Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ham and Tomato Pie


I found this Ham and Tomato Pie recipe in a magazine while I was on a family Easter vacation.  We had a lot of ham leftovers,  and I wanted to do something different with the ham aside from sandwiches.  But, since we were staying in a rented house, I didn't have a lot of the ingredients from the original recipe.  So I improvised,  and the resulting recipe has become one of the favorites for my tea parties and brunches.  (See also Mother's Day Brunch).

Ham and Tomato Pie

Ham and Tomato Pie
2 cups leftover cooked ham, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onions, chopped
2T honey mustard
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 large egg
1/3 cup half and half
1- 2T  chopped fresh basil
salt, by taste
pepper, by taste
pie shell (I make mine on a 10 inch pie)

  • Brush bottom of pie shell evenly with mustard.
  • sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. 
  • Saute onion first until almost clear. Then add the ham until ham is lightly brown. Spoon this ham mixture over cheese.
  • Top mixture with sliced tomatoes.
  • Beat egg and half and half lightly with a fork just until blended.
  • Pour over tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil, pepper and salt
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • Bake on 2nd from lowest rack at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool at least 5 minutes  before serving.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flower Arrangement - Orange Wildflowers

This Aloe Vera Orange Plant is beautiful in the early spring, staying until early June.   The colors are so warm and vibrant.  I love bringing that vibrancy  inside my home.

Closer look  

I've always been reluctant to cut them since the hummingbirds love them!  However, this Spring, I decided to bring a few  inside my home but  was not quite sure how to display it. The flowers are so beautifully arranged by nature that adding other colors could detract from the natural delicateness.

Then I realized I have different shapes of clear vases that can showcase the colors. It's amazing how the shape of the vase and a few embellishments can change the look of the flowers.
Arrangement 1:
From a Simple Tall  Vase Arrangement

Arrangement 2:
To Elegant - by adding some pearly beads

Arrangement 3:
To Avant Garde - by completely putting all the flowers inside a wavy shaped vase and setting them against a darker background.

Arrangement 4:
To Exotic - My father-in-law always called the flowers "firecrackers".  I wanted to build on that idea so I added bamboo sticks.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Buttermilk Pecan Waffles

This Buttermilk Pecan Waffle is one of our family's favorite for a Sunday brunch. (See also Mother's Day Brunch).    Waffles are so versatile they can almost be a meal in itself just by adding nuts, bacon, or fruits.  This buttermilk pecan waffle is hearty and is still good the next day just by popping them in the toaster.  Again, this recipe is a variation of several recipes I've used.

 Buttermilk Pecan Waffles
2 extra large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2T brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 T baking soda
1 T salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 medium sized mixing bowls

Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Then add it to the wet ingredients until batter is smooth. 
Prepare waffle iron by spraying with vegetable oil. 
Pour 1/2 cup of batter onto waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron instructions.  


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Angry Birds Cupcakes

These Angry Bird Cupcakes commemorates my youngest nephew's birthday in May. 

My sister called me and asked if I can help make cupcakes for her son's birthday party (50 pieces).  I said sure without realizing that the theme is "Angry Birds", which I had never done before.  She found a sample resembling angry bird cupcakes, but I proceeded to make my own with the help of my youngest son, who was an Angry Birds fan. So, here's the result... what do you think?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Baked Apple Pancakes with Caramel Sauce

I had copied this Baked Apple Pancakes recipe from a magazine at a doctor's office years ago (great place to get recipes while you're waiting and waiting...),  but I just recently stumbled on it and used it for Mother's Day Brunch.  It's rich enough to be like an apple pie dessert so I modified it to fit the brunch requirement - sweet enough but qualifies as breakfast. 

Baked Apple Pancakes with Caramel Sauce
Makes 4-6 Servings

8 eggs
 1 cup all purpose flour
3 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 to  1/2 cup brown sugar (spread evenly amongst the dishes)
1/4 to 1/2  cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter
Caramel Sauce (store bought or use recipe below), optional

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Whisk together eggs, flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. 
  • Add buttermilk and vanilla extract, whisk until blended.
  • Spray at least 4-6  oblong ramekins.
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in the microwave and spread evenly into the dishes.
  • Spread sliced apples  into each dish, sprinkle with a little bit of brown sugar.
  • Spoon the batter into the ramekins then sprinkle some of the brown sugar and top  off with chopped pecans.
  • Place the dishes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. (When it comes out, it's a bit on the puffy side, but it will subside).  Cool for at least 5 minutes, then spread a little of the nuts and drizzle a small amount of caramel sauce (optional) or just sprinkle a little powdered sugar just before serving. (See steps below).

Caramel Sauce (optional)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
2T butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Combine brown sugar and whipping cream in a heavy saucepan; cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly (at least 5 minutes).
  • Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla, stir again until blended.  Cool for a few minutes before pouring into the pancakes.  
Steps Below :

Spread sliced apples into each ramekin, sprinkle with brown sugar.

 Spoon the batter into the ramekins then sprinkle some of the brown sugar and top off with chopped pecans

When it comes out, it's a bit on the puffy side, but it will subside a little. 
Don't worry if it doesn't look like "traditional" pancakes - they more resemble a puffed souffle.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mother's Day - Garden Tablescape

This Garden Setting Tablescape is a tribute to all mothers on Mother's Day for having that special gift and charming spell that makes a house a home and being that  touchstone of wisdom and strength that keeps  the family together.

On the other hand, this garden setting is also meant for women who have that innate ability to nurture  -  whether it's a sibling, a pet or a garden - and have the  passion for creating and caring for  something precious.  So, in essence,  this is a dedication to all women. 

This  statue of mother and child I originally bought for my lackluster garden  several years ago.  It caught my eye because I just adore how it depicts the emotion of a mother's love to her child -that  unconditional love.  So, I  decided to keep it inside the house next to my desk as a reminder of that special love. 

