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Alternative Thanksgiving dinner ideas

I vote for a perpetual holiday atmosphere. It’s like the whole world puts on a new face, more cheerful, full of color and beautiful thoughts. It’s only fair that we let these positive vibes flood our homes as well, and more than anything, our family dinners. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s time we put our minds to work and come up with a menu to delight senses and complement the holiday cheer.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional roasted turkey, I have come across some great recipes that involve less cooking and more celebrating.

My ‘untraditional’ Thanksgiving dinner will consist of turkey enchilada casserole, spinach and turkey salad, a scrumptious potato gratin with homemade gravy, and a delicious pumpkin pie.

This enchilada recipe is easy, but so delicious it will be the hit of your dinner party or potluck.

You will need:

2 cups shredded Cheddar and Monterey cheese blend
1 cup sour cream
2 tomatoes, chopped
24 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 (19 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
4 boneless skinless marinated turkey breast halves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter, shortening or cooking spray. Next, season the turkey breasts with garlic salt to taste. Put the turkey in the baking dish, cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake in the heated oven for 45 minutes until the turkey is cooked through and the juices run clear. Shred the turkey and let it aside. You can do this step ahead and refrigerate shredded turkey.

In a small bowl, combine the cheese, sour cream and a pinch of salt.

Tear tortillas into fourths so that they absorb the sauce better and start assembling the casserole. Pour about 1/2 inch enchilada sauce in the bottom of a medium baking dish, and arrange 3 torn tortillas in a single layer. Top with 1/2 the turkey, 1/3 cheese mixture, 1/2 tomatoes. and 1/3 of the remaining enchilada sauce. Repeat. Spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted.

As for table decorating, here’s a wonderful idea that will add oomph to your Thanksgiving feast:

Thanksgiving table decor

It is fun to do something different for a change, isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Feel free to share your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, we could all use some more inspiration!

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Apartment living, Food, Holidays

 

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Light and easy dinner recipes for summer

What’s for dinner tonight? This is a question that many busy professionals like us have grown to be tired of. Especially after a hard day’s work when you can’t wait to get home to have a moment of peace and relaxation. Somehow, spending another two to three hours in the kitchen cooking does not fit the schedule. Well, I’ve been having the same problem and I think I might have found a solution: quick and easy veggie dishes enhanced with scrumptious dips.

Indeed you have to be bold to try out new recipes on a daily basis, yet it’s all worth it. You get to show off your creative skills to the entire family, eat healthily and enjoy invigorating, home-cooked meals every night. Here are a few of my favorite recipes, perfect for complementing these gorgeous summer days.

Just like diamonds, salads are a girl’s best friend. Whenever I feel like playing with flavors, I go for an enhanced version of the Caprese Salad. I actually combine two recipes to make this dish and it’s my idea of a perfect dinner, both healthy and refreshing. You just need some shredded grilled chicken breast or Parma ham for a plus of aroma, 2-3 cups of cherry tomatoes, and 8 bocconcini or mozzarella cheese. Add basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss lightly to combine. And there you have it, your fancy super cool dinner for a hot summer evening.

Put a rainbow on your plate. There’s an age-old Eastern belief that health and longevity depend on a balance of the five elemental energies; and that one should have at least five colors on each plate every day: red, orange/yellow, green, white and blue/purple. You can easily achieve this by combining foods from each category – vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and grains.

This Red, White and Blue Potato Salad for instance is consistent, very easy to prepare and can make a perfect addition to a nice family dinner. Go hunt for some fresh potatoes at your local farmers’ market; make sure you have Greek yogurt and mayo at hand, some cheese and some refreshing scallions as well. Add the juicy bacon and your treat is all set. Either served as a main dish or accompanying your favorite grilled foods, this flavor explosion will make your taste buds go crazy every time you have a bite.

Another exquisite option for a beat-the-heat dinner is Pasta Salad. Pasta salads make cooking very easy as you’ve got the major attraction already in the plate; now you just have to add spices and aromas to push that delightful taste to sublime. Salmon or tender turkey bites are a perfect complement to pasta salads.

And remember…there’s nothing better than a fresh lemonade or icy cold mojito to go with a lovely dinner on a steamy day.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Food, Health

 

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Tips for your next vacation in Crete, Greece

It’s almost time for the summer vacay and if you’re anything like me you’re already hunting for deals. I still can’t decide whether I want to travel to the island of Hvar in Croatia or Lisbon, Portugal this year. Last year I traveled to Greece and I can tell you it was an excellent choice, a dream worth pursuing. That’s why I wanted to describe my experience in a few lines and let you in on a few secrets of the marvelous vacation spot.

Hersonissos by night

Like most Greek resort islands, Crete offers an abundance of things to do, see and marvel at. We chose Chersonissos, (Hersonissos) – a charming harbor town right on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – because we had read that it was a blend of history and contemporary fun. While we appreciate the serenity and rough beauty of secluded places, we wanted to feel the vibe of the Greek streets and mingle with the natives for an authentic bite of Greek culture.

