Archive for July, 2010

Healthy Food Recipe for a Quick Meal

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

With the heat of the summer and the fact that we have longer days, many times we would like to eat something light as well as later in the evening.  Ideally speaking, a quick easy dinner as well as an easy healthy dinner.  Here is a healthy food recipe for a quick meal.

Based upon one of my favorite marinades, this healthy food recipe is a quick easy dinner that can be made for 1 or more people (if you are entertaining).  What I did earlier this week was prepare halibut over brown and wild rice mixed with dates and served green beans on the side.  This easy healthy dinner took no time at all to make.

The ingredients to use for this quick meal are:

1 portion of halibut
Brown rice
Wild Rice
Green Beans

To start this quick easy dinner, marinate the halibut in a bowl of equal parts olive oil, balsamic vinegar (2 tablespoons each) and a clove or two of garlic.  Coat the halibut and place the fish in the refrigerator for about two hours.  (Turn to page 95 in Budget Bash for more uses for this marinade.)

In the meantime, follow the cooking instructions on the back of the packages for the wild rice and the brown rice and cook both types of rice separately.  When I made this healthy food recipe, I used 1/4 cup of wild rice and 1 cup of brown rice.

Once both sets of rice are cooked, mix them together and add chopped dates.  Be sure you check the dates for nuts.  Allow the heat of both sets of rice to warm up the chopped dates.  Set the rice aside.

Once the halibut is marinated, cook the fish in the oven until tender and flaky but not raw in the middle.  To make this a really quick dinner, purchase freshly frozen green beans and heat them up over the stove while you are cooking the halibut.

If the rice has cooled, you may want to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to reheat it.  Set the rice on your dinner plate, then place the cooked halibut on top and then the cooked green beans to the side, and there you have a quick easy dinner using a healthy food recipe.

I like to save even more time cooking dinner in the summer and often will prepare my combination rice serving ahead of time and refrigerate it.  I make a couple of servings and then take it out for this dish or another quick meal that I may cook during the week.  (For other time-saving ideas, check out Budget Bash.)

I hope you find this healthy food recipe for a quick easy dinner enjoyable.  What is so great about this easy healthy dinner is that it takes no time to make and is easy to clean up.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun & economical to all!

Sustainable Food and Chez Panisse Cafe

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Over this past weekend, I experienced firsthand sustainable food at Chez Panisse Cafe located in Berkeley, California.   Alice Waters is the chef credited for creating the sustainable foods movement when she opened Chez Panisse close to 40 years ago.

Chez Panisse Cafe has been opened for 30 years and after sampling the delicious whole wheat sourdough bread served with the incredible olive oil (okay I will admit I ate nearly the entire loaf!) and then sharing a rocket salad and clams for lunch, it’s no wonder why the cafe was jammed packed.  Sustainable food philosophy is to source fine local ingredients that not only are organic but also seasonal.  I believe it is evident in the taste of the sustainable foods as well since there is more flavor to these food products than mass produced food.

Since we were celebrating a birthday at Chez Panisse Cafe, we were treated to a delicious serving of apricot ice cream, another fine example of the sustainable food we experienced.  I could have sworn I was biting into the fresh apricot itself – not just a spoonful of ice cream.  Us foodies and sustainable foods junkies are indebted to Alice Waters and her desire to serve the freshest tasting, best and locally produced ingredients for our own food enjoyment!

We also experienced a fantastic pizza with tuna on top.  Never would I have thought to add tuna to my pizza and I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was.  I ate 2 slices.  (It was a big bread weekend!)

On the way out of Chez Panisse Cafe I couldn’t help but walk by the desserts sitting upon the kitchen counter.  Again, the sustainable food philosophy was evident in the fresh fruit tarts and of course the chocolate brownies.  Being a lover of chocolate, I couldn’t resist purchasing a brownie to go.  It was a good thing that my fiancee bought the brownie because when I heard how much it was I nearly choked on it.  I just made sure that not a morsel of brownie was left.  We were going to eat every last penny of this most expensive dessert I have ever experienced!