I wanted to feature this mother and child statue in a corner of the table to evoke the feeling of a wonderful moment where time just stands still (as a mother that never happens!) while being surrounded by the serenity of a beautiful garden.

This centerpiece is my  favorite day dream getaway -  A gazebo in the middle of a meadow surrounded by my favorite blue flowers! 

I've had this miniature gazebo for a long time.  I pull it out of storage for use as a centerpiece in my dining room every spring and summer.  It was given to me by my mother in law who won it at a miniature convention.  I have since gathered some pieces of furniture and miscellaneous things to complete the effect of a wonderland. 

Path leading to the gazebo -  I wanted to create that feeling of "Go ahead and meander", taking your time (which we seem to lack nowadays!) and just enjoy the moment. The stones come from an old aquarium.

Blue silk flowers - from my front door to look like rhododendrons (which I can't seem to grow!)  that I so much admire from the Redwoods in Northern  California. 

The back of the gazebo continues the feel of a meadow surrounded by rhododendrons.  The greenery is a vinyl boxwood and and the green tablecloth  I used from St. Patrick's Day and Easter.

My plates and tea set collection are  coming in handy here.  Different styles and textures of plates and teapots attract me like bees to honey.   I never know when I'm going to use them, but, I buy them anyway especially when they're on sale!

The dinner plate combines cobalt, teal, and light green to create a garden-like feel.  To add a bit of drama, I 've added a charger designed like a fan (very feminine) and a dark blue napkin with a cobalt design.

I wanted to accentuate the colors of the plates with a teal vase.  While I didn't have  any of these on hand, I did find teal gift wrap paper, which I fit in a clear vase to highlight the colors of the plate and the napkins. 

To continue with the garden feel, instead of  real flowers in the vase, I folded the napkins to look like  flower buds to give it that  feminine touch.  The silken blue cloth flower is actually a homemade  napkin holder I use for other special occasions. 

side view of the gazebo...

A Tea set for the mother of the house - The tea plate holder is a teal picture frame from my "little office" and the teapot is from an antique store.

Behind the garden setting table is the buffet where the food and drinks will be served... 

As a tribute to my husband's late maternal grandmother, I wanted to incorporate her beautiful handmade beaded bouquet into the arrangement, because it combines my favorite colors of teal, cobalt and light green.

In this picture and the following ones,  I would like to pay a tribute to the inspirational women who  gave their pure love of creating something so beautiful and enchanting!  They have created these miniature pieces of furniture, animals and other accesories especially this gazebo.   Also, to my mother-in-law, who made all the fabulous miniature potted plants and hanging plants.  They made this living wonderland possible, creating a place of solace and  wonderment for me!

As you enter inside the gazebo, you feel like having a lazy afternoon with yourself and/or the family - with lemonade, coffee, dessert and books.  Ahh, precious time!

 I also  want to bring in some symbolism of child raising.  The instrument(violin)  for building their creativity and the books for providing them a good education.   The space was set up also to share the room for two children: one who will play the instrument, with the other chair for the book lover.  

Now, on to the highlight of  the day! 

Buttermilk Pecan Waffles with Strawberry Champagne Syrup

Shopper's Corner:
TJ Maxx - dinner plates and picture frame
Anna's Linens - blue chargers

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Layer

This Chicken Tortilla Layer recipe is so easy, tastes good and is a perfect dinner meal for Cinco de Mayo!

I love chicken because it is economical and more nutritious than red meat (containing only 17% fat and is a source of protein, Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, phosphorus, and calcium).  

Chicken is so versatile.  By adding certain ingredients it gets transformed into something so exotic.  I've been making this recipe for a long time.  It started when my youngest child had a project to create something for a Spanish class.   We were experimenting on a regular chicken recipe and ta da - our own Latin version of a chicken recipe just by adding tortillas, chili and salsa.

Sauce Mixture
1 small can chicken cream of chicken
1 small can cream of mushroom
1 can chilli (optional)
 3/4 of 24 oz bottle of Pace Picante Mild Sauce
1 small chopped onion
2  cups Mexican cheese (4 cheese or Cheddar Jack)

Mix together, set aside.

Other Ingredients
1 large bag of Corn Tortilla Strips by Mission  (as many as you like). 
2 cups  Mexican Cheese (or 1 cup Jack Monterey and 1 cup cheddar cheese)

Preheat oven to  350 degrees.
  • Wash 6-8 skinless chicken breasts. Pat dry and place in an oblong pan sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Top the chicken with the sauce mixture.
  • Layer with tortillas strips (enought to cover the whole dish).
  • Top it off with 2 remaining cups of cheese.
  • Layer it with more tortillas. If you like more crunch then add more tortilla strips.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Vegetarian Salad - Mexican Slaw

I call this salad Mexican Slaw because it uses tortilla strips sprinkled with chili powder and mixed in are Mexican ingredients of corn and cilantro.  I love making salad that's affordable, easy to do and meets the criteria on the healthy side!

Mexican Slaw

Tortilla Strips
6  corn tortilla, cut into thin strips (or use Tortilla strips by Mission)
1/2 tsp chili powder
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Arrange tortilla stips in a baking sheet pan.  Spray strips with cooking spray and sprinkle with chili powder.  Bake for 10 minutes (depending on how cripsy you want).  Once cooked, set aside.

1/4 cup mayonnaise ( I used light mayo)
1lime juice (at least 1 Tablespoon)
1 tsp agave honey
 salt (to taste)
 tsp black pepper (to taste)

Mix well. Set aside.

2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded (or thin strips) carrots
1 cup white corn kernels
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir evenly.  Pour the dressing and toss until evenly coated.  Serve with baked tortilla strips on top.