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
Post your comment

*Required

March 10, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Two words.

PRETTY PIZZA.

I could probably stop right here and just move forward to the recipe because that’s all you need to know, right?

But of course I can’t go on without my usual and much anticipated ramble.

What inspired me about making this pizza was one simple ingredient – watermelon radishes. I can’t even look at them because they are just too stunning. LOOK AT THIS COLOUR!! A perfect shade of hot pink and a real show stopper for many recipes. Here’s the real story behind me buying ONE, yes ONE watermelon radish.

It’s all because of the popcorn.

Wait.

What?

Yes, popcorn.

Do I still have your attention? If you haven’t scrolled down to the recipe already, I’m going to tell you about my current obsession.

Every night I stuff my face with a good size bowl of low fat popcorn from a very well known company. Before I tell you more, you need to know this. I HATE SHARING MY FOOD. Like HATE. Okay, hate is a very strong word, how about DISLIKE IMMENSELY. Wait. That’s two words, but who cares.

When I go to the movies, I get my very own “pig size” popcorn. If I happen to drop a kernel on my lap while shoveling it in, I get anxious and sweaty. If my husband happens to reach over and steal from my bag when he clearly has his own, that’s grounds for divorce. So  yes, I don’t like anyone in my popcorn space.

The other night, as I was enjoying my bowl of popcorn I noticed that it had a strange, almost sweet taste. I asked Steve to taste it just in case it there was something wrong with ME. This would be the ONLY time I would share this snack because, technically it was yucky. (I actually googled my Med MD website to see if there was a correlation to a change in taste buds due to eating high volumes of popcorn). Ya. That’s how nuts I am.

Then I checked the bag and it was my usual popcorn brand, so I have no idea why it tasted different. I thought about different factory based scenarios that would interfere with the production of MY popcorn. Other than the possibility of a sweet flavour version somehow making its way into the wrong bags on the conveyor belt, I don’t have a clear cut answer. I just wanted MY slightly salted and oh so perfect popcorn, not this sweet crap.

Still with me?

I went to buy another bag of it the next day from a different store. The second I walked in, I spotted these magnificent watermelon radishes and completely forgot about why I was there in the first place. I put ONE radish in the cart, picked up additional ingredients and toppings for a whole wheat pizza and left the store…..

….WITHOUT THE POPCORN.

Wasn’t this worth reading?

NO, but this pizza is worth eating.

WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA WITH BUFFALO MOZZARELLA, GREENS & WATERMELON RADISH

– 1 recipe whole wheat pizza dough (see below)
– ½ teaspoon oregano
– 2 – 3 tablespoons fresh pesto
– 1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced
– 4 – 5 slices fresh buffalo mozzarella
– 3 cups of mixed greens (I used mixed greens with edible flowers)
– ½ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
– fresh basil for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 400F. I like to use the convection option for making pizza. If you don’t have this type of oven don’t stress. Just bump up the temperature to 425F
2) Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by greasing it with butter.
3) Stretch the pizza dough onto the pan. Spread pesto sauce over the dough, sprinkle with oregano and top with sliced watermelon radish. Place buffalo mozzarella over the top of the pizza dough. Sprinkle 1½ cups of the mixed greens over the buffalo mozzarella, then sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella. Bake for 20 -24 minutes or until crust is nicely browned underneath and around the edges. Remove pizza from the oven and top with remaining 1½ cups of mixed greens and basil. Slice and serve hot.

WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH

– 1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise or instant yeast
– 2¾ cups white or regular whole wheat flour (or a combo of both)
– ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
– 1 teaspoon sea salt

1) Whisk water, sugar, oil and yeast in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes. It should puff up.
2) Pulse flour, parmesan cheese, and salt in food processor until combined. While running the food processor, slowly pour in the water mixture and process for one minute until a rough looking ball forms.
3) Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and quickly knead dough a few times until it comes together. Cut your dough in half if your are making two smaller pizzas or use the entire ball for a large pizza.
4) On your floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough as thinly as possible. Place into prepared pan and stretch it out with your fingers if it bounces back. It can get sticky so dip your fingers lightly into oil to help it spread. Once you have all your toppings on, brush the edges of the dough with olive oil.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
Post your comment

*Required

February 24, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

Do you ever bring sweet treats to your doctor’s office when you go for a routine appointment? I DO!

