February 22, 2017

Chef Luke Makes crêpes with Crêpes à la Maison

My favorite part of social media is when people discover Little Miss Party and get in touch to share their excitement towards our business and all that we are doing here. We recently received an email from Jennifer at Crêpes à la Maison who caught wind of Chef Luke’s little cooking show here and asked if she could come in to give him a lesson in making crêpes. Obviously we screamed YES! Please! How fun?!

Jennifer, the cutest, sweetest French gal came over with all the gear required to teach a little one how to make her delicious crêpes. She set up balloons, a menu, toppings to decorate the crêpes and more. She even brought berets for her and Luke to wear while they cook! Could you die from these two?!

Although Luke and her had some language challenges between her heavy French accent and Luke’s extremely fast speaking lip, they got along incredibly well and Luke listened to everything Jennifer said and asked of him.

Jennifer made making crêpes SO easy! And boy were they ever delicious. Jennifer offers crêpes making classes and events. What a great idea for a kids party or even an adults brunch right?!

She even came with a special crêpes making diploma for Luke AND a book about France. TOO CUTE!!

Your mouth is probably watering now and I’m sure you’re dying to try these yourself. So here is Jennifer’s recipe for these delicious crêpes.

And even better…here’s a video of Chef Luke and Jennifer whipping up crêpes together.

Can’t get enough? Watch Chef Luke decorate his crêpes here!

Enjoy!

Video shot by Abby Copleston
Video edited by Maggie Antalek
Get in touch with Jennifer at Crêpes à la Maison

xx, Seri
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February 17, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Okay guys. This maybe wasn’t such a good idea but I don’t want to discourage you from attempting to make your own (supposedly easy) Chinese dumplings.

Reason being is that these are a huge “patchka” (literal translation: to mess around with food or a project)

Think of these as a culinary challenge to your dexterity and patience.

Have you ever watched professional chefs make dim sum dumplings? Truly an art.

They take the dough, stuff it, seal it and steam the dumplings efficiently. Within seconds, they have mastered hundreds of precisely made dumplings. That being said, they do this for a living. Day in and day out. THEY ARE DUMPLING  MAKERS.

I had a few factors working against me when I tried these. One being that I’m not Asian and have never made a dumpling before (hang on, I tried making what we call “Jewish wontons” once and experienced the same result….crappy kreplach. Secondly, for a change I was in a hurry to make and photograph these in time for the Chinese New Year. Do you know what happens when you rush? Besides breaking into full on shvitz (sweat) here’s a list of my excuses……

#1.

I didn’t feel like making my own dough. Already, that’s a problem and classified as a cop out for authentic dumplings.

#2.

Although I’m pretty good with my hands, the majority of these SO CALLED dumplings fell apart as soon as I steamed them. Not pretty, not pretty AT ALL.

#3.

I ate the ones that fell apart so no one would witness aftermath of the exploded dumplings. Not a great idea since I was trying to hide the disaster and therefore couldn’t eat dinner seeing as I WAS STUFFED to the gills with dumplings. A full out giveaway that “something went awry” with my experiment.

I came to the conclusion that it’s much easier to go out for Dim Sum and I plan on doing that in the future.

Have I scared you enough to look away from this blog post?

Nah.

Check out how nice they are……..(I mean, see how nice the ones that turned out look?)

The truth of the matter is, practice makes perfect and the next time I tried making these I used yoga breathing to get through the process and they were STELLAR.

almost forgot something. The dipping sauces. I wanted to make MY own and I did. What I didn’t do was write down the recipes for each one. Brilliant right? I’m going to do my best to remember what was in them but just in case I forgot an ingredient please forgive me. I’m blaming it all on the dumplings.

