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A Hanukkah Celebration

November 28th, 2018

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My friend, Jane, has incredible taste and she happens to be a fabulous hostess.  When she invited a small group of friends for a Chanukah celebration, no one knew what to expect, since none of us celebrated Chanukah.  Jane made sure to tell us prior to the evening, that we weren’t expected to do anything special, just to come and enjoy the beautiful dinner she prepared for us.

First, I noticed the elegance of the table.  Jane didn’t dress the table with a lot of items, just a few beautiful elements that played off each other.  Her centerpiece was a wire and bead art piece which traveled across the table.  Her placemats mimicked the look with a silver wire design.  Jane also mixed her metals to bring in the gold of the chocolate coins and the silver of the table decor.  Of course, she brought in some blue with the small votives at each place setting.

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The menu was full of home-made foods which looked beautiful but simple to prepare. 

To end the evening, we toasted champagne and mentioned how grateful we were to have each other in our lives.  I love experiencing my friends’ hospitality.  As always, Jane did an outstanding job creating a warm and loving atmosphere which we all cannot wait to experience again.

Family Thanksgiving Celebration

November 16th, 2018
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Family at the Thanksgiving Table

 

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Simple Thanksgiving Decor

Each year, my sister Anna, volunteers to host Thanksgiving and our family gathers at her home to celebrate the holiday. Anna is a wonderful hostess, I’ve said this many times.  She and I are always stealing each other’s ideas and recipes.  Unlike me, Anna does things very simply with a relaxed feel but always seems to WOW her guests.  She never seems to stress over the details.  Even the few times she’s asked me for help, Anna always seems relaxed and at ease while I’m running around stressing over pretty much everything.  Nevertheless, we always seem to pull off a great party and when working together, we make a good team.

During this particular celebration, her table was simple with red placemats and a bouquet of fresh flowers.  However, she added candlelight as her main decor element, creating a soft, warm, and quiet atmosphere.  She used different style and height crystal candleholders which were set on mirror tiles to reflect the light. She also placed some candles in her silver candleholders on the back buffet. Last but not least, she added some votives to bring various levels of height.  It looked so beautiful.

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Candlelight Everywhere

This look was very minimal but definitely brought the WOW factor.

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Smoked Salmon Appetizers

It’s no secret, our family is ALL ABOUT THE APPETIZERS… Anna always prepares a wonderful appetizer spread that is easy and festive.  Above are the smoked salmon appetizers which she serves at practically every function.  They are served on small pieces of bread, smothered in plain cream cheese and topped off with a generous slice of smoked salmon.  She finishes by sprinkling green onion on top and watches them disappear off the plate in a matter of minutes.

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Veggie Plate and Hummus Dip

I’m always in charge of the veggie plates and dip.

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Veggie Plate and Basil Hummus

This veggie plate featured my favorite basil hummus which I make for practically EVERY occasion.

I also love bringing my beet hummus which adds a vibrant color to an otherwise boring cracker bowl.

The dinner is typically traditional with turkey, cranberry source, her famous mixed roasted vegetables, and of course, mashed potatoes. Here’s my son and my parents enjoying her delicious buffet.

Last but not least, the dessert always comes from The Smoke House Market, which is a wonderful store in Chesterfield, Missouri. It is affiliated with Annie Gunns, which is a famous steak house in St. Louis, and sells many of their freshly prepared food creations. Their pies are in HIGH DEMAND during the holidays and since my niece worked there, we always had fresh pies for Thanksgiving… with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top.

All in all, my sister does a fantastic job with Thanksgiving. And I’m alway impressed with how beautifully and seamlessly she executes this annual celebration.

A Fabulous Brunch by my Friend, Rachel!

November 7th, 2018

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I have a wonderful friend named Rachel who is obsessed with Smitten Kitchen.  Rachel invited us to a fabulous bagel brunch at her home.  The bagels were from a famous local bakery where they make water bagels and we were excited to finally sample a few.  Rachel not only supplied the delicious bagels, but she also made several outstanding recipes from Smitten Kitchen and Dash and Bella.  First, she made Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms. They turned out delicious! Secondly, she prepared a Persimmon Salad which not only tasted fabulous but was also one of the most beautiful salads I have ever seen.  Rachel outdid herself and I had to share some photos as well as links to both the recipes. So, if hosting a brunch is in your future, the recipes in this post will be outstanding.

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Fall Cheese Platter and Dinner for Book Club

September 27th, 2018

Had book club at my house again and wanted to create a beautiful “fall” appetizer table… but nothing too complicated.  I had some hummus left over from the weekend… beet hummus and basil hummus.  Additionally, I prepared some quinoa Mexican inspired salad with corn and beans.  It was DELICIOUS!!!  I also prepared a beet salad because I LOVE to add red to my menu.

For a healthier alternative, I served greens so that people can build a salad foundation with  lettuce and spinach and then top it off with the quinoa or beet salad.

The appetizer platter was very simple. It included bread and crackers, for the hummus, as well as various kinds of cheese.  Last but not least, I purchased a flatbread at my local supermarket’s frozen food section, right next to the pizzas.  It was easy to bake and my friends thought it was a wonderful addition to the table.  I mean, who doesn’t love some freshly baked flatbread with their salad?