The issue is….all of the front desk office staff know what I do part time and that is….bake….a lot.

Every few months, I bring a little something for this crew and to be honest, they WAIT FOR IT. I also time my appointment strategically after lunch. This way, it’s a great excuse to HAVE DESSERT on an otherwise mundane patient swamped afternoon.

When I baked this cake last week, I posted it on Instagram prior to me leaving the house. Within minutes I received a comment from one of my favourite receptionists at this office….”HOPEFULLY THAT IS THAT COMING TO US?

So here’s the thing. My baking usually causes a bit of a delay to my doctor’s schedule. How you ask?

Well, I walk in with the goods and it is quickly taken away to the “back room”. The waiting area is usually full at this point.

Where’s the doctor?

Eating cake.

Where is he now?

Eating another piece of cake.

Who is waiting to see him?

ME and about 5 other people.

My apologies to those who have to wait and wait and wait and wait because of ME and my sweets.

When I decided to make this, it was a last minute effort to use what I had hanging around the house. I quickly opened my pantry and found a bunch of ingredients that would come together to create a super moist and decadent dark velvet cake with a heavenly white chocolate ganache drizzle.

Bundt cakes happen to be my favourite to make simply because of the pan. It’s a one shot deal. Make your batter, plunk it in and bake. Then drizzle with just about anything because really? This is an idiot proof way to decorate a cake. No crumb coating or fondant needed. Just pure unadulterated CAKE.

And if you’re like me, I’m not really crazy about wasting time decorating and futzing around with cakes. Let me just unleash my bundt and be done with it.

One thing is for sure.

Sometimes it pays to sweeten the lives of those who take such good care of you.

Dark Velvet Bundt Cake With White Chocolate Ganache

– 1 1⁄4 cups vegetable oil
– ¾ cup buttermilk
– ¼ cup espresso or coffee, cooled
– 2 eggs
– 1 tablespoon red food coloring, (I use organic from Whole Foods)
– 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 3⁄4 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
– 1 1⁄2 tablespoons cocoa powder
– 1 3.5 oz package Hersheys Instant Chocolate Pudding
– White Chocolate Ganache Recipe for Drizzle – See below

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Grease and flour bundt pan.
3) In stand mixer combine oil, buttermilk, espresso (or coffee), eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
4) Mix at medium speed until well blended.
5) In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add to wet ingredients (slowly so they don’t explode in your face). Beat until smooth (about 2 minutes on medium high speed).
6) Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cake plate to finish cooling.
7) Prepare ganache recipe below and drizzle on cooled cake.

White Chocolate Ganache

– 1 cup chopped white chocolate – bar or chips is fine
– ¼ cup heavy cream

1) Place a medium size saucepan filled with 1 inch of water on the stove and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.
2) Place chocolate in a heat safe bowl that fits over the saucepan ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Melt the chocolate slowly over the water, stirring constantly.
3) In a separate small saucepan, heat heavy cream. DO NOT BOIL, otherwise it will scorch.
4) Add melted chocolate to heavy cream and stir to blend. It should look nice and glossy.
5) Let cool slightly and drizzle over cake.

See ya next week!
debi@simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
0 comments
Post your comment

*Required

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
0 comments
Post your comment

*Required

February 10, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, it’s time to bake from the heart. I tend to get bit carried away with this occasion. What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic sap.

The good thing is, my husband Steve is also into the hearts and flowers shtick so we really are a good match. Each year we exchange some type of gift and card. Steve usually spends more on my gift than I do for his and that’s the way it should be right?.

He also has this “thing” with cards. He tends to lean towards the ones that POP and I’m not referring to colour, I’m talking about the ones that flip open and something obnoxious unfolds from inside and BOOM something EXPLODES into your face. Ya. Those are fun.