Finally, even the wines were a good example of sustainable foods.  We ordered a bottle of wine and it was served out of a metal container, not a glass bottle.  Apparently many restaurants are now serving wines in this fashion to save on cork as well as glass.

All in all, I loved my foodie experience at Chez Panisse Cafe and can’t wait to go back.  Everything tasted so fresh – a testament to the sustainable food movement.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Easy and Quick Dinner with Heirloom Tomatoes

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Last night I had the most delicious easy and quick dinner with heirloom tomatoes and I thought I would share this summer salad recipe with you.  This quick dinner recipe uses just a few ingredients including balsamic glazed halibut and takes only minutes to make.

Heirloom tomatoes
are in season right now and they are so delicious whether plain, dressed with olive oil and accompanied with basil or tossed in a summer salad.  Last night I used the tomatoes with this easy and quick dinner that is also a low-fat and healthy recipe.  What is so great about this quick dinner recipe is that you can make it for yourself or serve it at your next dinner party.

The first part of this quick dinner recipe is to marinate the halibut in a bowl of equal parts olive oil, balsamic vinegar (2 tablespoons each) and a clove or two of garlic.  Coat the halibut and place the fish in the refrigerator for about two hours.

The ingredients I used to make the summer salad were:

•    Arugula
•    Dates
•    Heirloom Tomatoes
•    Shaved Parmesan Cheese
•    Lemon, Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper

Once the halibut is marinated, cook the fish in the oven until tender and flaky but not raw in the middle.  (For detailed instructions on this recipe and more turn to page 95 in Budget Bash.) While the fish is cooking, toss the arugula, dates, heirloom tomatoes and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Then slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the summer salad (be sure to squeeze the lemon with the rind facing towards the salad so as  not to get any seeds onto the greens), add some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and place the salad onto your dinner plate.

Once the halibut is cooked, place it on the plate to the side of the salad or on top whichever you prefer and serve.  (Note, for this easy and quick dinner recipe you can also substitute a chicken breast for the halibut and still use the same marinade.)  Serve this quick dinner recipe with your favorite white wine and enjoy!  The blend of flavors along with the sweetness of the dates (substitute figs when they are in season) is light and delicious.

I hope you found this easy and quick dinner idea using heirloom tomatoes in a summer salad enjoyable.  What is so great about this quick dinner recipe is that it takes no time to make and is easy to clean up.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun & economical to all!

Summer Party Ideas and Special Event Planning for Cocktail Parties

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Summer is such a great time to entertain.  You have the warm daytime sunshine as well as refreshing nights.  Here are some summer party ideas including a couple of cocktail catering presentations to help you with any special event planning for summer cocktail parties.

Create conversation and interaction with your special event planning.  One refreshing cocktail catering presentation for cocktail parties is to present a new twist on an old idea.  Skewer a piece of cooked shrimp and instead of serving it with a bowl of cocktail sauce serve the shrimp in a shot glass already filled with the sauce.

Other summer party ideas that include shot glasses for cocktail catering are soups, whether they are hot such as lobster Saki shooters (I recently enjoyed at a cocktail party) or cold soups such as shots of gazpacho or cucumber.

For cocktail parties where you may want to serve a refreshing natural and nutritious dessert, why not accompany a platter full of fresh fruit with a shot of a fruit smoothie?

More summer party ideas for cocktail parties include serving refreshing melon balls wrapped with prosciutto or cucumber cups filled with humus, seaweed salad or salmon dip.  (For quick and easy cocktail recipes check out pages 80 to 86 in Budget Bash.)

Lollipop-styled desserts are another cocktail catering suggestion to add to your special event planning summer ideas.  Brownie bites, chocolate chip cookies or bread pudding are all delicious bite-sized desserts you can serve on a stick and tray pass or present on a platter at a dessert buffet.  Clean up is easy too since no silverware or dessert plates are needed just a simple cocktail napkin!