Five Delicious Food Ideas For A Girl’s Game Night Buffet

February 16th, 2018
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Robin’s beautiful Girls Game Night Buffet filled with a variety of food items to accommodate various dietary options.

I treat invitations to parties a lot like invitations to dance, I NEVER SAY NO! Unless we have a conflict that evening or we’re out of town, I try my best to attend, bring something delicious, and have a fabulous time.  However, there are caveats. Brace yourselves, I’m about to share something crazy… I’m not a big fan of game nights… there… I said it!  Most people love game nights, but I’m a bit more complicated than most people, especially if the host does not want to disclose what game we’re playing… I guess you can call me a bit of a control freak!

But recently, a friend of mine sent me an invitation to her Girls Game Night.  As I always do, I asked “What can I bring?”.  She asked me to bring  a fruit platter and my mind was immediately at ease because at that moment I knew… FOOD WILL BE SERVED!!

Party food is my weakness, I will show up practically anywhere to partake in delicious party fare.  I love seeing what hosts have put together in order to impress their guests or what menu they feel is relevant to their occasion.  Yes folks, this is my passion. I especially love appetizers.  You can even ask our friends.  If you expect my family to come over for dinner, brace yourselves because we will clean off all your appetizer plates, my children included. I’m sure we are breaking some or even ALL the rules of being a good guest, but that’s just the way we are. We may take a few bites from your dinner buffet, but your appetizer set up will disappear! This goes the same when you come to our house for dinner.  Most guests are shocked at how many appetizers we put out and truth be told, if we could JUST serve appetizers, we would! So, when I was invited to a party where I knew most of the food will be appetizers (like a game night), there was NO WAY I was going to miss out on that! Plus, Robin is one of those stealth hostesses.  She never talks about entertaining, but come to one of her parties, you will be amazed at how she entertains like a pro!

Robin’s Girls Game Night was fabulous.  First of all, I have to give her credit, she knew her guest list well.  This all female group was sure to have some dietary restrictions. Carb free, gluten sensitivities, vegetarian, and we’re just talking about ME.  But there were also guests who just wanted to eat healthy and avoid red meat. Yet again, Robin handled everything like a pro.

Here are the five tips I learned from her party.

DON’T OMIT THE CARBS! Unless you know that every person you are inviting is on a carb-free plan, don’t forget to set a few delicious carbohydrates on the buffet. They help fill people up, plus… they are delicious!

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Robin’s beautiful Girls Game Night Buffet filled with a variety of food items to accommodate various dietary options.

2. CONSIDER AN INTERESTING SELECTION OF SALADS. Salad for a game night? Yes, especially when you want to keep it healthy.  I’m not a big fan of just finger food on game night, simply because I hate having to clean my game board or game pieces of powdered cheese or red sauce. I’ve read on various blogs that if you can’t eat it with your fingers or a stick, the food item should not be served on game night.  I disagree! Having food items which can be eaten with a fork is totally OK.  In fact, it gives people the opportunity to take a break, step away from the game table and serve themselves. I loved Robin’s idea of serving pasta, cucumber, and Mediterranean style salads.

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Girl’s Game Night Buffet… loved the fruit and vegetable platters. A must at any party!

3.  VEGGIE + FRUIT PLATTER ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED. No matter the guest list, a fruit and vegetable platter is a must. These platters can accommodate any guest and bring beautiful color to the table.

4. CHEESE, CHEESE, CHEESE. This is another great platter to incorporate into any game night buffet. It appeals to the low-carb guest and it’s wonderful  accompanied with a complementary wine, if you are planning on serving alcohol.

5. SURPRISE YOUR GUESTS WITH SOMETHING UNIQUE. There’s a significant difference between a girls game night and a super bowl party! You don’t have to think potato skins, chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, meatballs, or the many expected dishes during a sports game night. Women love to be surprised with a unique and healthy dish, something they may even try to prepare on their own in the future.  Robin served salmon which paired wonderfully with the hand-crafted olive bread, salads, and vegetables. The presentation was so beautiful and the salmon disappeared! We all wanted the recipe!

 

Healthy Valentine’s Day Yummies – Beet Hummus – No Bake Cookies – Health (ier) Chocolates!

February 9th, 2016





arinalanis

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As always, hanging out with the wonderful people at Better Kansas City is always a treat! On yesterday’s Valentine’s Day inspired show I showed Lisa Teachman a few fun recipes.  May I quickly add that I feel proud that I was the reason she tried beets for the first time!  You gotta love it when you can inspire people to try a fun recipe or experience a new foods!

My three recipes included a Beet Hummus (Brace yourself… this stuff is AH-MAZING!!!), No Bake Paleo Cookies, and home-made chocolates filled with fun and healthy ingredients.  So, without further delay, here are the recipes.  Enjoy!!