CHICKEN & BOK CHOY CHINESE DUMPLINGS

– ½ lb ground chicken
– ¾ cup baby bok choy, steamed and finely chopped
– 2 tablespoons, chives finely chopped
– 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
– 1 garlic clove, finely minced
– 1 tablespoon sesame oil
– ½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
– ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
– 1 package round wonton wrappers (you can find these at an Asian supermarket)
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, if pan frying
– black and white toasted sesame seeds for garnish
– Additional chopped chives for garnish

1) Combine the ground chicken, bok choy, chives, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, vinegar, and pepper into a medium bowl until well blended.
2) Place wrappers on a work surface lined with parchment paper.
3) To assemble the dumplings place ½ tablespoon of filling per wonton.
4) Rub the edges of the wrappers with water using your fingertip.
5) Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon shape, and pinch the edges to seal. (here’s where you need to be very careful, make sure those edges are tightly sealed otherwise you will end up with E.D.S. – Exploded Dumpling Syndrome.
6) Now you can either steam or pan fry the dumplings, here’s how:
7) To steam the dumplings, add about 1 to 2 inches of water into the bottom of a large pan and bring to a boil. (I have a double decker bamboo steamer and I make sure not to submerge the bottom layer of the steamer into the water)
8) Layer the steamer baskets with vegetable leaves (I used bok choy) to prevent the dumplings from sticking.
9) Place the bamboo steamer over the water and cook for about 10 minutes or until the dumplings are fully cooked.
10) To pan fry the dumplings, add oil to a pan and sauté dumplings for 2-3 minutes on one side until golden brown. Add in some water (3-4 tablespoons) and place a lid over the pan to steam. The dumplings should be done once all of the water has been absorbed. Garnish with additional chives, chopped peanuts and serve with dipping sauces. Makes about 24 dumplings or in my case 15 due to E.D.S.
11) Serve with dipping sauces and garnished with sesame seeds and chives

GINGER SOY DIPPING SAUCE

– 1⁄4 cup light soy sauce
– 3⁄4 tablespoon rice vinegar
– 1 teaspoon honey
– 1 minced garlic clove
– 1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
– 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
– 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

Whisk all ingredients and serve.

SZECHUAN PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE

– 2 tablespoons peanut butter
– 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
– 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
– 1 teaspoon sriracha ketchup
– 3 – 4 tablespoons water
– 1 tablespoon crushed peanuts

1) In a small microwave-safe bowl, add hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, 3 tablespoons of water, peanut butter, and sriracha ketchup. Mix to blend ingredients.
2) Microwave on high for 20-25 seconds. Remove from microwave, and use a fork to combine ingredients together.
3) If sauce is too thick, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of water to achieve a thinner consistency.
4) Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve as dipping sauce.

FIERY THAI DIPPING SAUCE

– ½ cup water
– ¼ cup rice vinegar
– ¼ cup white sugar
– 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
– 1 ½ teaspoons red chili flakes
– ⅛ cup water
– 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1) Combine water, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and chili flakes in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
2) Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 5 minutes, keep stirring so it doesn’t scorch.
3) In a cup or small bowl, make a slurry of the cornstarch and ⅛ cup water.
4) After the sauce has simmered for 5 minutes, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture.
5) Bring the sauce to a boil and cook gently for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
6) If the sauce isn’t as thick as you want, boil for another minute or so.
7) Serve as dipping sauce.

xx, Debi
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February 3, 2017

Galentine’s Day Parfait & Paint Party

I’m super excited about this post for so many reasons. Let me begin by telling you that I have always been totally obsessed with Martha Stewart. Recipes, magazines, TV shows, crafts…..if it was Martha, I followed along.

Three years ago, I started an Instagram feed where I could showcase my food photography. I will never forget the day that one of my photos was featured on Martha Stewart. I felt that this was the ultimate compliment and to be honest, it may sound a little silly to you, but I cried. Yep. I was so overwhelmed that my work was recognized, I sat in the car an sobbed.

A couple of months ago, I received a call from New York. A lovely young lady from Martha Stewart asked me if I wanted to be a regular contributor to Martha’s website.

I mean, really??? What would you say?

A BIG FAT HUGE YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!

And so it began…….now I had to come up with a creative idea for MARTHA!

Here was my sweet idea: Invite a group of your closest gal pals, prop up your prettiest-in-pink decor, and scoop up all the treats you’ll find at a yogurt parfait bar. There’s only one rule: #noboysallowed.

My husband is a true romantic and loves to celebrate Valentine’s Day with me, but what about the lovely women in my life who are my family and best friends forever? Not everyone has a significant other and should definitely have a day to recognize loving relationships, especially when they involve food and fun. Here’s how to host a fabulous Galentines Day party for ladies celebrating ladies featuring a super chic yogurt parfait bar.

