CAPRESE CHICKS

I’ve been spending the day getting ready for Easter brunch here tomorrow.  A quick trip  to the farmers market for flowers for the bunny centerpiece for the kids’ table:

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Fitz and Floyd bunny planter — an estate sale find

And colorful carrots to set out with ranch dip:

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What’s up, Doc?

The weather is cooperating, thankfully.  My window box of geraniums is happy in the Spring sun:

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 Lilo, our 9-year old shar pei, is soaking up some of the gentle warmth in the driveway:

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While Jasper, our 2-year old duck tolling retriever, prefers to keep an eye on the kitchen action:

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I know lots of you are making cute deviled eggs for your Easter table.  I found another cute Easter appetizer that I’m sure will have my husband rolling his eyes.  Caprese Chicks are an easy and fun way to add a little whimsy to your Easter meal.  I found the idea here, at the same, unfortunately defunct blog that brought you the Chicken Egg Family.

I began with Formaggio marinated fresh mozzarella balls that I found at Costco:

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Instead of marinating the mozzarella in curry, I opted to use yellow food coloring.  I found that it didn’t work by adding it to the oil marinade. Instead, I rinsed and drained the mozzarella, then placed it in a jar, added enough water to cover, and then added the food coloring.  I left mine in the refrigerator overnight, but they pick up the yellow tint in a few hours.  Although they worked out fine, I’d recommend using a product that is not packed in oil, such as this Bel Gioioso fresh mozzarella, which is also sold at Costco:

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Now comes the fun part!  Using small wooden skewers or long wooden toothpicks, skewer a grape tomato, a mozzarella ball, and another grape tomato.  Insert a small carrot triangle into the cheese for the beak, and press two black sesame seeds into the cheese for eyes: IMG_3969I’m setting out ranch dip for the kids, and an olive oil herb mix for the adults, to dip the tomatoes in.

Happy Easter!

SPRING IN HOUSTON

We’ve had an exceptionally nice Spring on the Gulf Coast this year, and it seems that we’ve had more than the usual number of days that beckon you outside and make it hard to go to work.  Before the heat, humidity, and hurricanes of summer arrive, I’ve been making an effort to enjoy the many gifts of Spring.

Couldn’t help but notice the Texas Mountain Laurel, which were heavy with flowers this year:

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I had a little Spring visitor on my miniature roses (and I’m now watching after its offspring on my butterfly weed):

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The Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market on Eastside (off the 3000 block of Richmond) has had a wonderful selection of spring vegetables these past few weeks:

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Baby leeks and fennel from Gundermann Acres

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 A kaleidoscope of carrots from Animal Farm

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 And more carrots from Gundermann Acres

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Radishes in red, white, and every shade in between from Animal Farm

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This was new to me — broccoli flowers

In addition to the colorful produce, there have been lots of spring flowers at the Farmers Market:

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 Gorgeous mixed bouquets from Animal Farm

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A graceful wild orchid for my backyard 

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A stunning orchid from Orchid Obsession 

If you’re looking for a delicious splash of color, the macarons from Maison Burdisso are the best in town (maybe the best anywhere).  If you think you might like an assortment for your holiday table, call ahead, as they always sell out:

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Do you see the scarlet red ones?  Can you guess what flavor they are?  No?  They’re Poppy!

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Poppy macaron — brilliant!

Picking up some Spring color at Home Depot’s garden center, I felt a little like Patty Duke, only it wasn’t a hot dog making me lose control, it was petunias.  The racks were filled with big, beautiful baskets of petunias, and it took me forever to choose which ones were coming home with me.

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Snowy white petunias

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 Velvety black petunias

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 Gorgeous striped rose-colored petunias

 And the one that I am completely smitten with, called Crazytunia:

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There was also a new pretty pink variety of lantana:

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Even at the grocery store, bunches of Spring tulips were calling my name (hard to beat for $10):

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Of course, the star of the Texas Spring show is the bluebonnet.  This has turned out to be a great year for wildflowers, and the roadsides are ablaze in color.

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We’ve been enjoying some light meals, incorporating some of our finds from the Farmers Market.  No real recipes, just easy dishes based on super fresh ingredients and good quality olive oil.  (If you’d like a recipe for any of the following dishes, please email me and I’ll write one out for you.)  First up, my husband’s delicious creation — fresh Gulf Coast red snapper from Airline Seafood (catch them on Saturdays at the Farmers Market), sautéed in olive oil, with burst cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon, a few grinds of black pepper, and those beautiful broccoli flowers (I can honestly say this was the best fish I have had in ages):

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A salad of Rio Star grapefruit supremes, baby fennel, and treviso radicchio (the elongated variety), with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and fennel fronds:

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And a roasted golden beet salad with olive oil, champagne vinegar, feta cheese, and arugula sprouts:

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Wishing everyone a wonderful Spring, and that you find inspiration in the scents, flavors, and colors of the season.