July 8, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Okay guys. You know that I’m all about celebrating birthdays and other people’s holidays. Any reason to eat sweets is fine by me.

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I have so many friends and family members who live in the USA that it would be a crying shame not to have joined in on the 4th of July festivities. I know this post is going live after the fact but to be honest you can serve this tart any time of the year! It’s absolutely perfect for a warm summer night barbecue. I mean really? This is a “wowee” dessert.

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Not only is this delicious, I literally whipped this up in just a few minutes. A basic tart crust recipe, some whipped cream cheese with sugar and a toppling tower of berries. My kinda sweet treat.

Here’s what you’re thinking. Can I use any fruit or berry on this tart? Well, of course you can! Go wild.

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And it happens to be a classic old school recipe that I pulled out of my files from a Good Housekeeping Magazine circa 1979. I’m not joking here. I keep all my recipes in a binder with page protectors. LOVE THAT BINDER. Just love it.

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Excuse me while have my “piece of summer” and eat it too…..or three. Also, notice this “Care for Seconds?” coaster… It is so fabulous I could die.

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Double Berry Firecracker Tart

For the Crust
-½ cups all purpose flour
-⅛ teaspoon salt
-½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-¼ cup granulated white sugar
-1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling
-1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
-¼ cup sugar
-½ tsp. vanilla
-4 cups fresh berries or fruit

For the glaze
-¼ cup seedless strawberry preserves
-1 tablespoon water

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm or if you’re in a hurry like I always am, you can place in freezer for about 15 minutes. I use coconut or avocado oil non stick and an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once the pastry has chilled, remove from fridge and evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes and you can also use pie weights and parchment paper to weight down the crust). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake the crust for about 15 minutes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Can be covered and stored for a few days.

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Make your filling by beating softened cream cheese with sugar and vanilla. Spread over cooled crust and top with berries or fruit. Chill for at least one hour.

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For the glaze, heat preserves in microwave with water for 30 seconds. Pour over fruit and chill again for another 15 minutes or longer. Serve cold.

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See ya next week!

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debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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July 4, 2016

Ready, Set, LONG Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Well, it’s been a while but I’m back into the swing of things again. My friends at DK Publishing sent me another stellar book to review and let me just say, I have a “gut” feeling you are going to LOVE it. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun and there’s more to come.

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So what is the Healthy Gut Cookbook all about? It’s a compilation of recipes and advice designed to help alleviate leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems that can result in physical and physiological ailments. Just to clarify the term leaky gut, it’s not like a leaky faucet, which I keep picturing in my mind. No need to call a plumber, you can fix this by changing your diet and repairing your very long and winding digestive tract.

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There are over 150 “good for the gut” recipes that prove that your meals don’t have to be bland and boring.

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With a very interesting concept of “healing in stages”, this book lays out the foundation with 6 stages of gradually adding GOOD foods into your daily routine, ending with the “full diet” once you have completed the healing process. Stating that you must follow these steps very strictly, each stage has recipes that will not disappoint your palate.

I read this book cover to cover and found that the diet is very similar to the one I’ve been on for the past 3 months. With the Healthy Gut Cookbook, I have finally found some wonderfully delicious recipes to try rather than having to figure out what to do with a sweet potato and brown rice.

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This salad in particular caught my eye. A hearty mixture of kale and other good for you ingredients all melded together in one eye pleasing dish.

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I mixed up the recipe a bit to make it my own signature salad with the addition of avocado, goat cheese and topped it with a phenomenal coconut avocado yogurt dressing. Total yumminess and yes I threw some flowers into the mix for these photos because, well, I hadn’t killed them yet so why not?

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There is certainly nothing wrong with working towards a healthy lifestyle and clean eating. To be honest, I fell off the wagon a few times over the past week because it was my birthday and there was CAKE. Lots of cake in fact. So much cake that I actually don’t want to look at cake again for a while. Don’t get me wrong. It was so sinfully good but not the best thing to do to my body since I started this pristine diet. Think of it like wearing freshly laundered white pants then rolling in the mud. Uh ya.

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What amazes me is this – I had a great time stuffing my face with processed flour, refined sugar and lots of fondant roses BUT boy did I ever have a “gut” reaction to all that crap inside my body. I had visions that I turned into Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

You know what they say? You are what you eat. In my case, I was a giant white slab cake and I paid the price for it.

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NO guts? No glory. You need guts to try to change your lifestyle but I found that following this regimen wasn’t so gut wrenching.

