Cooking with Herbs …

(Click PHOTO to enlarge and then back arrow to return to original size).

Photo Jun 16, 4 43 04 PM.jpg INTRO

Hi everyone,

We had a mini heatwave here in the Northeast the past few days. The temperature went from very cool weather to being in the 90’s in a matter of days.

Since the weather has been so unpredictable, I have had a late start planting my garden.

We finally bought our plants and they are all in the ground.

Now we wait for the first bounty.

I feel like my Dad when I plant a garden. He followed in the footsteps of his family and planted a vegetable garden every year. Back in Brooklyn, all the neighbors would share whatever vegetables they grew. 

Sharing your garden bounty is always a nice part of summer. 

Bob and I usually plant tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and some herbs.

This year I am increasing my herb plantings.

I don’t know about you but it seems I am constantly buying herbs in the grocery store. I buy basil and within a day it turns brown. My parsley turns yellow almost immediately.

So I have decided that this year, is the year of the herb garden. I have added thyme, sage, dill, rosemary and tarragon to the usual parsley and basil.

While I was planting the herbs, I thought it would be great to make a quiche using a combination of herbs for a light brunch with a side salad. So I did some research for a new recipe and I found one for a “Crustless Herb Quiche”. I want to share this recipe with you today. Very fast and very easy.

Photo Jun 16, 9 08 44 PM.jpg HERB QUICHE

Along with the quiche I made a Baby Spinach Salad. 

My take on an old classic.

The classic spinach salad minus the bacon, fresh mushrooms and croutons.

The right salad dressing means everything to enhance the flavor of a salad and I have had the good fortune to meet a wonderful fellow foodie named ” Cucina Teresa” on one of my Facebook food groups who makes the perfect salad dressing.

Spinach salad calls for balsamic dressing and Cucina Teresa makes the best creamy balsamic salad dressing I have ever tasted. (which I highly recommend for this spinach salad recipe.) I just can’t say enough about it. I know I sound like a walking advertisement, but it’s that good.

CUCINA TERESA.jpg for blog

I have included her ordering information after the “Recipe” section at the end of this post, in case you are interested in trying her dressing. You will not be disappointed. 

Photo Jun 17, 12 17 01 AM.jpg SPINACH SALAD

Another salad for this brunch is one my mother made all the time with cucumbers from her garden. 

Cucumbers with Sour Cream and Dill.

Photo Jun 17, 12 38 51 AM (1).jpg CUCUMBER SALAD

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Brunch is served ...

Photo Jun 17, 12 45 46 AM.jpg COMBO BRUNCH

(Recipes at the end of the post.)

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What better way to enjoy herb inspired food than on “herb” themed dishes. I have just the right set.

 The dishes I am using for brunch are made by Certified International, designed by Susan Winget. I just love her work.

It is an earthenware dish with a cream background with designs of herbs, butterflies and bees in shades of blue, lilac, green and yellow with a brown rim. The name of the featured herb is on each plate.

I only bought the salad plates and mugs along with a few serving trays because I intended to only use this set on the patio, just for dessert and coffee/tea after dinner on summer nights.

Photo Jun 16, 11 08 52 PM.jpg DISHES

 The large serving tray is 14 X 14 and highlights lavender and chamomile alongside a birdcage and butterfly. The tray is cream and lilac with various shades of green and a brown rim.

Photo Jun 16, 4 27 28 LARGE PLATTER

The small serving tray is  11 x 5 and is cream and green with a brown rim. The word “herbs” is spelled out on the tray with a design in lilac, blue and green that features not only herbs and a butterfly, but a gardening tool as well.

Photo Jun 16, 4 19 34 PM.jpg SMALL TRAY

The set comes with the most adorable tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl that caught my eye first. Both pieces have a cute butterfly attached to the lids.

The tea pot is a watering can with accents of lime green with a design of chamomile flowers (one of my favorite teas) and a butterfly on the lid.

Photo Jun 16, 4 24 00 PM.jpg TEA POT

The sugar bowl is a flower pot with accents of lime green with a floral and butterfly design, a butterfly on the lid and the message on the creamer says, “Plant your wishes”. 

Photo Jun 16, 4 28 29 PM (1).jpg CREAMER

The creamer is also a watering can, with accents of lime green and a similar floral and butterfly design and the message on the creamer says, ” Hope for rain”. 

Photo Jun 16, 4 28 50 PM.jpg CREAMER

I am using the same burlap tablecloth that I used for Easter. I just love this tablecloth and find it is the perfect backdrop for a lot of my dish collections that feature garden themes. 

Photo Jun 16, 4 39 31 PM (1).jpg TABLECLOTH

You will be very surprised, but I am not using a cloth napkin. For this tablescape I am using a paper guest/dinner napkin and therefore no napkin rings. I found this napkin in a gift shop in Stony Brook, NY and it turns out that the napkin is also by Susan Winget. Somehow, I am drawn to her work everywhere I go.

Susan’s work reminds me of two other designers that I admire, Susan Branch and Marjolein Bastin.

The napkin is cream with lovely branches of lavender and a few bees. Perfect for the dishes. Thinking about it now, I should have bought more than one package.

Photo Jun 16, 11 28 39 PM.jpg NAPKIN

No placemats either for this tablescape, just my brown rattan chargers. Another natural earthy addition to go along with the theme. I suggest if you buy only one set of chargers, purchase brown rattan. They are very versatile.

Photo Jun 17, 12 18 00 AM (1).jpg CHARGER

I have a new flatware purchase that I bought for a different dish collection but thought that it would be perfect on this table. The flatware has wooden handles in the same shade of brown as the plate rim and they coordinate perfectly with the chargers.