Step 1: Prepare a few mix-and-match yogurt flavors.
A yogurt parfait bar for your gal friends equipped with all the toppings and ingredients is perfect for a brunch party. Sticking with the romantic theme of pink and white, I opted for two flavors of yogurt — strawberry and vanilla — dressed with fresh raspberries and pomegranate arils.

Step 2: Add some crunch.
I used Martha Stewart’s homemade granola recipe then placed it into beautiful serving jars. For a cute twist, I made “topping shooters” from hemp, chia, dried cranberries, pepitas, yogurt covered peanuts, white chocolate chips, and coconut.
Get Martha’s Homemade Granola Recipe

Step 3: Add some sweetness.
I couldn’t resist adding in some fun sugar treats, pink chocolate-coated candies, colorful jelly beans, and gummy x’s and o’s.

Eat to Your Heart’s Content:
Here’s where love knocks the dessert table out of the park: Get your heart-shaped cookie cutter out and create foods such as heart-shaped brownies and fruit for your table. Think shades of pink, white, and loads of chocolate. For more toppings, offer an assortment of heart-shaped fruit, melons, and pink grapefruit. Everyone will enjoy making their signature parfaits using their own unique twists!

I also like to include a warm comfort dish option such as a Spinach and Cheddar Strata or Baked Blueberry French Toast, and add a tossed salad with pink and red garnishes to complete your meal. Get inspired with your recipes and include some healthy options for this celebration of L.O.V.E.
Get All of Martha’s Brunch Recipes

Serve up the Drinks:

A Galentine’s Day brunch calls for an easy, refreshing cocktail and warm cozy drinks. Why not try Martha’s recipe for Pink Mimosas using equal parts of sparkling wine or champagne with pink grapefruit juice? For a more indulgent option, pair beautifully-flavored herbal teas and creamy hot chocolate with your love inspired sweets.
Get the Recipe for Martha’s Pink Mimosas

Paint While You Party:
Keepsakes from your event are always so much fun. Set up a painting party with Martha Stewart Craft Paints and small blank canvas boards. Let the gals choose from variety of romantic colors (or make it BYOP: “bring your own paints” to encourage swapping and sharing among friends), and let their inner artist come forward to create a memento from the day.

Bring on the Flower Power:
What’s a Galentine’s Day tablescape without pretty florals? Get creative with your choice of vases and select colors of flowers that will blend with your theme. I used a combination of fresh tulips, roses, and snapdragons.

And for a romantic focal point, I constructed an easy DIY clothespin flower frame that was displayed over my parfait bar.
Make the Clothespin Frame with Roses

No matter how you celebrate, with the gals, your pals or significant other, let it be a day of love and light. Happy Valentine’s/ Galentine’s Day!

Many thanks and big hugs to the following vendors……there was no way I could have done this without you!

Party props: Little Miss Party

Tableware, Props: Pier 1 Imports

Tableware, Props: HomeSense (U.S. readers can shop similar product at HomeGoods)

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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January 30, 2017

Chef Luke makes Sushi

Well did we ever hit the jackpot with the new discovery we made…it’s called SUSHEZI and omg. You can make sushi in minutes with this contraption! WOW!

Little Chef Luke has never been so excited to do a cooking show. Sushi is his FAVORITE!

So get your hands on the Sushezi and join in the fun!  Here’s how we roll…

Step #1:
Lightly oil the Sushezi to prevent sticking
Wet your hands in a bowl of water while you’re at it.
That’s some sticky sushi rice.

Step #2:
Fill both sides of the Sushezi with rice, pressing it in as you go.

Step #3:
Use plunger to press rice and make a grove for fillings.

Step #4:
Fill with your favorite fish or veggies.

Step #5:
Insert the plunger, put cap on and turn to compact the rice.
Remove the cap and and here we go…

Step #6:
Set Nori sheet on surface, glossy side down, push plunger, laying the sushi roll along the edge of Nori sheet.

Step #7:
Roll it up as tight as you can, and wet the edge with water to seal.
Let site for 10 minutes (for seaweed to soften) then cut with a sharp, wet knife.

ENJOY!

Video by: Abby Copleston and Maggie Antalek 

xx, Seri
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January 27, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

A few things first before I give you the goods on these muffins.