Other desserts that can be served in small individual portions with a creative flair are crème brulee, chocolate pudding or tiramisu presented in demitasse cups with demitasse spoons.

Summer party ideas for your special event planning décor can be fast, easy and inexpensive.  Instead of using a tea-light with your glass votive, drop a Cymbidium orchid in the glass instead.  Or place an orchid weighted down with water and colored glass beads in a small glass vase.

Floating candles in water are always fun for your table décor and you can use colored glass beads on the bottom or add a flower in the container as well.  A great decor idea for cocktail parties I recently read about in Real Simple magazine is to use parchment paper as a luminary wrap with a votive candle holder.  For information and instructions, just pick up the August 2010 issue.  (More quick and easy décor ideas can be found in Budget Bash.)

I hope you found these special event planning ideas for cocktail catering helpful for your next summer event.  Summer party ideas do not need to be complicated or take much of your time.  Cocktail parties are a great way to gather a group of friends for an intimate and casual event, and when you throw your next cocktail party remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun & economical to all!

Cocktail Party Ideas for Summer Cocktail Parties

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Summer is under way and what isn’t a better time than now to throw cocktail parties.  Here are some cocktail party ideas that don’t take much time to produce and won’t break the bank!

For starters, let’s look at the cocktail party menu.  Keep it light and simple.  Slice chunks of various kinds of vegetables, skewer them, place the skewers in a simple marinade of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper if desired and then grill or roast the marinated skewers.

Want to mix it up a bit? For outdoor cocktail parties, stick the finished skewered vegetables in a bed of wheat grass and there you have a grilled vegetable garden!  Or place the finished vegetables on a platter and decorate the platter with loose flowers such as cymbidium orchids or Gerber daisies.

I recently attended a cocktail party at Brookfield Properties where the caterer created a great cocktail party menu that included Macadamia nut crusted chicken lollipops.

Other menu items can include European cheeses with dates and figs, sliced toasts and crackers.

Have some fun serving your appetizers by using a shot glass at cocktail parties. Create a conversation piece by serving either skewered shrimp with a shot glass of cocktail sauce or soups such as gazpacho or cucumber served in a shot glass.  Good old-fashioned milk and cookies where the tray includes shots of cold milk with a side of mini cookies is always fun too.

And since it is summertime, for your outdoor cocktail parties it’s always fun to include tray-passed mini-burgers (can be beef, turkey or veggie) and of course the all-time favorite mini-hot dogs.

Other fun cocktail party ideas include creating an all white themed summer event with a white fabric gazebo such as Brookfield Properties recently produced at their cocktail party.  You can rent a 10’ x 10’ canopy and then use sheer fabric to swag the sides of the tent.  You may need to bring in a tenting company to help with the small tent but you can buy the fabric yourself to create the swags.

Add some color to your white cocktail parties with colored glass décor items such as vases and marbles for your buffet display as seen in the first picture.  Flowers too can be fun and colorful yet simple such as the arrangement pictured below. (For more flower arranging ideas check out pages 59 to 64 in Budget Bash.)

And for drinks, here are some cocktail party ideas that are refreshing and cool for the summer.  One cocktail party menu idea is to make your own spa water.  Just add any of the following to water and let sit for a bit:

•    Fresh raspberries or strawberries
•    Citrus such as lemons or oranges
•    Cucumbers
•    Herbs such as mint or basil

If you prefer serving alcoholic beverages for cocktail parties, think about adding to your beverage menu sangria, mohitos or flavored martinis such as lemon, cucumber or watermelon. (For some cocktail party martini recipes, look at pages 87 and 88 in Budget Bash.)

I hope you found these cocktail party ideas helpful for your summer cocktail parties.  Keep your cocktail party menu fun and light and when throwing a cocktail party remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, delicious, stylish, fun & economical to all!