Photo Jun 16, 4 40 36 PM (1)

No glassware, I am just using the matching mugs from the set. The mugs are over-sized and have a mint green handle and the same designs as the salad plates.

Photo Jun 16, 4 25 31 PM.jpg MUGS

My centerpiece is all about gardening and I am using a wooden cream picket fence plant holder that was given to me back in the day when my son was still in grade school. The plant holder has hand painted designs of watering cans, birdhouses and flowers.

This planter is over 20 years old.

Photo Jun 16, 11 28 07 PM.jpg PLANTER B

Close up of the hand painted designs.

Photo Jun 16, 4 22 49 PM.jpg CLOSE UP OF FENCE - USE

I am filling the plant holder with an artificial Lavender plant (you know how I am with live plants and yes, after a good two years of tender loving care, I killed the bamboo. A story for another time).

Anyway, this lavender plant reminded me of the design on the napkins and matches the colors on the plate; and for $ 9.99 in Homegoods it was a great bargain.

I am adding a few garden tools, garden gloves and some packets of seeds to complete the centerpiece.

I just love the way the centerpiece turned out so I am leaving it on an end table in the living room for the entire summer (it was put together in five minutes).

Photo Jun 16, 4 23 20 PM.jpg CENTERPIECE

For a little fun and a pop of color, I have added a packet of seeds to each place setting for decoration that can be used as a favor.

Photo Jun 16, 4 40 36 PM.jpg FAVOR

Favors do not have to be expensive. Just a little token as a reminder for your guests of the party, luncheon, dinner or gathering is enough.

This tablescape and centerpiece, reminds me of the visits Bob and I have made to a Lavender Farm in East Marion, NY called “Lavender by the Bay”.

If you are ever on Long Island, NY and want to take a drive and see a gorgeous field of lavender, that is the place to go.  

Lavender by the Bay

DSC_0708- LAVENDER FARM FOR BLOG II

DSC_0700- LAVENDER FOR BLOG

Together will the dried lavender, they also sell lavender products from sachets to lotions, including lavender honey (one of my favorites).

2016-08-31 12.56.46.jpg LAVENDER - STORE

I should have purchased this sachet, it would have looked adorable on the table. It blends right in with the dishes. Next time…

DSC_0685.jpg LAVENDER SACHET

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Photo Jun 16, 4 43 21 PM (1).jpg BUFFET

I hope this tablescape gave you some inspiration to try a new recipe for brunch, take a drive to a lavender farm or plant an herb garden of your own.

Good luck to anyone with a garden this year and I will keep you posted on the success of my garden. 

Don’t forget the recipes at the end of the post.

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Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well.

Diane

Place Setting

Photo Jun 16, 11 06 55 PM.jpg - PLACE SETTING

Table Details

Salad plates and mugs from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Tea pot from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Creamer and Sugar bowl from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Serving platter and trays from Certified International – pattern, Herb Garden

Burlap tablecloth from Amazon

Paper Napkins from Tapestry Designs

Brown rattan chargers from Sur La Table

Brown flatware from Amazon

Artificial Lavender plant from Homegoods 

Picket Fence plant holder was a gift

Seed packets, gardening gloves and gardening tools from Ace

Recipes

Crustless Herb Quiche 

from Chef Mary-Frances Heck of Fitness magazine

  • Makes: 4 servings
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Carb Grams Per Serving: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, 3 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in herbs and remove from heat.

Spray a 9-inch glass pie dish with cooking spray. Arrange onion-herb mixture in dish. Whisk together eggs and milk; season with salt and pepper. Pour into dish and dot with goat cheese. Bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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Diane’s Baby Spinach Salad

I use a creamy balsamic vinaigrette for this salad.

Ingredients:

All ingredients can be adjusted to your liking.

  • ½ cup of dry mini farfalle (bowtie) pasta. (I use Barilla brand)
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces (or any nut of your choice)
  • ½- 1 cup mozzarella “pearls” (or goat cheese or feta)
  • ½ an English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup red onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup scallions
  • 1 hard- boiled egg, sliced
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl toss together pasta, spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges, walnuts, mozzarella pearls, cucumbers, red onions, scallions, sliced egg and tomatoes. Mix well.
  3. Just before serving pour dressing over salad, toss, add some fresh basil and serve.

**************************************************

Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream and Dill Dressing

By Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4-6 Kirby cucumbers (about 1 lb.), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice and dill
  • Season with salt and pepper, and whisk well to combine
  • Add cucumbers, and toss to coat. Garnish with more dill, if desired.
  • Serve, or refrigerate, covered, up to 4 hours

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The Cucina Teresa website is under construction at the moment but you can inbox her facebook page, “Cucina Teresa” and she will give you prices and directions on how to send payment for this fantastic product.

CUCINA TERESA.jpg for blog

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Photo Jun 16, 11 06 07 PM.jpg EXTRA

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Also, continue to send me your comments, I love hearing from you.

4 thoughts on “Cooking with Herbs …

  1. Barbara F.

    Loved this post, it is chock filled with a beautiful tablescape, yummy food and Cucina Teresa! I also discovered Teresa on Facebook and recently purchased her dressings. I love the white balsamic and will be trying the red this weekend. New follower here, Teresa sent me! 😉

    Like

    Reply
    1. aries041158 Post author

      Thank you for subscribing to the blog, very much appreciated. As soon as I tasted Cucina Teresa’s salad dressing I knew I had to spread the word, I was blown away. Great product and she is the nicest person as well. I hope you enjoy the blog and all the recipes. More to come soon. Stay well

      Like

      Reply
    1. aries041158 Post author

      Thank you Christine for your very sweet comments. I am so happy that you are enjoying the blog. That was my goal from the beginning to share my passion.
      Try the crustless quiche, quick and delicious. Stay well.

      Like

      Reply

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