urban Jungle Bloggers.

June 20, 2016

Morning Glory

Ah monday morning... just finished watering the garden... time to sit for a bit and have a cup of coffee.

The days pass so quickly... and we are into a new week... I wish the days had more than 24 hours so I could enjoy it longer, so I had the time to do everything I want to do...

This weekend, we will pick your own cherries (yay!). Silly me, I did not know there were cherry farms in Connecticut. The first and only time I visitd a cherry orchard was in England, and I felt like a child in a candy store.

I keep thinking what I'm going to make with them, maybe some chocolate cherry ice cream, or a cherry pie perhaps, or simply enjoy some fresh and yummy cherries on their own.

In the meantime, while I don't have any cherry recipe to share with you yet, I want to show you these two morning glory pictures I took last summer. I found them when I was organizing my photos last week, and I thought I was more organized.

These beautiful, fragile flowes open gloriously in the morning and close in the afternoon. 

There is something magical when the morning light comes to the garden and hits it so beautifully, don't you agree?

Just some light and colours to start the week with... have a good week, guys.

June 12, 2016

Peonies, and a Pudding to die for

As a kid, I remember, I would count the days until school ended, not because I didn't like school, but because as soon as the days started getting longer and heating up, I knew Summer was coming, and Summer is almost here...

While Summer is not here yet, I keep enjoying the beautiful Spring flowers, and to me peonies are the most exquisite ones. I absolutely love peonies. Their amazing large blooms with tons of ruffles are staggering. I can not get enough of them. Definitely, I completely go overboard taking pictures of them.

Usually, I don't clipp flowers off from a garden, I just let them be, but peonies are the kind of flowers, I think, look better as a bouquet in a jar than outside, or maybe I am  just being selfish as I can not resist their beauty and sweet scent filling my home.

By now you might be thinking 'what peonies has to do with a pudding recipe?', well, nothing and everything... 

Friday, I had the day off and spent my day at home, alone. I took care of my backyard, took some pictures, and then I sat down to have a cup of coffee and homemade cake. The unique scent of the peonies filled my home, and it felt cozy and homey. I was content, which took me back to the lazy Summer days when I was younger and lived with my parents... and I felt inspired to make this delicious and refreshing recipe to share with you.

This recipe is inspired by a traditional Brazilian recipe called curau, but I modified engredients and quantities to make for a more rich creamy texture pudding. 

It's extremely simple to make,

and it tastes delicious!

Sweet Corn and Coconut Pudding
Makes about 6

♥ 40 ounces sweet corn (fresh, frozen, or can sweet corn, whatever sounds good to you)
♥ 200 ml coconut milk
♥ 1 can sweetened condensed milk
♥ 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, and some more to garnish
♥ 1 tbsp butter
♥ a pinch of salt

In a blender, mix the sweet corn and the coconut milk. Puree the mixture.

Bring the mixture to a medium to medium-low heat (it will depend on the stove), add the sweetened condensed milk, the unsweetened shredded coconut, the butter and a pinch of salt.

Cook until thickened, for about 40 to 45 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into individual glass dishes, which should be placed on a rack to speed up the cooling process.

Place the glass dishes in the refrigerator. 

This pudding tastes much better if served cold.

If you like sweet corn and coconut, you should try this recipe, it's definitely a winner!

Sorry, but I told you I went overboard taking pictures of them, and if you, like me, can't get enough of them, you can see more here.

June 3, 2016

A quiet start for a new day

If you read my posts, you know how much I nourish my mornings, specially at this time of the year when I wake up with the singing of the birds, have a cup of coffee, and stroll through my garden. Finally, flowers are everywhere.

Every time I wonder through my garden it's like the first time, every time there is something happening, there is something new. I feel absolute in awe of each flower, each petal... their colors, shapes, textures, and their fragrances. It takes my breath away. They calm my soul and nourish my spirit.

These wonderful silent mornings draw me in to be still, to observe, to smell, to listen carefully...

Morning vibes... serene and bright.

Have a lovely weekend guys. Wish you moments filled with joy and laughter.

May 17, 2016

DIY Faux Flower Gift Topper

This DIY is as easy as a DIY can be, it does not require any special skills.

Mind you, a few weeks ago I had a wedding to go, my wedding gift was packed in a big box, and I had a challenge, how to wrap a big box in a special way?  How to personalize it?

I wanted it to have flowers, a nice bouquet, but I was afraid the flowers would not look their best for the entire wedding ceremony and wedding party, that's when I thought of using faux flowers, but how to attach faux flowers on top of my package? That's another challenge, and that's when I thought of using styrofoam.

I had no idea if it would work, but it did work, and I loved how it looked, so much so that last weekend I made another one for another wedding gift - people do like to get married in May!

The final touch to this faux flower bouquet, to give it a more natural and fresh look, is to add some real flowers, flowers that keep looking their best for days, even weeks, without water, like craspedia globosa (billy button) and gypsophila (baby's breath).

You'll need:

This faux flower gift topper is so simple to make that I could not figure out how to take step by step pictures without them coming out looking silly. Basically, believe me, all the steps are shown on the picture below.

How to:
  • Consider the contours of the styrofoam and the pieces you have chosen for your arrangement.
  • Varying heights will give you the most natural looking display. Trim each flower as you go. Don't panic if you dislike how the arrangement is taking shape; simply re-position the flowers until it looks pleasing to you.  Work from the center out
  • For this project, flowers with hard stems are much easier to work with, they do not require a stick to make holes for them, easily they get inserted in the foam, and there is no need to glue them to the foam; on the other hand, flowers with soft stems need to be glued to the foam or they will not stay secured to it.
  • Cover the entire foam, including the sides, with flowers.
  •  Use small faux flowers and some natural flowers to both fill in any gaps and also to add movement and expression to your arrangement until it looks lush.
  • To attach the flower arrangement on the gift box, spread glue under the styrofoam using the foam brush and hold it firmly for a few seconds.

If you feel inspired to try and make this easy as a pie DIY, please let me know. I would love to see how you would customize your own faux flower gift topper .

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