Thanks for letting my spill my guts out to you today. I’m done.

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Calming Kale & Spinach Salad
-8 cups spinach or kale
-1 green apple, sliced
-1 cucumber, finely chopped
-2 avocados, pitted, sliced (or made into a rose if you dare)
-1 cup pecan halves
-1 cup green grapes, sliced
-4 – 6 oz crumbled goat cheese
-coconut chips for garnish – optional

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Coconut Avocado Yogurt Dressing
-1/2 cup coconut yogurt
-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
-Zest of 1 lemon
-1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley or dill
-2 tablespoons avocado oil
-Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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Plate all salad ingredients on a large platter or in a bowl. Using a blender or whisk, mix together all ingredients for dressing. Drizzle over salad, toss and garnish with coconut chips if desired.

See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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June 24, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Let’s talk about watermelons. First of all, I don’t mind if it’s seedless chuck full of seeds. It just has to be ripe, red, sweet and beautifully refreshing. When I think of summer I automatically think of watermelon. The difference between buying these melons in the summer or the winter is simply this: Off season you will pay upwards of 15 bucks for a watermelon. STUPID. In the summer, it’s a free for all. They are anywhere from 2 to 5 bucks which is more like it.

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A perfect example of a watermelon bargain was at my local Walmart last week. I was walking towards the produce section and there were giant bins of watermelons set up near the front of the store. All I could see was butts. Yes, butts.

Shoppers were literally diving into these bins head first. That being said, there upper bodies were swimming amongst the watermelons while their butts were sticking up and OUT of the bins.

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Reminiscent of a bridal shower game I once got myself sucked into, I thought why not? As I approached the bin, I noticed that this wasn’t the kind of challenge I was comfortable playing in the middle of a Walmart store. Mostly because these “watermelon” divers had their game faces ON.

They bobbed in and out of the bins coming up with different sizes of melons. Once they grabbed a melon they didn’t stop there. They cradled, thumped, shook and measured their melons up against other divers finds. I started stepping away quickly when one diver decided to throw his melon back in the bin while someone’s butt was still sticking out. That meant, his head was clearly a target in the melon toss.

NO

THANK

YOU

BOB

I opted for a baby sugar watermelon instead. It was twice the price of the melons that were on sale in the bin. I weighed the risks of getting a watermelon thrown on my head and was satisfied with my decision.

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Now. How to choose a watermelon. There are tricks ya know. Mine usually involves asking the produce guy at my regular market to pick a perfect one for me. It works every time. The other trick is to let Steve pick one. He’s a watermelon aficionado. He knows how to shake, thump, rattle and roll his melons.

I held my baby watermelon gently in my arms. Gave it a little thump. Heard nothing and proceeded to do the rest of my shopping without giving it another thought.

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When I arrived home I unpacked my melon and placed it on the table. Steve looked at it with a raised eyebrow.

“You picked a watermelon by yourself”? He asked.

“Yes, I know how”. I answered.

Then I got that Skeptical Steve look. You know the one. It’s when he looks at you and THINKS to himself that there is no way on earth I could possibly pick a perfect melon without all the tricks.

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Well Steve?

Well?

I did.

And then, I put these watermelon wedges on pops and called it a day.

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Watermelon Pops with Yogurt, Feta and Pistachios

-10 – 12 watermelon slices cut into triangles
-Plain Yogourt
-Honey
-3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
-1/2 cup crushed pistachio nuts
-Popsicle sticks

1) Cut a small slit in the watermelon rind and insert a Popsicle stick in.
2) Drizzle with your choice of Yogourt, honey and sprinkle with pistachio nuts.
3) Could this be any easier? I don’t think so.

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See ya next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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June 22, 2016

Makin’ Cheesy Meatball Subs with Hello Fresh

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Ok so here’s the deal… I love good food, but the whole cooking thing? Not really for me. Once in a blue moon I will be inspired to cook something new and exciting, but for the most part I heat up frozen Trader Joe’s meals, or order takeout.  Living in New York City makes both of these options WAY too easy, so I have become lazy.

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This laziness about cooking is a trait that I am trying to alter, so that’s why when Hello Fresh reached out to LMP about letting us test out their service, I was excited to give it a go.

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Hello Fresh is a meal subscription service that delivers a minimum of 3 meals to your door every week. Their meals only include the freshest ingredients, with the exact amount of each ingredient that you need to make each dish.  They provide detailed instructions for each recipe so even a cooking novice like myself can make something delicious!

