Watermelon Feta Salad

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Did you know Georgia is among the top four states for watermelon production in the U.S.? Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California produce nearly 70% of our watermelon crop each year. Watermelon season is right now, and local watermelon is likely plentiful at your local markets.

It also happens to be the perfect summer treat for a variety of recipes because it is naturally hydrating. After all, there’s a reason it’s called watermelon. The fruit is made up of 92% water. Perfect for scorching summer days!

Sweet watermelon pairs beautifully with tangy cheeses such as feta. This watermelon feta salad is a winner and a crowd-pleaser. Try it this weekend paired with grilled chicken or fish. It will be a light yet satisfying summer meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Serves 6
You will need:

– 4 cups cold cubed watermelon
– 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves cut in chiffonade
– 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
– 4 tablespoons Saba
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Arrange the cubed cold watermelon in a shallow platter. Sprinkle with basil, feta, saba, salt and olive oil. Serve immediately.

I prepare this salad right before we sit down to eat, so it stays cold, crisp, and fresh. If prepared in advance, be sure to keep it chilled until ready to serve.

Enjoy xx

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Quick Make Ahead Meal:: Parchment Fish

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You know how much I love make-ahead dishes. My golden rule in Picture Perfect Parties, is to always do “one or two make-ahead dishes—one in the oven and one on the cooktop. This makes for a relaxed host!”

When perusing my archives recently, I stumbled upon this post from almost six years ago for parchment fish. My daughter Alex calls it fish in a bag which is essentially what it is. You use parchment to create little pouches of flavor.

The best part about this is that it’s a great “make-ahead” meal. When you’re having guests for a dinner party, just put these together in the morning, pop them into the fridge and pull them out right before guests arrive. Bring them to room temp and pop them into the oven for 20 minutes and voila… dinner is in the bag!

Parchment Fish with Black Bean, Coconut, and Lime Sauce
Serves 4
You will need:

– 4 1/2 lb. pieces of wild salmon (or other fish of your choice; I also like Sea Bass)
– 2 cups snow peas
– 1 red pepper – cut into thin strips about 1/8 ” wide X 4″ long
– 3/4 cup Chinese black bean sauce, available in most markets.
– 1 lime 1/2 for juice and 1/2 for slices
– 1 garlic clove minced
– 1 teaspoon soy sauce
– 1/4 cup coconut milk
– 4 parchment squares 16″x16″
– 1/2 cup cilantro leaves as garnish

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Wash and clean the salmon. Pat dry and remove the skin (you can have the fish monger do this for you if you like).

In a small bowl combine black bean sauce, lime juice from 1/2 lime, and minced garlic, soy sauce, coconut milk. Whisk until combined.

Lay a bed for the fish of 5-6  snow peas, and 5-6 strips of pepper in the middle of the parchment. Lay the salmon on top of the veggies, and spoon 4 tablespoons over the salmon, garnish with a lime slice.

To make a package, fold 2 flaps on either side of the fish over the fish while holding the flaps shut in the middle of the fish, pull the opposite 2 flaps over and hold on top and roll together so the fold rolls over the fish forming a package. Squeeze the roll tightly and wrap ends of the roll under itself into the ends of the roll, securing it shut.

Place the packages into a ceramic baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

I like to serve this over brown rice.

When you pull these out of the oven, place rice on the plate and open the package and carefully pour the fish with veggies and sauce over the rice, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve warm.

 

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Winter Staple: Chicken Noodle Soup

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While spring is just around the corner, we are still receiving our fair share of cold, blustery and rainy days in Atlanta. I mean, I have seriously never seen so much rain! This chicken noodle soup recipe is the perfect exclamation point for a chilly winter day. It’s bound to warm you up from the inside out.

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, it’s from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. Can you believe that I’m actually in Italy as we speak working on my third cookbook and my fourth book overall? Life is a dream.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves  8
 You will need:

– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 clove garlic minced
– 1 small yellow onion chopped
– 1 cup celery chopped
– 2 cups peeled carrots cut into coins
– 1 cup chopped parsley
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon pepper
– 6 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups of water
– 1 3-4 lb roasted chicken (speed up this recipe and use a rotisserie chicken!)
– 2 cups egg noodles

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, place olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat until translucent. Add stock, water, and entire chicken.

Simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Once the broth is golden, remove the pot from heat, and with a slotted spoon pull the chicken out of the soup. Pull all the meat off with a fork and tongs (careful not to burn yourself on the hot meat) place all the meat into the soup, add more stock if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes with noodles.

Serve warm

*This can be made a couple of days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Photograph from Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup

creamy-cauliflower-soup-sans-cream During my juice cleanse I always try to make some roasted cauliflower soup for dinner one night, especially when I find some beautiful heads of cauliflower at the market. This soup is creamy and rich without all of the added dairy (but of course, feel free to add a little cream should you feel so inclined!). Let me know what you think!

Today’s post is our last official Juice January post for 2020. How did it go overall? Do you feel like you made better choices and formed better habits? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Serves 8
You will need:

– 2 heads of cauliflower broken into pieces
– 1/4 cup olive oil for tossing the cauliflower
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup olive oil for the shallot
– 1 medium size shallot chopped
– 3 stalks of celery diced fine
– 3 cloves garlic minced
– 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup skim milk optional*
– 8 tablespoons truffle oil optional*

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cauliflower with oil and salt and place into the oven for 45 minutes until nicely browned.

4b648ddce8ca008c1b439e9fada07567 While the cauliflower is roasting chop shallots and celery, mince garlic. Place shallots, celery and garlic and 1/4 cup oil in a heavy stock pot on medium heat saute until transparent. Add roasted cauliflower to the garlic, shallot celery mixture, add stock (and milk* if you like) and warm for 10 minutes. With a handheld blender or in a food processor place the soup in the processor, or hand blend in the stockpot  blend until smooth. Place on heat for 1/2 hour and serve warm with 1 tablespoon truffle oil per serving.

*This is a no cream recipe although you can add a little skim milk if you want the soup to look lighter and creamier.

 

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Cream of Tomato Basil Soup

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Can you believe we are in our final week of Juice January (well, healthy habits January)?! It has honestly flown by for me, and I hope it has for you as well. For our last week, I am sharing two amazing soup recipes. For one, winter is a wonderful time to warm-up with a bowl of soup, and for another, soup is an excellent way to sneak in those extra servings of veggies. Today, it’s all about cream of tomato basil soup because honestly, is there anything better?

Cream of Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 8
You will need:
– 1/2 medium onion sliced thin
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon pepper
– 2  28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
– 4 cups vegetable stock
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 cup fresh basil chopped
To prepare:
In a large stock pot, heat butter and oil, add onions, salt and pepper.
Sauté until onions are lightly caramelized. Add tomatoes, vegetable stock, cream and basil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish with basil. Serve warm.
Note: The soup may be made creamy by placing it in a blender or using a hand blender if desired. I personally like it a little chunky.
Enjoy!
xx, Annette
Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash
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