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ROASTED BEET HUMMUS + BAKED HEART TORTILLA CHIPS

1 cup of roasteded beets (directions to roast below)
1 15 oz. can white kidney beans (mostly drained)
zest of one large lemon
juice of half a large lemon
healthy pinch salt and black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Slice beets into thick slices and toss in olive oil with a generous portion of salt, pepper, and your favorite dried and/or fresh herbs. I love to toss mine with dried rosemary and oregano. Roast at 400 for approximately 15-20 minutes.

2. Let beets cool and place them in a food processor. Add, olive oil, beans, lemon zest and juice, garlic, Process all ingredients until very smooth. Follow my three step rule… Process, scrape, taste. Adjust ingredients according to your taste. I love extra lemon in my hummus, so I may add a bit more as I process. Then, again… Process, scrape, taste.  Do this a total of three times and you should have your perfect hummus!

3. Serve hummus with warm pita bread, chips, crackers, or vegetables. Store extra hummus in an airtight container for up to a week.

For the above photo I used large tortillas which I cut out as hearts (with a heart cookie cutter).  Then, I brushed each heart with olive oil, sprinkled with dried dill, oregano, and garlic salt.  Baked at 375 in the oven for about 10-15 minutes… keep an eye on the tortilla chips so they don’t burn.   Let cool and serve alongside your beet hummus. These baked tortilla chips are so much healthier than the store-bought fried alternative!

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PALEO NO BAKE THUMBPRINT COOKIES

1 cup coconut flour sifted
2 T almond flour
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
pinch cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4- 1 cup Almond Milk
Dark chocolate
Goji Berries
Hemp Seeds

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut flour,almond flower, and coconut palm sugar, and cinnamon. Make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed well.

Stir in the almond butter until the dough is crumbly. Using a tablespoon at a time, add the almond milk until a very thick batter is formed. Make golf sized balls with the dough and press down in the center of each to create a small ditch. Place the balls on a lined baking pan. Fill with dark chocolate and top off with god berries and hemp seeds. Refrigerate until time to serve.

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candymelt

 

QUINOA POWER CHOCOLATES

Any kind of chocolate Chocolate or candy melts
1/2 cup of toasted Quinoa (toasting instructions below)
Small heart molds or candy molds. I purchased mine at Michael’s in the baking section

Make chocolate with your favorite recipe or melt chocolate chips or candy melts.

Add toasted Quinoa to chocolate and mix well. Fill the heart molds with the chocolate and quinoa mixture. Cool in refrigerator until fully set.  Pop out and enjoy.

HOW TO TOAST QUINOA : Toast quinoa in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until quinoa is very fragrant and makes continuous popping sound, 10-15 minutes. Transfer quinoa to bowl and set aside. Store extra quinoa in an airtight container.

HALLOWEEN MONSTER VEGGIE PLATTER

October 31st, 2015
HALLOWEEN VEGGIE PLATE

I am ending 31 Days of Halloween off with a BANG!!  This healthy veggie platter was a hit at a recent party I attended.  It was fun and funny!  And best of all… HEALTHY!!!  Happy Halloween Everyone!

ALL WHITE CRUDITES or VEGGIE PLATTER

October 2nd, 2015
vegetable plate

Delicious all white vegetable plate

If you think that vegetable platters need to be an assortment of colors, I beg to differ.  I served this all white crudités at last year’s holiday party and it was a hit!  Most people are so impressed to see that vegetables come in all sorts of different colors, like white asparagus.  It’s one of those “surprise” elements I like to incorporate into all my parties.  Alternatively, creating a colorful veggie plate with purple cauliflower or heirloom tomatoes, also gets “oohs and aahhs” from guests!

SIMPLE VEGGIE PLATE

May 5th, 2015

veggieplate

Sometimes the simplest thing can be the most beautiful on your table.  That is what I love most about fruits and vegetables, they are so gorgeous and no matter how you arrange them, they WILL look beautiful.  This simple vegetable platter was created by my sister for one of our parties a few weeks ago.  I bought a large vegetable tray at Sam’s and I’ve used it non-stop for YEARS!!  I don’t even bother putting it away, because it gets used on a regular basis.  It looks great with all kinds of things, but it looks the BEST with fruits and vegetables.  My sister also made sure to separate the colors, which plays a big part in presentation.  But all in all, it was one of the simplest food items at our party and the most popular!

A Veggie Kaleidoscope With Beet Hummus – FABULOUS Veggie Plate!

May 4th, 2015

veggiekaleidoscope

I don’t know if you heard the news, but the Kansas City Royals won the World Series!!  It’s a pretty big deal in KC.  In fact, they closed all the schools yesterday so that everyone can enjoy the Rally and Parade.  Over half a million people attended and it was a celebration like no other!  And while most of Kansas City was enjoying the parade, I decided to skip the crowds and instead, had a watch party at my house.   My friend brought over delicious Dean and Deluca salads, while I created this vegetable platter.  Unfortunately, no blue vegetables (Royals color)… but this  Kaleidoscope of colors did the trick!  The Beet and White Bean hummus was delicious.  I found the recipe on Marthastewart.com and played around a little with the ingredients, which I will post at a later date.  But for now,  Martha’s Beet and White Bean Hummus recipe is very good!!