I have been trying to figure out what to buy him for months. I do have something in mind however it isn’t the least bit romantic at all. All I can is say is this….his gift will alleviate a job that I hate doing on a yearly basis. So technically this gift is more for me than for him. Gawd, I’m awful.

Oh. Can I just swing over to another subject for a sec? A few weeks ago, Steve installed a new system in the house to allow us to see who is at our front door when we are not home. It’s incorporated into the doorbell and acts like a two way intercom which includes a video recording device and a camera. Here’s how it works…..

1) Someone arrives at our front porch/door.
2) My cellphone starts making a sound like Peter Pan is flying into the room – It’s not a jingle or a jangle, it’s something like fairy dust is being sprinkled on my head.
3) By the time I figure out how to answer the jingle-ringle-dingle, the person who was at the front door has already left the premises.
4) Whenever I exit the house or come to the front door my husband talks to me through the doorbell and scares the sh*%t out of me (It goes like this:  I’m trying to put the key in the door and I hear – HELLOOOOOOHELLOOOOO and then he laughs which in my opinion is funny and sad at the same time because I’m wasting time talking to a DOORBELL)
5) The first week, I thought I would be a joker and literally do a full song and dance in front of this gizmo. I would also have a full conversation with myself through the doorbell and watch it on my phone later for my own skewed entertainment purposes. Then I discovered that my neighbours could see me across the street. So that ended.

I decided to outsmart this device by doing what I needed to do. DELETE the app off my phone. 

BEST.

IDEA.

EVER.

The other day when I was in the shower, my husband called me and this was our conversation as I stood soaking wet in the bathroom:

Steve: “Helloooooo, didn’t you hear the doorbell”?

Me: “NO, I was in the shower”.

Steve: Hmmmm…..someone was at the front door”.

Me: “Okay, who?”

Steve: “I don’t know, there wasn’t anyone there”.

Me: “There was no one there yet the doorbell rang”?

Steve: “No, the doorbell didn’t ring, I received a notification that there was motion at the front door“.

Me: “It was clearly a moth that was causing this commotion on your phone, my suggestion is to delete the app like I did and that way, when I’m in the SHOWER and can’t answer the door AND you are 25 miles away, the moth will leave his calling card and you can get back to him when he comes near the door again”.

Now.

This dessert.

Well?

You know what’s in my freezer at all times. Yep. Puff pastry.

And you also know that puff pastry is my best friend AND there is no way on earth I would EVER make my own dough because really? The butter, the rolling, the butter, the rolling, the butter and more rolling (I think I may have missed a few rollings) is just too much for me to even comprehend. So….ready made puff pastry it is!

And these cherries? Which are clearly NOT IN SEASON AND STUPIDLY EXPENSIVE? Another story. I had them leftover from the shoot I did for the previous post so what was I going to do with them?

Chocolate cherry hand pies. That’s what. These are cute, romantic, super delish and you can eat as many as your heart desires.

Happy Valentine’s Day !

HEART SHAPED CHOCOLATE CHERRY HAND PIES

– 2 rolls of puff pastry, thawed
– Filling
– 2 cups fresh, pitted and chopped fresh cherries (not frozen)
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tbsp flour
– ¼ cup chopped 70% dark chocolate or chocolate chips
– 1 large egg beaten – for egg wash
– coarse sugar
– powdered sugar – for dusting
– heart shaped cookie cutter
1) Place the cherries and sugar in a bowl and stir to coat. Add flour and stir until the cherries are evenly coated and place into fridge for one hour.
2) On a lightly floured wood board, roll out your puff pastry slightly, you don’t want it too thin.
3) Cut out as many heart shaped pieces as you can – you will need two per hand pie – one for the bottom and one for the top.
4) When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
5) Transfer one set of hearts to the prepared baking sheets.
6) Spoon cherry filling into the center of each heart, keeping a ¼ inch border on the outer edge. Top with chopped chocolate or chips. Brush the edges with the egg wash. Place a second heart shaped pastry on top the first filled piece, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the pastry well on all sides.
7) Press the tines of a fork all around the edges of the hearts. Repeat with remaining hearts.
8) Brush the top of the tarts with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
9) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
10) Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
0 comments
Post your comment

*Required