I had trouble with the title because there are too many key ingredients in this recipe so I settled on EVERYTHING MUFFINS. That basically covers it because I used everything I could put my hands on and threw it in a bowl. My issue is, what happens if I make other muffins in the future and use everything in them too?

I guess I can always call them EVERYTHING MUFFINS – THE SEQUEL.

I believe I have mentioned in the past that I love collecting over ripe bananas. Now it’s gotten past the point of being labelled a “collector”. I know this because I had to clean my freezer out two weeks ago and found a ton of plastic zip bags containing the infamous “dead” bananas. Last week, I got a call from the producers on TLC, they want me to appear on the new reality show called: BANANA HOARDERS.

To crumble or not to crumble, that is the question. These were supposed to be “healthy” muffins. The operative words are “supposed to be”. Then an idea sprung into my brain and I decided to top these with a crowning of brown sugar and pecans. Notsohealthy now but 100% OHSOGOOD.

So how did these transpire? Once again, it all started with the contents of my fridge and my husband. What did Steve have to do with this? He is always, LIKE ALWAYS moving things around in the fridge. From shelf to shelf and from shelf to the recycling bin. He came across 2 1/2 dead bananas and tried to convince me that they were FINE to slice up into my cereal bowl.

Well.

NO.

There is a stage where this ubiquitous dead fruit keeps showing up and you need to make a decision on it’s future.

Let me explain.

Put your dermatologist hat on and do the following:

1) Examine the skin. Look for mostly yellow skins with a few brown spots. Some browning usually means the bananas are just right.
2) Check the banana for firmness by giving it a gentle press or squeeze. Bad bananas will feel very soft and mushy. Unripened bananas will feel hard with little give. A good banana feels soft but not mushy.
3) Over ripened bananas that you don’t want to eat can be peeled and frozen for use in frozen drinks or baking. *(This is considered the MONEY banana – black on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside, a perfect combo for baking)*

Now then.

I had 2 1/2 deceased bananas in the fridge. The issue was the quantity. My banana bread recipe calls for exactly 3 bananas. But is it 3 small bananas? Medium sized ? Or large?

I made an executive (NOT A CHEF BY ANY MEANS) decision and justified the 2 1/2 large bananas to be the equivalent to 3 small ones. Right? Right.

And now we bake. Blueberries in the heart of winter are not local, but for some reason the market had them on special this week so I bought a stupid amount of containers thinking that that I would use them for something.

Here comes Steve, the fridge inspector AGAIN.

“Are you going to use these blueberries before they go FURRY”? He asked.

“Why of course Steve, of course”, I answered (and in my mind, I thought I better come up with something really quick before they do start to resemble chia pets).

Behold, the magical dead banana muffin. Chock full of healthy goodness, but not really good for you unless you omit and substitute some of the ingredients.

If you are sticking to a healthy version, take out the melted butter and sub in applesauce or coconut oil and most definitely ditch the crumble topping (but just so you know, you’ll regret it, just sayin’).

Hmmm….I’m the worst. First I tempt you and then I tell you not to make them the way they should be made.

I have an idea. You can start your diet next Monday.

Everything Muffins
– 1½ cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose white)
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ¼ teaspoon salt
– 1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried well
– 3 ripe medium bananas, mashed (or 2 ½ large will work too!)
– 1 large carrot, grated (use medium holes on the box grater)
– ⅔ cup sugar
– 1 egg
– ⅓ cup Greek Yogurt, plain
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– ½ cup melted butter, (or coconut oil or ¼ cup oil + ¼ applesauce)

Crumble Topping
– ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– 2 tablespoons flour
– 2 tablespoons cold butter
– 2 tablespoons oatmeal flakes (I use the quick)
– ½ cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2) Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Toss blueberries in to coat in dry ingredient mixture.
3) In a separate bowl, mix together mashed bananas, carrot, sugar, egg, yogurt, vanilla and melted butter or if you are using a lighter recipe, the oil + applesauce.
4) Add in flour mixture and stir just until combined. (Do not overmix)
5) Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin cups using a full sized ice cream scoop. Batter will be almost to the top of the muffin liners.
6) In a small bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and cold butter until mixed. Using your fingers incorporate the oatmeal and nuts. You want a crumbly mixture.
7) Divide topping over muffins.
8) Bake 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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