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In addition to working at LMP, I also babysit Seri’s kids, Gavin and Luke VERY frequently… we are talking 2-3 times a week. I decided to make a one of their recipes for the boys for dinner last week, and boy was it a hit! I made them the Cheesy Meatball Subs with Herby Marinara and Crispy Broccolini, and they ate every last bite.  I snuck myself a few bites as well and was blown away… I couldn’t believe that I had made something so delicious, and without messing anything up!

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The recipe was simple and easy to follow, with clear instructions and realistic prep time estimates.  The meal was healthy and the ingredients were super fresh. The boys literally gave me a thumbs up because they loved the subs so much! Gavin and Luke eat very well for a 6 and 3-year-old, but I’d still say that was a success.

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Here is the recipe card:

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I love how the nutritional info is listed on the recipe card… you can see how truly healthy each dish is! You can also check out Hello Fresh’s blog for fun more fun recipes and ideas for healthy ways to cook for your friends and family.  Our favorite? This patriotic cake recipe which you can serve for Memorial Day OR the 4th of July! They even mentioned us in their post.

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Thanks to Hello Fresh for working with us… we can’t wait to try more of your delicious meals!

xx, Abby
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June 17, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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Each year I head out to visit my niece (AKA Little Miss Party) and her family in Quogue, NY. Let me just say it’s always an adventure. We usually hang out, cook, swim, dine out and play with her two little boys. But most of all, we get silly stupid and laugh…a lot.

This was a bit of a different trip. I came into New York City on a Friday afternoon. We went out to dinner to Joe’s Shanghai before driving out to the house. I witnessed my 6 year old great nephew down what seemed like an entire order of soup dumplings ( I think he consumed 6 or 8, I can’t remember). The food was amazing and these kids are treated like celebrities at this place. Most likely because they have been going there since conception.

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Normally, I spend an entire week with the whole family because my date of travel falls in the summertime when her kids are off school. This time around, I wasn’t able to book the trip during my standard week in July due to a scheduling conflict at work.

So here I am ………ALONE IN THE HAMPTONS. Yes, they went back to the city to work and school on Sunday and left me out here for some much needed R & R. But before they ended their weekend stay we did lunch in a grand way.

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As you can see, this was a special collaboration of LMP, SBE and ABK. The party planner, the food stylist and the barbecue master.

The menu for lunch was as follows:

Quogue Grilled Chicken Salad

and

Simply Beautiful Spiced Grilled Nectarines

You may or may not know this but I’m stuck on making an avocado rose. The best I can do is making pretty cucumbers and oranges. It doesn’t take a food carving artist to accomplish this task.

AND…….look how stunning!

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Oh wait. You are going to want to know how this is done right? I could try to explain it to you but why not just watch this YouTube video. They use a tomato but it’s exactly the same method. Super easy. Basically you are making zigzag cuts in the fruit and veggies. You’ve got this. Trust me.

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Now what about these plates? Target has a wonderful collection of outdoor tableware. We went there to buy some household items on the first full day I was out at the house. When LMP saw these Marimekko for Target beauties they were in her cart faster than you can say chicken salad.

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Not having enough time to shop there on that jaunt, I decided to go back there today on my own. It’s intimidating putting yourself in the hands of a navigation system but after a few street misses, a couple of traffic circle fails and the part where I thought I would never see the house again, I made it BY MYSELF to Target.

Honestly? I’ve never been so proud.

Hoping that I would be loaded down with some new clothes and shoes, this is what I came home with after this shopping trip.

Two bananas and some toothpaste. I’m pretty sure I need to declare the toothpaste.

Grilled Chicken with Spiced Nectarines
-4 boneless chicken breasts, marinated (use your favorite one)
-1 Boston lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
-1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
-1/2 English cucumber, sliced
-1 nectarine, sliced
-Sesame Ginger Dressing (store bought or homemade)
-4 nectarines, halved
-extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-salt & pepper

Arrange lettuce on a large platter with almonds, cucumber, sliced nectarine. Grill chicken until no longer pink in the centre. About 7 to 8 minutes on the barbecue. Coat nectarines in olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and salt and pepper. Use your hands to coat both sides well. Grill for last 3 to 4 minutes while the chicken is still cooking.

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Slice chicken and serve over your plated lettuce mixture. Pour sesame ginger dressing over and serve with grilled nectarines on the side. Serves 4.

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See ya next week! (If I don’t get lost in Quogue)

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
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  1. party stuff for boys theme

    what a lunch idea it is. I love all these and I would definitely try this.

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