Chersonissons was everything we had hoped for. We found a nice place to sleep in the middle of everything – a cute B&B adjacent to the main party street – and a 5-min walk to the beach called Hotel Floral. Not too fancy yet clean and nice.

Hotel Floral in Hersonissos, Crete

Where to sunbathe, swim, read and chill
We tried several beaches, all great as the fantastic blue-green of the sea is all the same wherever you go along the rocky shores. The water is warm, clean and refreshing – just perfect for taking a dive. Our favorite was Kahlua beach, a pebbly shore with nice staff and good eateries where lunch was a treat every time – delightful and not expensive.

Kahlua beach in Hersonissos, Crete

Star Beach, probably the best or the most popular beach in Hersonissos, is the go-to place if you’re looking for fun, beach games, para-sailing and foam parties. If I were to return, I would probably stay at Star Beach as it provides great accommodation in both villas and hotel suites and it draws eclectic crowds from all over the world.

Star Beach, Hersonissos, Crete

Where to eat
Greek restaurants all have something in common: friendly staff and bohemian atmosphere. You absolutely have to try their world-famous Star Beach, Hersonissos, a signature dish of Greek cuisine along with souvlaki and Pita with Gyros. We thought Acropolis, a family-run traditional restaurant right on the beach, served the best moussaka on the island. They also have a great selection of fish, desserts and wine (which we got for free courtesy of the cheerful staff).

Greek Moussaka at Acropolis, Hersonissos, Crete

We also loved Greek Corner, a super cool spot for fun-seeking tourists. While the food was scrumptious and the cocktails amazingly refreshing, we couldn’t take our eyes of the band – a group of Greek artists playing traditional music while a skillful dancer engaged tourists in traditional dances. We were also drawn to the party and danced to the Zorbas, a mesmerizing song by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. We literally had to jump over fire; it was awesome, totally worth trying.

Zorba dancing at Greek Corner, Hersonissos, Crete

Our third favorite was White Lion, a more contemporary tavernita where everything was delicious (including the complementary shots, on the house).

What to visit
While there are many lovely spots on the island, loaded with history and authentic charm, Lychnostatis is a place not to be missed. It is an Open Air Museum and a small remnant of ancient Cretan life. You get to admire Greek arts and crafts first hand and see for yourself how people lived, what they ate and how they built their villages.

Lychnostatis Museum in Hersonissos, Crete

There are guided tours through the museum and you even get to experience for yourself certain customs such as making wine, the old-fashioned way. I tried it for myself and I can tell you it’s a painstaking endeavor. Grapes are trodden by feet and the juice runs off into special basins; an there you have it – the nectar of the gods – fantastic.

Wine-making, the old-fashioned way

On the last day we embarked on a trip to Sissi, a cute, simple fisherman village next to the sea. We took the Black Rose Pirate Boat whose captain reminded us of Jack Sparrow – for real. The trip was great, we got to admire some beautiful locations, swim into the clearest waters of the Mediterranean and engage in friendly conversations with Greek people.

Black Rose Pirate Boat docked at Sissi Harbor, Crete, Greece

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Food, Secret garden, Travel & living

 

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Valentine’s Day gift ideas for her

She’s been a fun and totally cool girlfriend. He’s been a caring and devoted partner. Why let all that talk about cheesiness cloud your judgment on the most romantic day of the year?! I agree that we shouldn’t wait until Valentine’s Day to show them how much they’re loved and appreciated, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it on this occasion as well.

Winnie love

Here are a few funny, quirky and creative gift ideas to make your Valentine’s Day even more beautiful.

Pop the question. Rumor has it that women are hard to impress. They’ve seen and heard it all, they’ve been lured with flowers, sweets and jewelry, carriage rides under the moonlight, candlelight dinners and weekend getaways. So is there something left to make your proposal unique? Well, you might buy a star and name it after her or, if you’re a mere human like most of us, get your hands on a Marry Me lottery ticket. It looks like any other scratch-off lottery ticket you’d get at any local store but when she scratches off the card to see what she’s won she will be greeted with the question Will you marry me? on it. If she’s like any other woman I know, she’ll find it surprisingly romantic and adorable. Add a dinner for two to the equation and it will surely make a sweet memory.

Dulce de Leche receipe

Shout out your love to the four winds. To clarify each partner’s status in the relationship once and for all, get a Mr. Right and Mrs./Ms. Always Right ensemble, whether it’s a pillows set, mugs, luggage tags or t-shirts. This is a fabulous gift for couples who know the truth – and dig the humor!

Pillows set

Vintage love tastes better. The truth is women love gifts, glittery, pleasantly fragranced or practical, any kind of gift that has some positive karma attached to it. But if you’re looking for a seriously impressive and unique token of your love, go with vintage jewelry. That’s also Ivanka Trump’s idea of a perfect gift for Valentine’s, according to InStyle.com. “I’m making it increasingly difficult for my husband to buy me things. I have a jewelry line, a clothing line, a shoe line, and a handbag line, so he has to either go the vintage route or go completely outside of the box.”

Vintage necklace

For other great ideas on how to bring romanticism into your own home, check out this great post on Blogoteque.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Celeb, Food, Holidays, Relationships

 

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