March 17, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Green isn’t limited to shamrocks and leprechauns. At this epic spread, it’s the inspiration for a healthy, yet hearty lunch that offers a spread of crudités with green goddess dip, mini fruit-topped pavlovas, and iced green tea.

Here’s what comes to mind when I think about St. Patrick’s Day: loads of green food, rainbows, pots of gold, shamrocks and of course, leprechauns. Even if you’re not Irish, you can create, style, cook, bake and host a gorgeous and elegant St. Patrick’s Day party!

This table offers a lush meets luxe dining experience. Think green and leafy intertwined with white and gold accents for your table settings. In keeping with the traditions of this theme, I used all of Martha’s recipes to blend together a wonderful, healthy lunch for family and friends.

One of the most eye-catching details at this table? The four-leaf clover napkins! Since this holiday is always fun and festive, I wanted to try my hand at napkin-folding. The only problem I have with this type of challenge is following instructions. This was a perfect job for my husband to tackle. (I bet you didn’t know that he is an expert napkin folder. Now you do!) He has so much more patience when it comes to tasks like this, it’s wonderful. Here’s how!

One thing I loved doing for an anniversary party I hosted recently, was a DIY garland for the table runner. It was super easy, reasonably priced, and packed a punch as a focal point for a simply beautiful centerpiece. For this garland, I included frisée (pronounced “free-ZAY”), which is used to refer to a variety of endive with curly, pale green or yellow-ish leaves. I created the garland with an edible factor, which is also appealing to the eye.

Let’s get back to the food. I chose these recipes carefully, based on three ingredient colors: green, white, and a pop of gold. For a quick appetizer, I created a wonderful crudité platter with green goddess dip.

My main course dishes were super healthy, green, and packed with protein. A warm quinoa and chicken salad, baby bok choy with ginger and garlic plus a refreshing salad with buttermilk dressing.

Don’t forget a signature mocktail. I served a cool and refreshing iced green tea with cucumber, which paired perfectly with the meal.

Lastly, dessert was easy: mini pavlovas garnished with fruit and a fresh herb that kept the St. Patrick’s day theme going — green grapes, kiwi, and mint.

Wishing you a pot of gold and all the joy your heart can hold.

Here are some quick tips for hosting this party:

Get festive with your food, think green and clean.

Showcase your creativity by cutting foods into pretty themed shapes. For example, a green pepper sliced width-wise looks exactly like a shamrock or four-leaf clover.

Give your tablescape a focal point, like the DIY garland.

Incorporate traditional with a modern twist: a four-leaf clover napkin, gold drinking straws, confetti and a menu filled with color themed food.

Include a signature “green” drink.

Have fun!

Credits
Author/Photographer/Stylist: Debi Traub | @simplybeautifuleating created exclusively for

Martha Stewart Living

Party props: Little Miss Party

Tableware, Props: Pier 1 Imports

Florals: Irene’s Floral

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

View all recipes by clicking on the pictures above

xx, Debi
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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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December 2, 2016

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

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I bet you didn’t know this. Ready?

Yakisoba is a classic Japanese street food made by stir-frying boiled ramen noodles, vegetables and meat or seafood with a sweet and savory sauce.

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It’s an easy and super delish meal that’s made in minutes. Can you really ask for anything more? No.

The most time consuming part entails the prep of your veggies. Especially when you live in a house that has cupboards and drawers which “eat” your kitchen gadgets. What am I talking about? I’ll tell you.

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It never fails, every single time either Steve or I go to look for a pot, pan, colander, measuring cup, spoon or grater, it disappears. That’s not to say I’m not organized, because I totally am. We open up the cupboard and look for specific tools, such as a box grater, and it is nowhere to be found. Here’s what happens next:

1) I ask Steve if he knows where the item is.
2) He answers by saying it should be “in there”.
3) I ask, where is “in there”?
4) He answers by saying, “you know where in there is”.
5) I look “in there” and it’s “nowhere”.
6) He gets up from the couch and puts one of his Sci Fi, screaming ladies, blood spurting movies on PAUSE.
7) We now have the flashlight out (which is running out of batteries from looking for things “in there”).
8) He sticks the flashlight and half of his body IN THERE.
9) He then starts moving things around and shuffling dishes and pots and pans to find the item. (insert loud crashing sounds here→)
10) He then starts removing items from “in there” briskly and placing them on the floor (which makes me crazy because the floor is the floor and even though it’s fairly clean I’m pretty sure I will need to rewash them before using. Ugh)
11) At this point, I bet you’re wondering if we found the damn grater. Well….no. Moving on to point 12 now.
12) Steve now removes half his body from “in there” and decides that he needs to leave the area but not until he reorganizes the entire cupboard by placing all the items on the floor back on the shelves. Oh and one more thing. He calmly states that the shelf inside the cupboard will collapse one day from the weight of all the cookware “in there”. (FYI, I’ve heard this story a million times but he has yet to either secure the shelf or come up with a solution other than a full kitchen renovation……..thanks Steve……..thanks)
13) I’m now holding the flashlight with half my body “in there”.
14) And lo and behold, I’m faced with the back end of the grater which was thrown in haphazardly at the bottom of the cupboard.
15) Next, I yell – FOUND IT STEVE!
16) He then says where?

and I say……….”IN THERE”.

Spicy Chicken Yakisoba Noodles
-½ medium sweet onion, diced (I use a vidalia)
-2 medium carrots, shredded
-½ head of broccoli, separated in to small florets
-1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely diced
-1 cup chicken breast, cooked (I used bbq chicken but you can sub in any meat or even cooked shrimp)
-2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive, vegetable etc.)
-2 packages ramen noodles (don’t use the seasoning packs, just the noodles)
-1 teaspoon spicy avocado or sesame oil
-¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
-¼ cup worcestershire sauce
-2 tablespoons ketchup
-1 tablespoon chili sauce
-1 tablespoon white or brown sugar
*you can use any combination of Chinese greens, bean sprouts or vegetables for this stir fry

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1) Before you start, you are going to prepare the vegetables and sauce for stir frying. (this saves you from scrambling around when it’s GO time)
2) Peel the ginger and grate it with the fine side of box or cheese grater.
3) Peel and grate the carrots with the large holed side of a box grater.
4) Dice the onion and cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
5) Begin boiling a medium pot full of water for the noodles.
6) In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, chili sauce and sugar.
7) Stir until the ketchup and sugar are dissolved.
8) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the grated ginger, saute for about 30 seconds to one minute (don’t let it burn like I did, ya…I had to start over again).
9) Add all of the vegetables. Stir and cook until wilted (about 5-10 minutes).
10) Once the water boils, add the noodles and cook just until tender (2-3 minutes). Drain, return to the pot (with the heat turned off) and toss with the spicy avocado or sesame oil to keep from sticking.
11) Pour the sauce into the wok or skillet with the chicken and vegetables with the heat still on medium high. Add the noodles, stir to coat everything in the sauce, and heat through (about 2 minutes). Serve hot.

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See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
simplybeautifuleating.com

xx, Debi
Party conversation
  1. Cynthia Lewis

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’ll definitely try making this tasty dish.

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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
Party conversation
  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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